Japanese Studies

Japanese Studies Program Coordinator: Masafumi Honda
Email: masafumi@hawaii.edu

Humanities Division Office:
Office: Kanakaʻole Hall, Room 214
Tel: (808) 932–7216

Website: hilo.hawaii.edu/academics/japanese-studies/

Languages Faculty:

Contributing Faculty:


The mission of the undergraduate degree program in Japanese Studies is to offer a broad range of coursework and research opportunities for students that is designed to develop an understanding of Japan in all of its dimensions: culture, society, language, art, political science, history, music, and others. The Japanese Studies major provides undergraduate research opportunities, a liberal arts foundation, and preparation for a variety of careers. Separate curricula are designed for two types of students:

  1. Non-native speakers of Japanese: these students are enabled to master the Japanese language in its aspects of structure (Japanese linguistics), literature, and translation, in addition to the areas of study mentioned above.
  2. Native speakers of Japanese: these students are enabled to master the English language in its aspects of structure (English linguistics), literature and translation, in addition to the areas of study mentioned above. Native speakers of Japanese are also enabled to develop explicit knowledge of Japanese language phonology, morphology, semantics and syntax.

The program involves significant multidisciplinary study of Japanese civilization centered on a core of language study. It should be of special interest to students who intend to pursue advanced degrees and/or careers in Japanese Studies or in related professional areas, including international business, tourism, journalism, government service, the arts, translation, and, in general, culture brokerage between Japan and the United States. Anyone simply interested in Japanese society and culture will derive considerable benefit from majoring in Japanese Studies.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon graduation with a credential from this Department, students will be able to:

  1. Use the appropriate vocabulary and grammar (sentence patterns) for various contexts (i.e. informal conversation, business environments, academia, professional settings)
  2. Identify and respond appropriately to cultural and/or social contexts of language use
  3. Articulate the importance of another culture (Cultural Competency)—this may include the history and/or historical development of a foreign language; how that language may have changed over time; what important events have impacted the language, literature, and culture of a place; and, how the language is continuing to evolve vis-à-vis pop culture and current events.

Special Features of the Program

The Japanese Studies program also strongly supports the General Education core and the University’s mission as a comprehensive regional university with a special focus on the Asia and Pacific region.

Most summers, UH Hilo offers students the opportunity to visit and study in Japan through the Foreign Field Experience course (Interdisciplinary Studies 393).