4 Courses

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Japan Studies A : Intercultural Skills for Living in Japan

Intercultural competence is essential in today’s global interactions. What specific knowledge and skills are necessary to better understand Japanese culture? In this class, we will study theories of intercultural communication and competence and connect them to students’ own experiences of cultural difference. We will consider how cultural dimensions such as harmony, high-context communication, collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, and masculinity affect students' daily lives. Additionally, we'll discuss the relationship between culture shock and these dimensions as well as identifying practical applications of this knowledge: What does culture shock feel like and how do you know you are experiencing it? What behaviors and expectations do these cultural dimensions create? Students are encouraged to intelligently reflect on their daily intercultural interactions as they learn the perspectives and skills necessary to better understand Japanese culture.

Japan Studies B : Representation of Nature in Japanese Culture:
from ukiyoe to anime

This course explores modern and contemporary cultures in Japan from the late 19th century to today through a variety of genres and media: woodblock prints (ukiyo-e), modern literature, painting, cinema, and animation. The main objective is to develop a narrative that shows both the historical changes and the cultural processes that constitute what we understand nowadays as Japanese Popular Culture. To do so, we will focus on how the image of nature is represented historically in a range of media. At the end of the course, the students will have the opportunity to create their own narrative through a kamishibai performance.

Japan Studies C : Kyoto Culture and History

In this class we will take a look at some of the important cultural moments in Kyoto's long history. We will follow a chronological approach beginning with Pre-Heian Kyoto and ending in the present. We will discuss the religion, geography, art, literature and architecture of Kyoto. The class will visit some of the temples and shrines that we talk about during class time. Students should understand the role of geography and the historical importance of location. Gaining an understanding of Kyoto's central position in the history and culture of Japan is the aim of this class.

Japan Studies D : Zen and Kyoto

This course introduces the Zen culture of Kyoto. It focuses on its history, main teachings, values, aesthetics, and attitudes for daily life. The practice of Zen meditation, philosophical inquiry, and comparison among Zen branches with its foreign manifestations will be done. Exchange with Zen monks and a study-tour to relevant temples and gardens in Kyoto city are planned to strengthen debates and discussions as well as to help the formation of group-research assignments for final evaluation. The meditative practice and the understanding of religion, ecology, art, and landscape design principles are pursued to increase in students the inner knowledge, self-assurance, and a sensitive disposition toward nature.