Japanese language and studies

The study of Japanese language and culture gives the individual insight not only into a deep and diverse culture but also provides important contrasts when considering various nations’ roles in the Asia Pacific region.

Why Japanese Studies?

Japan’s position in Asia and the world is one full of apparent contradictions and unexpected outcomes. How did one of the oldest political and economic systems survive complete defeat in the Pacific War and rise to power again in the post war period? Considering this influential economy, how do we explain rising figures of unemployment and retrenchment? In a frequently conservative society, how do we account for the radical and often groundbreaking achievements of Japanese artists in the field of popular and underground culture? How are these cultural forms translated into commodities consumed in other Asian and non-Asian societies?

The study of Japanese language and society gives the individual insight not only into a deep and diverse culture but also provides important contrasts when considering various nations’ roles in the Asia-Pacific region. Due to its geographic isolation, Japan is in some ways unrelated to its Asian neighbours. Yet in other areas – such as religion and philosophy – Japan is firmly entrenched in the Asian community. An understanding of Japanese language and society contributes to students’ wider understanding of these complex and fascinating cultural, historical, political and economic flows in Asia.

Japanese language classes cater for a range of competencies, from beginners level for students with little or no knowledge of the language to more advanced levels for students with prior experience. Students will receive a comprehensive grounding in Japanese language with opportunities to focus on social and cultural areas of interest that include Japanese politics, history, art, and popular culture.

Why Japanese Studies at Melbourne?

The Japanese Studies at the Asia Institute offers students an immersive way of studying the Japanese language through the learning of not only the communicative aspects but also its cultural aspects within the areas of society, history, media, contemporary Japan and politics. With more than 100 years of Japanese language instruction at the University of Melbourne, the program is one of the largest and most successful Japanese programs in Australia and garners the most enrolments among Languages Other Than English (LOTE) subjects with just under a thousand students studying entry level Japanese and steady numbers across all levels.

The University has long established partnerships in student exchange and research with over a dozen of Japan’s elite universities. In 2019 the University of Melbourne Overseas Subject (UMOS) Contemporary Japan (JAPN20005), offered at Hokkaido University under the New Colombo Scheme, was continued for a third year with plans underway to add more Japan-based overseas subjects.

How do I study Japanese Studies?

Undergraduate students can study Japanese as:

Japanese Studies can also be studied through the following:

At the graduate level, Japanese Studies offer courses for:

Japanese can also be a component in an Asian Studies program at either undergraduate or graduate level.

The Asia Institute offers a range of subjects in Japanese Language and Studies. Some examples include:

See the full list of subjects in the Handbook

Where can Japanese Studies take me?

Students undertaking Japanese Studies will be able to access interesting employment opportunities domestically and abroad, in both government and commercial organisations. As an important strategic regional partner to Canberra, being attuned to the country’s culture and history and having fluency in the Japanese language and can open up myriad career pathways. With the 2015 Economic Partnership Agreement (FTA) in place, Japan continues to be Australia’s second largest trading partner and export market while Japanese investment in Australia has diversified from natural resources to also include financial services, information technology, agribusiness and information and communications technology.

Meet our Japanese Studies staff

Our academics are leading researchers, and dedicated teachers.

Tutor in Japanese Studies (Teaching Periodic)