2016 Japan Studies I

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Saijo Miki  Yamamoto Hilofumi  Bektas Yakup  Saito Hirofumi 
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Course description and aims

This course is specially provided for the Tokyo Tech Winter Program participants. The course focuses on Japan (Nippon) mainly from five aspects: Japanese language, Japanese domestic industry, Japanese research institutes, the history of Japanese science and technology, and Japanese design.
This course will become a gateway for program participants to gain a basic understanding of some aspects of Japan. It aims to enhance students' motivation to learn more about Japan on their own.

Student learning outcomes

In the Japanese design class, after defining what "design" is, students will be able to understand through examples the special features of Japanese design and, through design, gain insights into Japanese values.
In the Japanese language classes, students will be able to understand interpersonal communication; analyze and understand their own communication style and values; express their ideas and opinions in an appropriate way in Japanese society, such as in interactions with Japanese school children.
In the Japanese history of science and technology classes, students will be able to understand the background of Japan's rapid development in science and technology after the 19th century.


Japan, Communication, International student, Cross-culture, Japanese, Japanese culture, History of Japanese Science and Technology, Japanese Industry, Japanese research institutes, Japanese design

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

May vary by instructor.
Japanese language classes will be conducted with pairs or small groups of students. Classes will start with lectures followed by group work. Students will make a presentation on the outcomes of their group discussions and discuss how to explain their cultures to school children. Students are expected to report on their experiences in the school visits.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Historical and contemporary issues in Japanese design. Submit report papers.
Class 2 Domestic industry visit ① Nikon, Japanese multinational corporation. Exchange opinions with Tokyo Tech alumni.
Class 3 Japanese language ① Communication/Nonverbal communication. Understand interpersonal communication.
Class 4 Japanese language ② Preparation to visit a Japanese elementary school. Prepare for school visits. Plan how to explain foreign cultures and habits to schoolchildren in plain English.
Class 5 History of Japanese science and technology ① Meiji Modernization and Industrialization. Understand Morris-Suzuki's 'The Technological Transformation of Japan, 1-142 (esp.71-104).
Class 6 History of Japanese science and technology ② History of Japanese physics and physicists from the establishment of the modern research system through nuclear research during the second world war. Understand Yoshio Nishina’s contribution to the Japanese physics.
Class 7 Japanese language ③ Elementary school visit, part 1. Learn how a Japanese elementary school is run and how school children are taught international awareness and diverse ways of thinking.
Class 8 Japanese language ④ Elementary school visit, part 2. In the school visit, participants will improvise ways of introducing culture using simple methods. Participants will analyze cultural receptive attitudes and the process of cultural adaption based on their experiences in Japan.
Class 9 Domestic research institute visit ② Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute. Submit report papers.
Class 10 History of Japanese science and technology ③ Tokyo Tech in the modern history of Japanese science and technology. Understand the course of University Reforms, particularly those related to higher engineering education and research systems, in Japan before and after WWII.
Class 11 History of Japanese science and technology ④ The Lysenko controversy in Japan, a bizarre time of Japanese academia after the WWII. Understand the peculiar situation of Japanese scientific research in the postwar period.
Class 12 Presentation for assessment. Students will present individual oral reports on what they learned in the course.


Handouts will be given in each class.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

For history of Japanese science and techonology: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Technological Transformation of Japan (CUP, 1994); Fukuzawa Yukichi, An Outline of a Theory of Civilization (1875) (Sophia, 1973); James R. Bartholomew, The Formation of Science in Japan (Yale, 1993); Masayuki Tanimoto, ed., The Role of Tradition in Japan's Industrialization (OUP, 2006); Osamu Kanamori, ed., Essays on the History of Scientific Thought in Modern Japan (Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture, 2016); Shigeru Nakayama with Kunio Goto and Hitoshi Yoshioka, eds., A Social History of Science and Technology in Contemporary Japan, Volume 1-4 (Trans Pacific Press, 2001).

Assessment criteria and methods

Students will be evaluated on a pass/fail basis based on attendance, report papers, and final presentation. To pass the course, students are required to join in the following activities: Nikon visit (Class 2), school visit (Class 7,8), research institute visit (Class 9) and final presentation (Class 12).

Related courses

  • LAJ.C101 : Japanese Culture : Society
  • LAJ.C102 : Japanese Culture : Adaptation
  • LAJ.C103 : Japanese Culture : Arts

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)


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