Professors: Sugimori, White
The Japanese program provides students with exposure to the language, literature, and culture of Japan. The multiple levels of Japanese language courses offer a balanced emphasis on listening, reading, writing, and speaking, establishing a good foundation for ongoing language study. Students may study abroad in Japan or take part in other forms of advanced study to continue developing their language skills. Japanese Studies courses (taught in English) acquaint students with Japanese cultural productions, including literature, film, anime, and more, and situate them within the social, political, and cultural contexts that give them meaning.
Due to the overlap in requirements, it is not possible for students to major in East Asian Studies and minor in Chinese or Japanese unless they are pursuing coursework in both languages.
Requirements for the Minor in Japanese
Number of Units
6 total units are required; not including JAPN 101-102
Required Courses: (5 units)
Language courses (at least 4 units)
JAPN 103, 201, 202, 203 (or approved equivalent courses for a total of four units)
All students wishing to count equivalent language courses taken off campus must demonstrate the appropriate aptitude with a placement exam. Please note that placement exams are only offered at the beginnings of each quarter.
It is also important to note that Japanese language courses are offered in the Fall-Winter-Spring sequence for both JAPN-101-102-103 and JAPN-201-202-203. JAPN-101 and JAPN-201 are only offered in the Fall quarter
One Japanese Studies course taken on campus (1 unit)
From among JAPN 236, JAPN 238, JAPN 239, JAPN 240, JAPN 245, JAPN 250, JAPN 255
Elective Course: (1 Unit)
Minors must complete one additional elective course. This course can be a second Japanese Studies course taken on campus, an advanced Japanese language course above JAPN 203 taken on campus, or an approved non-language course taken on study abroad. With approval, additional special topics one-time course offerings with Japanese Studies content many count as an elective.
The Japanese program is also an essential part of the East Asian Studies program and contributes to the International and Area Studies program as well. Students may major in East Asian Studies or in International and Area Studies with a focus on East Asia. Interested students should consult with the director of East Asian Studies. See catalog listings for East Asian Studies or International and Area Studies for requirements for these majors.
Study Abroad Opportunities
The College has established several programs in Japan. Please consult with the Center for International Programs on the different options available. To maximize the benefits of studying abroad, students are strongly encouraged to complete JAPN-203 before leaving for Japan. For more details about language preparation for study abroad, consult early with professors and the Center for International Programs.
Beginning Japanese I
Introductory course; basic grammar and vocabulary; emphasis on listening and oral foundations; hiragana and katakana and an introduction to kanji. Students are encouraged to begin this course sequence in their first year in order to complete the three-quarter sequence (JAPN 101, 102, 103) required for study abroad, as well as the second year sequence (JAPN 201, 202, 203) before study abroad.
Beginning Japanese II
Further introduction to basic grammar and vocabulary; development of fundamental reading and writing skills using hiragana, katakana, and approximately 50 kanji.
JAPN-101; Must take JAPN-102L concurrently
Beginning Japanese III
Reinforcement of basic listening and development of oral and aural competency; further achievement of reading and writing skills using the kana and approximately 100 kanji.
JAPN-102 or equivalent placement; JAPN-103L must be taken concurrently
Intermediate Japanese I
Further work in conversation, oral interpretation, and elementary composition using approximately 200 kanji; study of idioms fundamental to an active use of spoken and written Japanese.
JAPN-103 or equivalent placement; JAPN-201L must be taken concurrently
Intermediate Japanese II
Further refinement in areas studied in JAPN 201.
JAPN 201; JAPN-202L must be taken concurrently
Intermediate Japanese III
Further refinement in areas studied in JAPN 202.
JAPN-202 or equivalent placement; JAPN-203L must be taken concurrently
Pre-Modern Japanese Literature
The ghoulish, the monstrous, and the supernatural are staples of familiar Japanese culture like anime, manga, and J-horror but these themes have roots in Japan as old as the written word. This course explores pre-20th century Japanese literature, drama (including noh and kabuki theater), folklore, and visual culture to examine the vengeful ghosts, witches, wizards, fantastic beasts, and ambulatory tea kettles of the premodern Japanese imagination. No knowledge of Japanese language is required.
Post-War Japanese Literature in Translation
This course surveys important Japanese writers of the post-World War II era, with special attention to the profound transformations that followed the dissolution of the Japanese Empire in 1945. In the immediate postwar period the physical map of "Japan" shrank dramatically, and a national imagination that had for decades ranged across the plains of Manchuria and far into South Asia collapsed in on itself. This course investigates the ways in which prominent writers (and a few filmmakers) confronted this collapse and everything it implied, from a tentative renegotiation of Japan's place in the world (largely via its relationship with the United States), to a rapidly urbanizing society's relationship to its own hinterlands. Authors covered include Dazai Osamu, Abe Kobo, Murakami Ryu, Tawada Yoko, and Furukawa Hideo. All readings, lectures, and discussions in English.
