Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Graduates 2020-2021 News: Japanese Studies Spring 2021

おめでとう!J Studies Major Second Cohort

The 2021 graduates of William & Mary’s Japanese Studies Program celebrated their academic achievements during a virtual commencement ceremony on Friday, May 21. They marked this milestone with their peers, William & Mary faculty and staff, and thirty guests, including family and friends. The graduates—Bobbi Joe Carwile, Caleb Rivers, Jackson Lawson, Reese Willis, Jin Lee, Campbell Wharton, Ben Ryan, and Kayla Zanders—represent the second cohort of students in the major. In addition to eight students in the major, William & Mary also honored three students in the minor: Amber Blanton, Anna Ledwin, and Kate Lucas.

Japanese Studies on-line graduation attendees
Japanese Studies on-line graduation attendees

Ms. Tomoko Nakamura, Second Secretary at the Embassy of Japan to the United States of America, in Washington, D.C., served as the ceremony’s guest speaker. Nakamura commended the students for becoming part of the bridge between two countries. By embarking on the journey to learn the language and culture of Japan, the graduates are poised for greater job opportunities. The lessons the students learned at William & Mary have allowed them to better understand the similarities and differences between their culture, Japanese culture, and many others around the globe. As globally minded citizens, they are ready to navigate today’s interconnected world.

2021 Kinyo Awardees (clockwise from top left): Ben Bowles. (100 level), Ryleigh Line (200), Ana Ledwin (400), and Ryujin Barlow (300)
2021 Kinyo Awardees (clockwise from top left): Ben Bowles. (100 level), Ryleigh Line (200), Ana Ledwin (400), and Ryujin Barlow (300)

The Japanese Studies Program also recognized students’ academic excellence during the ceremony. Jackson Lawson received the Book Award. Kinyo Awards recipients included Ben Bowles. (Japanese 100 level), Ryleigh Line (Japanese 200 level), Ryujin Barlow (Japanese 300 level), and Ana Ledwin (Japanese 400 level). Jackson Lawson, Kayla Zanders, Bobbi Joe Carwile, and Kelly Shea were inducted into the Japanese Honor Society.

Dr. Michael Cronin, William & Mary’s Japanese Studies Program Director and Associate Professor of Japanese Studies, commended the students for their hard work and resilience during such a challenging time, sharing that he learned great lessons from their ability to adapt to change. Noting that few students come to college with significant training in Japanese language, he was happy to see such great success in the students as they discovered something new after arriving at William & Mary. We extend congratulations to the Class of 2021, wishing them a successful and prosperous future. 皆さん、おめでとうございます!

Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Graduates 2020-2021 News: Japanese Studies spring2021more

Japanese Studies Book Prize 2021

Congratulations to Jackson Lawson, the recipient of the 2021  Modern Languages and Literatures Book Prize in Japanese Studies!

Jackson Lawson, 300 level
Jackson Lawson, 300 level

During his time at William & Mary, Jackson built meaningful relationships with faculty and his peers, and he credits his professors and the lessons he learned in history and culture classes for helping him to foster a more holistic understanding of Japan.

The 22-year-old turned his focus to adulthood in Japan for his senior thesis. Using approaches from ethnographic studies, Jackson examined how modern Japanese youth are straying away from the old standards that mark the arrival of adulthood, such as securing full-time employment, marriage, and childhood. Instead, they define adulthood by their individual actions and responsibility.

Jackson’s ardent interest in Japanese language and culture is apparent as his dedication to Japanese studies extended beyond his classwork. He often studied the language during his downtime and even completed a flashcard deck of nearly 10,000 words in Japanese! He eagerly anticipates in-person experiences with the culture this fall with a study abroad program in Osaka and looks forward to teaching English in Japan and entering other areas of education, U.S. Foreign Service, and other Japan-related fields. We congratulate Jackson on his accomplishments and wish him the best in his future endeavors.


Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Fall 2020 News: Japanese Studies

Yuri Lowenthal & Tara Platt in Conversation

The Japanese Program celebrated Homecoming 2020 by hosting a conversation with alumnus Yuri Lowenthal (’93) and Tara Platt, two of the most in-demand voice actors for anime and electronic games. Lowenthal graduated from W&M with a degree in East Asian Studies, having spent his junior year on a study-abroad program in Japan. After graduating, he returned to Japan on the JET Program before finding his calling as a voice actor. He has worked on English-language releases of some of the most popular anime series, Naruto, in which he voiced Sasuke, as well as Gurren LagannCode Geass, and Persona 4. His partner, Tara Platt, is also a highly successful actor, having voiced characters from Naruto, Sailor Moon, and more. Together, they also run a production company, Monkey Kingdom Productions, which has produced several films and a live-action web series. And they have co-authored the book Voice-Over Voice Actor (Buy Bot Press).

The event, held over Zoom, drew an enthusiastic crowd of about 50 students, faculty, and members of the wider community, who spoke with Yuri and Tara for an hour and a half. Our guests recalled how they discovered their career paths, shared their experiences in that world, and advised students on pursuing voice work. Asked about the JET Program, through which the Japanese government hires college graduates from foreign countries to teach English in public schools, Yuri called it, “one of the greatest experiences of my life,” adding: “when you’re an actor, all your choices, and all your life-paths, and all of the things you’ve done make you that actor who is different from every other person who is trying to do what you’re doing. So, I think you should embrace any broad swath of experiences that life offers you.”

Students were thrilled to meet the talented actors behind many of their favorite characters. One student asked about voicing unlikeable characters. Tara responded, “I’ve played reprehensible characters before … but I’ve had a lot of fun doing them!” and continued, “I wouldn’t hang out with some of my characters, but I can enjoy playing them.” Yuri agreed: “Sasuke’s a downer! I am the opposite of Sasuke in most ways, but I love playing him because it forces me to dig deep and exorcise some of my demons!”

The Homecoming event was made possible through the generosity of the “Saigo-san” Fund. The Japanese Program looks forwarding to inviting Yuri and Tara back soon!



fall2020 News: Japanese Studies

Every Day an Adventure: Studying Abroad at Akita International University

Caleb Rivers

2020 Fall Caleb photo1There is not a moment that I don’t think fondly of the time I spent at Akita International University (AIU). I originally went to AIU to strengthen my Japanese language skills, but the experience became so much more. The Japanese students and international students always stood beside one another and helped lift everyone to their greatest potential.

My first roommate was a Japanese student from Osaka. He offered insight into aspects of  Japanese culture that aren’t discussed in the classroom and always invited me to events with his friends. Even simple, casual conversations with him helped my Japanese language skills.
Affordable travel allowed me to spend approximately one week in Tokyo during Christmas. Initially, I was a little scared to wander around Tokyo’s most popular areas, but after finding my confidence in both my independence and my Japanese-language ability, navigating was rather easy.

Some of my most valuable experiences came from volunteering at elementary schools in Akita. Because Akita is a rural area, traffic from international travel is low. However, the children at the schools knew a surprising amount about American culture and English. It ignited my passion for helping others, and that will remain with me forever. 2020 Fall Caleb photo2

Overall, my time in Akita was indescribably magical.  Everything I learned about Japan at William & Mary came to life. It was unique to both my scholastic and life experience, so every day felt like an adventure. The friends and experiences I gained during the era will stick with me forever. To those who provided me with this opportunity: I extend my gratitude. I can’t thank them enough.

fall2020 News: Japanese Studies

Academic, Professional, and Personal Growth Abroad

Kelly Shea

2020 Fall Kelly photo1After studying the Japanese language for several years at William & Mary, I was fortunate to expand upon my learning at Keio University. I couldn’t have asked for a better study abroad experience. I learned alongside many older classmates who were in Japan to work and sought to improve their Japanese language skills. This shared mindset and environment allowed for an immersive experience in and out of the classroom.

Living in a tight-knit international dorm in Yokohama provided an invaluable opportunity to connect with international students. I shared a suite with a Japanese student and a Chinese student.  We enjoyed day trips, cooking nights, and evenings out in Tokyo. Equally distant commutes from my dorm to central Yokohama and central Tokyo allowed me to explore both cities with ease. My Japanese friends often showed me their favorite places.

2020 Fall Kelly photo2I was also fortunate to travel outside of Tokyo to the surrounding prefectures and southern Kanagawa, Hokkaido, Fukuoka, Okinawa, and Kyoto. Fukuoka marked my first trip alone after about two months in Japan. I was nervous, but it turned out to be one of my favorite trips and cities there.

My most valuable experiences were the ordinary ones: attending classes and university events and trying out various circles. I also interned three days each week at a non-profit centered around strengthening Japan-U.S. relations, which gave me insight into life in a Japanese office.

Studying abroad brought to life the lessons I learned in class about the Japanese language and culture, and I recommend the program to anyone with an interest in Japan. The connections I made and the experiences I had while at Keio will continue to shape my path going forward.

News: Japanese Studies Spring 2020

International Fellow Rina Okada

Rina Okada, the International Fellow for Japanese Studies, is a wonderful asset to William & Mary. Students enjoy her enthusiasm and compassion both in class and in the Japanese Language House. This summer, she will teach a Japanese Intermediate’s course.

Ms. Okada is a native of Kyoto, one of Japan’s oldest cities. She enjoys sharing lessons about Japanese culture and manners with the students. She brings to William & Mary a wealth of knowledge about the history and tradition found in the architecture of her hometown’s numerous temples and shrines. She can educate students about the city’s unique blend of traditional and modern elements and offer information about some of the hallmarks of Kyoto such as green tea and famous Japanese sweets with amazing flavor that is only matched by their beautiful presentation.

Ms. Okada earned a certificate in Japanese Teacher Training from Washington University in St. Louis through the ALLEX Foundation and a master’s degree in Education from the University of Southern Indiana, where she taught Japanese language to American undergraduate students for two years. She also taught Japanese language to international students in the CET Program at Osaka Gakuin University in Osaka, Japan. Although much of her experience is in the classroom, she eagerly accepts the challenge of assisting students both in the class and in the Japanese Language House. William & Mary is excited to continue working with such a reliable, hard-working International Fellow for Japanese Studies. Her consistency and dedication to the students will serve the college community well.

Ms. Rina Okada
Ms. Rina Okada
Graduates 2019-2020 News: Japanese Studies Spring 2020 More

Japanese Studies Program Showcases Student Achievement with its first Senior Thesis Colloquium


The Zoom event featured presentations from five students.

William & Mary’s Japanese Studies program was proud to host its first Senior Thesis Colloquium on Thursday, April 30. The hour-long Zoom presentation, originally slated to occur on campus, featured the research of five seniors who are members of the inaugural cohort of the Japanese Studies major. Thirty-three participants joined the event. Presentations included:

  • “Wasted Effort: Representations of the Onsen through the Commercialization of Leisure in 1930s Japan,” by Margo Baden
  • “Murky Mirror: Miyamoto’s Dо̄tonborigawa and Being Left Behind by Economic Growth,” by Alison Bolton
  • “The Influence of American Military Presence on Students in Murakami’s Sixty-Nine” by Sarah Wilkowske, “Systems of Oppression through the Korean Body,” by Julia Wright; and
  • “Refusing to Sit Still: The Portrayal of the Japanese City’s Mobility and Moga in Tanizaki Jun’ichiro’s Quicksand,” by Kayla Zanders.

The students’ presentations were filled with information they discovered during their course, “The Japanese City.” The capstone seminar acquainted them with the historical development, theoretical conceptualization, and everyday life of the Japanese city from the nineteenth century to today. Students examined representations of the city in literature, film, architecture, and city planning. They completed their theses under the direction of Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki, Japanese Studies Program Director and Associate Professor of Japanese Studies.

The Japanese Studies program extends its thanks to the students, faculty, and staff who assisted in bringing the colloquium to fruition as it offered a platform for the college to celebrate the students’ academic achievements. Special appreciation goes to Associate Professors Dr. Eric Han and Dr. Hiroshi Kitamura of the History department. Both offered insightful comments during the colloquium for the students who showcased the breadth of their research.

Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Graduates 2019-2020 News: Japanese Studies Spring 2020 More Uncategorized

Japanese Studies Celebrates First Majors!

William & Mary’s Japanese Studies Program proudly honored the first cohort of students in its new major, as well as other students who have exhibited exceptional academic excellence, during a virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16.  The students celebrated their milestones with peers, William & Mary faculty, and 35 guests, including included family and friends. Mr. Yosuke Sato, the First Secretary, Public Affairs Section, of the Embassy of Japan in the United States, served as the guest speaker for the hour-long program. Mr. Sato implored students not to rush through life but to remain steadfast as they pursue success. He drew inspiration from the legendary Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). Best known for Great Wave, Hokusai spoke of his devotion to creating since childhood and proclaimed that he would continue to do so even if he lived well past 100 years old.

Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki, the Japanese Studies Program Director and Associate Professor of Japanese Studies, also enjoyed the distinct honor of addressing the graduating class. He commended them for their dedication to developing extreme competency in the language and deeply insightful knowledge of the culture. He also assured the students that their mastery of the subject matter and appreciation for the complex lessons learned will greatly benefit them—no matter the career path they choose. The graduates— Margot Baden, Allison Bolton, Sarah Wilkowske, and Julia Wright—offered commentary about their experiences in the program followed by remarks from Japanese Studies faculty Dr. Michael Cronin, Tomoko Kato,  Aiko Kitamura, and Rina Okada.

The Japanese Studies Program also recognized students’ academic excellence during the ceremony. Honorees included Book Award recipient and honor student Margot Baden and honor students Allison Bolton and Julia Wright. Kinyo Awards were given to freshman Grace Liscomb, sophomore Gokul Achayaraj, junior Jackson Lawson, and senior Julia Wright. We extend heartfelt congratulations to our esteemed graduates and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.


Graduates, family, friends, and guests on Zoom
Graduates, family, friends, and guests on Zoom
Program Director Sasaki
Program Director Sasaki


Graduates 2019-2020 News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2020 More

Margot Baden Receives 2020 Japanese Book Prize

Margot Baden, the Modern Languages and Literature Book Prize winner for overall excellence in the Japanese Studies program, has displayed exemplary academic and extracurricular achievements. A Japanese Studies and International Relations double major, she strives to deepen her understanding of Japanese culture, history, language, and politics. Ms. Baden decided to pursue Japanese Studies after participating in High School Diplomats, a program that brings together students from the U.S. and Japan. She served as a leader of William & Mary’s Japanese Cultural Association since her freshman year and studied abroad at Keio University in Tokyo, one of her most rewarding opportunities. Today, she is one of the first graduates of William & Mary’s Japanese Studies program and will relocate to Japan to work as a JET Assistant Language Teacher. She later hopes to facilitate cross-cultural connections between the U.S. and Japan. We wish Ms. Baden the best in her future endeavors.

