William & Mary

Japanese Studies

Why Japanese?

As the world's third largest economy and one of the United States' most important allies and trading partners, Japan is critical to an understanding of global issues. In addition, Japanese writers and artists have long exerted an influence over literature, visual arts, pop culture and the avant garde internationally—an influence evident in the borderless appeal of Japanese film, manga, and anime. Japanese is one of the ten most widely-spoken languages in the world, spoken by 120 million people. It is also a language in which the US State Department has identified a critical need. Check out how Japanese Studies alumni have put their training to use in corporate careers, public service, education, and research.

Opportunities in Japanese

We enable students to explore all aspects of language and culture. We offer four levels of language instruction (read more about placement into Japanese language classes). We have summer, one-semester, and year-long study-abroad programs at several top universities in Japan. We also offer courses in English on Japanese literature, film, and popular culture (related courses in Japanese history, politics, anthropology, and more are offered in other departments).  And we encourage students to develop individual research projects, which can focus on literature, anime, music, fashion, foodways, politics, and more. Check out recent student projects on contemporary Japanese culture. Students can pursue a major in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, a minor in Japanese Studies, or a self-designed interdisciplinary major. Use the links to the left to learn more.


Tomoyuki SasakiThe Japanese Program welcomes a new faculty member this coming fall. Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki received his PhD in history from the University of California, San Diego.  He also holds a Masters degree in Japanese studies from the Kobe City University of Foreign Studies.  He has taught at Kalamazoo College and Eastern Michigan University.  His research addresses issues of democracy, sovereignty, and the military, and their cultural representation. His monograph, Japan’s Postwar Military and Civil Society: Contesting a Better Life, was published last year by SOAS/University of London through Bloomsbury.

Dr. Sasaki will offer two new courses for fall 2016. Cultures of the Cold War (JAPN 307 02) examines the immense impact of the Cold War on forms of social governance, notions of democracy and freedom, perceptions of the past, and people’s everyday lives in Japan.  Crossing Lines (JAPN 208 01) considers how flows of people have shaped Japan’s modernity, looking at travel, migration, and other cross-border movement both out of and into Japan, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. Both courses are taught in English. 

Read more news in our departmental Global Voices e-journal.