2017-18 Elective Courses

You’re used to the challenging academic standards and probing critical thinking that characterize a liberal arts education. You’ll find it with AKP. The Associated Kyoto Program mirrors its fifteen consortium institutions in the disciplinary diversity and commitment to excellence among its courses. Thanks to the Visiting Faculty Fellows Program, the AKP recruits some of the finest teachers from the consortium, allowing you to take classes that will foster a deeper understanding of Japan’s long and complex cultural history.


 Fall 2017

AKP-Doshisha Joint Seminar

Professor Maki Hubbard, Smith College, and Professor Susan Pavloska, Doshisha University

The Joint Seminar represents a unique opportunity to explore issues in comparative culture in a class comprised of both AKP and Doshisha students. The class format includes panel presentations, discussions, joint projects, and a series of guest lectures by Japanese and foreign experts from the Kyoto environs who will address various aspects of American and Japanese culture from a multi-disciplinary perspective.


Sites and Sights: A Pilgrim’s History of Buddhist Kyoto

Professor Jamie Hubbard, Smith College

This course examines Buddhism and indigenous religion in Japan through the history of temples and images in the Kansai area (predominantly Kyoto). Topics include doctrinal development, church/state relations, and the diffusion of religious values in Japanese culture, particularly in the aesthetic realm (literature, gardens, tea, the martial arts, etc.).


Changing Japanese Families

Professor Jill Grigsby, Pomona College

As the most basic social institution, the family is important not only to individual members, but also to other social institutions and society as a whole. Understanding human behavior in the context of the family, therefore, includes the individual, group, institutional, and societal levels of analysis. We will examine the “traditional ideal family” in Japan, how it compares with ideal family forms in other societies and how Japanese family patterns have changed over time, as traditional values continue to influence attitudes and behaviors, while modern and postmodern changes in Japan and other parts of the world challenge these traditions. Some of the course readings will compare family patterns in modern Japan with other societies in Asia, Europe and North America. As a class we will take a field trip to a commercial establishment specializing in the Japanese wedding industry, and other field trips to family businesses in Kyoto, where we will learn firsthand about the relationship between family and work in the lives of modern Japanese people.


Japanese Economy

Professor David Flath, Ritsumeikan University

This course is a broad survey of topics having to do with Japan’s economy. Four themes run through the entire course: Japan’s economic growth and development, its integration with the world economy, Japanese government policies and their effects, and Japanese economic institutions and practices.



Spring 2018


Language in Globalizing Japan

Professor Maki Hubbard, Smith College

In this course we will investigate how so-called “national language” was constructed and disseminated throughout the modernization of Japan, its political and educational contributions and implications, and its transformations and limitations in today’s Japanese society. We will explore the diversification of the Japanese language in globalizing Japan, its contradictions as well as coexistence with the deep-seated belief in the “homogeneous Japanese.” Located in Kyoto, an exciting big city with a rich pop-culture as well as a thousand-year old tradition as the capital before modernization, you will be blessed with abundant first-hand resources to investigate this tradition and transformation in people’s language life – resources not only from the rich ancient artifacts
or documents but also your host families and Doshisha students, the dialect, minority communities, immigrants, tourists, and young people around you.


Kyoto and the Visual Arts of Japan

Professor Catherine Ludvik

This course explores the visual arts of Japan from the prehistoric period to the nineteenth century, highlighting representative art works including sculptures, paintings, textiles, architecture, and gardens. Selected works will be studied in terms of their chronology, artistic medium, iconography, setting, and functions. We will examine such issues as the relationship of Japanese art to Chinese and Korean art, patronage, the ritual and visual functions of Buddhist icons, the translation of concepts into artistic forms, as well as the changing identities of sculptures and paintings. Drawing on Kyoto’s long history and tradition of magnificent visual arts, classes will be supplemented with organized field trips to museums and temples.



 Genji’s Guide to Kyoto: Emotion, Environment, and the Shining Prince

Professor Charo D’Etcheverry, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tale of Genji, Japan’s most famous text barring the Peace Constitution, is justly celebrated for its portraits of the characters’ inner lives. Whatever we think of the hero—and modern readers often love to hate him—we come to feel that we know “the Shining Prince” and his world personally. This sense of intimacy excites curiosity. We will take advantage of AKP’s location to trace the connections between Murasaki’s famous portraits of feeling and their fictionalized settings. With the help of print and visual references, we will each skim all of Genji and closely read at least half of it. In the classroom, we will reflect on how our own knowledge of different places can enrich our general understanding of the tale. Outside of class, we will take five field trips directly associated with Genji: one to Murasaki’s childhood home, where some say she began writing the tale; one to experience Heian–period clothing; and three to rural shrines or temples associated with specific chapters in the text. Our goal here is not to recapture an “authentic” experience of these things, which common sense suggests is diverse. Rather, we will use our own impressions to explore how Murasaki fuses emotion and environment in her psychologically realistic narration.


Phoenix out of the Ashes: Contemporary Japanese History

Professor James Orr, Bucknell University

In this course we will strive to gain a rich understanding of contemporary Japan by examining basic political, economic, technological, social, and cultural developments of Japan from the time of WWII to the present. Cultural practices examined will include film, popular song and music, architecture and urban space, art, manga and political cartoons, and anime.