2023-2024 Elective Courses

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

AKP students will take two elective courses per semester during the afternoons. The credit amount for each course will be equal to one standard semester-long course in the US.

In addition to the AKP elective courses listed below, AKP students may, if interested, take one of their two electives each semester by cross-registering for a course offered by the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS), also housed at Doshisha University. Courses taken at KCJS will receive the same credit as AKP electives and will appear on your AKP grade report. Note that the ability to cross-register may be affected by class size limitations, time conflicts, or conflicts with class-related field trips. Enrollment in a desired course is not guaranteed.

For information about KCJS electives, see their elective course page. For more information about cross-registration, please contact the AKP US Office.

Fall 2023

AKP-Doshisha Joint Seminar
Professor Hideko Abe, RD, Colby
Professor Masumi Izumi, Doshisha University
Tuesdays & Thursdays at 2:55 PM – 4:25 PM

This seminar, which is open to both AKP and Doshisha students, focuses on issues in comparative culture. The class format includes panel presentations, discussions, group projects, and a series of guest lectures by Japanese and foreign experts from the Kyoto area who will address various aspects of American and Japanese culture from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Sacred Space and Place in Japan
Professor Asuka Sango, Carleton College
Mondays & Wednesdays at 2:55 PM – 4:25 PM

This course offers a critical study of religious space and place in Japan with fieldwork in Kyoto. Field studies allow you to analyze how individuals and groups construct the physical environments (“place”) of their religious practices and imbue them with meaning (“space”)—while the lectures and readings will aid this fieldwork by providing resources for investigating the ritual, historical, and political dimensions of Japanese religions. These sites present various discourses of “authenticity” (being authentically Japanese, religious, traditional, etc.). However, these discourses are culturally, historically, and spatially constructed. Through field study, you will analyze how these different aspects manifest materially in a specific site.

The Japanese Economy
Professor Linus Yamane, Pitzer College
Mondays & Wednesdays at 1:10 PM – 2:40 PM

This course is a broad introduction to the fascinating Japanese economy. Japan was the first non-Western nation to become a major industrial power, providing many lessons for economic development. Japan is now the fourth largest economy (PPP) in the world behind China, the US, and India. Japan is the world’s largest creditor nation, but faces enormous challenges with an aging population, mounting government debts, and needed corporate sector and labor market reforms. We will begin by considering economic conditions during the Tokugawa period and the process of economic growth since the Meiji Restoration. We will examine the high rates of growth in the post-WWII period, along with the economic slowdown in the Heisei period. We will discuss the character of Japanese economic policy making as well as the behavior of Japanese enterprises, financial institutions, labor force, and households. Topics will include macroeconomic growth, monetary and fiscal policies, international trade, industrial policy, labor markets, savings, and investment. With the collapse of the Bubble economy and the Lost Decades, we will end with a discussion of Japan’s current economic conditions.

Japanese Popular Culture: Modernization and the creation of a Soft-Power Super-Power
Professor Mahon Murphy, Kyoto University
Tuesdays & Thursdays at 4:40 PM – 6:10 PM

This course will look at the creation of Japanese popular culture since the so-called “opening” of the country in 1868, when Japanese culture was introduced to a new global audience. The modernization of Japan raised numerous dilemmas, in particular the question of what it means to be Japanese. We will assess questions of who creates popular culture and to what end, including the role of popular culture in Japan’s nation branding from the Meiji era through the 2013 government initiative “Cool Japan.” We will examine how various governments sought to control and promote popular culture for their own ends, and also track how those who resist official narratives place their stamp on popular culture. Picking a central weekly theme, we will take a historical approach to Japanese popular culture over the past 155 years, covering Japan’s periods of imperial expansion, post-war contraction, economic boom, and economic bust. We will consider the deeper political implications of the activities we pursue in our leisure time and how popular culture has been an essential node in creating a modern, imperial, and global Japanese identity.

