About the Major

The growth of the Pacific Rim as an economic and technological giant has spurred interest in the region’s cultures as well as its languages. Japanese has become one of the most widely taught languages in the U.S. and has assumed critical importance in a range of professions, from politics and diplomacy to business, education, and technology. The study of Japanese at Hamilton provides rigorous, intensive training in reading, writing, and speaking the language, with upper-level courses conducted entirely in Japanese. In addition, many students choose to study abroad.  

A Sampling of Courses

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Introduction to Japanese Film

This course traces the history of one of the world’s most innovative film industries. Since the early 20th century, Japanese filmmakers have experimented with and improved upon cinema. Their work has been influential not only in Japan but throughout the world. From the drama of early silent movies to anime, we will cover some of the "greatest hits" of Japanese film, whether widely popular or critically acclaimed. This exploration of cinema in Japan will offer both a new perspective on cinema itself as well as an opportunity to view the genre’s development in a specific cultural context.

Explore these select courses:

Introduction to basic structures and vocabulary. Emphasis on oral communication with practice in reading and writing, using the two syllabaries (hiragana and katakana) and 28 kanji characters. Four 50-minute classes a week (Monday-Thursday).

The Edo Period (1603-1868) was a time of stability in Japan. The urban centers of Japan thrived, and people had greater access to wealth and education. There was an explosion of popular literature and performances, many of which influence today’s pop culture. We will read representative works from the Edo period, including ghost stories, puppet and kabuki plays, haiku, and comic fiction. The course will be primarily discussion-based. Writing assignments will include a creative writing option. The course has no prerequisites and does not require Japanese knowledge.

This course explores issues of imperialism, military conflict, pacifism, nuclear victimhood, foreign occupation, national identity, and social responsibility in 19th to 21st-century Japan. Materials include nonfiction, science fiction, poetry, war propaganda, novels, censorship documents, animé, and film.

Examines Chinese, Japanese and Korean as well as other languages found in East Asia. Topics include the syntactic (possible word order, inflections, particles, and combinations of all of them) and phonological structures (phoneme, pitch vs. tone, sound patterns) of these languages; the relationships of the languages to each other; differences and similarities of these languages from the universal point of view; the geographical, social and historical settings. No knowledge of any Asian language necessary.

Focusing on Japan as a point of reference, this course will consider how the notion of "place" gets constructed through human emotions as something more than just a set of geographical coordinates. Examining a range of literary works and films, we will study how "Japan" has been imagined, constructed, and remembered in the 20th century through storytelling. Topics to be covered include Japan’s imperialism in Asia, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, Vietnam War, minorities in Japan, and anime. Taught in English. No prior knowledge of Japan is required. Open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors only.

Meet Our Faculty

Masaaki Kamiya

Associate Professor of Japanese, Director of Linguistics


syntax, semantics, language acquisition, pragmatic and Japanese linguistics

Kyoko Omori

Associate Professor of Japanese


modern Japanese literature, especially modernism and youth magazine culture; early 20th-century media, especially cinema and radio; and censorship and the Occupation Era, 1945-52

Yurie Moriwaki

Teaching Fellow in East Asian Languages and Literature


Haruka Snyder

Lecturer in East Asian Languages and Literatures (Japanese)


Language Teaching, TESOL, TLOTE

Yuki Yasuda

Teaching Fellow in East Asian Languages and Literatures


Second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, and intercultural interaction

Explore Hamilton Stories

Two students talking at a table in Commons dining hall.

Speaking of Grabbing a Meal …

Amidst the bustling crowds at Commons and McEwen dining halls, language faculty and students sit around a table to enjoy a meal while conversing in their chosen studied language. Hamilton’s “language tables,” as they are known, provide both valuable speaking experience and community building opportunities.

Zhaosen Guo '21 and Wei-Jen Chang

Digitizing the Past

Most people would agree that history should be accessible, and for Zhaosen Guo ’21, digitizing the past is the way to make that happen. He's spent the summer as a Digital Humanities Initiative research fellow.

Faby Alvarez ’22

Building Connections Across Cultures

An interest in Japanese language and culture led Faby Alvarez ’22 to participate in the 72nd Japan-America Student Conference (JASC), a program that brings students from the two countries together to research, study, and discuss Japan-U.S. relations across a breadth of topics. The highly competitive program emphasizes building connections across cultures through reflective, educational conversations.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in Japanese are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Patent Examiner, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • Youth Coordinator, Mattahunt Wheelock Community Center
  • Business Development Associate, Coleman Research Group
  • Java Developer, Clarity
  • Social Media Coordinator, Keep It Real Acting


Department Name

Japanese Program

Contact Name

Masaaki Kamiya, Program Coordinator

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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