Japanese Studies


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 today in the borderless appeal of Japanese film, manga, and anime. Japanese is spoken by approximately 120 million people, which makes it one of the ten most widely-spoken languages in the world. It is also a language in which the US State Department has identified a critical need.

The Japanese Program at William & Mary allows students to explore all aspects of Japanese language and culture. We offer four levels of language instruction, from Elementary to Advanced (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 some recent student research projects on contemporary Japanese culture. Students can pursue an interest in Japan through a major in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES), a minor in Japanese Studies, or a self-designed interdisciplinary major. Use the links to the left to learn more.

Read about news and events for the Japanese program in our departmental Global Voices e-journal.