Kyoto and the Visual Arts of Japan
Professor Catherine Ludvik, Kyoto Sangyo University
Tuesdays & Thursdays at 1:10 PM – 2:40 PM

This course takes students on an exploration of the magnificent visual arts of Japan, from the enigmatic excavated works of the prehistoric period, through the imposing Buddhist arts and breathtaking sliding screen paintings defining traditional architecture, to the vibrant contemporary art scene. Through a sweeping historical survey highlighting the forms and functions of representative artworks in their respective contexts, you 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 representational strategies and modes of viewing.

Spring 2024

Japanese Language, Gender, and Sexuality
Professor Hideko Abe, RD, Colby
Tuesdays & Thursdays at 1:10 PM – 2:40 PM

The field of language, gender, and sexuality is one of the most interdisciplinary areas of study in sociolinguistics. This course explores ideas about gender and sexuality as they emerge through linguistic practice and embodied behavior. Drawing on the interdisciplinary pedigree to provide a wider perspective and range of tools for the study of gender, sexuality, and linguistic practice, this course examines: (1) how we evaluate issues of gender inequality in language (how linguistic presentations put a clue to the place of women and sexual minority groups); (2) how gender roles are played out in the structure of human interaction and society; (2) how we analyze various explanations for differentiated language use among people of diverse gender and sexuality; (3) how the normative ideology of language affects how we perform gender and sexuality; and (4) the historical development of gendered speech from Heian to Reiwa.

Japan and the Digital Economy
Professor Leshui He, Bates College
Mondays & Wednesdays at 1:10 PM – 2:40 PM
This course explores the economics of the digital economy to study the impact of digitization on both commercial and personal activities, such as the rise of online platforms, peer-to-peer markets, and social media. We will discuss consumer behavior, strategies in the competition between online and offline retailers, product strategy, pricing strategy related to the digital space, and related laws and regulations.

Religion, Tradition, and Temple-Tourism in Kyoto
Professor Catherine Ludvik, Kyoto Sangyo University
Mondays & Wednesdays at 2:55 PM – 4:25 PM

Filled with over two thousand temples and shrines, the ancient capital of Kyoto provides the ideal setting for the study of Japanese religions. Temples and shrines, however, are not only sites of faith, but locales where religion, tradition, culture, and tourism intersect. Against this vibrant and complex background accommodating diverse modes of religious practice and sightseeing, this course explores selected aspects of Shinto, Buddhism, and the New Religions of Japan in historical as well as contemporary context. We will examine present-day attitudes to religion, lived by many as inherited tradition, in conjunction with the enormous popularity of the city’s temples and shrines that function as promoters of cultural identity and World Heritage tourism.

Power in Japan
Professor Dwight Whitaker, Pomona College
Tuesdays at 2:55 PM – 4:25 PM & Thursdays at 4:40 PM – 6:10 PM
In this course we will investigate how electrical energy is produced and delivered in Kansai and Japan in general. The lack of domestic fuels sources and the sudden shutdown of nuclear power sources after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi disaster leaves Japan in a challenging position to reliably meet its energy needs as an economic superpower while also meeting its commitment to the Paris Climate Accord. To construct a sound policy, we must first understand the science behind energy. Here, we explore how different forms of energy are consumed to provide power and the consequences of this consumption in Japan and globally.
Nara Period Japan
Professor Jeffrey Richey, Berea College
Tuesdays at 4:40 PM – 6:10 PM & Thursdays at 2:55 PM – 4:25 PM
This course explores the art, history, literature, politics, and religion of Japan during the Nara period (710-784 CE). During this time, Japan experienced sudden, intense, and lasting artistic, political, religious, and social changes. Through the examination of images, sites, structures, and texts of this period in the city of Nara and elsewhere in Japan, students will develop an informed understanding of this formative era and its cultural legacies in Japan.

Interested in our past offerings?

Thanks to AKP’s Visiting Faculty Fellows program, each AKP term is unique in terms of its electives. While it’s hard to predict what might be offered next, you can click on the button below to see what kind of faculty and specialities we’ve brought to AKP in the past!