Congratulations, Margot! おめでとうございます!

Margot Baden
Margot Baden
News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2020

Japan Studies Announces 2020 Kinyo Awards

At its year-end graduation and awards ceremony, the Japanese Studies Program announced the recipients of the Kinyo Awards for Excellence in Japanese language study for the 2019 – 2020 academic year. The prize recognizes the hard work and achievement of the top student at each level of William & Mary’s Japanese language program, as selected by our senior lecturers, Ms. Tomoko Kato and Ms. Aiko Kitamura. The awards are made possible through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc., who established the awards in 2007 and has maintained them ever since. This year’s recipients are:

  • at the 100 level, Grace Liscomb;
  • at the 200 level, Gokul Achayaraj;
  • at the 300 level, Jackson Lawson; and,
  • at the 400 level, Julia Wright.

These students have demonstrated extraordinary diligence and accomplishment in Japanese language study over the past year. This year’s ceremony was held over Zoom, due to the COVID-19 emergency, but that did not dim the celebratory spirit; and all four winners were able to join us for the presentations and receive the congratulations of their instructors, classmates, family and friends. Congratulations to all the winners, and keep up the good work!


Fall 2019 News: Japanese Studies

A Taste of Japan by Evie Tso, Class of 2021

Imagine the opportunity to try okonomiyaki, tempura, miso dip, plum wine, red bean paste rolls, natto, and other delicious familiar and unfamiliar Japanese cuisine. I enjoyed a summer doing that and more in Tokyo and Tatebayashi. Thanks to William & Mary’s Freeman Intern Fellowship program, I spent two months as an intern with Toyo Suisan, also known as Maruchan. I explored different departments in the Japanese food company and conducted interview and survey research on people’s food-related habits and opinions. I even tried my hand at making wax food samples commonly seen outside of many Japanese restaurants.

Using Japanese every day at work and in daily life both boosted my confidence and humbled me. After completing JAPN 301/302, I was excited to engage in conversations but realized that I’m far from fluent. Although there were challenges, I managed well in Japan and hope to return to study or work there someday.

I recommend studying abroad. It’s the perfect opportunity for students who are relatively unanchored and can enjoy the freedom to explore. Fending for yourself in a new place will teach you so much about the world and yourself. My experience left me with many precious memories and lessons about Japan, the food industry, and myself.

News: Japanese Studies

Lessons in Culture and Life in Japan by Joo Young Ok, Class of 2020

Joo Young Ok Photo After taking Japanese courses for several semesters at William & Mary, I decided to journey to Keio University in Tokyo for language immersion. I embarked on the experience with the hopes of improving my listening and speaking skills; however, I learned so much more.

While studying the language, I enjoyed lessons about art history, religion, and culture in Japan. Outside, the things I learned in the classroom came to life. From art exhibitions and shrines and temples to interactions with native speakers, this study abroad opportunity granted me the unique experience to explore a whole new world with people from Japan as well as Singapore, France, Hawaii, Germany, Mexico, and Korea. On the weekends, I traveled alone and with new and old friends throughout Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Okinawa.

My journey was filled with unforgettable moments. I climbed Mount Fuji to see the sunrise at 4:30 a.m, and I sang karaoke for 12 hours straight. I also went to the Tsukiji fish market for sushi at 7 a.m. and enjoyed walking through the streets of Tokyo and eating amazing food. Oh, the food was wonderful.

Before this study abroad experience, Japan was just as a country halfway across the world full of strangers.  After spending four months there, it is now the place where I grew more independent and confident and gained a deeper understanding of the world around me. It is a place that holds many precious memories and people I hope to see again someday.

Fall 2019 News: Japanese Studies

Picture Perfect Moments Abroad by Peng Lan, Class of 2021

As the scene outside the window of the Shinkansen train gradually changed to a delightful rural view, I knew I had arrived in Kyoto. The beautiful city full of historical architecture greatly resembles Makoto Shinkai’s movie. New experiences at Ritsumeikan University were ahead of me. Its small Kinugasa campus is home to a diverse study body with a shared experience – studying abroad.  That diversity allowed for rich academic and cultural experiences through enriching and enlightening discussions about Japanese culture.

“Study in Kyoto” highlights the importance of the city with opportunities to explore. Among my most memorable moments was a visit to the University’s Kyoto Museum for World Peace, the first museum in peace study in the country. I also explored a temple with amazing people and exhibitions. I saw the most beautiful view of aoba (green leaf) and encountered a graceful monk who introduced the history of the temple to me.

I also volunteered at Gion Matsuri, the biggest summer ritual in Kyoto. During the annual event, I spent several nights with university students as well as Kyoto residents to make artistic handicrafts for the matsuri. Despite my imperfect Japanese skills, I made myself at home in a narrow, Japanese-style room and learned from the people around me. I also helped to organize a special evening event. The moments were captured by a photographer who thought it was special to see a foreigner helping with this Japanese ceremony.

Studying abroad offered an immersive experience with Japanese culture and language that expanded my mind, sharpened by skills, and prepared me to pursue the career of my choice.

Picture Perfect Moments Abroad Pen Lan Photo

Fall 2019 News: Japanese Studies

The Business of Japan by Kexin Zha, Class of 2020

The four months I spent studying in Japan were memorable and valuable. I enrolled in business and Japanese language classes at Ritsumeikan University’s Osaka campus. Significantly different from the classes at William & Mary, business classes at Ritsumeikan University focused on the comparison of distinct company culture in different countries. In-class discussions and teamwork with Japanese students exposed me to their unique ideas and perspectives, which were always surprising and inspiring.

The Japanese language classes included writing, reading, and speaking curriculums. Though challenging, the courses helped me to improve my language proficiency through lessons in vocabulary and discussions about social issues. As I perfected the language, I used it to exchange ideas with my classmates.

During my stay in Japan, I lived in a dorm with four roommates from Japan, Korea, and France. Our living quarters included a kitchen and cozy dining room where we hosted parties and learned to make traditional Japanese food such as takoyaki and gyoza.

Spending the summer months in Japan afforded me the unique opportunity to experience many events and festivals as well. My fondest memory is of the fireworks at Hanabi Taikai. Surrounded by young couples wearing yukata, I stood by the river with new friends as spectacular fireworks erupted above.

Before participating in this program, I was very interested in Japanese culture. Studying abroad sparked my interest even more. If you are interested in Japan and Japanese culture, I highly recommend joining this program to enjoy unique, firsthand experiences.

The Business of Japan Zha Photo

Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies News: Japanese Studies Spring 2019

Victoria Park Garners MLL Japanese Book Prize

Victoria Park is a former Global Studies major at the College of William & Mary with a concentration in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Although born and reared in the United States, she was often exposed to different news stories as she was growing up as well as to media in which she heard discussions about the historically contentious relationship between Korea and Japan. As she increasingly became intrigued by what she was hearing, Ms. Park decided to learn more about the relationship between those two nations. She not only furthered her knowledge of Japan and its history through William & Mary’s Japanese language courses, but she also took classes that allowed her to understand more fPhto-Book prizeully the country’s historical, political, and cultural background. In the future, she hopes to utilize her skills and knowledge of both countries to assist in mending the strained relations between those two nations.

Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies News: Japanese Studies

A Very Special Guest

The Spring 2019 semester brought an esteemed visitor to campus, and an opportunity to think more deeply about Japan’s nuclear history and its unique role in shaping our global nuclear future.  Setsuko Thurlow is a hibakusha–a survivor of the 1945 atom bombs. She was a 13-year-old schoolgirl living in Hiroshima when that city was destroyed, at the end of World War II. She has spent the seven decades since testifying to the horror of nuclear weapons and campaigning for a world free of them. Ms. Thurlow has recounted her experience of that day to countless groups of children and adults.  She has also spoken powerfully in support of nuclear disarmament to world leaders and diplomats at global conferences, the UN, and other venues.  This activism resulted in the passage, in 2017, of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Ms. Thurlow has been honored by many groups for her tireless work in the advancement of peace. The City of Hiroshima named her a peace ambassador in 2014. the Arms Control Association named her “arms control person of the year” for 2015. And, in December 2017, together with two other hibakusha, Ms. Thurlow accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). She visited campus as one of the featured visitors for the Spring 2019 on-campus COLL 300, which addressed the theme of “Ceremony.” Ms. Thurlow visited several COLL 300 classes and gave a major address at the Sadler Center, where she spoke about her lifetime of testimony, the role of ceremony in her life and work, and her hopes for younger generations.

Ms. Thurlow’s visit was a kind of homecoming.  In 1954, after graduating from Hiroshima Jogakuin University, she came to Virginia to study sociology at Lynchburg College, before moving to Canada, where she obtained her master’s degree in social work at the University of Toronto.

The Japanese Program was honored to host a dinner for Ms. Thurlow, where faculty and students had the opportunity to speak with her more informally, and to hear more about her remarkable life and her important work.  Thanks to all who helped to make her visit possible and, in particular, to the Center for Liberal Arts for inviting Mrs. Thurlow.



News: Japanese Studies

J-House, a Lasting and Influential Experience

Rollin Woodford, Class of 2019

The Japanese House has been my home away from home ever since my sophomore year. An upperclassman who was living there at the time told me about it, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.  Having spent 4 years in high school studying Japanese, an environment where I could continue speaking it daily and improve sounded like a dream.

It wasn’t until I actually moved in that I realized the full benefits of living in J-House.  Having a live-in tutor who became not only a great resource but also a friend was invaluable. Living in J-House also allowed my language skills to improve several-fold, bringing me from intermediate level to N2 Japanese Language Proficiency. I was also able to make real, lifelong friends with all different kinds of people along the way. The community of J-House is very close-knit, which is something that almost every other dorm in college lacks. Without it, my entire college journey would have been completely different, and I wouldn’t know the many people that I can’t imagine life without. Because of that, I’m forever grateful for having been given the opportunity to live in J-House.

Photo-J-House a Lasting and Influential Experience crop

News: Japanese Studies Spring 2019

An Inspirational Teaching and Learning Experience

Ziyue Shen, Class of 2019

From professors to students, everyone I have met in my three years of Japanese studies has inspired me to become a TA and to share this cordiality. My job as a TA is to assist professor Kato in teaching JAPN 201 & 202 while simultaneously learning teaching skills in MDLL class. During my year as a TA, I have repeatedly asked myself how I can foster my students’ interest in Japanese studies. My most delightful moments come when they laugh joyfully about the interesting videos I found and when they tell me they enjoy coming to class. When exams and due projects have exhausted my students, I let them practice conversation activities with their peers as an engaging way of learning. Perhaps the best thing I have experienced as a TA is to teach and also to learn along with my fellow students.

Phto-An Inspirational Teaching and Learning Experience crop

Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies News: Japanese Studies

A Dream-like Experience in Japan

“I had a wonderful time in Japan,” Kenneth Li answered every time someone asked about his time during the summer break. Now when he reflects on that experience, everything seems to be scenes in a dream.
Every morning and evening, Kenneth rode a bike along the gorgeous Biwa Lake to commute between school and his gracious host family. Although the cla3) Li photo No.1ss moved at a fast pace, he could easily practice what he had just learned with Japanese people around him, so he made significant progress. Upon returning to the host family in the evenings, Kenneth talked about what he had learned at school and saw firsthand how the knowledge in the book corresponded with the daily life of a Japanese family.
During weekends, Kenneth’s friends traveled with him around Japan an3) Li photo No.2d observed the variety of Japanese culture in different places. Since a lot of Japanese festivals are held in the summer, they were fortunate to experience such events as Gion Matsuri and Hanabi Taikai.
Kenneth highly recommends this program to those who seek to advance their Japanese in a short time while exploring Japan and also having a wonderful experience of full immersion into Japanese culture.



Fall 2018 News: Japanese Studies

A Way of “Giving Back” to Her Home Town, Akita, Japan

Kaoru Suzuki was born and reared in Akita Prefecture, Japan. She sought a bachelor’s degree from Akita University and finished her master’s degree at Akita International University (AIU), where Ms. Suzuki studied Japanese Language Education. Akita International University is in Akita prefecture and is a proud partner institution with The College of William & Mary (W&M) in Williamsburg, VA.

In addition to the natural setting and great foods for which Akita prefecture is known, it also boasts a university in which all classes are offered in English and all students are required to study abroad for a year. In fact, for those 200+ international students who come each year, the Japanese studies program provides not only Japanese language courses, which are taught in Japanese, but also content courses related to Japan that are offered in English.

Ms. Suzuki had wanted to contribute to her hometown, Akita, since she was a kid. While at the University, she realized that many people need to learn Japanese in order to work in Akita. Thus, she began to study Japanese Language Education at AIU to facilitate her teaching skills.

Now, Ms. Suzuki is living with students at the Japanese Language House and working at W&M as a Language House tutor and as a Japanese language teacher. Her main job includes organizing events on a regular bi-weekly schedule, activities such as cooking lessons and cultural functions. For cooking nights, students have made Nikujaga, Oyako-don, and other Japanese foods. Their cultural events have included making Origami and playing the Japanese card game, Karuta.

While she is here as the House tutor, Ms. Suzuki would like to continue introducing more cultural aspects about Japan to students as well as supporting them as they improve their Japanese speaking skills.

4) Suzuki photo No.14) Suzuki photo No.2

Fall 2018 News: Japanese Studies

Invaluable Learning Among Extraordinary People

2) Snowden photoHayley Snowden, Class of 2019

Had I been able to draw an ideal picture of what my study abroad at Keio University would look like, it would have matched reality exactly. My classes in Japanese cultural studies and Asian business offered me the vastly unique opportunity to hear a wide variety of perspectives from both Japanese and international students alike, and every single day in Tokyo or nearby prefectures offered me continual chances for new adventures.

Undoubtedly, the people with whom I experienced Japan are an integral part of what made my entire experience so special. Before arriving in Japan, I signed up for Keio University’s “Tomodachi Program,” which places international students with Japanese students to facilitate the formation of cross-cultural friendships. I could not have asked for a more wonderful group of girls—some of my absolute favorite memories come from our adventures going to see fireworks on the beach, getting a bird’s eye view of the city from Tokyo Tower, eating soufflé pancakes in Harajuku, and spending a day at Tokyo Disneyland.

