Japanese Studies

This is content from the Catalog 2019–2020 back issue. Please visit the current catalog for current information.

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.

Goals for Student Learning in the Major

Among the learning goals for majors are the development of:

  1. Appropriate language ability:
    • Japanese language ability and expertise for non-native speakers of Japanese
    • English language ability and expertise for native speakers of Japanese
  2. An appreciation of how the Japanese cultural background may influence the communications, styles of interaction, and family structure.
  3. An ability to integrate information from the different approaches to the study of Japan and shape it into an overall understanding of Japanese language, culture, and behavior.

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).