Scholarship on Japan and training in Japanese language have a long history at Earlham, and our connections with Japan run deep. For more than 50 years, Earlham has been a leader in undergraduate education focused on Japan.
Japanese studies at Earlham is about encountering the complex history, society and culture that both comprise and are embodied in the nation of Japan.
In addition to a cross-disciplinary curriculum on campus, Earlham offers two study-abroad programs in Japan: Japan Study and Studies in Cross-Cultural Education (SICE) and a double-degree program with Waseda University. Earlham also houses the Institute for Education on Japan, which coordinates all Japan-related outreach activities conducted by the College and offers additional learning and post-grad opportunities, including placements as an Assistant Language Teacher in Morioka or as a teacher at the Friends School in Tokyo.
Top job industries for Japanese studies majors include education and nonprofit work.
“[While researching colleges], I found a lot that said that Earlham has the best Japanese program in the U.S. We get a lot of personal attention, there are good travel abroad options, and I like the interdepartmental aspect of the department.”
Amanda Moore ’17
Japanese studies major
“My experience at Earlham College is one that I will never forget. I truly feel that I was given the best opportunity to not only study the Japanese language in a class setting, but I was also able to learn about social constructs, cultures and different ways of thinking from first-hand experiences through Earlham’s many study-abroad programs and opportunities found on campus. I immersed myself in Earlham through working in the Japan study office for four years, living in Japan house, helping on the international welcoming committee, serving as a teaching assistant, joining Dance Alloy, leading Harumatsuri the Japanese Spring Festival and much more.”
Rosa Aldridge ’13
Japanese studies major
Encountering the complexities of Japan
Our program offers you courses in anthropology, music, politics, environmental studies, religion, art, history, literature, linguistics and beyond.
Earlham runs two study-abroad programs in Japan: a full year or spring semester taking classes at Waseda University in Tokyo and a fall semester Studies in Cross-Cultural Education (SICE) program in Morioka. A unique feature of the SICE program is teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) at local schools in the cities of Morioka and Tanohata.
Cultural campus experiences
Apply to live in Japan House, a residential theme house that hosts cultural workshops and lectures, and enjoy semi-annual performances, cultural presentations and lectures in the Jackson Bailey Lecture Series.
Because Japanese studies is an interdisciplinary major that examines issues through multiple lenses, our faculty come from a variety of departments, including Earth and environmental science, global management, liberal studies, Japanese studies, Japanese language and linguistics, and politics.
Frequently asked questions
Within our Japanese studies major, students choose between two foci: “Japanese Culture and Society” and “Japanese Language & Linguistics.”
Recent Japanese studies majors have interned at the Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum, Good Neighbors Japan and other nonprofits and companies in Japan. Funding is available through the Center for Global and Career Education for summer internships in Asia and elsewhere.
Learn more about available programs via our Center for Global and Career Education.
Yes; in fact, it’s a requirement for this program. If completing a major in Japanese studies, you are required to participate in one of the off-campus study programs in Japan offered by Earlham or in another program approved by the Japanese studies faculty for a full year or one semester.
If completing a minor in Japanese studies, you are required to complete an off-campus program for either a full year, one semester or a May term.
Japanese studies majors are globally-oriented students with an interest in Japanese culture and/or language. Our graduates have gone on to careers in both Japan and the U.S. in corporate consulting, global sales, education, government, communication and translation.
Recent department award winners
Two Japanese Studies seniors were recognized with newly-established departmental awards: The Chuzo Kaifu Best Thesis in Japanese Studies Award and the May Morikawa IEJ Community Engagement Award. The former, awarded to a senior who has achieved a high level of academic excellence in their final thesis project, was given to Theo Hunt ’22 for their capstone “Omitting Japan: A Look at the Successful Storytelling and Worldbuilding of Fullmetal Alchemist." The latter, given in recognition of a student who has made significant contributions to the Japanese Studies community over their four years at Earlham, was awarded to Myra Robinson ’22.
The awards are named after two alumni, Chuzo Kaifu and May Morikawa, who were respectively the first man and woman to study at Earlham in the late 1800s. Learn more about the history of Japanese and Japanese-American students at Earlham.