Additionally, I was fortunate enough to be placed in a dorm with an extremely tight-knit community of students from all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Australia, Taiwan, and Luxembourg. This living situation afforded me even more friends with whom to explore daily life in Tokyo, as well as valuable friendships that I believe will last a lifetime. I’m already thinking of additional ways that I can incorporate this experience into my long-term career goals, and am actively looking for opportunities to return to Japan to develop professionally and make spectacular new memories.

Faculty Profiles Fall 2018 More News: Japanese Studies

Meet Daniel Johnson, New Faculty in Japanese

1) Johnson photoDaniel Johnson received his PhD from the joint program in East Asian Cinema at the University of Chicago in 2015. He previously taught at Union College in Schenectady, New York. His research interests include the relationship between language and popular media in Japan, and the perception of vitality in the moving image. His work has been published in journals such as Japanese Studies and Games and Culture.

For the fall semester of 2018 Dr. Johnson will teach the course “Modern and Contemporary Japanese Literature” and two sections of “East Asian Cinema.” His literature courses examines the relationship between the human body and issues of identity, technology, and sensory perception, while the two sections of East Asian Cinema are focused on “Youth Culture” and “Transnational Cinema.”

News: Japanese Studies Spring 2018 Spring 2018 Featured

Daniel Birriel (Japanese Studies and AMES, ’18) Explores Japanese Video Culture

BirrielDaniel Birriel is very interested in Japanese language and culture, and someday hopes to work for Nintendo localizing video games. These interests led him to focus his AMES Capstone Paper on how localization affects intercultural exchange and the response Japanese video game companies should take regarding this exchange. Understanding localization requires an understanding of how it is different from translation. While translation takes a product and moves it from one language to another, often modifying certain words or phrases to create a smooth transition between languages, localization involves adjusting aspects of a product, like culture, music, art, fashion, religion, in addition to words and phrases in order to ensure a product will be accepted and succeed in a foreign market. This is commonly seen in the video game market as some of the biggest game developers are based in Japan. To what degree Japanese culture, humor, gender norms, and marketing will need to be modified for foreign markets is always a key concern for these companies. Japanese video game companies must be more aware of the shifts in consumer markets that create this growing group of consumers seeking more and more “authentic” Japanese video games, else they find themselves losing out on potential profits. The paper also touches on the influence video game and anime has had on American pop culture, such as cartoons and film, as well as how Japan utilizes soft power politics to shape its global image.

Over the course of his research, he discovered one important way that American consumers are engaging with Japanese pop culture and media. After watching anime or playing video games developed by Japanese video game companies, they start seeking out more Japanese products and begin a search for what they deem is truly “authentic.” The way this search sometimes manifests itself is through switching a games voice acting to Japanese or by playing video games that were never released in the US and were translated by fans.

For fans, this is a great way to engage with Japanese games that they otherwise would never have been able to play. However, for Japanese game developers, these fan translated games represent an interesting problem. On one hand, they never officially released the game in the US so they lose no profit, but on the other hand, their intellectual property is being placed in the hands of people who may not translate their game in the way they would like.



News: Japanese Studies Spring 2018 Spring 2018 Featured

Japanese Studies Program Awards Kinyo Prizes

Kinzo PrizeThe Japanese Studies Program is proud to announce the recipients of Kinyo Awards for Excellence in Japanese language study for 2017 – 2018 academic year. The prize recognizes the hard work and achievement of the top student at each level of William and Mary’s Japanese language program. The awards are made possible through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc., who established the awards in 2007 and has maintained them since then. This year’s recipients are: in first year, James Stinneford; in second year, Isaelle Tsow; in third year, Victoria Park; and, in fourth year, Celia Metzger. These students have demonstrated extraordinary diligence and accomplishment in Japanese language study over the past year. Congratulations to all the winners, and keep up the good work! 皆さん、おめでとうございま

Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Japanese Studies

Japanese Studies: On the Trading Floor in Tokyo

On the Trading Floor in Tokyo

Xinyi Wang (Finance and Applied Math, ’18))

Xinyi Wang

One of our students, Ms. Xinyi Wang, experienced an in-depth 10-week internship program at Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Equity Division in Tokyo this summer. She received the internship opportunity from Boston Career Forum, which provides an annual opportunity in Boston every November for Japanese and English bilingual students who seek either an internship or a full-time job in Japan. She has lived in the Japanese House on the William and Mary campus for two years. During her time at the college, Ms. Wang has worked as the W&M President of Japanese Culture Association and was a TA for Japanese 101 and 102.

Ms. Wang submitted her entry application and résumé in early September and participated in two telephone interviews before attending the forum. During the actual career forum, she was invited to a networking dinner with other selected applicants as well as current employees and got her offer after a short face-to-face interview at Morgan Stanley’s booth the next day. A particular requirement of the Morgan Stanley Tokyo office was fluency in business-level Japanese (which I will be offering as JAPN 402 this next semester) and English. Ms. Wang was not native to either language but had sufficient competency to win her the internship.

During the 10 weeks of that internship, she rotated among four different desks on the sales and trading floor, shadowed employees during market hours and worked after hours on her designated internship project. Although she did find the work schedule to be a bit daunting, the work day possibly starting as early as 6 am and extending to 8 pm, such hours were similar at other area investment banks.Trading Floor Desk

Morgan Stanley management and staff perceived the internship program as highly beneficial, and it was reflected through their policies. Ms. Wang was pleased to enjoy a free service apartment, a refund of the cost of her flight, and a regular stipend. Employees were also extremely helpful and supportive. She was able to schedule short Starbucks talks or lunches with staff members. Sometimes interns were even invited to casual get-togethers with staff after work.

According to Ms. Wang, she wants to pursue a career in finance in Tokyo after she graduates from William and Mary. She states, “I had a really great time in Tokyo and at MS, and this internship really inspired me to find a job in Tokyo after my graduation.”

Trading floors for IED:

Trading Floor




Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Japanese Studies

Japanese Studies: Once Upon a Time in Japan

Once Upon a Time in Japan

Yunjie Zhang (International Relations and Global Studies ’20)


Akita 1Yunjie Zhang is a very active participant in the Japanese Culture Association and in the Japanese Language House, where he resides on the William and Mary Campus. He has been taking several high level Japanese language courses, ranging from the 200-400 level, and many different Japanese content courses. He had the exciting opportunity to participate in the three-week seminar, Once Upon a Time in Japan.

The Once Upon a Time in Japan traveling history seminar was a valuable, enriching and amazing experience. Presented by Akita International University (AIU), the three-week history and traveling seminar introduced me valuable learning experiences outside of the classroom. We spent one week inside AIU visiting historic sites in Akita while learning the foundation of Japanese history. During the remaining two weeks of the seminar, we visited eight cities with stops at several temples, castles and museums.

Lessons from the textbook and multimedia learning tools came to life during as we visited historic sites and discovered how history was narrated under a particular purpose.  Not only was the seminar education, but it was also fun! We climbed to the top of Osaka Castle, experienced Buddhist lifestyle at a temple in Kyoto, explored Chinatown in Nagasaki, and made traditional dishes in Akita. The entire traveling seminar was extremely inspiring and fun.Akita 2

The highlight of the seminar was exploring reasons behind certain narratives of history.  History is not only about what happened, but it is also about who could tell the story under what circumstances.  Thus, I am inspired to examine the “hidden” parts of history and, if possible, to decrease the hatred that originates from those narratives.

I recommend Once Upon a Time in Japan to anyone who is interested in Japanese history or culture. It’s also a great fit for those who simply want to travel, attend the seminar, and enjoy the fabulous, three-week experience in Japan!

Akita 3

Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Japanese Studies

Japanese Studies: Teaching the Art of Ikebana at W&M

Teaching the Art of Ikebana at W&M

 Kado (華道) Demonstration Impressed Attendees with “…the Beauty of Simplicity.”

Kado 1

On Wednesday, November 29th, from 5 to 6 pm in the Japanese house, Kado Instructor, Ryoko Vogel from Okinawa, Japan presented a hands-on exploration of what she has been teaching for 6 years─ the intricacies of Ikebana.

Ikebana is the art of flower arranging (華道) to heighten the appeal of a vase and to use flowers to represent heaven, earth and humanity. The tea ceremony and flower arranging have traditionally gone together, with the objective of expressing purity and simplicity rather than creating something of elegant beauty. Flower arrangement seeks to create a harmony of linear construction, rhythm and color in which the vase, the stems, leaves and branches are part of the art form as well as the flowers. (

Kado photo 2Harmony (和) is a key concept of Japanese culture, and is one of the many principles of Zen Buddhism, along with minimalism, contemplation, simplicity and emptiness. These are also the concepts inherent in Kado. Thus, the demonstration challenged participants to be mindful of Zen values as they created works of art that they could keep.

One surprised attendee commented that “Ikebana sounded simple initially to me, just about pretty flowers and putting them in random places, but in reality we have to think about aesthetics and where the style comes from.” But as they worked under the close guidance of their talented and patient instructor, participants discovered that “simplicity of design” requires unexpectedly challenging attention to details as well as close focus on and integration of Zen principles.Kado photo 3

Ultimately, their efforts resulted in extremely satisfying works of floral art that participants took home with them.  These floral embodiment’s of Japanese tradition and philosophy will serve as lovely reminders of the experience and of Kado. When the creations were done and the lively discussion had subsided, participants partook of complementary Japanese cakes, snacks and green tea.

*Ryoko Vogel is currently planning an Ikebana flower show next year in Virginia Beach at the Japanese Language House.

News News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Japan Studies New Faculty

Dr. Huangwen Lai
Dr. Huangwen Lai

The Japanese Studies Program is happy to welcome Dr. Huang-wen Lai!

Dr. Lai is a specialist in Japanese colonial literature and cinema–that is, works about the areas colonized by Japan before and during World War II (or, the Pacific War), including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, and Okinawa, written in Japanese by both Japanese and local authors.  Dr. Lai received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and his M.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2007. He also spent several years studying and teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before coming to the U.S., he earned his B.A. and his first M.A. in Japanese Literature from Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taiwan.

Dr. Lai’s current research sheds light on the role of in-betweenness in Japanese colonial literature and culture. His book project, “Traveling Abroad, Writing Nationalism, and Performing in Disguise: People on the Japanese Colonial Boundary, 1909-1943,” investigates the relations and discourses among “in-between” people who were caught on the colonial boundaries under Japanese rule. He is also very interested in intercultural studies between China and Japan, and between the East and the West. His second research project looks at links between literature and cinema in Japan and China, and how cinematic adaptations shed light on social, political and literary transformations in East Asia from the 1930s to the present.

At William & Mary, Dr. Lai will be teaching several courses for the 2017-18 school year, including Classical Japanese, Contemporary Japanese Literature, and a course on his specialty, titled “Writing Empire.”  Please say hello when you see him!

Graduates 2016-2017 News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2017

Japan Section Year-End Prizes

The Japanese Section awarded several prizes to mark the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

First, we are proud to announce the recipients of this year’s Kinyo Awards for Excellence in Japanese language study.  The prize recognizes the hard work and achievement of the top student at each level of William and Mary’s Japanese language program. The awards are made possible through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc., who established the awards in 2007 and has maintained them since then.  This year’s recipients are:

  • Hayley Snowden (100 level)
  • Michael Park (200 level)
  • Veronica Deighan (300 level)
  • Mackenzie Neal (400 level)

Second, we inducted several graduating seniors into the Japanese National Honor Society.  Inductees must meet several criteria, including: completion of five semesters of Japanese language study (or their equivalent), all taken for a grade (rather than audited or pass-fail); a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in Japanese language courses; and an overall GPA of at least 3.0. This year’s inductees are:

  • Wei Chang
  • Gyeong Young Cho
  • TianChu Gao
  • Kexin Ma
  • Anastasia Rivera
  • Jiacheng Xi

Finally, the award for Outstanding Achievement by a graduating senior in Japanese goes to Anastasia Rivera.  A double major in Philosophy and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (and a past winner of the Kinyo Prize), Anastasia was an active resident of Japan House, served as a TA for the Japanese language program, and spent a summer in Japan conducting research on a contemporary genre of fiction, the “keitai shousetsu,” or “cell-phone novel.” Anastasia will be putting her studies and experiences to excellent use next year, as she returns to Japan on the Jet (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program.

Congratulations to all our awardees! おめでとうございます!

Outstanding Achievement winner Rivera
Outstanding Achievement winner Rivera
Kinyo Award recipients Snowden, Park, Deighan, and Neal
Kinyo Award recipients Snowden, Park, Deighan, and Neal
Honor Society inductees Xi, Chang (front row), Ma, Gao, and Cho (back row)
Honor Society inductees Xi, Chang (front row), Ma, Gao, and Cho (back row)
News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2017 More

A Lifetime of Experiences in one Short Semester, by Daniel Tay (’19)

By Daniel Tay (’19)

I was unbelievably fortunate to be able to study abroad at Akita International University in the Fall of 2016, as I had an amazing experience while I was there! One of the highlights was the opportunity to get involved in the AIU School Festival held in October. It was an incredibly enriching experience, as I am really glad that I got to experience the life of a Japanese college student.

AIUTayNow that I’m back and in my normal routine, I find there are so many things that I miss about AIU─ the wonderful friends that I made while I was there, being immersed in an environment that really facilitated the learning of Japanese, and the beauty of the campus, just to name a few.

For any student wondering about a study-abroad opportunity, I currently work as a Peer Advisor for Study Abroad at the Reves Center and would be more than happy to talk to anyone who wants to find out more about this or any other study abroad program!

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2017

W&M’s Shodo Performance at the National Cherry Blossom Festival

By Norie Sakuma, Japanese House Tutor

Imagine our excitement: tens of thousands of visitors flock to the National Cherry Blossom Festival from every year from March 20th to April 16th. The spectacular array of cherry blossoms dazzles the eye then and enchants the soul, even when the weather is reluctant to release winter. And amid that crush of visitors, blossoms and traffic, 11 W&M students and I could be found, excitedly adding to the milieu by participating in the concurrent annual Shodo performance.

This amazing festival has been held in DC every year since 1927. It is intended to commemorate the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City to the city of Washington, D.C. Mayor Ozaki donated the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also to celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations.

shodo photo1What some visitors might not know or expect, however, is that the cherry blossoms must share the spotlight with all things Japanese during those 28 celebration days. With the Shodo festival, people can experience Japan at the same time as they enjoy the blooming trees. Myriad booths related to Japanese culture spring up for pedestrians to visit; these include such Japanese traditions as calligraphy, kimono and games. And many other stands are prepared to help you savor popular Japanese foods. Yakisoba, Takoyaki, cream puffs and other uniquely Japanese delights can be munched on while enjoying the city’s unique sights and sounds. In essence, you can travel to Japan via Washington without ever leaving the country or carrying a passport!

