Study literature, history, society, and Japanese culture in Kyoto

The Department of Humanities was established in 1989. Based on the motto “Humanities in Action,” our aim is to foster open- and globally-minded students through experiential learning.In 2021, the department was relaunched as the Department of Humanities in the Faculty of Global Culture for the study of literature, history, society, and Japanese culture.The global education provided by the department starts with an understanding of different cultures, together with a deeper appreciation of the culture all around us.In a globalizing society, it is necessary to understand each other’s culture and to live in harmony with others, irrespective of national or cultural differences.To that end, it is important to start by understanding the culture that has shaped us.This gives us a perspective of “other people” and “the world.”In addition, through experiential learning, students are exposed to different values and acquire new ideas.The humanities are the comprehensive study of all things human: by studying them, students gain a broad base of knowledge and education and develop the ability to look at themselves and see the world in a new light.

A Unique Curriculum

1. Learning off-campus in the field

In their third year, students leave the university campus to conduct fieldwork for two months,where they encounter diversity and different ways of thinking.They reexamine themselves in new surroundings, where the scenery, the people they meet, the words they hear, and even the smells in the air are all unfamiliar. This experience helps students gain a new perspective on the region and culture around them.
  • 1. Choosing a theme

    Students decide on a research theme based on their own interests and concerns.They are free to decide upon a topic of their choice, irrespective of their course.

  • 2. Formulating a research plan

    Students deepen an understanding of different fieldwork methods and the places they visitas they formulate a two-month research plan under the guidance of their fieldwork supervisor.

  • 3. Choosing a research location in Japan

    Decide upon a research location according to a chosen topic.The research location can be anywhere in Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa. It can be a temple or a shrine, or the setting of a movie or a novel.

  • 4. Verification and reporting

    Students collate their experiences and the data they have accumulated over two and compile a report on their activities.Students then prepare material for their graduation thesis based on the feedback.

Examples of fieldwork

  • A study of itsuwa folklore and fables in one’s birthplace

    Research study of ancient tales and folklore in Kagoshima.A compendium for children based on literature, field research, and interviews.

  • A study of Heian culture through the excavation of ruins

    Fieldwork based on the excavation of a site adjacent to a Heian-period market.The project involved studying the culture and gaining concrete insights into the period from remains of pillars and pieces of excavated pottery.

  • A study of the works of MORIMI Tomihiko through a pilgrimage to Kyoto’s holy places

    The project involved walking around the holy places described in Morimi’s works, such as The Tatami Galaxy, and comparing real-life Kyoto with its depiction in the original novel and the anime version.

  • A study of incense based on practical experience

    Research into the use of incense in the Heian period with reference to The Tale of Genji, and consolidation of knowledge through the experience of creating one’s own incense.

2. Rediscovering oneself and the world through words

Comprehensive study of expressions in the Japanese language
In a small class, students revisit the familiar activities of reading, writing, and speaking.All students create and present works on the theme of the diversity of expression in language. This could be literary criticism or an essay.On completion, they give feedback on each other's work.

Choose from 11 languages
Students select from 11 languages (English, Chinese, Korean, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Swahili) and learn a language for practical communication.

Learning Outcomes

■ Learning to make the most of Kyoto’s geographical advantages
Kyoto’s long history as a cultural center, with its diversity of cultural assets, makes it the perfect place to study culture and history.We offer a wealth of practical learning opportunities to take advantage of our location in Kyoto, a city where tradition and innovation coexist.

■ Learning through experiences that expose students to different values
In their third year, students leave campus to take part in a practical fieldwork program. They decide on a research location based on their selected topic and spend two months away from campus, experiencing diversity and different ways of thinking during the course of their research.

■ Rethinking Japan from a global perspective
Students acquire the ability to look at Japan from an objective point of view, as the country is seen by the outside world, through a consideration of Japanese literature, history, society and culture.By considering what it means to be human from the perspective of the different cultures around us, the aim is to develop an awareness of the diversity of people who inhabit our world.

Course Highlights

  • Introduction to Philosophy

    Students are introduced to philosophical concepts and develop their powers of questioning and interaction.We encourage students to ask questions that come to mind naturally and think more deeply about words we use for granted in our daily lives, such as “justice” or “beauty.”

  • Overview of Modern Society

    Students learn how modern Japanese society has been shaped and transformed since the Meiji period through changes related to industry, cities, family life, and media and technology, and use this knowledge to reflect on various issues today.

  • Introduction to Historical Studies

    Starting with the question, “What is history?” and reflecting on our perceptions of history up to the present day, the aim of the course is to enable students to think about themselves and their surroundings in the context of history.

  • Japanese Culture

    Students study various traditional Japanese cultural traditions including kabuki, tea ceremony, and ikebana (flower arrangement), as well as aspects of modern culture, including subcultures such as manga and fashion.They gain an understanding of the characteristics and significance of Japanese culture and how it informs traditional and contemporary cultural traditions.