Japanese

  • Degree Type Bachelor of Arts
  • Department East Asian Languages and Literatures
  • Academic Division The College
  • Offerings Major Minor

A girl smelling food at a street vendor A girl smelling food at a street vendor

The Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL), which houses the Chinese and Japanese programs, is committed to the mission of liberal arts education in an increasingly diverse and global world, both for students pursuing the major and for non-majors interested in East Asian languages and literatures.

Japanese

The Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL) offers a four-year program of language courses in both Chinese and Japanese, as well as literature and culture courses taught in English.

Japanese language courses are designed to develop advanced communication skills through intensive language training, and to provide a foundation for understanding the cultural traditions of Japan. The literature in translation courses aim to foster an awareness and understanding of East Asian cultures through an interdisciplinary approach, introducing historical background; social, philosophical and political issues; and other cultural concerns relevant and necessary to the understanding of the literary and other cultural texts. The department’s curricula provide solid disciplinary training, preparing students to meet the challenges in further graduate studies or in career development.

World Language FDR

One of the Foundation and Distribution Requirements at Washington and Lee is proficiency in a world language. The EALL Department offers coursework towards language proficiency in Chinese and Japanese.

Students with no background in the Japanese language should register for JAPN 111. For all questions about the Japanese language program, please contact Professor Janet Ikeda at ikedaj@wlu.edu. Students with a background in Japanese should contact Professor Ikeda to schedule an individual interview before first-year registration.

Opportunities 

Study abroad: Spring Term programs to Japan engage students in immersion language learning and allow them to study East Asian cultures through close contacts with their peoples. Additionally, EALL majors are encouraged to spend a summer, a semester or a year studying abroad in Japan. Recommended programs include International Christian University (ICU) in Mitaka, Japan (near Tokyo); Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies; and Nanzan University in Nagoya.

The Japanese National Honor Society recognizes and encourages scholastic achievement and excellence in the study of the Japanese language. Students may be nominated for membership.

The Senshin’an Japanese Tea Room is an architectural treasure located inside W&L’s Watson Pavilion. It serves as a classroom laboratory for the study of Chanoyu, or the Way of Tea, and a venue for cultural activities relating to the traditional arts of Japan.

The EALL Department is home to a plethora of cultural activities throughout the year; these opportunities allow students to practice their language skills outside the classroom in a relaxed social environment. Events include A Taste of Asia, A Lunar New Year Celebration, Japanese Table, calligraphy workshops, guest speaker lectures and much more.

Awards, Scholarships and Prizes

The Andrew M. Hemm Awards for Excellence were established by Andrew M. Hemm to recognize outstanding student performance in the study of Chinese and Japanese. In 2003, Hemm created an endowment to fund this prize in perpetuity. Four awards are given annually — one to a senior EALL major in Chinese, one to a senior EALL major in Japanese, and two to students who maintain the highest GPAs during their first two years of studying Chinese and Japanese, respectively.

The Boardman Family Study Abroad Endowment Fund was established in 2011 by James R. Boardman ’65 and his wife, Hsiao-lien. It is a permanently endowed fund at Washington and Lee University that provides annual travel assistance to students who travel to East Asia for study abroad and internship opportunities.

The I-Hsiung Ju and Chow-Soon Chuang Ju Endowment for Traditional Chinese Art Studies was established by Chow-Soon Chuang Ju in honor of her husband, I-Hsiung Ju (1923-2012), who was a much-loved professor of art and artist-in-residence emeritus at Washington and Lee. This permanently endowed fund at Washington and Lee University provides support for a student to travel to China or Taiwan to study traditional Chinese art (e.g. brush painting or calligraphy) in either a university-approved program or as an apprentice to an artist. The endowment may also fund EALL students traveling to China or Taiwan to enhance their study of Chinese language and literature.

The M. Daniel Miller III and Phoebe T. Miller Endowment, a permanently endowed fund at Washington and Lee University, provides financial assistance to undergraduate students planning to study abroad. It will be awarded with term and country preferences for academic year and semester-long experiences in China and Japan.

Outcomes

Alumni of the EALL Department go on to a variety of exciting and enriching experiences and careers. Students have received fellowships such as the Fulbright, Critical Language Scholarship, and Princeton in Asia Fellowship. They go on to graduate school with careers here and abroad in business, education, medicine and law.

Yanhong Zhu

Department Head

Jacque Bruce

Administrative Assistant

News


W&L Outcomes: Lillie Taylor ’24

Taylor is moving to Niigata Prefecture, Japan, to work as an assistant language teacher for the JET Program.

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W&L’s Chelsea Adotey ’24 Awarded Slot in Highly Regarded JET Program

Adotey will start her role in the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program in early August 2024.

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W&L’s Lillie Taylor ’24 Selected for Prestigious JET Program

Taylor will work as an assistant language teacher in Japan before pursuing her teaching certification.

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Record Number of W&L Students Awarded Critical Language Scholarship

The Critical Language Scholarship Program funds a summer of overseas language and cultural immersion.

