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The Breakdown

It’s quite easy to be taken with Japan. From samurai to sushi, it’s a fascinating culture that offers a worldview vastly different than our own western outlook. If you’ve always been curious about the other side of the globe (and are tired of our alphabet) perhaps you should consider exploring a major in Japanese.

As a Japanese major, you’ll certainly have your fair share of classes focusing on conversation, composition and grammar. Fortunately, studying a language at the collegiate level goes far beyond those brick and mortar lessons. Indeed, you will be exposed to the culture, art and history of Japan. You’ll be able to study everything from the art of the Japanese tea ceremony to the novels of Haruki Murakami (in the original Japanese of course). Perhaps most exciting, you will likely have the opportunity to study abroad. And there’s no better way to learn a language than total immersion!

Should you decide to study Japanese, you’ll need the patience and the fortitude required to achieve proficiency (not to mention fluency) in a foreign language. It also helps to have a good ear for accents and an appreciation for the nuances of grammar. Moreover, when studying another culture, it’s best to maintain an open mind. Finally, we recommend you brush up on your origami skills.

Nuts and Bolts

Don’t fret; Japanese majors don’t spend all of their time conjugating verbs. While grammar is certainly a part and parcel for the department, you’ll enroll in a variety classes designed to address all aspects of Japanese culture and history. Courses might include: Elementary Japanese, Intermediate Readings in Japanese, Advanced Japanese, Traditional Japanese Puppet Theater: History and Practice, Women Writers in Japanese Society, The Culture of Modern Imperial Japan: 1900-1945, Topics in Contemporary Japanese Literature, Japanese-English Translation Practicum, Geisha in History, Fiction and Fantasy, Introduction to Japanese Film and Animation and Structure of Japanese.

Decisions, Decisions

Japanese majors love to learn about different countries and cultures, from languages to literature and all topics in between. Therefore, they might also think about studying French, Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese, Russian, English, Hebrew, Portuguese, art history, international business, political science, East Asian studies, international relations, Slavic studies, Latin American studies, African studies and anthropology.

What's Next

You might not believe it but as a Japanese major you’ll be uniquely positioned. Indeed, the writing and critical thinking skills you’ll hone coupled with the international savvy acquired through studying another culture make you quite marketable. And while teaching and translation are common, noble and attainable positions, you will discover that you are not limited to those two professions. Certainly, many graduates find positions with Japanese-owned companies involved in a variety of different industries. Others might seek employment in international education or with study abroad companies. A handful of Japanese majors also land jobs with NGOs, doing aid work throughout the world. The foreign service is another attractive route as is international business. Lastly, the tourism and hotel industries are popular, as they allow for a high degree of interaction with international clients.


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Don Munce