Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.



Section Head, 2007-08: Phyllis H. Larson (Asian Studies), Japanese language and literature

Faculty, 2007-08: Rika Ito (Asian Studies), Japanese language and literature, linguistics

Is it possible to be modern and yet non-Western? To be an industrial democracy yet maintain high educational standards, strong families, and strong communities? To avoid the isolation of the individual that constitutes the spiritual crisis of the West?

The example of Japan suggests that the answer is yes. Learning Japanese introduces you to a dynamic nation of 120 million people at the hub of technological innovation, trade, and diplomatic relations in the world’s fastest-growing market: the Pacific Rim. It introduces you to a modern country which has maintained a distinct cultural identity; a society which still emphasizes the individual’s responsibilities to family and group; and to an economy with distinctive solutions to problems of productivity, management, and motivation in the work place. It introduces you to the earliest non-Western nation to become a modern world power.

While Japan is one of the biggest trading partners of the U.S., American access to the Japanese market continues to be limited. A primary reason is that we lack personnel fluent in Japanese and knowledgeable about Japanese culture. St. Olaf teaches three full years of Japanese language with a fourth year offered by tutorial and sends language students to four different campuses in Japan. Study programs in Japan are available at Waseda University in Tokyo through the ACM, at Ferris University in Yokohama, Nagoya University in Nagoya, and Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies in Nagasaki.


For information about Japanese language courses, the Japan studies concentration, and the Asian studies major, see ASIAN STUDIES.