4 Courses

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 ukiyo-e 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 the Gardens of Kyoto



This course introduces the Zen culture of Kyoto expressed through its gardens. It focuses on the history of Zen, its philosophy, aesthetics, and attitudes to daily life, as well as understanding its relationship to the history of the garden and the different types of arrangements. Special emphasis is placed on the contribution of famous gardener monks and on the doctrinal approaches offered by the different branches. An exchange with a Zen monk and a guided study tour to relevant temples and gardens in the city of Kyoto are planned to strengthen the debates and discussions, as well as to help the formation of research groups for the final evaluation. The study of Zen, the practice of meditation, and an understanding of ecology, religion, art, and garden design principles are pursued to develop a deeper understanding of Japan and awaken a more sensitive disposition in the student towards nature. 

Japanese Studies Program