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Subject Courses



In addition to your intensive Japanese language courses every morning, KCJS offers a variety of academically rigorous subject courses that are scheduled in the afternoon hours. Each student selects two courses per semester (each worth four points of academic credit), which will either meet twice a week for 90 minutes each, or once a week during a three-hour block of time.

Fields of study represented through previously offered KCJS courses include anthropology, art, art history, architecture, business and economics, cultural studies, drama and theater, gender studies, history and civilization, international relations, literature and film, linguistics, political economy, political science, religious studies, sociology, and translation studies.

These courses are designed to complement your studies at your home institution, and as such they provide abundant opportunities for experiential learning through field trips, guest lectures, and in-class demonstrations. Most will not be lecture-based classes; instead, they will revolve primarily around class and small group discussions, as well as student presentations on the readings. As such, the responsibility for learning rests to a significant degree on your shoulders. The more you read and inquire, the better equipped you will be to participate and learn from your classmates, who will come from KCJS and non-KCJS institutions in the United States, as well as from Doshisha and Kyoto University. (Generally speaking, each class will have two students enrolled from Doshisha and two auditors from Kyōdai.)


To get the most out of your studies at KCJS, it is therefore essential that you become a discerning and critical observer of the academic, political, and cultural world in which you are immersed here in Kyoto, and to a broader extent, in Japan. Those of you who live in homestays will have numerous chances to draw connections between conversations you have with your hosts and readings, in-class discussions, and site visits you make in your classes. If you decide to live in an apartment, you can seek opportunities to initiate similar discussions with your neighbors, and to make insightful observations during commutes to campus and everyday errands. We encourage you to make the most of your daily interactions with your fellow residents, and to observe their way of life.

Your subject coursework represents an integral part of a larger web of activities here at KCJS. You will regularly participate in our unique Community Involvement Project (CIP), intensively study the Japanese language, explore new academic fields or develop a deeper understanding of those which you’ve already been introduced to at your home institution, and experience a multitude of unique cultural activities through field trips, in-class demonstrations and guest lectures, special events, and overnight trips with your entire KCJS class.


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Comments from KCJS alumni about their subject classes

“Overall, the course materials are fascinating and definitely allowed me to gain a more nuanced understanding of Japanese society.” KCJS 28 (2016-2017)

“I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the classes here. Every one of the professors that taught my classes was on a par with the people at my home institution.” KCJS 28 (2016-2017)

“Due to personal circumstances, I did not apply myself as fully as I could have, but I enjoyed the classes I took, tried out two very new topics, and have learned so much in so many different ways. In my Japanese language class I became so much more fluent in the language.” KCJS 27 (2015-2016)

“The most important piece of advice: KCJS is not quite as demanding academically as your home institutions. Thus, YOU need to put in the effort to learn and take as much as you can from your time here. Your sensei don’t mind challenging you, but you need to show that you want it.”

“KCJS had many influences on my present career but more so in my life. During my year there I learned about many topics I had not covered in my university courses: Japanese Economics, Noh Drama, Japanese ancient and modern literature, all of which I have used in my professional life.” – KCJS 08 (1996-1997)

“I have been working in the arts since graduating in 2004, and have been working as a curator of contemporary emerging artists since 2008. Over this time, I have remained in contact with Japanese contemporary artists and recently decided to make this the focus of my art historical research going forward. My time studying Japanese language, culture, and more classical art history has greatly influenced my decision to research contemporary Japanese artistic practices as it has given me an appreciation for both western non-western influences on young Japanese artists that inspires me to promote a more nuanced reading of their place within the spectrum of contemporary artistic practice. Without my time in Japan, I do not think I would have the skills or visual experience necessary to approach this subject matter in a graduate program, or through the internships and fellowships I am currently pursuing.” – KCJS 13 (2001-2002)

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Courses to be offered in 2017-2018

(By clicking on the title links below, you can view course descriptions or syllabi (the latter will be posted as they become available). Please note that some syllabi are samples from previous semesters and are subject to change. Faculty biographical statements may be accessed by clicking on their names.)

Fall 2017 (4 points each. All course numbers begin with: EAAS OC3993:)

Spring 2018 (4 points each. All course numbers begin with: EAAS OC3993:)

Courses offered in 2016-2017

(By clicking on the title links below, you can view course descriptions or syllabi (the latter will be posted as they become available). Please note that some syllabi are samples from previous semesters and are subject to change. Faculty biographical statements may be accessed by clicking on their names.)