In addition to the foods and cultural experiences, you also can see many Japanese perform. For example, the entertainers may present a local dance from Okinawa prefectures, sing Japanese pop songs or demonstrate a sword battle.

Our contribution to the Shodo festival involved the students’ dancing to a poem and music of their own creation. They originated the theme, challenged their calligraphy skills to write the poem, chose and edited the music, and choreographed the dance. Our trip to DC was made possible in part by the generous support of the 3153 (“Saigo-san”) fund. My job was to participate in the poem’s development and support the students as they rehearsed.

shodo photo 2Those 11 students worked incredibly hard. In addition to their normal school work and activities, they dedicated nearly two hours nightly to every detail of the performance. Their dedication and commitment showed through, however. On the day of the performance, beneath a clear sky, but with brisk winds, the performers performed twice to large and highly appreciative audiences.

I had the pleasure of snapping pictures and recording the performance. As I peered through the video screen, I was dazzled not only by their amazing performance but by their brilliant smiles, as well. Clearly, everyone appreciated their accomplishments.

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2017 More

A New Monograph on Osaka, and a New Translation of Tanizaki’s “The Maids”

Spring semester saw the publication of two new books by Michael Cronin, Associate Professor of Japanese Studies. Osaka Modern, published in February by Harvard East Asian, is a monograph on the city of Osaka as imagined in literature, film, and popular culture of the transwar period, from the 1920s to the 1960s. Japan’s “merchant capital” in the late sixteenth century, Osaka remained an industrial center—the “Manchester of the East”—into the 1930s, developing a distinct urban culture to rival Tokyo’s. It therefore represents a critical site of East Asian modernity. Cronin explores Osaka’s spaces, its dialect, its food, humor, and more, using the city as a lens to examine issues of everyday life, coloniality, masculinity, and more.

The Maids, published in April by New Directions, is a translation of the final novel written by Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, a giant of Japanese and world literature. Originally published in 1963 and set partly in Osaka, the novel depicts the pampered and elegant household of a famous author, Chikura Raikichi, and his wife, Sanko, between the years 1936 to 1963—viewed through the eyes of the maids who serve the family. The figure of Raikichi offers an ironic, nostalgic self-portrait of the aging sensualist Tanizaki.

Prof. Cronin's monograph "Osaka Modern" (2017)
Prof. Cronin’s monograph “Osaka Modern” (2017)
Tanizaki's 1963 "The Maids"
Tanizaki’s 1963 “The Maids”
News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2017

History, Unevenness, and Urban Space in Japanese Cinema: Prof. Sasaki Presents on Kawashima’s “Suzaki Paradise: Red Light” (1956)

As part of the Bellini Colloquium series for spring 2017, Prof. Tomoyuki Sasaki shared his new research with colleagues and students.  On March 30, Prof. Sasaki presented a talk entitled “History, Unevenness, and Urban Space in Japanese Cinema: A Case Study,” which is part of his new research project.

Kawashima Yuzo's "Suzaki Paradisu Akashingo" (1956)
Kawashima Yuzo’s “Suzaki Paradisu Akashingo” (1956)

Prof. Sasaki’s presentation examined the intersection between historical narratives and cinema. Postwar Japanese history is often narrated as a story of the great success of the nation’s capitalist economy. This narrative is prescriptive in that it dictates how people should perceive the past (and the present). In this lecture, Prof. Sasaki discussed Kawashima Yuzo’s film Suzaki Paradise Red Light, released in 1956, at the onset of high-speed economic growth. This film participated in the contemporary discussion of the transformation that Japan’s capitalism was experiencing at that time, revealing its disquieting and contradictory nature. At the broader theoretical level, this presentation also considered the multiple possibilities that popular culture offers for narrating historical events.

The Bellini Colloquium is a lecture series sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. It is named after the first Professor of Modern Languages at the College, Carlo Bellini, a native of Florence, Italy and close friend of Thomas Jefferson. Bellini taught French and Italian from 1779 until 1803, and holds the distinction of being the only Professor to stay in residence at the College when classes were suspended for two years during the Revolutionary War.

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2017

A State-Wide Japanese “Jam” Session

soranbushi 2On February 11, 2017, the William and Mary Japanese Culture Association participated in a trailblazing event when we journeyed to Virginia Tech for the first annual Intercollegiate Japanese Organization meeting. This event required exceptional coordination and planning among the Commonwealth’s educational facilities and Japanese instructors; yet how better to interact with myriad other students and instructors than by celebrating this extraordinary culture, with its rich means of expression and appreciation of nuance and delicacy.

At this premier event, Japanese culture organizations from all around Virginia came together to perform and celebrate our love for Japanese traditions. Each organization selected a ritual of the culture and produced a first-rate experience for the audience; the goal was to entertain an appreciative audience while simultaneously learning more about Japanese traditions.

The Japanese Cultural Association from William and Mary performed two different dances at this intercollegiate meeting, one modern dance and one traditional dance. The traditional dance that JCA performed, sōran bushi, is a staple dance in our repertoire.

Sōran bushi is said to have come from Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands. Myriad sea ports dot the perimeter of this 32,000-square-mile island; and its rugged interior includes volcanoes, natural hot springs (onsen), spectacular vistas and challenging ski areas. The dance evokes movements that honor the island’s fishermen and their work at sea. An especially engaging component of the dance includes a call-and-response component that allows the audience to become part of the performance. The song has multiple intervals where the performers call out “dokkoisho!” and “sōran!” Those calls indicate when the audience is supposed to respond. These words originally were used to encourage the fisherman during their work, which is the English equivalent of a “heave ho.” Even though sōran bushi is performed by most of the Japanese clubs in Virginia, each dance is never exactly the same, thus encouraging each school to insert its own unique style.

soranbushi photo1All who participated and observed came away immensely enriched by this gathering, with all its enthusiasm, variety and commonality of purpose. Now, as we begin to look forward to contributing next year, clearly we must “step up our game” to surprise our audiences and add to the excitement and learning experiences of all who attend.

Fall 2016 Issue News News: Japanese Studies

Kexin Ma (’17)’s J.LIVE Tea Talk

JLIVETalks photo 1At the J.LIVE competition held at George Washington University in November 2016, Ms. Kexin Ma (’17) presented a dynamic and engaging talk about「黒い茶碗の中の世界」,”The world inside a black tea cup.” In this presentation, Ms. Ma cleverly introduced the audience to Jian ceramic wares, an ancient Chinese black-glazed ceramic popularized during the Song dynasty (960-1279). She explained how Jian wares reflect the artistic taste of Song literati developed from their appreciation of nature and highly popular cultural events related to the contemporary fashion of tea drinking.

An especially intriguing part of her discussion involved ancient Chinese and Japanese ceramics as appreciated works of art that are so creative and unique that they have become highly valued museum pieces. She pointed out that, although some museum audiences seemingly prefer such fine arts as oil paintings and luxurious jewelry rather than ancient ceramics, Jian wares nonetheless deserve closer examination.

As an Art History major at the college, Ms. Ma has developed an interest in Chinese ceramics, so she recognized such ceramics as mirrors that reflect cultures and societies of different ages as well as the high skills of the potters. During the presentation, she called people’s attention to the historical and cultural significance of ancient ceramics and she helped the audience understand how ceramics can be a link between the past and the present. The unique way Ms. May blended her two fields of study from the different departments made the presentation all the more informative and relevant.

J live talk photo 2The judges and the audience found the presentation both informative and insightful. Some in the audience even said the presentation sounded like an academic talk, as it not only helped them realize the unique aesthetic quality of ancient East Asian ceramics, but it also demonstrated how works of art provide insight into the development of human society.

Ms. Ma was placed in Category II level in the contest; that designation indicates that she possesses intermediate-high to advanced-low level speaking proficiency. She adopted a variety of expressions and vocabulary, including professional terminology related to her topic. Thus, her vocabulary, inflection, delivery and language proficiency were highly scored.

During the presentation, she effectively connected with the audience, asking questions and actively interacting with the audience. Among all the competitive contestants, Ms. Ma especially stood out in the Q&A session with the judges and the audience, answering their questions insightfully. In addition, she was able to clarify her answers effectively by following up with elaborate explanations.

Ms. Ma currently is in Japanese 302, Upper Intermediate Japanese. She routinely exhibits her confidence, oratory skills, creativity and innate curiosity about people and culture.

For a full description of the JLIVE at GWU, click here.

Faculty Profiles Fall 2016 Issue News News: Japanese Studies

Meet Tomoyuki Sasaki, New Faculty in Japanese

sasaki photoThis past fall, Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki joined the Japanese program as an Associate Professor. We spoke to him recently about his research and teaching.

Q: Professor Sasaki, Welcome to William & Mary. I hope you are enjoying the campus and getting to know the town of Williamsburg. You started at W&M this August. Do you mind starting by telling us a little about your career before coming to W&M?

A: Sure. I earned my PhD in history at the University of California, San Diego, with focus on modern Japanese history. After that, I taught at Kalamazoo College in Michigan for one year as a visiting assistant professor. Then, I moved to Eastern Michigan University, where I spent six years, teaching courses on Japanese, East Asian, and world history.

Q: So you are trained as a historian. Can you talk a bit about your research?

A: Yes. Since I started my career as a scholar, I’ve been interested in relations between the military and civil society in the modern state—how the military, as an organization with the right to exercise physical violence, normalizes its presence in a democratic state. I used post-WWII Japan as a case study. Postwar Japan established a so-called Peace Constitution, renouncing war and banning the nation from possessing any type of war potential. But it also developed large-scale armed forces, called the Self-Defense Forces. Because of the gap between the constitutional ideal and the actual presence of a military organization, postwar Japan has actively contested the meanings of the military, so it presents a very interesting case. I deal with this topic at length in my book, Japan’s Postwar Military and Civil Society: Contesting a Better Life, which came out last year.

Q: What is the main argument of your book?

Sakaki bookcoverA: In the book, I focus on the Cold War period between the 1950s and 1980s. For Japan, as for many other industrialized countries, this was the time of high-speed economic growth. Japan’s high-speed economic growth is well-known worldwide, but it didn’t resolve many of the problems immanent to capitalism, such as unemployment, underemployment, and the economic gap between social classes as well as the gap between the city and the countryside. The SDF played an important role in alleviating these problems by offering employment for working-class men and using the labor of these men for the development of communities in the countryside, that were experiencing financial hardship. By looking at this role, I wanted to demonstrate how the SDF established itself structurally within Japan’s capitalist economic system and how this led to the consolidation of an intertwined socio-economic relation between the military and civil society.

Q: Any advice for students studying about Japan in particular and East Asia more broadly?

So much information on Japan and East Asia is available in America. Many people have fixed ideas about Japan and East Asia even before coming to college. In college-level education, I think, it’s essential to question what you know, to consider self-reflectively and self-critically how those ideas and understandings were shaped, and to become aware that there are many ways to conceptualize the object of your study.

Q: What courses will you be teaching at William & Mary?

A: In Spring 2016, I’ll be teaching two courses. First, Introduction to Japanese Studies. This course will introduce students to various methodologies, concepts, and theories crucial to the study of Japan. It’s a perfect course if you’re thinking of minoring in Japanese Studies. The other course is Japanese Cinema. We will deal with twelve films produced in the post-WWII period and examine the significance of these films within the historical contexts of US occupation, high-speed economic growth, social movements, and so on. During this period, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, there were so many great directors, actors and actresses, and screenwriters—it was a difficult task for me to select just twelve films; fun, but difficult. Anyone interested in Japan, Japanese films, and films in general is welcome.

Q: How do you spend your free time? Have you explored Williamsburg?

Watching old Japanese films always relaxes me. I also enjoy walking through colonial Williamsburg and petting the horses there. I’ve also been exploring some of the great restaurants in Richmond, too.

Thank you, Professor Sasaki. It was a pleasure talking with you.


Fall 2016 Issue News News: Japanese Studies

Beauty Queens and Cross-Dressing Geisha

Last month, the Japanese Program welcomed to campus Dr. Jan Bardsley, of UNC-Chapel Hill, a leading scholar of Japanese women’s studies.  Professor Bardsley joined students for two events to discuss two exciting new research projects.

On Wednesday,  October 19th, Nihongo House hosted a dinner for Bardsley.  Over indian food, Bardsley discussed her research into images of geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha) in contemporary pop culture.  After describing the life of geisha and maiko in Kyoto today, Bardsley introduced us to a series of light novels by Nanami Haruka titled Boy Maiko: There Goes Chiyogiku (Shōnen maiko: Chiyogiku ga yuku! 2002 – 2014), about a boy who leads a cross-dressed double life as a Kyoto maiko. Several students chimed in with additional examples of pop-culture appropriation of the maiko, including a Japanese dance hit that has gained fans in China.

On Thursday, October 20th, Professor Bardsley gave a public lecture on another current project, investigating the role of Japanese beauty pageants and beauty queens in the ideological struggles of the Cold War. As she noted, “American-style beauty contests complete with young women in tiaras, sashes, and swimsuits became big business in Japan in the 1950s. Pageants were held for all kinds of reasons – to attract local tourism, promote products, and, most interestingly, to do diplomatic work. Contests to crown Miss Black Ships, Miss World, and Miss Universe were also hailed as displays of women’s rights.” Bardsley’s talk focused on two controversial beauty queens, Miss Japan 1953 Itō Kinuko and Miss Universe 1959 Kojima Akiko. Both women were celebrated, she explained, “as emblems of the new self-confidence of young Japanese in the wake of postwar reforms.” At the same time, however, “critics attacked both queens as pawns in Japan-U.S. diplomatic and commercial alliances and as women imbued with a kind of ego and greed new to Japan.” The talk, accompanied by a wealth of photos and video footage from the ’fifties, highlighted “the allure and dangers of Americanization in 1950s Japan.” Bardsley ended the talk with a look at the renewed popularity of such contests today, as well as new controversies over the multiracial Miss Japan queens of 2015 and 2016 and the ideas of “Japanese-ness” they are expected to represent. All in all, the two-day visit provided a great opportunity for students and faculty to learn more about two fascinating new projects in the  fields of Japanese cultural studies and women’s studies. Our thanks to Jan for making the visit and sharing her projects with us!

Professor Bardsley’s visit was generously supported by the Reves Center and the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Program. The Nihongo House event was made possible through the generosity of the Saigo-san Fund.


