Japanese Courses


Courses offered are subject to change; listed below is a sampling of courses taught in the past few years.


Mika Endo (on leave Fall 2015)
Scott Mehl
Nathan Shockey
Faculty contact and profile information may be found here.

Japanese Language Overview

Students who wish to begin their study of Japanese at Bard should take Introductory Japanese 101, which is offered every Fall semester. The sequence continues with Japanese 102 in the Spring, followed by Intermediate Japanese 201 (Fall), Japanese 202 (Spring), and Advanced Japanese 301 (Fall) and 302 (Spring). Japanese 315, Reading and Translating Japanese: Theories, Methods, Practice is offered bi-annually and exposes advanced students to a variety of literary and journalistic writing styles as well as approaches to translating Japanese. Some advanced students also elect to arrange directed reading tutorials with faculty on topics such as Classical Japanese, modern and contemporary literature, manga translation, and so on.

Placement for new students into upper level language courses is in consultation with faculty; students with prior Japanese language experience or ability should contact a faculty member directly to arrange a linguistic assessment and placement meeting.

An optional intensive study abroad program is offered every other summer (next scheduled for 2017) at Bard’s partner institution in Japan, Kyoto Seika University. Students take daily intensive language course work as well as participate in conversation classes and cultural activities while living in Kyoto, one of Japan’s oldest and most culturally rich cities.

Students with an interest in practicing arts and two years of Japanese training also have the option of spending a full-semester at Kyoto Seika to complete coursework through Seika’s studio arts programs, including classes on printmaking, drawing, painting, cybergraphics, etc. Other students who wish to spend a full semester in Japan can go through a variety of outside programs, including KCJS (Kyoto), CET (Osaka), Waseda (Tokyo), and JCMU (Hikone).

In addition to courses offered through the Japanese Program, a variety of Japan-related courses are also offered in History, Art History, Religion, Film Studies, and other programs.

Course Samples

Language Courses

Introductory Japanese, JAP 101-102

This two-semester sequence introduces the ­fun­da­mentals of modern Japanese. Students ­sys­tematically develop listening, speaking, writing, and reading abilities. Because fluency in Japanese requires sensitivity to the social setting in which one is speaking, the course also provides an introduction to basic aspects of daily life and culture in contemporary Japan.

Intermediate Japanese I-II, JAP 201-202

This course accelerates the learning of characters begun in Japanese 101-102 and introduces more complex grammatical patterns and expressions, to refine students’ mastery of reading, speaking, writing, and listening. Study includes intensive grammar review and practice of idiomatic expressions. 

Advanced Japanese I, JAP 301

The course introduces more complex grammatical structures, especially those common to written material, and accelerates character acquisition and advanced vocabulary. Students learn the fundamentals of dictionary use and acquire the skills necessary for speed-reading and accurate composition of written material. Prerequisite: Japanese 202 or the equivalent. 

Advanced Japanese II, JAP 302

Students deepen their reading skills and engage in essay-writing exercises and formal oral presentations. Materials are selected on the basis of student interest and include newspaper articles, handwritten letters, popular songs, haiku, and selections from films.

Advanced Japanese III, JAP 303

The course introduces increasingly complex grammatical patterns, further accelerates the acquisition of characters and advanced vocabulary, and aids in the transition to a more sophisticated use of speech patterns and politeness levels. Students hone their speaking skills through debate, public speaking, and personal interviews. The composition of advanced written material is also emphasized. Prerequisite:Japanese 302 or the equivalent.

Humanities Courses

Asian Humanities Seminar, JAP 125

An introduction to a number of canonical literary, philosophical, and religious texts from China, India, and Japan. Readings span more than 2000 years, from the 4th century b.c.e. to the 18th century; across this broad reach of time and space, the seminar explores how these works formulate conceptions of self, society, and the good life. The focus is on direct engagement with these major texts, with the aim of developing students’ understanding of the diversity of world thought and literature.

Other Non-language Courses

Reading and Translating Japanese: Theories, Methods, Practice, JAP 315

For students who have had at least three years of Japanese and who can read at the advanced level. The class considers the nature and limits of translation within the Japanese context. While focusing on the techniques and craft of translation, students are also introduced to translation theory, both Western and Japanese, and examine well-known translations by comparing source and target texts. Prerequisite:Japanese 302 or equivalent.

General Requirements

Before Moderation, Asian Studies students should take four courses cross-listed with the Asian Studies Program. Asian Studies students focusing on Chinese and Japanese Studies are expected to have taken at least one year of Chinese or Japanese language and at least two courses cross-listed with Asian Studies. One of these courses should be in their field of future interest, which may be any of the disciplines taught in the Arts, Languages and Literature, or Social Studies Divisions.

For graduation, Asian Studies students should complete a minimum of 40 credits in Asian Studies. Four credits (one course) must be an Asian Studies core course treating an aspect of Asia in comparative perspective. The Senior Project topic may be specific to a particular culture or may be comparative.

Students in Chinese and Japanese Studies focusing on language and literature must have a minimum of 44 credits. They should complete at least three years of language study in either Chinese or Japanese and four courses cross-listed with Asian Studies. Of these, at least two courses should be on the literature of the student’s primary region, one course on the literature of another part of East Asia, and one course in non-Asian literature, preferably oriented toward literary theory.

Students in Chinese and Japanese Studies focusing on the arts and/or social studies should complete at least two years of language study in either Chinese or Japanese and five courses cross-listed with Asian Studies. Of these, at least two courses should be in the primary discipline and region. At least one other course should be on the primary region of interest, plus one course in the primary discipline but that considers an area outside of Asia. Students of Chinese and Japanese Studies should incorporate materials involving either language into their Senior Projects.