A Practical Guide to Japanese Studies and Literature

Japan pic

You've been thinking about pursuing a degree in Japanese Studies, specializing in Japanese Literature. You've become serious about it after reading "Perfect World", Rie Aruga's popular manga series. You're an avid reader of manga comics, and you like the sweet tale of an introvert girl's second chance on getting closer to her high school crush. Aruga would put her Capra-esque touch into this perpetually sunny story, yet you don't know if Japanese people would look at a half-full glass. Can your enthusiasm in manga lead to many career opportunities? The answer is yes, as pursuing a degree in Japanese Studies is worth the time and effort.

A degree in Japanese Studies could lead to an academic career, but a dual degree would open mouth-watering possibilities. International marketing consultant, foreign analyst, and adviser on financial markets are three professions that you could aspire for. These are others that you would think at this moment. You don't have to get far ahead at this point, as you must find out what you could expect from this course.

Japanese Studies would involve the learning of Japanese language, but the extent of your study would depend on what you like to learn and what you hope to get out of it. A rewarding exercise, but there would be more to it. You're not required to travel to Japan, but you could do a research on Tokyo Disneyland and enumerate the similarities between Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Park (in Anaheim) and Walt Disney World Resort (in Orlando). It's not hard to imagine die-hard fans dressing the part of their favorite animated characters, which could be linked to the study of Japanese literature. There's more to James Clavell's depiction of medieval Japan, which Hollywood producers would never grow tired of. In other words, Tom Cruise's "The Last Samurai” could be a good starting point. Then again, you would be surprised at what this genre offers to enthusiasts and students alike.

More About Japanese Literature: 3 Things You Need to Know Before Pursuing this Course

A Franz Kafka fan will love Japanese literature. Haruki Murakami's works would describe the struggles of young Japanese professionals, who feel alienated in their very own homeland. On the other hand, Yukio Mishima's "The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea" was a brooding coming-of-age story that would lead to a shocking climax. Both authors have Franz Kafka in mind. It's hard to envision Tokyo in perpetual darkness, which would be what Kafka thought of Prague. This is an intriguing aspect in Japanese literature, which could challenge your essay-writing skills. You don't need to know more about the Joker (to tap into your dark side), but this interesting note should give you an assurance that Japanese literature wouldn't be different from English literature. If you don't have any questions, you must go to the next item.

Get in touch with Mother Nature. Whether it's Hayao Miyazaki's stories of strong women protecting a fragile environment or an indie film crew trying to get accustomed to a spooky forest, you could see the strong ties to Mother Nature. It would be the Shintoist aspect that Lafcadio Hearn explored in his ghost stories. You're likely to study Eiji Yoshikawa's stirring tale of Musashi Miyamoto, and how his description of the snow-capped mountains and serene hills reflect the virtues that the samurai upheld to keep the land in peace and order. You need to tap into your perceptive side, possibly recall your past outdoor experience. Camping won't qualify as one, but you would have attempted fishing. There's a start.

Why you must read a lot of Japanese short stories. Hollywood filmmakers hailed Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon", which was a mash-up of Ryūnosuke Akutagawa's short stories. He was considered the Father of Japanese short stories, and it wasn't hard to see why his accounts of Edo were an exploration of the familiar and unfamiliar, which could put you on hold. It's similar to your first visit to a state that is far from where you live, and this would be a beginning. This study would require a familiarization of basic Japanese words, which should help you in figuring out Akutagawa intention in his short stories. Furthermore, you must be able to learn the distinctive traits of locals during that time. After all, Akutagawa's stories are about them. Sounds like Anton Chekhov's insightful short stories. Right?

Learning to Think in a Different Way

Japanese Studies would challenge you to think in a different way, which is what literary criticism demands from students. If you want to know more about this course, you must be enthusiastic about Japanese short stories and Japanese Cinema. The latter would help you in the coursework, but you don't need to get carried away. Talk with your tutor about your other options especially if you're considering a dual degree. You may end up with little time for other things, but think about the near future. You could meet interesting people while plotting your career or fulfill your secret desire in going to Japan. But don't get far ahead.

This course requires careful planning, so prepare for a long conversation with your tutor. Don't hesitate to approach the other members of the faculty. And acquaint with older students. You would do all of it during your campus visit, and it may not be enough. It's fine, as you have months at your disposal. Good luck.


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