Rika Ito is a Japanese and Asian Studies professor who received a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Michigan State University. She teaches the Japanese language (all levels), Asian Studies, and linguistic courses. 

Rika specializes in sociolinguistics, examining language variation across time/space and considering what it implies to the users. Lately, she has incorporated more socio-cultural, historical, and political aspects in analyzing variation. For example, she investigates the role of language ideologies concerning power, represented in scripted popular media through sociolinguistic differences. She has identified that TV dramas and anime routinely reproduce the dominance of English in Japan, the prevalence of standard Japanese over regional dialects, and the stereotypes projected on foreign and gender non-conforming characters. Two of her publications are co-authored with her former students (Ito & Bislia, 2020; Gilbert & Ito, 2020). 

Her latest article analyzes the representation of the Ainu language, the indigenous language of northern Japan, in the anime Golden Kamuy (Ito, 2022). This is part of a larger collaborative work with Prof. Christina Spiker (Art/Art History and Asian Studies) to examine Ainu issues in contemporary Japan. 

She is excited about teaching a new course, ASIA 244: Language and Race in Japan & USA, in the spring, which evolved from her GK project! 

Check her ORCID to see the list of publications!


In the summer of 2022, she taught a graduate-level sociolinguistic course for Summer MA program in Japanese Pedagogy at Columbia University!! 

On the weekend, Ito-sensee enjoys gardening and playing with her cat, Hana-chan.