Undergraduate Courses in Japanese

Five-tiered Pagoda, Miyajima Island

Five-tiered Pagoda,
Miyajima Island

Japanese has been taught as a degree subject at Oxford since 1963, at which time there was one lecturer. The field has shown a dramatic expansion at both staff and student levels since the early 1980s. Oxford can now claim to be a major national and international centre for the study of Japan. The University currently has ten senior faculty members engaged in full-time research and teaching in fields related to Japan. Undergraduates reading for the degree of B.A. Honours in Oriental Studies (Japanese) currently number about sixty, and there are usually five or so graduate students registered under the Faculty Board of Oriental Studies. The University possesses a large research collection of books in Japanese and about Japan in western languages. The University's Ashmolean Museum has a fine collection of Japanese art, particularly strong in the field of ceramics.

There are two centres for the Japanese teaching programme in the University:

Oriental Institute

The Oriental Institute is centrally located close to the Ashmolean Museum. It is in this Institute that the core curriculum of language classes for the B.A. Honours degree in Japanese Studies is taught, and it is where the teachers of Japanese from the Faculty of Oriental Studies have their offices. There is a lending library of basic Japanese literary and historical texts, translations and monographs in Western languages on pre-modern Japanese history, Japanese literature, theatre, and linguistics. Other fields in Oriental Studies such as Sanskrit, Korean, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, and Turkish share the same building. There is a common room where tea and coffee are available and staff and students can meet.

The Nissan Institute

The Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies was established in 1981 with a generous endowment from the Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., and since then it has become one of the top British – and indeed European – centres for the study of modern Japan. It forms part of the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies in the University’s Social Science Division and contributes to several of the degree programs offered by the University at both the undergraduate and graduate level. It is also fully integrated into St Antony’s College, which treats it as one of its area centres.

The present building was opened in 1993. It includes a 150-seat lecture theatre, shared between the Institute and the College, other teaching rooms, offices for academic staff and visitors, and residential accommodation for a Visiting Fellow. The Institute also houses the Bodleian Japanese Library, the University’s research collection of Japanese books. Academic staff of the institute contribute to teaching for the B.A. in Japanese, and teach options on Japan for undergraduates reading Modern History, Philosophy, Politics and Economics (P.P.E.), and Anthropology/Geography, as well as supervising graduate students in several faculties.