Fall 2016 More News News: Japanese Studies

Meet J-House Tutor Norie Sakuma

Sakuma self portraitI was born and reared in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, where I flourished and derived my desire for a sound education and enriching life experiences. I sought my bachelor’s degree from Showa Women’s University and finished my master’s degree at Akita International University (AIU), where I studied Japanese Language Education. Akita International University is in Akita prefecture and is a proud partner institution with The College of William & Mary (W&M) in Williamsburg, VA.

In addition to the natural setting and great foods for which Akita prefecture is known, it also boasts a university in which all classes are offered in English and all students are required to study abroad for a year. In fact, for those 200+ international students who come each year, the Japanese studies program provides not only Japanese language courses, which are taught in Japanese, but also content courses related to Japan that are offered in English.

While enrolled in University, I had many opportunities to practice Japanese language teaching with those international students. However, I quickly discovered that teaching Japanese was surprisingly difficult. Thus, I began to study Japanese Language Education to facilitate my teaching skills. In addition to my academic courses, I also learned how to wear kimono, an elegant example of traditional Japanese attire. As a result of practicing kimono, I subsequently received prizes in Kimono competitions.

Now, I am living with students in the Japanese Language House and  working at W&M as a Language House tutor. My main job includes organizing events on a regular bi-weekly schedule, activities such as cooking lessons and cultural functions.  For cooking nights, we have made dumplings, hand-rolled sushi, and other Japanese foods. Also, I have hosted collaborative cooking nights with other language houses. Our cultural events have included making chopstick rests and discussing present working conditions in Japan with Japanese MBA students.

During my time here as the house tutor, I’d like to continue introducing more cultural aspects about Japan to students as well as supporting those students as they improve their Japanese speaking skills.

J-House students practice wearing kimono
J-House students practice wearing kimono

J-house kimono activity 2

News: Japanese Studies Spring 2016

Gender, Race, and Nation in the Glass of Fashion

2016 Nic photoCongratulations to Nic Querolo (’16), who has been awarded the 2016 MLL Book Prize in Japanese and recently defended his Honors Thesis, earning High Honors! Titled “Reconstructing a National Silhouette: Avant-Garde Fashion and Perceptions of the Japanese Body,” Nic’s thesis focuses on the avant-garde Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo and her label Commes des Garcon, examining how fashion as an industry and as artistic production responds to issues of gender and national heritage. His committee included Professors Tomoko Hamada-Connolly, from Anthropology; Jennifer Putzi, from the English Department and Women’s Studies Program; and Michael Cronin, from Japanese Studies. The topic reflects Nic’s interest in fashion as both a business and an art: he graduates this spring with one major in Finance and Business Administration and another major in Japanese Studies, self-designed and administered through the Charles Center. Nic’s engagement with Japan has developed over several years; he spent the spring semester of his sophomore year in the W&M study-abroad program at Keio University in Tokyo and he returned to Tokyo last summer with the support of a Charles Center Honors Fellowship.  Learn more about his research by watching the video below.  Best of luck, Nic!

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2016 More

Japanese National Honor Society Inductees

MLL and the Japanese section are proud to announce this years inductees into the Japanese National Honor Society.  Among this year’s graduating class, three students have met the Society’s demanding criteria: completion of five semesters of Japanese language study (or their equivalent), all taken for a grade (rather than audited or pass-fail); a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in Japanese language courses; and an overall GPA of at least 3.0. You will recognize our new inductees at commencement by their red and white tassel cords; please join us in congratulating Qinao Wang, Katelyn Prior, and Yangyang Zhou:  皆さん、おめでとうございます!  Thank you for setting an example for others studying the language.  We hope you will continue to build your Japanese language skills, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

Honor Society Inductees (from l. to r.) Wang, Pryor, and Zhou.
Honor Society Inductees (from l. to r.) Wang, Pryor, and Zhou.
News News: Japanese Studies

Japan Section Awards Kinyo Prizes

The Japanese Studies Program is proud to announce the recipients of this year’s Kinyo Awards for Excellence in Japanese language study.  The prize recognizes the hard work and achievement of the top student at each level of William and Mary’s Japanese language program. The awards are made possible through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc., who established the awards in 2007 and has maintained them since then.  This year’s recipients are: in first year, James Stinneford; in second year, Charlotte Sabrina Deforest; in third year, Sungwon Kang; and, in fourth year, Eugenia Witherow. These students have demonstrated extraordinary diligence and accomplishment in Japanese language study over the past year. Congratulations to all the winners, and keep up the good work!  皆さん、おめでとうございます!

Award winners (from l. to r.): Kang, Deforest, Stinneford, and Witherow
Award winners (from l. to r.): Kang, Deforest, Stinneford, and Witherow
News: Japanese Studies Spring 2016 More

Japan Section Welcomes New Faculty

Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki
Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki

The Japanese Program welcomes a new faculty member this coming fall. Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki received his PhD in history from the University of California, San Diego.  He also holds a Masters degree in Japanese studies from the Kobe City University of Foreign Studies.  He has taught at Kalamazoo College and Eastern Michigan University.  His research addresses issues of democracy, sovereignty, and the military, and their cultural representation. His monograph, Japan’s Postwar Military and Civil Society: Contesting a Better Life, was published last year by SOAS/University of London through Bloomsbury.

Dr. Sasaki will offer two new courses for fall 2016. Cultures of the Cold War (JAPN 307 02) examines the immense impact of the Cold War on forms of social governance, notions of democracy and freedom, perceptions of the past, and people’s everyday lives in Japan.  Crossing Lines (JAPN 208 01) considers how flows of people have shaped Japan’s modernity, looking at travel, migration, and other cross-border movement both out of and into Japan, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. Both courses are taught in English.

News News: Japanese Studies

“Shun” and Japanese Cuisine

American chefs and gourmands have recently rediscovered seasonality and locality —eating and celebrating the ingredients specific to the season and region.  In Japan these notions never faded from the cultural imagination. On November 4, the college community was treated to a fascinating lecture on the significance of “shun,” or “seasonality” to Japanese cuisine, and the special cuisine of the Akita region, presented by Dr. Yosuke Hashimoto, a professor at our partner institution, Akita International University. With its clearly differentiated seasons, Akita enjoys a variety of delicious foodstuffs, each with its high season.  And to survive through its long winter, the region developed various fermented foods, including the prototype of modern sushi-rice. Dr. Hashimoto accompanied his talk with mouthwatering photos of seasonal and local specialties, and samples of Japanese sembei rice crackers and tea.

On the following day, Dr. Hashimoto prepared several local Akita specialities together with the residents of Japanese House, the language-immersion residence hall in Preston Hall, including soup, hot-pot, and perhaps Akita’s most representative dish, kiritanpo—mashed rice shaped around skewers, toasted, and served with sweetened miso paste. Both events were organized as extensions of Tomoko Kato’s course on “Washoku,” or Japanese traditional cuisine, taught in Japanese. As you can see from the photos, it all made for a very convivial evening!


students making kiritanpo J house food 3 J house food 2 J house food 1

Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Graduates 2014-2015 News News: Japanese Studies

Gotta JET!

JET 1 (1)Last summer several graduating seniors jetted off to Japan—in order to become  “JETs.”  The Japan Exchange and Teaching, or JET, Program was established by the Japanese government in 1987 to “promote grass-roots exchange between Japan and other nations.” The Department of Education selects college grads from around the world to teach English in Japan for a year or more at kindergartens, and elementary schools, junior highs, and high schools. It’s a great opportunity for graduates interested in Japan to go there with the full support of the Japanese government, which trains participants, places them, and provides housing and a comfortable stipend. About 4,000 graduates participate in the program each year, with about 2,300 of those coming from the U.S.

Applicants for this prestigious program go through a careful selection process, and this past year, William & Mary students had remarkable success. Five of our 2015 graduates will become JETs: Isabel Bush, Andrew Kim, Michael Le, Jack Powers, and Mark Zuschlag. We spoke to a few of them about their plans.

Isabel is graduating with a self-designed major in Japanese Studies.  She describes the JET program as “the most logical career choice” for her. At the College, Isabel studied three years of Japanese language and took at least one other course related to Japan each semester. She also spent two summers conducting independent research on Japanese history and culture through the Charles Center. “I was able to do an internship with the Japan-US Friendship Commission during my junior year, and being part of an organization that helped foster exchange between academics, governments, and students and individuals of all ages really changed how I look at Japan and the US. I want to be an active part of that exchange, and teaching English while I work on my own language skills seems like the perfect way to do it.” Isabel hopes to improve both her language and professional skills while a JET. “I’m really excited to be a real part of a community in Japan, and to start putting my time at William & Mary to use in the real world!”

Andrew, who graduates with a concentration in East Asian Studies in the AMES (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies) Program, first heard about the JET Program from a colleague at a summer teaching program. “She was talked about the wonderful experiences she had teaching in Japan. I want to become a teacher in the future, so I decided to apply to JET in order to experience a foreign education system from a faculty position. In the five years I’ve spent here at W&M, I’ve learned so much from the wonderful teachers here in the Japanese Studies department. Under their guidance, I’ve not only developed the language skills I need to converse in Japanese, but have come to deeply appreciate Japan’s complex culture and unique history.” Andrew just learned that he’ll be teaching in the city of Takamatsu, on the island of Shikoku. “I’m ready to experience living in Japan as opposed to simply surviving,” he says. “I encourage all of you reading this to take the leap and do the same!”

Michael graduates with a major in Hispanic Studies and a minor in Japanese Studies. He began taking Japanese courses, he says, “in an impulsive fit of rebellion,” and initially viewed the JET Program as an unattainable goal. But through his Modern Languages courses, he says, “I really connected with cultural-theory work that looks to understand the complexities of representations and narratives. I gained stronger analytical and linguistic skills as well as a deeper cultural sympathy beyond my own.” At that point, it was only natural for him to apply to the JET Program. He was especially drawn to its emphasis on transnational exchange at a grassroots level. Michael, too, will be teaching on Shikoku. “I expect to rigorously challenge my worldview and culturally condition myself for the life of a translator and interpreter.”

If you’d like to know more about the JET Program, check out the website here, or speak to any of the Japanese Studies faculty.  Congratulations to Isabel, Andrew, Michael, Jack, and Mark!

News News: Japanese Studies

Canon Internship: Gaining Skills, Making Friends

Finance major and Japanese Studies minor Shumin Gong spent three months in Japan this past summer thanks to William & Mary’s internship program with Canon Corporation. Here’s her report on the experience.

“During the three-month internship period, not only did I gain working experience in a different environment, I also had a great time living and traveling in Japan. In the company, I was given various jobs, including running data and reading reports. Although these assignments were usually not complicated, they sometimes required data processing or Japanese reading skills, which allowed me to apply things I learned at W&M in varies ways. Meanwhile, my supervisor and my colleagues were supportive of me at all times, especially when I had questions regarding my job. Thus, the office environment of my division was not as stressful as I thought. On the contrary, Japanese people’s politeness and their diligence impressed me a great deal. In addition, Canon’s internship program also offered me the opportunity to explore Tokyo. Since the workload was designed for interns, I was able to utilize my time both after work and on weekends. As I spent time with some of my colleagues, I actually developed personal relationships with them out of the office too. In fact, Canon had its once-in-five-years Expo in New York this September, and I was also invited to the event by my internship manager. I consider it a great chance to get a closer look at Canon and I hope I can remain such relationship with my colleagues in the future as well.

“Being able to intern at Canon Corp. makes me feel more confident about my abilities and gives me more hope of getting a job in Japan after graduation. Personally, I would recommend this internship program to students who like Japan or to those who want to get a sense of working in a foreign environment. Again, I am honored to be chosen as Canon’s intern from W&M this year, and I am sure that my experience over the summer will guide me through my last semester at college as it leads me to my future career.”

Shumin Ging, center, at Canon's Tokyo offices with other Canon Global Interns
Shumin Gong, center, at Canon’s Tokyo offices with other Canon Global Interns
News News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Japanese Studies Book Prize Awarded

The 2015 MLL Book Prize in Japanese has been awarded to Luis Madrid. The prize is given each year to a student who has shown overall excellence in Japanese studies.  A graduating senior, Luis has demonstrated a remarkable facility for learning languages during his time at the College, studying French in addition to Japanese. After graduating, Luis will be working over the summer as a full-time Spanish-language research assistant with the TRIP (Teaching Research International Policy) initiative at the W&M IR Institute. He also hopes to pursue a Master’s in International Security, and will be applying to graduate schools in both America and France. Congratulations on the award and on your graduation, Luis, and best wishes for the future!

Prof. DiNitto, Luis Madrid
Prof. DiNitto, Luis Madrid


News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Kinyo Award Winners Announced

The Japanese Section is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Kinyo Awards for Excellence in Japanese language study.  We are grateful to Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc., through whose generous support the Kinyo Prize has been established and maintained.  The prize recognizes the hard work and achievement of the top student at each level of William and Mary’s Japanese language program. This year’s recipients are: in first year, Kexin Ma; in second year, Carrie Min Yo Morrow Gudenkauf; in third year, Shumin Gong; and in fourth year, Qinao Wang.  Each of these  students has distinguished themselves throughout the past year by their diligence and their accomplishment in Japanese language study.  Congratulations to all the winners, and keep up the good work!  皆さん、おめでとうございます!

Kinyo winners 2015

News: Japanese Studies

Japanese Honor Society Inductees

MLL and the Japanese section congratulate this years inductees into  the Japanese National Honor Society!  Among this year’s graduating class, four students have met the Society’s demanding criteria: completion of five semesters of Japanese language study (or their equivalent), all taken for a grade (rather than audited or pass-fail); a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in Japanese language courses; and an overall GPA of at least 3.0. They are: Emily Bailey, Won Kun Lee, Michael Le, and Luis Madrid.  Congratulations to all of you!  Thank you for setting an example for others studying the language.  And best of luck in your future endeavors!P1010834

News: Japanese Studies

Bubble Tea Sale – Japan Culture Assoc.

Stop by the Sadler Terrace this Friday for Bubble Tea!  The Japanese Culture Association will be selling the treat for just a dollar a cup.JCA.BTFlyerMichael

Fall 2014 News News: Japanese Studies

Embracing the Horror: Japanese Studies Alum Mike Crandol (’07) talks about his current work

Mike Crandol '07
Mike Crandol ’07

This past October, William & Mary alum Mike Crandol (’07) returned to campus to share with us what he’s been up to since he left.  After graduating with a major in East Asian Studies, Mike entered the graduate program at the University of Minnesota, where he’s now finishing up his doctoral degree.  Mike’s research concerns the genre of “kaiki eiga”  or “bizarre films”—predecessors to today’s “J-horror.” After his fascinating talk, Mike answered some questions about grad school, his research, and how W&M prepared him for both.