Modern Japanese Literature in Translation
This course will examine a number of Japanese authors, from the late 19th century through the early 20th century, who have addressed the cultural and psychic disease that resulted from Japan's encounter with the West and transformation of Japan into a modern, nationalistic state. Authors read will include: Natsume Soseki, Mori Ogai, Higuchi Ichiyo, and Tanzaki Jun'ichiro.
Japanese Culture through Film
From animation to the avant-garde, this course treads the border lines of Japanese film. Students will interrogate both the concept of "national cinema" and the familiar conventions of narrative film through analysis of films that cross international borders as often as they defy formal conventions. The course calls attention to the work of underrepresented demographics within Japanese film, including women (Kawase Naomi) and ethnic Koreans living in Japan (Yang Yong-hi). Animated films include Miyazaki Hayao's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Momotaro and the Divine Sea Warriors, the first full length Japanese animation feature. Documentaries examine topics ranging from war crimes to Japanese professional wrestling. No knowledge of Japanese language is required.
Japanese Language in Society
This course explores several major aspects of language use associated with Japanese culture and society. The course aims not only at familiarizing students with various aspects of Japanese language with reference to culture and society, but also their developing an appreciation for a different culture. When discussing the inherent inter-relationship between language and culture, including the beliefs, values, and social organization, we will focus on the ideas of power, hierarchy, gender, and history. No previous knowledge of Japanese or linguistics is assumed or required. Readings, lectures, and discussion are all in English.
Manga/Anime and Gender in Modern Japan
Why are manga/anime so popular? Let's find out. This course undertakes a critical analysis of manga (comics) and anime (animation). We will examine these media's historical origins, narrative features, the world's reception and much more. The samurai warrior, the bishônen (beautiful boy), and the sexy cyborg-gender in Japanese culture has vivid representations. This course explores constructions of masculinity and femininity, paying attention to the figures of the girl as the postwar descendant of the bishônen, the ostensibly undersocialized otaku and yaoi culture and transgender manga where imagination opens the door to alternate and critical realities.
Japanese Science Fiction
This course will look at the relationship between popular culture, media, and Japanese society through the lens of science fiction literature and film. Looking across the 20th century and into the 21st, we will use sci-fi to ask: how does popular culture reflect its moment, and how does it critique it? What role does genre play in our understanding of a text? How do genres travel internationally? In doing so, we'll develop skills for analyzing pop culture, as well as communicating that understanding in a variety of registers. No Japanese language ability is required.
Work at Play: Labor in Japanese Pop Culture
How do we imagine work? How has work and labor been invested with meaning in society? What fantasies do we hold about our jobs, and what fears? Does work mean something different now than it did in the past, and if so, how has that shift been reflected in or influenced by popular culture? This course proposes to think carefully and critically about these questions by drawing on popular cultural production in Japan, a country long imagined as having a particularly strong emphasis on work culture and labor.
The Long Tradition of a Short Poem
In this course we will read major Japanese poetic works, from the earliest extant monuments of the 8th century to the present day, including ancient love poetry, medieval poetry competitions, earlymodern comic poetry, and modern poetic experiments. The majority of the poems will consist of 31 or 17 syllables. Special attention will be paid to interactions of Japanese poetry with other arts, such as calligraphy, painting, music, and film. We will also discuss theories of poetry and poetics as they developed in Japan and elsewhere. Short poems from other literary traditions, such as limericks and couplets, will provide a comparative perspective.
High Intermediate Japanese Language
This course is the first level of the third-year Japanese language sequence, offering more advanced training in the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
JAPN-203 or equivalent placement
High Intermediate Japanese Language II
This course is the second of the third-year Japanese language sequence, offering more advanced training in the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
JAPN-301 or equivalent placement
Advanced Int Japanese Conversation
This course is designed for students who have successfully completed Japanese 203 or have an equivalent or higher proficiency level in Japanese. The primary goal is to assist students to further develop oral and aural Japanese communication skills, by practicing the types of conversation that occur in daily situations, as well as being aware of pragmatics and cultural aspect accompanying those situations. Students will also increase their knowledge of Japan and its society, its customs, the ways of thinking of Japanese, taking into consideration individual speaker's various backgrounds while practicing the conversations.
Must have taken JAPN-203 or have an equivalent or higher proficiency in Japanese.
Tadoku: Extensive Reading in Japanese
This course focuses on developing Japanese language skills through reading Japanese-language books. Readings are individualized for students based on their level of language proficiency. Students read books or stories at their own pace without using dictionaries.
Must have taken JAPN-102
Senior Integrated Project
Each program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Integrated Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Senior Integrated Project section of the Academic Catalog for more details.
Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.