Fall 2016

Spring 2017

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Courses offered in 2015-2016

(By clicking on the title links below, you can view course descriptions or syllabi (the latter will be posted as they become available). Please note that some syllabi are samples from previous semesters and are subject to change. Faculty biographical statements may be accessed by clicking on their names.)

Fall 2015

Spring 2016

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Independent Study

If you enroll for a full year or for the spring semester at KCJS, then, you may apply to undertake an independent study in the spring. Typically you would undertake this project in lieu of one of the two regular subject courses. Through the independent study, you can explore a specific research topic in-depth, and acquire the methodological and analytical skills necessary for academic research.

Many students who plan to write a senior honors thesis at their home institutions have made excellent use of their time here in Kyoto through these independent studies to locate and utilize materials they might otherwise not have access to in the United States. Moreover, since KCJS will help you to find an appropriate advisor for your independent study (either the Resident Director or a local faculty member from a university in the Kansai area), that person can introduce you to other faculty and local experts in your field of interest, so that by the time you have completed your project, you will likely have an invaluable network of scholars whom you can contact in the future in conjunction with your senior thesis and graduate studies, should you decide to continue your education after completing your studies at your home institution.

Click here for a sample list of previous independent study project titles.

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Reflections from an alumnus about
his independent study experience

“One significant opportunity KCJS provided me was the chance to do independent linguistic research on Japanese for credit. KCJS helped set me up with a Japanese graduate student who acted as a tutor and mentor and helped guide my research. In my senior year of college, after I had returned to the U.S., I did a series of linguistic experiments with Japanese participants and got some interesting and novel findings, which were presented at a major conference this year.

I am currently working full time as a linguistics research assistant, and one of the projects I’m working on concerns speech perception in Japanese listeners. I am also working independently on a project whose goal is to create computer-based feedback tools to help native Japanese speakers improve their English pronunciation. The language classes I had at KCJS, and the opportunity to be immersed in the language, spurred my interest in Japanese linguistics and have enabled my research to date.

As a linguist, it’s clear to me that the only way to achieve high proficiency in a language is to go where it’s spoken. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do that with KCJS.” – KCJS 18 (2006-2007)

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KCJS Summer research grants

Every summer KCJS offers a small number of grants which are intended to give students a chance to put their Japanese language skills to use in pursuing a serious independent research project, typically in preparation for a senior thesis or honors thesis. Students who undertake these projects should be in regular contact with their advisor at their home institution regarding the design and shape of the project to ensure continuity upon their return to campus in the fall. Each grant provides a maximum stipend of ¥350,000 for a ten-week period of research to be conducted in Japan. THe 10-week grant is paid in two installments, with the second installment conditional upon submission of a satisfactory mid-term progress report. Awardees will also receive an additional payment of US$500 upon submission and approval of a final detailed report or research paper following completion of the grant period. (Proposals for five-week summer grants, in proportionally smaller amounts, will also be considered.) The fundamental goal is to enable you to make good use of your Japanese language skills over the summer, while also advancing your educational goals in the United States.

All full-year or spring-only KCJS students are eligible to apply for the summer research grants. The proposed research can be of any kind and in any discipline, but it must have an ultimate purpose in mind. Most grants are awarded for research towards a senior thesis or honors thesis, but other possibilities include submission to a student journal at your home institution. The key requirement is that you indicate some concrete way in which you plan to publicize the results of your research to a wider audience, whether through a publication (either in print or on the Internet), or through some other forum. It is also essential that you make full use of Japanese-language resources. KCJS summer research grants are meant for full-time research during the period of the grant. Normally, a grantee may not hold a second grant, regular job or internship coterminous with the KCJS grant. However, exceptions may be permissible on a case-by-case basis with the advance, written permission of the KCJS Director.

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Subject class field trips

In many of your subject classes in the afternoon, there will also be course-related field trips that are designed to deepen your understanding of the topics introduced in the readings. Such trips may include some on-site, self-directed exploration, together with guidance from your professor and/or Japanese staff on the premises. As a result, these trips provide excellent opportunities for you to learn about a particular subject in Japanese, especially if you take the time to read placards and leaflets provided in conjunction with your visits.

Depending upon the destination and the number of visitors who can be accommodated, students who are not enrolled in a particular class may sometimes still participate in these field trips with advance permission from the instructor. (Non-enrolled students will need to cover transportation and admission charges themselves, however.)

For a list of recent course-related field trips, click here.

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KCJS Summer Programs

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