 How did you become interested in Japan and Japanese cinema?

Anime was the gateway drug, like it is for a lot of people in my generation, I suppose. I’ve loved animation my whole life. When I was a kid I wanted to be a Disney animator. As I got older, the more sophisticated content in some Japanese animation appealed to me. I also started to get more interested in live-action cinema, so it all kind of came together neatly when I decided to major in East Asian Studies at W&M.

Did you do a study-abroad program while an undergrad at W&M?

No. At the time I was convinced that I needed to study Japanese for several more years before I’d even be able to function in Japan. I’ve since learned that’s not true. The sooner you go to Japan, the faster you will pick up the language, no matter what level you’re at when you arrive.

Why did you decide to continue on to graduate school?

I had no intention of going to grad school while I was at W&M. The summer after I graduated I went to talk to Professor [Rachel] DiNitto, and told her I really didn’t know what to do next, but I didn’t want to let all my time studying Japanese language and culture go to waste. She knew I was interested in cinema and suggested I apply to the PhD program in Asian Literatures, Cultures, and Media at the University of Minnesota, where a colleague of hers did some work on Japanese film. That colleague became my graduate advisor!

How did your undergrad experience at W&M prepare you for graduate school?

I think your undergraduate education ideally prepares you to be able to talk about texts and topics that interest you in a more insightful manner. It gives you the context and the raw materials. At W&M I took classes not only on Japanese film but Japanese history, culture, and religion as well. This allows you, as a grad student, to do theoretical analysis of Japanese film while taking into account cultural/historical contexts that a regular film critic might miss.

What led you to kaiki eiga?

Along with animation, horror movies are another lifelong interest of mine. J-horror was still pretty popular when I was at W&M – things like The Ring and Ju-on: The Grudge. Everybody – even academics – was talking about these films, but nobody seemed to know what had come before. While I was at W&M, Criterion released a film from 1960 called Jigoku by a director named Nakagawa Nobuo on DVD. In the extra features, renowned J-horror director Kurosawa Kiyoshi talks about the influence of Nakagawa’s kaiki eiga on his own films. That was the beginning, for me. Nakagawa was the greatest Japanese kaiki eiga director, but it’s this whole genre of popular horror film that covers a span of over 50 years. Yet today most people know almost nothing at all about it, even in Japan.

What sort of reception have you gotten to your research topic?

People are excited by it, both here and in Japan. There are only two or three scholars in Japan who have really tackled the topic before. Japanese academics I’ve met have been surprised a foreigner has even heard of some of these movies. And American and European scholars I’ve spoken with agree that it’s important to correct the notion in the West that Japanese horror is only Godzilla, The Ring, and splatter-gore pictures like Ichi the Killer.

Any advice for students trying to identify a compelling research project?

It’s of course important to try and find something new or ‘fresh’ that hasn’t really been done before, but I think it’s more important to do something you genuinely love. It sounds cliché but it’s true. If you’re going to devote a big chunk of your life to something, it needs to be something you’re passionate about. Be an otaku about it. If you have that level of geeky love for your topic, you’ll certainly be able to notice something about it that no one else has. And that’s how you make it fresh and your own.

News News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Public Talk: An Army for the People

Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki, History, Eastern Michigan UniversityDr. Tomoyuki Sasaki, History, Eastern Michigan University

Japan’s postwar constitution renounces war as a sovereign right and stipulates that land, sea, and air forces will never be maintained, yet the country today possesses a large and powerful military. Join us as Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki, of Eastern Michigan University, traces the development of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces within the context of postwar economic development and discusses its various roles and relations with civil society. Part of the Reves Distinguished Lectures in International Studies series.  Supported by the Reves Center and the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Program.

Thursday, November 20, 5:00 – 6:30, Blair Hall 223

News: Japanese Studies

Anime Voice Actors Visit

Are you a fan of anime? Curious about the people whose give voice to characters in English?  Two celebrity voice actors, Yuri Lowenthal (W&M ’93) and Tara Platt, will be visiting campus this weekend to host master classes and an open-to-the-public Q&A panel discussion.  Among many other projects, they have voiced the characters of Sasuke and Temari in the English-language release of Naruto, and Yuri voiced Keigo Atobe in The Prince of Tennis, and Suzaku Kururugi in Code Geass.  Please join them for the Panel Discussion as they discuss their work and the industry.
Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt
Q&A Panel: open to the public
Sat. Nov. 8
6:30 – 8:00 pm
Andrews 101
News: Japanese Studies

Before J-horror: Prewar and Postwar Japanese ‘Kaiki’ Cinema

Kaiki talkAlong with anime, manga, and video games, Japanese horror films of the past fifteen years have been one of the country’s most successful cultural exports. Pictures like The Ring, The Grudge, and Pulse frightened audiences worldwide and were turned into big-budget Hollywood remakes. But while the films that made up the “J-horror” boom quickly became the object of much international interest and study, the preceding seventy years of popular Japanese horror movie history remains largely unknown outside of Japan.

Come get into the Halloween spirit and learn about “kaiki” cinema from Mike Crandol, W&M alum and current University of Minnesota PhD candidate.  Mike will give a public lecture on Thursday, October 30th, from 5:00 – 6:30, in Blair 223.

This discussion will focus on what came before J-horror, and the dilemmas of applying the English-language generic category “horror” to the cinema of a non-English speaking culture. We will examine kaiki eiga or “weird/bizarre films” from the 1920s through the 1960s that represent a genre marked in part by a blending of kabuki stage traditions with the style and conventions of Hollywood horror. We will find out why some American and European horror films get labeled kaiki in Japan while others do not, what conspired to bring about the death of the kaiki genre in the 1970s, and what inspired its ghastly, partial resurrection in the guise of J-horror.

Mike graduated from W&M in 2007 with a double-major in East Asian Studies and English Literature.

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2014 More

Kinyo Prize Awarded for Excellence in Japanese

The Japanese section is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s Kinyo Prizes for Excellence in Japanese.  The Kinyo Prize has been established through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc., to recognize the hard work and achievement of the top student at each level of William and Mary’s Japanese program. This year’s recipients are: in first year, Anastasia Rivera; in second year: Won Kun Lee; in third year, Jiaqi, Zong; and in fourth year, Andrew Runge.  Throughout the year, these four students distinguished themselves by their diligence and their accomplishment in Japanese language. 皆さん、おめでとうございます!

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2014 More

Eight Inducted into Japanese National Honor Society

Congratulations to the eight new members of the Japanese National Honor Society!  Among this year’s graduating class, eight students have been inducted into the society.   The inductees have met several demanding criteria: completion of five semesters of Japanese language study (or their equivalent), all taken for a grade (rather than audited or pass-fail); a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in Japanese language courses; and an overall GPA of at least 3.0. The following students met the grade:

  • Tara Naughton
  • Jeffrey N’gare
  • Steven Pau
  • Dylan Reilly
  • Andrew Runge
  • Amanda Schiano di Cola
  • Xiaorui Tong
  • Jiaqi Zong

If you see them at Commencement wearing the distinctive red-and-white cord around their neck, please join us in congratulating them!

Dylan Reilly
Dylan Reilly
Steven Pau, Xiaorui Tong, Amanda Schiano di Cola
Steven Pau, Xiaorui Tong, Amanda Schiano di Cola
Jiaqi Zong, Jeffrey Ngare, Andrew Runge, Tara Naughton
Jiaqi Zong, Jeffrey Ngare, Andrew Runge, Tara Naughton


News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2014 More

Kinyo Prize Awarded for Excellence in Japanese

L-R, Winners Zong, Runge, Rivera, and Lee

The Japanese section is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s Kinyo Prizes for Excellence in Japanese.  The Kinyo Prize has been established through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc., to recognize the hard work and achievement of the top student at each level of William and Mary’s Japanese program. This year’s recipients are: in first year, Anastasia Rivera; in second year: Won Kun Lee; in third year, Jiaqi Zong; and in fourth year, Andrew Runge.  Throughout the year, these four students distinguished themselves by their diligence and their accomplishment in Japanese language. 皆さん、おめでとうございます!



News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2014

Japan Studies Seniors Present Research at AMES Conference

Student presentations at a conference on April 12 showcased a wide range of interests in Japanese culture and society, as well as the possibilities for student research at William and Mary.

Graduating seniors in the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) Program presented the results of year-long research projects at the AMES Undergraduate Student Conference.  Among the thirteen presentations over the course of the day, five focused on Japan.

Elizabeth Denny discussed the Takarazuka Revue
Elizabeth Denny discussed the Takarazuka Revue

Elizabeth Denny discussed her research into the Takarazuka Revue. Founded in 1914, Takarazuka is Japan’s most popular theatrical institution, staging elaborate musical period dramas, including The Great Gatsby and Gone with the Wind, with an all-female cast. Denny’s project examines how the theater performs male and female characters on stage, and the implications for the social construction of gender. Elizabeth based her presentation on her Honor’s Thesis, for which she was recently awarded Highest Honors.  Elizabeth recalls the beginnings of her interest in Japan: “I took my very first Japanese language class all the way back in 2004, as an eighth grade elective, simply because it was different from anything else I’d studied… Almost ten years later, it has taught me so many things: how to succeed and, more importantly, how to fail; how to look at the world from a different perspective; and most of all, what I love in life, which is studying Japanese culture.” Elizabeth plans to apply to graduate programs in Japanese Studies next year.

Tim Hogge’s presentation focused on the work of Japan’s master of animation, Miyazaki Hayao, the director of such modern classics as My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke. Taking issue with scholars who argue that audiences no longer respond to “grand narratives,” Hogge analyzes Miyazaki’s hit film Spirited Away and finds ample evidence for the continuing relevance of such narratives. Tim cherishes the opportunities he found at William and Mary: “Studying Japanese has allowed me to not only learn another language, but learn about another culture that is so vastly different from American/European culture, and allowed me to study abroad in Japan and have such a wonderful experience learning the language and culture first-hand.” Tim, too, plans to continue his studies: this fall, he enters the Masters program in East Asian Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dylan Reilly looked at the recent social phenomenon of hikikomori—otherwise healthy adults, many of them in their twenties and thirties, who shut themselves indoors, refusing to go into society or interact with others. Dylan presented some of the sociological, psychological, and economic factors that have been identified as possible influences on the growth of this phenomenon. He then examined the representation of hikikomori in pop culture, as well as the virtual community of hikikomori on-line. Dylan will also be entering the Masters program at the University of Pittsburgh this fall.

Madeleine Spangler presented on the subject of Japan’s hisabetsu burakumin—descendants of Japan’s feudal-era outcast groups, who still face discrimination today. Madeleine’s presentation traced the history of this community from the feudal era to the present day. It also introduced the author Nakagami Kenji, whose stories helped to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by the community. Finally, she identified key factors that will impact social attitudes going forward.

Steven Pau’s presentation focused on the “zainichi” community of ethnic Koreans living in Japan
Steven Pau’s presentation focused on the “zainichi” community of ethnic Koreans living in Japan

Steven Pau’s presentation focused on the “zainichi” community of ethnic Koreans living in Japan. He traced the difficult history of this community, from Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910, through the uncertainty at the end of World War II, to the fracturing of identity in the Korean War. Steven addressed the question of zainichi naturalization and acculturation within Japanese society, and charted attitudes toward that process voiced by various zainichi activists and intellectuals.  The last part of his presentation discussed the issue in light of the recent “Korean Wave”—the boom in the popularity of Korean pop culture among Japanese consumers—arguing that it presents new opportunities for zainichi identities.

Steven’s research grows out of his unique, self-designed major, titled “Japanese Culture and Language Studies.” During the Fall 2014 semester, Steven also helped to organize the William and Mary Issues of Identity Conference, which brought to campus scholars from several universities in the region. Steven heads to Duke University this Fall, where he will enter the Masters program in East Asian Studies to study the intersection of nationalism and identity and critical race theory.

Our congratulations to these and all the other students who presented at the AMES conference! Your presentations demonstrate the College’s commitment to student research. We encourage you to continue exploring your interests, whether within or beyond the academy.

Link to all the presentations:

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2013 More

Japanese Program Graduation News

1) MLL Book Prize in Japanese

The prize is awarded to a student who has shown overall excellence in Japanese studies. This student is often an East Asian Studies major. This year’s award goes to Soyoung Kim.

Photo soyoung-kim (1)Soyoung Kim was born and raised in South Korea. She started learning Japanese in high school, and continued her study at William & Mary by taking four years of language classes. Since she loves to watch Japanese movies and listen to J-pop, she really enjoyed studying the language. In her senior year, she also took a Japanese-English translation class with Professor Knighton. Although she had been learning Japanese and watching Japanese movies, it was her first time doing translation. She learned how to be a creative translator in the class even though neither Japanese nor English was her mother tongue. Soyoung majored in International Relations and is very interested in the Asia-Pacific region After graduation, she is going back to South Korea to look for work enhancing relations among the Asia-Pacific countries. She expects her experience at the College and her Japanese skills to be very helpful in achieving her future goals. The Japanese section wishes Soyoung luck as she moves forward and congratulates her on this well-deserved award.

2) Kinyo Prize for Excellence in Japanese

This prize was established through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc. This prize is given annually to recognize the hard work and achievements of the top students at each level of our Japanese program. Each student receives a $100 award.

First Year Japanese: Kyung Rae Kim

Second Year Japanese: Hanzhang Zhao

Third Year Japanese: Andrew Runge

Fourth Year Japanese: Soyoung Kim


Award Winner Bios

Kyung Rae Kim has done an excellent job in all aspects of the class throughout the year.  He always pays close attention to the details and easily adapts to new situations in a non-native language.  He is very goal-oriented and always seek to achieve results at a higher level.

Hanzhang Zhao’s Japanese proficiency has improved significantly this year so that she is able to talk with the instructor in a natural context. In addition, she always did a superb job on the oral presentations and other speaking activities, and they were well-received by her classmates.

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2013

W&M Alum, Chris Bubb, Passes Top Level on Japanese Language Test

Hi, everyone. I’m Chris Bubb, a 2010 graduate of the College and former W&M Japanese student. Recently, I was excited to have passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test top level N1 exam. Below I share some of my experiences with the Japanese language at W&M and post-graduation, as well as suggestions for improving your Japanese ability.

