Images of Japan: Arts, Literature, and Cinema

Spring 2018 quarter

Taught by

human development, family studies, education
Japanese language and culture

This program focuses on the examination of cultural understandings, assumptions, and representations made by Western writers and artists as they adopted elements of Japanese aesthetics through Japonism, especially the Japanese influence on European impressionism. Lectures, workshops, readings, and films will feature an array of Western works with Japanese themes. In turn, the curriculum will examine aspects of Japanese culture and arts that are influenced by Western aesthetics. Such cultural-crossing concerns will be examined further through a series of student group research projects. Students interested in this program must be prepared to read extensively and express their growing understanding through essay writing and works of visual representation, such as collage and assemblage.

Curriculum materials will offer visual and literary examples of Japanese-Western cultural crossing. Readings that demonstrate how Western writers interpret Japanese society will include  The Lady and the Monk (Pico Iyer); Zen in the Art of Archery (Eugen Herrigel); Crossing State Lines: An American Renga (Carol Muske-Dukes and Bob Holman, editors); The Chrysanthème Papers (Christopher Reed); and  Lafcadio Hearn's Japan: An Anthology of His Writings on the Country and Its People (Donald Ritchie, editor). Japanese literature that expresses westernization will include Botchan (Sōseki Natsume) and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (Murakami Haruki). Films such as The Hedgehog (Mona Achache, 2009), Enlightenment Guaranteed (Doris Dörrie, 2002), The Death of the Hired Man  (Noh), and Cherry Blossoms (Doris Dörrie, 2008) exemplify the use of elements of Japanese aesthetics, while Kwaidan (Kobayashi Masaki, 1964), Twenty-Four Eyes (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1954), Leonie (Hisako Matsui, 2010) and All About Our House  (Kōki Mitani, 2001) will be screened to observe Western aesthetic influences.

Program Details

Fields of Study

aesthetics art history cultural studies history language studies literature visual arts writing

Preparatory For

international relations, art, language, literature, and film


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online


$15 for museum entrance fees.