Japan Studies


For many observers and visitors Japan is one of the most intriguing countries on earth. For them Japan offers a vast variety of exhilarating and sometimes puzzling experiences that often give rise to many questions. Japan Studies endeavors to answer most, if not all, of them. Japanologists understand their field as an interdisciplinary project that engages with all aspects of Japanese culture, history, and society. Many students and scholars investigate these topics in relation to historical and present-day events in East-Asia and the West. Such an approach relates their study and research not only to other disciplines but also to other nations, civilizations, and geographic areas. iCLA’s central location, proximity to the spiritual heart of Japan in Mt Fuji, and easy access to Tokyo make it the ideal place to study Japan Studies.

"I plan to stay in Japan long-term so Japan Studies has value to me. It helps me to understand Japan’s culture and history, which I have a particular passion for, in far better detail. Learning about Japan's history, I draw many parallels between its sudden rise and China's, which I believe is of import as Japan will desire to build better relations with China in the near future. I plan to either begin teaching or go into IT after graduating, or simply continue with graduate studies, all of which pose no significant barriers having studied this major."



Why study Japan Studies?

The Japan Studies major at iCLA provides you with a comprehensive understanding of Japan’s culture, history, politics, and economics. Guided by experts in their fields you will aim at linguistic fluency while at the same time experience an in-depth exposure to key fields in Japan studies. Furthermore, living in Japan over an extended period will offer you a unique opportunity to further familiarize yourself with a wide variety of Japanese lifestyles, customs, and arts. You will become a knowledgeable specialist on the subject of Japan who also has a comprehensive knowledge of the wider East Asian and Western context. During your study will also develop your communication skills and analytical expertise, deepening your understanding of the source material further as your Japanese ability improves. 

Students graduating from the Japan Studies Program will be well prepared for a wide range of professional career opportunities both within Japan and the rest of the world in the media, Japanese corporations, the tourism sector, and academia.

What will I study?

Japan Studies endeavors to investigate and deconstruct the intricacies of Japan by providing you with a comprehensive understanding of this fascinating country, its language and its history; from ancient beginnings to the rise of the samurai, through to its current status as a modern technology driven power. You can explore Japan’s society, politics, international relations and economics, developing a deep understanding of how Japan became the country it is today and its global position in the future. The major also gives you the opportunity to experience Japan’s unique arts, literature and culture, from traditional music and theater through to contemporary anime and manga.

Students who choose the major take both lecture based courses taught in the social science tradition and experiential workshops where they will learn Japanese art forms first hand. Because some of these courses require quantitative skills, students in the major are recommended to take courses in economics, mathematics, statistics and research methods. These courses are then supplemented by electives from our other majors or subject areas such as Data Science, Quantitative Reasoning, Psychology & Sociology, and advanced Japanese.

Course structure

  • Academic Reading Across Disciplines

  • Composition 1

  • Composition 2

  • Expository Research Writing

  • Foundation for College Success

  • Modern World History

  • Japanese Language 1

  • Japanese Language 2

  • Internship (optional)

  • Introduction to Japanese History

  • The Anthropology of Japan

  • Calligraphy and Kanji Culture

  • Workshop: Japanese Koto

  • Health & Physical Education 1 (Nanba)

  • Health & Physical Education 1 (Aikido)

  • Health & Physical Education 1 (Judo)

  • Health & Physical Education 1 (Karate)

  • Health & Physical Education 1 (Shugendo)

  • Workshop: Fuji Culture

  • Japanese Economy & Business

  • Bodies and Cultures in Modern Japanese History

  • Cultural Exchange in Japanese

  • Japanese Traditional Music

  • Japan: Lost in Adaptation and Representation

  • Early Modern Japanese Literature

  • Samurai Code and Culture

  • Cultural Exchange in Japanese

  • Japan: Case Studies in Society and Culture

  • Health & Physical Education 2 (Judo)

  • Health & Physical Education 2 (Karate)

  • History of Science and Medicine in Japan

  • Japanese Politics and Diplomacy

  • East Asian Tales of the Supernatural

  • Film and Animation Studio

  • Japanese Traditional Theater

  • Folklore and Archeology of Yamanashi

  • Comparative Literature Studies

  • Seminar(Interdisciplinary Arts)

  • Graduate Research Project

  • Japanese Language 3

  • Japanese Language 4

  • Japanese Language 5

  • Japanese Language 6

  • Japanese Language 7

  • Professional Writing in Japanese

  • Preparation for the N2 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test

  • Socio-Cultural Communication in Japanese

  • Preparation for the N1 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test

  • Workshop: Experiencing Teaching Japanese

*Each student should complete the compulsory courses of the common curriculum within their first year and a half of studies, and can take major courses simultaneously. In addition to the courses listed above, iCLA students can choose from a wide variety of electives from the other majors, or from our courses in Data Science, Quantitative Reasoning, Psychology and Sociology, Japanese Language and Health and Physical Education.

Students will need to pass Japanese Language 2 or pass an exemption test demonstrating equivalent Japanese language ability in order to graduate.

Study Abroad Partners

All students are eligible to apply for either one or two semesters of study abroad at one of iCLA’s 70+ partner universities. The study abroad program does not extend the length of your degree as most credits earned can be transferred towards your graduation requirement. All of our exchange partnerships are based on mutual tuition fee waiver. Below are some of the partners most suited to our Japan Studies major students.

What can I do next?

Your studies in Japanese culture, history, and society together with your enhanced academic skills will prepare you well for a large variety of rewarding careers. After graduation students can pursue a career at one of the many Japanese companies that are now hiring international graduate students or devote themselves to becoming a teacher.

Our Japan Studies Faculty

Message from the Program Director, Professor Clarence I-Zhuen Lee:

“To study Japan isn’t merely about studying one area, one language, and one culture. It is to open yourself to a different worldview from that which you are familiar with. Here at iCLA, we seek to introduce students to a multifaceted Japan imbued with immense historical depth and cultural diversity. Students will be given chances to not only study, at an academic level, Japan’s rich history, cultures, religions, and literature; they will also be given opportunities to connect with local communities via fieldwork and class excursions. Through these unique experiences, and alongside the holistic curriculum offered here at our college, we hope to inculcate in students necessary critical thinking skills and an aptitude for transcultural communication – both skills that will be crucial in their future endeavors in academia and the corporate world.”