On the road 2009
On the road 2009

Japanese Study at W&M

When it came time to choose a foreign language to take at the College, Japanese caught my eye as something that had become available for me to formally study for the first time, as it wasn’t offered at my high school. Being part of one of the first real generations of “gamers,” I knew of the existence of Japan from a very young age. I had even gone so far as to independently study kana while dabbling in a bit of Japanese grammar when I was in middle and high school. I enrolled in Japanese 101 at W&M, and in summer of 2009, spent a few weeks studying at a university in Osaka, Japan. This trip was a huge influence on my Japanese language study, and allowed me to make quite a few friends (from Japan and elsewhere) whom I stay in close contact with to this day. And I think that’s really a huge part in developing proficiency in Japanese, or any language for that matter: using it to communicate with other people. I know it may sound obvious, but actually physically communicating is really something that I cannot stress enough.

Working in Japan

My elementary school class
My elementary school class

In August of 2010, I moved to Japan to teach English. This was quite possibly the most exciting experience of my life. This is where foreign language goes from being a worksheet that you need to finish for class tomorrow to being the only way you’re going to get paid. The “moment of truth” came when I made my first trip to the post office in the tiny, one-road town that I lived in when I first moved here. The need to communicate to simply survive in this new setting was enough motivation to try to develop fluency in Japanese while living here. Not to mention that an overwhelming percentage of the population of Japan speaks Japanese exclusively, so getting along with coworkers and those outside of work requires a certain level of Japanese proficiency as well. You would not believe how much friendlier people are when they discover that you can communicate in their language. It’s an incredibly satisfying feeling for everyone involved, and something I hope everyone gets a chance to experience.

Improving Your Japanese

A drawing by one of my students
A drawing by one of my students

As a student at W&M, I was able to create a solid foundation for my Japanese ability, and as an English instructor living and working in Japan, I was able to put it into practice daily with my friends and coworkers and develop that ability further. What I suggest that you do is use Japanese like your life depends on it. Find someone with whom you feel comfortable speaking Japanese and speak with them all the time, every day if you can. Take risks and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The mistakes you make in your classes and conversations will correct themselves in time. The important thing is that you were able to use Japanese to communicate with another individual. This is where your proficiency will ultimately come from. Unfortunately, there is no “eureka!” moment, no moment of epiphany, so you may not notice a change in your own ability right away, but keep at it. Use what you learned in class over and over and over. Unlike scientists and mathematicians, linguists don’t have the luxury of going to their notes in the middle of a conversation. That’s why you need to use your Japanese at every opportunity.

In my case, when I would speak Japanese, I had to first think in English, translate it to Japanese, and then physically say the Japanese words. This takes quite a while, especially in the middle of a conversation. But what if you were to skip that second step? This is huge. I can’t say when it happened, but there was a day when I woke up and realized that I needed to begin thinking in Japanese if I was going to get any better at speaking it. Now, I know I said there was no “eureka!” moment, but this isn’t something that I was able to do overnight. This is something that you yourself must actively do every single day. And this may sound crazy, but one of the best ways to get yourself to think in Japanese is to communicate with yourself in Japanese.

Try phrases like: 「えーっと、日本語(にほんご)宿題(しゅくだい)(なん)だったっけ?」(Uh, what was the Japanese homework again?) or

「はぁ、(つか)れたぁ、ちょっとだけ昼寝(ひるね)しようかなぁ」(Whew, I’m exhausted, I should take a little nap).

This will make speaking with others in Japanese more natural because, for you, Japanese never stops! You can also do this a bit more proactively. Just find a clip from a Japanese TV show or song that you enjoy (they’re all over the internet), listen for a phrase that you know and just say it over and over aloud to yourself. Write it down to remember it if you have to. It doesn’t even have to be overly difficult; I personally watched a ton of children’s television programs when I first moved to Japan simply because I knew I could understand them. I ended up repeating things so often that I would be teased by the Japanese-speakers whom I was with. But that’s okay! Your room for growth in Japanese all depends on how much work you are willing to put into it both in and outside of the classroom. That doesn’t mean, however, that the “work” you put in can’t be enjoyable. For as embarrassing as speaking to yourself or even talking with your classmates in Japanese may seem, I can guarantee that any amount of experience you get communicating in the language will benefit your Japanese ability in the long run. Your professors are giving you all the tools you need; it’s your turn to use those tools and build on your Japanese language skills. You’re all capable of doing great things with Japanese!


Chris Bubb (W&M 2010)

Fall 2012 More News News: Japanese Studies

Japanese: Loretta Scott (’10) named “Next EDU Guru” by YouTube and Khan Academy

William and Mary ’10 alumna Loretta Scott was named “Next EDU Guru” by YouTube in October, 2012.

Loretta Scott, an English/Japanese bilingual “edupreneur”, recently joined an international panel of 10 individuals known as the “Next EDU Gurus”. Loretta was chosen for her YouTube channel “KemushiChan: Bringing You Some Japan”, where she shares her tips and tricks to learn Japanese through funny skits, flashy subtitles, popping sound effects, and Japanese interviews. As a Next EDU Guru, she and the 9 other content creators were giving funding, exclusive promotions and training by YouTube to enhance their channels and grow their audiences.

“I first began uploading YouTube videos from my dorm room in 2006. Since then my channel KemushiChan has seen over 490,000 hits and grown to more than 5,800 regular subscribers,” says Loretta. “At William and Mary, I had many opportunities to learn about how people study and teach Japanese. I worked with Professor Kato as a Japanese T.A., and with Professor Hamada-Connolly in Japan on a research fellowship about digital communications. My favorite part of all of this was posting YouTube videos about what I saw, and hearing from viewers in the comments about some of their favorite ways to navigate such an amazing language and culture.”

In October, Loretta and the 9 other Gurus were flown out to the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, CA where they received special training with the YouTube Staff, and met with some of the top name-brands in education today: Sir Ken Robinson, Salman Khan (Khan Academy), Coursera, and more. Since then, Loretta has already begun collaborating with other educators, like in her recent video in Japanese about Nuclear Chemistry in Japan.

Currently, Loretta works in New York City as an independent teacher and translator developing a Japanese Language company. Through her company she writes and designs personalized textbooks for her students, creating custom lessons that are fit especially to each student.

“I have some big plans for the next steps of my language company, but in the meantime I’m thankful that I’ve had such a loyal and supportive audience of fellow students through YouTube.”


Loretta’s Most Recent Collaboration, Nuclear Chemistry in Japan:

Loretta at Youtube HQ:

A Sample Japanese Video from Loretta:

Loretta’s Bio Video:

Fall 2012 News News: Japanese Studies

Japanese: Julian Oreska ’09 speaks Bandai’s language


Julian Oreksa ’09

The following story originally appeared in the summer 2012 issue of the William & Mary Alumni Magazine – Ed.

Many come to the College of William & Mary to pursue degrees that they think will lead them to careers. Julian Oreska ’09 didn’t think his education would someday lead him to designing toys on the other side of the globe.

When Oreska returned to Williamsburg later in 2009 for the College’s Homecoming celebration, reconnecting with old friends led to a unique career. Oreska was searching for a permanent job in the United States after returning from an internship in Japan. He met Professor Rachel DiNitto from the William & Mary Japanese language faculty, who told him about a career forum in Boston for Japanese-English bilingual individuals interested in working in Tokyo, Japan.

Upon looking into the event, Oreska noted that Bandai, a prominent Japanese toy company, was among the companies that would be conducting interviews. Because Oreska had been a fan of Bandai since the company introduced the Power Rangers craze to the U.S., he decided to apply. During the interview process, his enthusiasm for the company won him the position.

“I apparently surprised my interviewers with an ability to answer questions in detail regarding specific Bandai product lines,” Oreska says.

With Bandai, Oreska serves as an integral part in the creation of new toy lines. As a product developer, he does everything from brainstorming new ideas to designing the packaging for the final product — and he does this all in his second language. Although he began studying Japanese when he was a sophomore in high school, majoring in East Asian studies and business at W&M made for a heavy course load that prevented him from taking language classes until he was a junior. He credits immersion into the culture as the only way he was able to achieve the level of mastery he has now.

“With a language like Japanese,” he says, “there are a myriad of idioms and nuances that arise in different settings, which formal instruction cannot replicate.”

While Oreska believes the skills he learned in the classroom at the College have prepared him for working for a consumer production company, he still faces many challenges working abroad.

“Living in a country where you were not born speaking the language can be tiring,”Oreska says. “Daily communication is a battle to remember the right words and phrases at the moment they are needed.”

For Oreska, a Richmond native, living in Japan has required many adjustments. He enjoys the conveniences of living in Tokyo, since “just about anything one could need or want is either in walking distance or just a short train ride away,” he says. However, he also noted that “living in a country as population-dense as Japan can feel strange at times.” His one-room Tokyo apartment that measures about 9 feet by 9 feet is a stark contrast to the“trees and wide-open spaces” of Virginia. Additional concerns, from the inability to find certain staples of American cuisine to earthquakes, make living abroad a challenge.

American and Japanese business practices can seem nearly as different as the languages the two countries speak. While companies on both sides of the Pacific seek to create a profit, Oreska personally witnesses the different ways they accomplish this. For instance, Japanese developers are often expected to perform joukin, a practice that requires Oreska to explain his products to individual shoppers. The countries also differ in work ethic. Oreska says, “Late nights in the United States are becoming more of the norm for young, American businesspeople, but 14-, 15-, even 16-hour days are nearly universal at Japanese companies.”

Even though Oreska misses many things from home (namely, Chipotle and his class of 2009 group from West Barrett Hall) he believes his experiences at the College prepared him to succeed abroad:

“I feel very fortunate to experience the business climate and culture of Japan firsthand.”

News News: Chinese Studies News: Japanese Studies

TRIP survey: East Asia more strategically significant, say IR scholars

A community of 3,466 international relations scholars from 20 countries believes that East Asia is the world’s region of greatest strategic importance to their nations today.

That was a key finding from the 2011 TRIP survey, published recently by the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations (TRIP) at the College of William & Mary. The survey, which was sent to all international relations (IR) scholars in the countries surveyed, included nearly 90 questions on the IR discipline, as well as respondents’ research, teaching and foreign policy views.

Sue Peterson

Three members of the Institute’s staff authored the survey, the largest ever undertaken on the discipline of international relations. They are: Sue Peterson, Wendy and Emery Reves professor of government and international relations and co-director of the Institute; Michael Tierney ‘87, director of International Relations, Hylton associate professor of government and co-director of the Institute; and Daniel Maliniak ’06, a Ph.D. student at the University of California, San Diego and a principal investigator on the project.

In 2008, 27 percent of all respondents named East Asia as the region of greatest strategic importance to their nations. That percentage of i

nternational scholars rose to 34 percent in the 2011 survey, with 57 percent of all respondents saying that East Asia will be the most strategically important region in 20 years.

Among U.S. scholars, the percentage responding that East Asia is the most strategically important region today rose from 30 percent in 2008 to 46 percent in 2011.

“That’s a big change from our last survey,” Peterson said. “A combination of things is responsible for the change, especially the growing recognition of China’s economic power and the concurrent U.S. withdrawal from a major military conflict in the Middle East, which in 2008 had dominated not only U.S. academics’ responses, but those in a lot of other English-speaking communities.

“The majority of scholars always said that in the long run East Asia would be the most important region, but we’ve reached that long run more quickly than we thought.  The reduction of U.S. commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan allowed scholars to turn their academic attention to East Asia.”

More scholars in the United States cited the rising power of China as one of the most important foreign policy issues facing our country over the next ten years than listed any other issue.

Michael Tierney

Scholars also were asked to rate U.S. and Chinese influence on a scale of 1 to 10.  At 4.34, China lags well behind the United States today at 6.63, according to survey respondents.  By 2020, however, IR scholars predict that this gap will narrow considerably with the United States at 5.68 and China close behind at 5.28.

“At the same time that IR scholars are concerned about the implications of China’s rising power relative to the United States,” Tierney noted, “they are not overly worried about the possibility of out-and-out conflict between the U.S. and China.”

When survey respondents were asked to rate on a scale from 1 to 10 the likelihood of war between these two great powers, they put the chance of conflict at 1.33 today and 2.28 over the next 30 years.

The 2011 survey, funded by Arts and Sciences and the Reves Center for International Studies at the College and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, is updated and expanded compared to previous surveys.

In 2004, the only International Relations scholars surveyed were from the United States. In 2006, respondents from Canada were added. In 2008, the survey added eight more English-speaking countries.

The 2011 survey includes all of the above, plus scholars from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Mexico, Norway, Sweden and Turkey. The total number of respondents from the 20 countries, representing five different languages, was 3,466 scholars, or 49.5 percent of the 7,001 scholars surveyed. No country had a response rate below 36.6 percent.

“We weren’t the first to ask some of these questions,,” Peterson said, “but TRIP is increasingly recognized as the most comprehensive, most extensive, data collection ever undertaken in the field of international relations.”

“IR scholars who want to study the IR discipline and the relationship between the theory and practice of IR,” Tierney added, “increasingly turn to TRIP for data.  One of our major goals is to help provide this public good for the discipline.”

A major paradox revealed by the survey is that, while East Asia is seen by most scholars as having the greatest strategic importance today and in 20 years, the region is relatively unstudied and untaught by international scholars.

In the United States, only nine percent of the responding scholars labeled East Asia as the “main” region of the world they study. Among all scholars, that number is just seven percent.

Peterson explained that there were several reasons for the disparity, among them: TRIP surveys scholars of international relations, not comparative politics, who may be more likely to develop an expertise in the history, culture and language of a particular country or region; and IR scholars who study the foreign policy of East Asia need to spend many years immersing themselves in the study of regional languages and politics.

Daniel Maliniak

On the teaching side, Peterson found less obvious reasons for the disparity between what scholars believe is the world’s strategically most important region and what faculty teach.

Only 34 percent of faculty respondents devote one or more classes in their undergraduate international relations courses about East Asia, less than those who teach about the Middle East and North Africa (37 percent) and Western Europe (43 percent). Among U.S. international relations scholars, 40 percent said they devote one or more classes to a discussion of East Asia, while 44 percent do the same for both the Middle East and North Africa and Western Europe.

“I would have expected more faculty to use case studies and current events to teach about various regions of the world, including East Asia,” Peterson said. “The numbers of faculty who teach about East Asia simply doesn’t match the importance that IR scholars attach to the region. We need to close that gap.”

The entire 2011 TRIP survey can be found here.

