Japan Studies Program

AIU’s Unique Japan Studies Program

Why should you choose AIU as your study abroad destination? There are many good reasons to do so, but perhaps chief among them is our world-class Japan Studies Program!


Japan Studies Program at AIU has three major academic objectives:

  1. Situate Japan and Akita in global society;
  2. Introduce students to the key debates about Japanese history, society and culture; and
  3. Strengthen critical-thinking, discussion and writing skills so that, when students are asked about Japanese history, society or culture, they can respond incisively.

With our emphasis on interdisciplinarity and interactivity, Japan Studies offers a truly unique approach.


Our campus, far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities (yet conveniently located just minutes from Akita airport, placing Tokyo and other cities only an hour away by plane), and surrounded as it is by the natural beauty of Akita, is the perfect environment to learn about the real Japan.

Frequent Excursions

Our position here in Akita allows us to conduct hands-on field trips to see and experience a different side of Japan that the big cities cannot offer. And best of all, these sorts of opportunities are an integral part of our Japan Studies course offerings (see below for the exciting Japan Studies courses we offer). After all, why limit your study of, say, Japanese religion only to a classroom environment when you can instead come here and learn seated meditation techniques at a Buddhist temple directly from a monk? Why restrict your engagement with ancient Japan to books when you can visit a fascinating reconstruction of a village that flourished over 2000 years ago, or even participate in a genuine archeological dig?

Diverse Courses Taught in English

We are proud of our diverse range of courses, which are taught in English (plus a few special courses taught in Japanese only for those exchange students with advanced Japanese-language skills). Japan Studies courses draw upon the expertise of our faculty (see below for faculty profiles) and engage with multiple disciplines as we study in great depth and breadth about Japanese culture, history, religion, cinema, society, and more.

Multicultural and Interactive Learning Environment

Unlike some other study abroad locations in Japan, where exchange students in a given class might be far fewer in number compared to Japanese students, our Japan Studies courses frequently hover around the ideal ratio of 50/50, and AIU attracts exchange students from all over the world, meaning we offer a true meeting of minds, and diverse perspectives in each class from many different cultures and worldviews.

Course Scheduling

There are so many interesting courses to take and things to do here that you might worry you won’t have time to study, say, both the Japanese language and Japanese history or culture. But worry not! The curriculum for Japan Studies has been designed with exchange students in mind, with almost all our courses scheduled to avoid overlapping with AIU’s course offerings on the Japanese language. In short, AIU’s Japan Studies might well be the perfect program… for you!

Course Offerings

Listed below are some examples of the Japan Studies Program courses available at AIU. See our latest brochure for a full overview. A list of all available courses in Japan Studies and the schedule can be found below under Notes.

JAS201: Japanese History I: Premodern Japan

If you feel like “ancient history” has no relevance to our lives today…think again!

Prof. O’Reilly

JAS115: Traditional Japanese Arts I: Tea Ceremony

Join us as we contemplate concepts like Wabi Sabi: it might seem like a mere curiosity, but in fact we’ll explore just how deeply rooted it is in Japanese traditional culture.

Prof. Chiba

JAS200: Japanese Literature I: Modern Literature

Why is it so difficult for Bunzo to confess his love to Osei? Why won’t Nobu let Midori help him with his broken sandal strap? Why won’t Uno Chiyo’s father let her read fiction? Come explore the lives of Japanese writers from the Meiji era to contemporary times, and the colorful characters that populate their works.

Prof. Friederich

JAS250: Introduction to Japanese Society

Together let’s discover the driving forces behind and shaping society here in Japan – and what is similar to or different from societies around the world!

Prof. Chiba

JAS370: Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture: Anime

You’ve all seen anime – but do you know the real story of anime’s rise as a global pop culture phenomenon? If you are ready to expand your cultural horizons through screenings, projects and in-depth discussions of the most riveting anime, manga, and films coming out of contemporary Japan, then this course is for you!

Prof. O’Reilly

JAS380: Akita Studies II: Rural Culture and Society

Demons, kami, and other supernatural entities have deep roots here in rural Akita. This course will bring you into conversation with local residents, and is your chance to get an insider’s perspective!

Prof. Sugimoto

Faculty Members

Japan Studies courses are carefully coordinated to offer exchange students and AIU students alike a diverse array of options, combining the expertise of faculty members from a wide range of fields. See below for a profile of some of the key figures in the Japan Studies program.

Featured Members

AIU’s Japan Studies Center coordinates and enriches the Japan Studies Program to provide both degree-seeking and international exchange students with essential opportunities to learn a variety of fields in Japan Studies from different perspectives.


Our Course Offerings page provides a full list of all available courses in AIU, which includes the courses of Japan Studies Program. The details of the courses can be found in our syllabi.

Courses of Japan Studies either have course codes starting with JAS*** or are marked JAS under the column CLA in the Course Offerings list.

The easiest and fastest way to access a particular course syllabus is by using its course code, e.g., JAS201, on our syllabus search.