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W&L’s Wren Markley ’23 Selected for Prestigious JET Program

Markley will start their role in the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program by early August 2023.

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Visitors mingle during Born of Fire opening reception

Lighting a Fire

The Museums at W&L invites visitors to reflect on “Born of Fire: Contemporary Japanese Women Ceramic Artists,” on display through April 29.

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Museums at W&L Presents ‘Born of Fire’

This exhibit is free and open to the public, with a scheduled reception and lecture by curator and scholar Jacqueline Chao on March 8 at 5 p.m.

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Weinstein Scholars Ian Bodenheimer '22, Tyler Waldman '24, Sophie Huber '25, and Andrew Tartakovsky '23 at Pass the Plate, a cultural food-tasting event they planned.

Pass the Plate Celebrates Cultural Heritage Through Food

The Weinstein Scholar annual program invited students to take a culinary trip around the world without leaving the Washington and Lee campus.

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Six W&L Students Awarded Critical Language Scholarships

Six undergraduate students received Critical Language Scholarships, which will provide them the opportunity to study language intensively during summer 2022.

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Program Spotlight: Center for International Education – Study Abroad

Approximately 70% of students participate in an abroad program during their time at W&L.

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Hiroshima University researcher Reibun Kayo (left) and a colleague at the Motoyasu River in Hiroshima.

Set in Stone

Debris from the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing found its way to W&L’s Special Collections, where it heightened one class’s understanding of a powerful Japanese novel.

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Warming Up to Cool Japan

Professor Yumiko Naito’s Spring Term class, Cool Japan: Manga, Business Etiquette, Language and Culture, approaches learning in a delicious and hands-on way.

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Sample Courses

At W&L, we believe education and experience go hand-in-hand. You’ll be encouraged to dive in, explore and discover connections that will broaden your perspective.

JAPN 111-311

Japanese

Beginning Japanese is an introduction to spoken and written Japanese through classroom drills, written and audio materials, and daily practice in reading and writing. Second-year Japanese emphasizes spoken language and written texts using audiovisual materials. In the third year, classes offer drills, reading texts and taped materials to provide systematic practice in increasingly complex discourses and acquaint students with key aspects of Japanese customs, culture and society. Advanced Japanese comprises readings, discussion in Japanese and written responses to a variety of literary materials, including relevant journal and newspaper articles.

LIT 223

Food & Tea in Japan

This seminar explores the distinct theme of food and tea in Japanese culture and literature. We examine three broad categories throughout the term; kaiseki, bento and common fare. In addition to three hours of lecture, this unique course requires a “cultural lab” where students master the rudimentary procedure of the tea ceremony in the Japanese tea room in Watson Pavilion.

EALL 175

Cool Japan

Taught in English, this course examines a variety of visual artifacts such as manga, anime and unique social phenomena observable in current Japan through reading materials and discussions, to understand Japanese culture and society. Students learn the visually beautiful writing system of Japanese and onomatopoeia, which is used extensively in Japanese manga. Through hands-on experiences, students gain a deeper understanding and multicultural perspective of the culture and society of Japan.

HIST 104

Origins to Atomic Aftermath

This course traces the span of Japan’s historical development from its origins through the Cold War, with a special, but not exclusive, emphasis on an environmental perspective. The first half of the course covers the emergence of indigenous Japanese society and its adaptation to cultural and political influences from mainland East Asia, including Buddhism, Confucianism and Chinese concepts of empire. The second half covers Japan’s successful transition from a declining Tokugawa Shogunate to a modern imperial nation to a reluctant U.S. Cold War ally from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries.

ARTH 245

Asian Art

This course examines the art movements of the last 100 years from India, China, Tibet and Japan primarily through the lenses of the larger sociopolitical movements that informed much of Asia's cultural discourses: Colonialism, Post-Colonialism, Socialism, Communism and Feminism. We also address debates concerning “non-Western” 20th-century art as peripheral to the main canons of modern and contemporary art. By the end of the course, students have created a complex picture of Asian art/artists, and have engaged broader concepts of transnationalism, as well as examined the roles of galleries, museums and auction houses in establishing market value and biases in acquisition practices.

Meet the Faculty

At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.

Yanhong Zhu
Yanhong Zhu

Yanhong Zhu

Department Head; Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures

Yanhong Zhu’s research interests include modern Chinese literature and culture, contemporary Chinese cinema, and Chinese language pedagogy. She teaches Chinese language courses at all levels as well as courses on modern Chinese literature and East Asian cinema.

Saori Nozaki
Saori Nozaki

Saori Nozaki

Instructor of Japanese

Kei Yamaguchi
Kei Yamaguchi

Kei Yamaguchi

Instructor of Japanese

Janet Ikeda Yuba
Janet Ikeda Yuba

Janet Ikeda Yuba

Associate Professor of Japanese

Ikeda teaches and researches Japanese language, culture and literature. Ikeda has been involved in U.S.- Japan relations and has been a member of several councils, committees and delegations to promote good relations.

Saori Nozaki
Kei Yamaguchi
Janet Ikeda Yuba
Yanhong Zhu