News: Japanese Studies

Kinyo Award Recognizes Japanese Excellence

Top row: Ranzini and Lee. Bottom row: Schiano di Cola and Madrid

The Japanese section congratulates the recipients of the 2012 Kinyo Prize for Excellence in Japanese.  The Kinyo Prize was established through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc. This prize is given annually to recognize the hard work and achievements of the top student at each level of our Japanese program. This year’s recipients are: in fourth year, David Ranzini; in third year, Seulhee Lee; in second year, Amanda Schiano di Cola; and, in first year, Luis Madrid. All four have distinguished themselves by their diligence and their accomplishment over the course of the year.  おめでとう!


News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2012

After the Quake: Student Research on the 2011 Japanese Earthquake

On March 11 last year, northeastern Japan was struck by a threefold catastrophe—a massive, 9.0 magnitude earthquake, a devastating tsunami, and level-seven nuclear meltdowns at three reactors. Sixteen thousand people perished in the disaster, and the country sustained economic losses equivalent to $235 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster in world history. The long process of recovery began almost immediately, and continues today.  Since the start of the Fall 2012 semester, William and Mary students have been researching the earthquake, its antecedents, and the recovery.  In April, these students presented the results of their research at a poster session and  student conference, ‘After the Quake: Japan Responds.’

Seven students gave presentations at the conference on various aspects of the disaster and the recovery efforts, including comparisons with the 1923 Kantō Earthquake and the 1995 Kobe; the US military’s relief effort, Operation Tomodachi; and the prospects for a greening of the Japanese economy in the aftermath of 3.11. The first panel comprised Elizabeth Denny, Michael Harrington, Allison Kennington and Sara Caudill; and the second panel, Steven Pau, Peter Dorrell and Wen Chen. Each panel was followed by a lively Q&A session.

During a lunch break, members of the audience had the opportunity to view a poster session, where the presenters as well as students from Ms. Tomoko Kato’s Spring course, The Culture of Nuclear Fascination, were available to discuss their projects on various aspects of the events of March 11 and the political and cultural history of Japan’s involvement with nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Presenters from Ms. Kato’s class included Roger Chesley, Kelly Constance, Shun Fukuda, Jiamin Ku, Adam Labriny, Callum Lawson, Kazunari Nakamura, Rhode N’Komba, David Ranzini, and Jessica Wang.

After lunch, Alex Bates, Assistant Professor of Japanese at Dickinson College, in Pennsylvania, delivered the keynote address entited ‘Fire Guns and Bear Gods: Fear of the Outsider in Disaster’. Doctor Bates discussed how authors have used literature to help process the trauma of catastrophe, citing literary works written in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 as well as last year’s Tohoku Earthquake.

The conference was only the latest event in the college’s continuing engagement with this disaster and its aftermath.  The Japanese section thanks all the participants, and hopes that everyone will keep the victims of the 3.11 in mind as the recovery proceeds. During the conference, a collection was taken for the Japan Relief Initiative, a project set up by William and Mary undergrads, alumni, staff, and faculty, which helps to support smaller, local relief agencies. The need remains great; if you would like to donate to the JRI, you may do so here.




News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2012 More

Finding Opportunities: Sara Caudill

Sara Caudill '12

From her first semester at William and Mary, Sara Caudill threw herself into the study of Japan. “I had wanted to study language for many years before college,” she recalls. “I lobbied for on-line course in high school, but it didn’t happen. William and Mary gave me the opportunity.” Sara has since taken full advantage of the many opportunities for Japanese study here, and now, as she graduates, the Japanese section is proud to award Sara the 2012 Japanese Book Prize.

In addition to language, Sara took a course on Japanese society with Professor Tomoko Hamada-Connelly in that first semester. The following year, she enrolled in Gross National Cool with Professor Rachel DiNitto. For her final project in that class, she brought a new critical eye to an old interest, analyzing the ‘cultural odorlessness’ of Pokemon. Other courses included Professor Eric Han’s East Asia History Surveys and language classes with Aiko Kitamura and Tomoko Katō.
In 2011, Sara headed to Hikone in western Japan for a semester, but her studies were interrupted by the catastrophic earthquake that struck northeast Japan on March 11. Fortunately, Hikone was relatively unaffected by the disaster, and the crisis helped Sara identify the issue to which she now plans to devote her career. “I developed a new environmental consciousness,” she says. “I arrived in Japan wanting to do one thing, and I left wanting to do another.” Now, she says, she is “on a trajectory of interest in sustained development in Southeast Asia.”
Sara began exploring this new interest last semester, in a special seminar on the 3/11 disaster. In April, she presented her research at a student conference, After the Quake: Japan Responds, on April 15th. The title of her paper: “Violent Rebirth: The Path to a Green Economic Recovery in Post-Fukushima Japan.”
The next step will be a stay in South Korea, where Sara will teach English and explore the region for one year, before returning to America for graduate study, where, she plans to focus on “clean energy development and environmental social justice in Southeast Asia.” The Japanese section wishes Sara luck as she moves forward and congratulates her on this well-deserved award.

News News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

‘Gojira,’ Not ‘Godzilla’

On Saturday evening, we will screen the classic Japanese film Gojira (dir. Honda Ishirō, 1954), better known to Americans in the very different version released here as Godzilla. The screening will include introductory remarks placing the film within the context of Japan’s nuclear history. The screening will be followed on Sunday by a student conference on the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on March 11th of last year, and on-going nuclear crisis. A collection will be taken at the screening to benefit relief efforts.

Saturday, April 14

7:00 – 9:30

Washington Hall 201


News News: Japanese Studies

After the Quake: Japan Responds

Join us Sunday, April 15, for a conference on the response to the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, and on-going nuclear crisis that hit northeastern Japan on March 11th last year.  Students will present research papers in two panel and in a bilingual poster session.  Following this, Alex Bates, Assistant Professor of Japanese at Dickinson College, will deliver the keynote address, ‘Fire Guns and Bear Gods: Fear of the Outsider in Disaster.’ The conference will be held at the Cohen Career Center, next to the Sadler Center. The schedule is as follows:

Panel 1 (9:00 – 10:45)

Panel 2 (11:00 – 12:30)

Bilingual Poster Session (1:00 – 2:00)

Keynote Speech (2:00-3:00)


Featured News: Japanese Studies

Meet The Suzan!

Garage/Psychedelic Rock band The Suzan, from Tokyo by way of New York, will be performing on Saturday night, February 18, as part of the Global Film Festival.  Come meet and chat with the band before the show, at a special coffee hour.  1:30 to 4:00 in Washington 315. It’ll be a unique opportunity to talk with insiders about the Japanese rock scene!

Featured News News: Japanese Studies

“Tekkon Kinkreet” Screening

The theme of this year’s Global Film Festival is Film and the City, and the Pre-Festival series kicks off Wednesday night with a award-winning animated feature from Japan, directed by American Michael Arias: Tekkon Kinkreet (Tekkon Kinkurīto, 2006).  Two young brothers, Black and White, roam through the streets and soar across the canopy of the city, battling an odd assortment of yakuza and giant assassins, as they try to save their neighborhood from redevelopment as an amusement park. But the real star of the film is the colorful, highly elaborated, and beautifully animated city itself.  The film will be screened at the Williamsburg Public Library at 6:30 on January 18th, and will be introduced by Michael Cronin, Professor of Japanese Literature.  Open to the public.  Rated “R.”

News: Japanese Studies

Narratives of Bombing: Tokyo and Hiroshima, 1945

A campus event of special interest to Japan Studies folks:

The Lyon G. Tyler Department of History is delighted to open this year’s Tyler Distinguished Lecture Series with Andrew J. Rotter, Charles A. Dana Professor of History at Colgate University, who will present a lecture entitled “Narratives of Bombing: Tokyo and Hiroshima, 1945.” This event is open to the public.

September 15, 2011 4:30pm – 6:00pm
Small Hall, Room 110

News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Claire Dranginis Book Prize Winner!

The 2011 Modern Languages Book Prize in Japanese has been awarded Claire Dranginis, a senior majoring in East Asian Studies and minoring in Management and Organizational Leadership. Claire has studied Japanese through the fourth-year advanced level, and has taken many classes in Japanese studies, including Japanese Cinema and Gross National Cool. Her interest in the Japanese language grew out of a love of contemporary Japanese popular music (read her essay on J-pop here). Claire also spent a semester at Keio University, in Tokyo, perfecting her language skills. Upon graduating this spring, she will be off to China, to teach English there. The prize was announced at the College’s annual Spring Awards Reception on Tuesday, April 12th.  Our congratulations on this well-deserved recognition!

News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Busy Spring for Japan Studies

Obayashi Chigumi, Michael Cronin, Obayashi Nobuhiko

A steady stream of eminent visitors and special events greatly enriched Japanese studies at William and Mary this Spring. To recap:

In late January, as part of W&M’s Global Film Festival, the leading authority on anime, Professor Susan Napier of Tufts University, visited campus to speak on trauma and fantasy in the work of Japan’s master of animation, Miyazaki Hayao. Professor Napier also introduced a special screening of Miyazaki’s masterwork, The Princess Mononoke.

In mid-February, the Film Festival hosted the celebrated film director Ōbayashi Nobuhiko and his daughter, the writer and film specialist Ōbayashi Chigumi. While here, the Ōbayashis met with student filmmakers, judged a contest of student filmmakers’ work, and attended a screening of their own recently restored 1977 cult classic film, Hausu (House), which was enthusiastically received.

At the end of February Professor Steven Chung, of Princeton University, spoke on Korean filmmaking under Japanese occupation and introduced a rare screening of a classic Korean film of the colonial period, “Homeless Angels” (aka “Angels on the Street,” 1941) directed by Choi In-gyu.

Early March brought Professor Julia Thomas, of Notre Dame, to campus to speak on photography in post-war Japan. Her talk, “Intimate Trauma, Cool Distance,” focused on two of the most renowned photographers of the 20th century, Domon Ken and Kimura Ihei.

Later in March, the historian Gavan McCormack, emeritus professor at the Australian National University, traveled to William and Mary to deliver the Art Matsu Memorial Lecture. Dr. McCormack spoke on Okinawa and the popular activism that has developed there in resistance to plans for a new military base.

And in early April, we hosted Professor Tomiko Yoda, of Harvard University, who delivered a fascinating talk on the Women’s Liberation movement in 1970s Japan and evolving images of women in popular media at the time.

Our sincere thanks again to all our visitors for the excitement they brought to the program!

News: Japanese Studies

Congratulations to Kinyo Prize Winners!

The Kinyo Prize for Excellence in Japanese was established through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc. This prize is given annually to recognize the hard work and achievements of the top student at each level of our Japanese program. This year’s recipients are (from left): Jeffrey Ngare, Katherine Worcester, Jack Brorsen, and  Claire Dranginis. Read about them below.

First Year: Jeffrey Ngare

Many students made great efforts and saw great progress in first-year Japanese, but Jeffrey was outstanding in his devotion to study and his passion for the language.  He never hesitates to devote extra time to assignments. He has also tried to learn the cultural aspects of Japanese in depth while expanding his knowledge of the linguistic side of the language.

Second Year: Katie Worcester

Katie is an exceptionally diligent and hard working student with an outstanding linguistic sense. She tackles every classroom activity and assignment seriously. This semester, to encourage the people affected by the recent earthquake, she wrote a message that was not only grammatically accurate and well crafted, but that showed her true warmheartedness.  We sincerely hope her message will uplift the spirits of the Japanese people.

Third Year: Jack Brorsen

Jack has pushed himself very hard both inside and outside the classroom to improve his Japanese. He continually sets new goals for himself after completing a task. He always tries to elevate his understanding of Japanese. Overall, his performance this year has been stellar and very deserving of this award.

Fourth Year: Claire Dranginis

Since her freshman year, Claire has impressed us as an extremely thorough and diligent student, with a quiet enthusiasm for Japanese language and culture. Last year, she spent one semester as an exchange student at Keio University in Tokyo, where she attained the highest level of language proficiency. This year, in Japanese 402, Claire has shown herself to be witty, gregarious, and fun-loving, helping to relax the atmosphere in class by humorously using Japanese onomatopoeia. Upon graduation, her plan is to teach English in China.  She is already looking toward her next goal.

To all the awardees, congratulations on a job well done! Your dedication to language-learning is an inspiration.

News: Japanese Studies

Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle”

Sunday, February 20, 2011, 11am at the Kimball Theatre

Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru No Ugoku Shiro/2004 / Japan / Hayao Miyazaki / 119 minutes / PG)

Our Asian Family Filmmaking series culminates with the rare opportunity to see the singular, truly supernatural anime art of master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.  Howl’s Moving Castle, one of the largest grossing films in Japanese history, tells the story of Sophie, a bookwormish girl who has resigned herself to a drab life in her family’s hat shop—until the Witch of the Waste transforms her into a 90-year-old woman. In her aged guise, Sophie searches for a way to break the Witch’s spell and finds unexpected adventures. Do not miss this opportunity to experience the gold standard of Japanese anime on the big screen.

You can download the updates via the updates tab in the app store app or download skype for iphone from this direct itunes link and skype for ipad from this direct itunes link now.
News: Japanese Studies

Special Film Event: “Hausu”/”House”

Saturday, February 19, 2011, 7pm at the Kimball Theatre

Hausu/House (1977 / Japan / Nobuhiko Obayashi / 88m / NR) VIRGINIA PREMIERE!

Presented by Festival Honored Guest, director Nobuhiko Obayashi

Recently restored and only now being released in the U.S., this 70s-era gem of Japanese filmmaking is a landmark of the horror genre and a singular piece of international avant-pop film art by Japanese auteur Nobuhiko Obayashi.

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News: Japanese Studies

SUPER/natural at the speed of 24!

W&M’s 11th annual 24 Speed Filmmaking Contest – Screening and Awards Ceremony

Thursday, February 17, 5:00 pm, Kimball Theater

Come see the SUPER/natural results of teams of students who had 24 hours to make a film following directives drawn from a hat. Special Judge: famed Japanese director Nobuhiko Obayashi

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Featured News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2011

Faculty-Student teaching collaboration yields benefits in Japanese classroom

Professor Rachel DiNitto and Student-Assistant Pam Kennedy recently set out on a new model for teaching Japanese culture courses at the College. Students in DiNitto’s courses have been producing much of their coursework as an online website. The project has had wide-ranging benefits, both inside the classroom and out. The idea is that DiNitto teaches the course and her teaching assistant, who in 2010 was upperclassman Pam Kennedy, would act as editor of the online content and student mentor. Visit the Post Bubble Culture Japanese Website Here or Watch the video below to learn more:


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