Open the door to the world of Japanese literature

In the Course in Literature, students read and study genres including novels, poetry, drama, and critiques in various fields throughout Japanese history from ancient to modern times.They also consider the originality of Japanese literature from an international perspective through comparisons with literary works from overseas.After studying a variety of genres and expressive means, students delve into their research, selecting the periods, texts, authors, and means of expression that suit their interests. By closely examining the historical and social background of the literature, students open a window into a text's original context—the psychology and sensibilities of people from the period and the spirit and culture of the age.Literature is a way of talking about people.By carefully reading the thoughts and experiences of the people conveyed in a story, students get a step closer to understanding what it means to be human.

Subject Highlights

  • Introduction to Literature

    Students refer to numerous works of literature to analyze literary forms and study theories of classification.They further deepen their understanding by considering the ability of literature to reflect and convey to later generations the reality of past periods and societies through descriptions of characters' appearances, environs, psychology, and unconscious behavior.

  • Oral Tradition and Culture

    For generations, regions of Tohoku have passed down the horrors of past earthquakes and tsunamis to the present day.In this lecture, students look primarily at such traditional Japanese folk tales and consider their nature, history, and contemporary significance.

What You Will Study

  1. 1STYEAR

    Learn the basics of the humanities

    Study aspects of all four courses
    In their first year, students do not focus on one specific course but learn the basics of literature, history, society, and Japanese culture.They explore topics that interest them while learning about the structure of modern society and the building blocks of culture.

    Understanding yourself through broad-based learning and language
    Students deepen their understanding of themselves and others through language.Students learn the skills needed for research starting with the basics, including picking a suitable topic from among their interests, reviewing past research and conducting fieldwork, and logically summarizing and presenting their ideas.

  2. 2NDYEAR

    Choosing a Course

    Deepening your understanding of your specialization
    In year two, students choose to specialize in one of four courses: Literature, History, Society, and Japanese Culture.Students develop their skills under academic supervisors with specific areas of expertise through lectures that cover introductory topics or cultural history and practical exercises such as literature readings in class.

    Learning research methodologies in seminars
    Students explore their research topics in small-group seminars with other students who share their area of interest.In addition, students develop a research plan for their third year fieldwork program under the guidance of their supervisor.

  3. 3RDYEAR

    Learning outside the university

    Conducting research through fieldwork
    Students go out into the field to test all that they have learned from their course.Students gain a genuine understanding through firsthand experience during a two-month period off-campus, immersed in a different culture and society where they come in contact with diverse value systems.This experience gives them new perspectives, expands their horizons, and helps them develop original ideas.

    Verifying research findings
    After completing their program, students return to campus to reflect on their research. They collate the data and material they collected in the field and compile this into a report.They deepen their understanding through the feedback and comments they receive from faculty and colleagues after presenting a report of their research findings.

  4. 4THYEAR

    Graduation Research

    Giving shape to ideas
    Students prepare a graduation thesis on their ideas based on the deep knowledge they gained in the first three years.For students to write a logically coherent and readily comprehensible thesis on a topic they are interested in, supervisors provide one-on-one guidance every step of the way, from research planning to proofreading.

What You Will Learn

  • The ability to accurately read and interpret the richly expressive content of works of literature.
  • The ability to understand and objectively critique the distinctive qualities of works of literature.
  • The ability to connect people and societies across national borders.

Past Theses

  • The History of and Going Beyond Modern Japanese Theater: Oriza Hirata’s Theory of Modern Theater

    How has modern theater imported from the west been received in Japan?The dramatist Oriza Hirata systematized daily dialogue in Japanese society within his idea of "contemporary colloquial theater."This paper considers modern western theater from the perspective of this "dialogue" and discusses the history of modern theater in Japan and how theater can go beyond this drama style.

  • When Movies Give Hope: From Up on Poppy Hill—A Modern Portrayal of Aoi Sanmyaku

    Studio Ghibli released the movie From Up on Poppy Hill in cinemas in July 2011.It is closely related to the novel Aoi Sanmyaku (“Blue Mountain Range”), serialized in The Asahi Shimbun in 1947.This paper considers two movies, the film-version of Aoi Sanmyaku from 1963, which is said to have reinvigorated Japan after its defeat in the Second World War, and From Up on Poppy Hill, which was released after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. In particular, it examines how these films gave people hope.

  • The Melancholy of an Upright Character: Examining Ichiyo Higuchi’s Takekurabe

    The Meiji-era novella Takekurabe (“Growing Up”) is controversial due to the transformation of its main character, a young girl named Midori.In particular, the reasons for her almost unrecognizable behavior at the end of the story are hotly disputed.This paper focuses on the melancholy she experiences due to other people’s attention and attempts to explain her transformation from this perspective.


Career Opportunities
Editor, writer, novelist, curator, school teacher, business (career track), and many more.
Major Employers
Publishing, advertising, online content creation, NPOs/NGOs, civil service, manufacturing, retail distribution, and many more.


  • YAMAZAKI Fuu Current Student

    Exploring New Interests Through an Extensive Literary Curriculum

    Reading books has always been a passion of mine, and I first came across the Department of Humanities when searching for a university where I could study a range of Japanese literature. I’m currently part of a seminar group that studies literary works from the Heian period (794–1185). We are currently working with The Tale of Genji, taking words and phrases from the book and examining their meaning and cultural context. One topic we studied this year was “Viewing Friendship Through Japanese Waka Poetry,” by visiting various locations such as temples, art galleries, and museums in addition to libraries and other archives. Love is a well-known theme within waka, but there are also poems about friendship. I'm also studying Chinese poetry and hope to better understand what friendship really means as I write my graduation thesis.
    What makes the Department of Humanities so unique is that you can study not just literature from different periods but also take various courses on Japanese culture, society, history, and more. At first, I didn't think literature related to other fields, but I now realize that it’s incredibly important for understanding the context of the period in which a work was written. Not only is it useful for your own research, but it’s also an opportunity to broaden your curiosity and interests. Every day I discover new things and find unexpected connections between different subjects. My dream is to become a librarian. The more I study here at university, the more I wish people would read more books. As a librarian, I would be delighted to provide others with the opportunity to discover new books and foster a love of reading.
  • KORESAWA Norimitsu Academic Faculty

    Learning culture and history through ancient myths and language

    I teach the seminar Ancient Literature, Mythology, and History of the Japanese Language.Students read and interpret myths from the Kojiki, consider why these myths emerged, and study the etymology of ancient Japanese.Japan has many shrines, and by learning about the country's gods and myths and the past origins of its language, students can better understand Japanese history and culture.My seminar is perfect for students wanting to discover the history of the Japanese language or those interested in Japan's gods, myths, and history, or its shrines and temples.
  • NISHINO Atsushi Academic Faculty

    The power of a great book begins when you tell others about it

    In my seminar Modern Japanese Literature, students encounter other worlds that only the written word could create through comparisons with other media such as manga, painting, and film.Past students have researched various topics that are only to be expected at an art university, including the relationship between Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s novels and book design or the works of Makoto Shinkai.The first step to studying literature is being able to explain what you find fascinating about a book in a way that others can understand.I hope you will join us at Kyoto Seika and learn how to choose the right words to articulate your love of literature.