Gateway to a civilization marked by fascinating historical epochs, iconic traditions in the arts, and postmodern allure, the Japanese program enables majors to encounter new worlds of cultural expression, experience, and knowledge. Language study is fundamental to this process, and our Japanese language program, featuring an intensive and highly interactive classroom experience, fosters natural fluency and cultural competence from the earliest stages. Graduates can expect to attain advanced proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
Japanese majors will acquire a broad knowledge of Japanese society and culture and a solid foundation in the major landmarks of Japanese literature spanning fourteen centuries. And their education will be reinforced by various study-abroad opportunities-- most notably the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS), which affords an unparalleled access to Japan's great cultural mecca.
Japanese (Nihongo) is a fascinating and challenging language. Engaging with the intricacies of spoken and written Japanese will open you up to new dimensions of social and cultural experience. The intensive, interactive classroom experience, with class size limited to 15 students, is aimed at fostering natural fluency and cultural competence from the very beginning stages of study.
The Literature and Culture
Your studies will introduce you to the full range of Japan’s 1500-year history, with its unique mix of Buddhism, Confucianism, aristocratic elegance, earthy traditions, warrior culture, and high-tech modernism. You will be exposed to enduring works of literature, art, and drama – the inspiring poetry of the Imperial court, the plays of bunraku puppet theater, the wide-ranging novels and stories of modern Japan, and examples of Japan’s internationally-known popular culture.
Majors will be able to pursue numerous career options that utilize their language skills. Some of our graduates have gone on to pursue academic careers in Japanese literature and culture. Others have pursued careers in law, diplomacy, international business, media, and trade. Still others have gone on to jobs in Japan in international relations or teaching. In short, the opportunities are virtually limitless. Whichever path you choose, fluency in Japanese will serve as a valuable asset in the job market, in addition to being a significant achievement in its own right.
Features of the Program
The student majoring in Japanese will gain knowledge of the rich literary and cultural traditions of Japan, from premodern to contemporary. After four years of language study, you will achieve advanced skills in speaking, reading and writing, and a deep understanding of Japanese culture. As a Japanese major, your coursework will afford you an unparalleled understanding of the people of Japan and their literary and cultural traditions.
There is also the possibility of completing a double major in Japanese and another discipline or area, such as history, economics, religious studies, biology, etc. Many students choose to combine their language and culture skills in this manner.
Outstanding majors are encouraged to pursue Senior Honors, which will involve them in a research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor. The project will culminate in the submission of an Honor’s Thesis.
Japanese majors and other students in the language program will have the opportunity to converse informally with native speakers of Japanese and their peers as part of our monthly “Café Washuu” gatherings. Interested students may also wish to get involved with our local Taiko ensemble and learn the art of traditional Japanese drumming.
As a Japanese major, you will have several excellent study abroad opportunities from which to choose: the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS), based in Kyoto; and the Waseda University study abroad program, based in Tokyo. These year-long programs focus on intensive language instruction combined with a selection of Japan-related course work. Each program features home-stays with Japanese families. You may also apply for summer language study in Japan. These experiences are invaluable for refining conversational skills and gaining a deeper understanding of Japanese society and culture.
- Four levels of modern Japanese, in addition to courses on classical Japanese language
- Japanese Civilization
- Japanese History from its Origins to Present
- Surveys of Japanese Literature, from the Classical to the Contemporary
- Women in Japanese Culture
- Courses on Buddhism, Asian Art History, Comparative Literature
- A range of courses on China and Korea
Placement Exam and Back Credit
Placement tests are required for all students entering our language programs, with the exception of those students who have had no previous knowledge of the language and are planning to enroll in the first semester of the first year of instruction. Students who test into second-year Japanese and satisfactorily complete (with a grade of B– or better) at least one semester of language study may petition for 3 units of retroactive credit; students who test into third year or above and satisfactorily complete (with a grade of B– or better) at least one semester of language study may petition for 6 units of retroactive credit. Credit is limited to 3 units for testing into second year and 6 units for testing into third year or above.
L05 213 = 3 units for 104D
L05 412 = 3 units for 104D and 3 units for 214
Please note that students with native language proficiency as determined by the individual language section, as well as students who enroll in a course below their placement level, are ineligible for retroactive credit units. Students who misrepresent the extent of their background so as to gain entrance to a course at the elementary or intermediate level will be dropped from that course.