Japanese language and studies

The study of Japanese language and culture offers the individual new insights into a deep and diverse culture, and also provides important contrasts when considering the role of various nations 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 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?

Because of its geographical 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 communities. An understanding of Japanese language and society contributes to a broader 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 receive a comprehensive grounding in Japanese language with opportunities to focus on social and cultural areas of interest, including Japanese literature, media, politics, and popular culture.

Why Japanese Studies at Melbourne?

Japanese Studies at the Asia Institute offers students an immersive approach to the study of the Japanese language. Students learn not only the communicative and relational aspects of the language but also the cultural aspects of Japanese society. With more than 100 years of Japanese language teaching at the University of Melbourne, the program is one of the largest and most successful Japanese programs in Australia with more than six hundred students studying Japanese at entry level and steady enrolment at all levels.

The University has long-standing student exchange and research partnerships with more than a dozen of Japan’s elite universities. Since 2017, the University of Melbourne Overseas Subject (UMOS) Contemporary Japan (JAPN20005) has been offered at Hokkaido University, and since 2020, another UMOS Variation in Japanese Language at Osaka University.

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.

Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities in a Japanese international company in Melbourne are available for those who are enrolled in subjects in Japanese Studies.

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 have access to exciting employment opportunities in Australia and abroad, in both government and commercial organisations. As a key strategic regional partner to Canberra, being attuned to the country’s culture and history and having fluency in the Japanese language can open up myriad career pathways. With the 2015 Economic Partnership Agreement (FTA) in place, Japan remains 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 and communications technology, and agribusiness.

Meet our Japanese Studies staff

Our academics are leading researchers, and dedicated teachers.

Profile picture of Claire Maree

Prof Claire Maree

Professor in Japanese; Deputy Associate Dean Research, Grant
Profile picture of Jon Glade

Dr Jon Glade

Lecturer In Japanese Studies
Profile picture of Masako Nagayama

Ms Masako Nagayama

Principal Tutor In Japanese Studies
Profile picture of Ikuko Nakane

A/Prof Ikuko Nakane

Associate Professor In Japanese Studies
inakane@unimelb.edu.au +61383448893
Profile picture of Jun Ohashi

Dr Jun Ohashi

Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies; Japanese Studies Convenor
Profile picture of Nana Oishi

A/Prof Nana Oishi

Associate Professor In Japanese Studies
Profile picture of Yasuhisa Watanabe

Dr Yasuhisa Watanabe

Senior Lecturer In Japanese Studies
Profile picture of Kaya Oriyama

Dr Kaya Oriyama

Lecturer In Japanese Studies (Teaching Specialist)

Tutor in Japanese Studies (Teaching Periodic)

Profile picture of Chie Hama

Ms Chie Hama

Tutor in Japanese Studies (Teaching Periodic)
Profile picture of Tamami Mori

Ms Tamami Mori

Tutor in Japanese Studies (Teaching Periodic)
Profile picture of Masae Takeuchi

Dr Masae Takeuchi

Tutor in Japanese Studies (Teaching Periodic)
Profile picture of Hiroko Woods

Ms Hiroko Woods

Tutor in Japanese Studies (Teaching Periodic)
Profile picture of Atsushi Takagi

Mr Atsushi Takagi

Tutor in Japanese Studies (Teaching Associate - Periodic)