Introduction to Japanese Culture and Civilization


This is the first time this course is being offered - spring 2015.


This course introduces students to fundamental characteristics of the culture and civilization of Japan from earliest times to the present. As a gateway to more specialized training, it is designed for students having little or no previous knowledge of Japan. Students can expect to leave with a basic grasp of important historical periods, an appreciation of key figures and places of cultural significance, and an awareness of important social changes from earliest times to the present day. Students will improve their analytical skills as they read from outstanding examples of Japanese literature; they will synthesize relevant information about Japanese art, architecture, religion, literature, society, and history from lectures and background readings in order to present well-reasoned arguments about Japan; and they will develop a nuanced understanding of Japan’s place in a global context. This course aims to a) improve cultural literacy about Japan and the Japanese, b) increase familiarity with principal historical periods, c) introduce basic geography – location of principal Asian countries, Japanese islands, and Japanese cities, and d) identify important political, social, cultural, artistic, and literary themes for each of the principal periods covered.



Class Size


Number of Credits


Course prerequisites