Course syllabus

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University of Nevada, Reno                                                                Summer 2014



Office address & contacts

Office Hours

Yoshie Kadowaki

EJCH 235 F

Phone: 682-8886

E-mail: via Web Campus

Use ONLY when WebCampus doesn’t work.)

M-F 12:00-1:00pm

By appointment

TIME:   9:00AM- 12:00PM           MTWRF                          

Roger J. Davies          The Japanese Mind

Paul Varley                  Japanese Culture

Additional readings on UNR library (e-reserve) and on WebCampus including…

-       SHINTO – the Kami Way –

-       Japanese Buddhism: a cultural History

-       Anthology of Japanese Literature

-       A Brief History of Japanese Civilization

-       Sources of Japanese Tradition

-       Shutting out the Sun

-       Modern Japanese Culture
In the new Silver Core, this course will satisfy CO11 Global Contexts: Students will apply and evaluate modes of academic inquiry, creative expression, or results of research to problems in historical and contemporary global contexts. Students will articulate connections among local, national, and international contexts and evaluate the ways that historical and contemporary global influences affect their current situations.
How this course will satisfy this core objective:

This course will explore general aspects of Japanese culture from its historical, sociological, psychological, and philosophical point of view through readings and class discussions. Students will critically reflect on their learning and life experiences by developing an understanding of Japanese history, society, culture, and their viewpoints. Through readings, lectures, and class discussions, students will evaluate the ways that historical and contemporary global influences affect current Japan-U.S. situations.

The Student Learning Outcomes are as follows:
Students will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of the history, customs, values, and other cultural aspects of Japan and Japanese people, and analyze how they compare to the U.S.

  • describe and analyze the perceptions, viewpoints, and life experiences of people in Japan.

  • compare and contrast cultural aspects (including morals, biases, social norms, and world views) of Japan with those of the United States

  • contextualize current events and experiences in relation to historical and current context between Japan and the U.S.

  • demonstrate how local and global contexts of ideas or events result in nuanced or conflicting understandings of contemporary and/or historical ideas, events, or experiences

How student learning outcomes related to this core objective will be assessed:

Students will write discussion paper on the readings to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the course materials. Students will also be assessed on their in-class discussion as a discussion leader, and also on quizzes and tests. Students will also produce detailed analysis and reflection on the historical and contemporary life experiences in global context on their final test. In addition, students will perform an oral presentation to demonstrate their knowledge and interpretation on Japanese history, culture, society, etc. Grading rubrics will be provided to ensure the measurability of the assessments, and the instructor will record the result.
ATTENDANCE/PARTICIPATION                          10 pts x 15 days = 150pts

Attendance is mandatory, and punctuality is important.  Information given at the lectures will not necessarily be found in the materials assigned for reading.  If a student misses a class for any reason it is her/his responsibility to get notes for that day from another student in class.  Students are expected to finish the reading assignment(s) and be ready for the class discussion before attending each class.  Students will be evaluated on a daily basis whether s/he comes to class on time, is prepared, and fully participates in discussion with a positive attitude.  If you come to class late, sleep in class, do not participate in discussion, and do not work with others in productive/positive manner, etc, your Attendance/participation points will be lower.

Daily participation grading criteria

Comes to class on time; excellent preparation and participation in group/class discussion by making references to the reading, raising interesting questions and sharing opinions; pays full attention and keeps positive attitude during lectures and discussion


Less than 10min late to class; seems well prepared but not as active in discussion; pays full attention and keeps positive attitude in class


More than 10min but less than 20 min late to class, somewhat participates in discussion, but does not display excellent preparedness; pays full attention in class most of the time but not all the time; spends a lot of time chatting about non-related subjects during discussion


More than 20min late but less than an hour late; apparently did not do assigned readings; poor participation in discussion; does not pay attention in class, shows negative attitude in class (i.e. disruptive; disrespectful)


Absent; more than an hour late to class; sleeping in class; did not do assigned readings and does not participate in discussion at all; study other class materials during lecture/discussion; engages in non-class related activities such as using cell phone, texting, playing games, listening to music, and surfing online, etc.


DISCUSSION LEADER               100pts x 2 = 200pts

In order to demonstrate your knowledge of the history and variety of cultural aspects from the reading, you will lead small-group discussions as a discussion leader twice this.   You will also submit a 1 ½ page (single-spaced) discussion paper on 3 concepts/figures/events that you found important/interesting from the assigned reading. The paper is due by the day you are assigned to be the discussion leader and it needs to be submitted via WebCampus Assignment.   Please organize your paper in the following format:

  1. “Title/name of the second concept”

    1. Short (2-3 sentences) summary of the concept

    2. Reason(s) why you find it interesting, how it compares to the U.S., how it confirmed/changed your prior knowledge

    3. 1-2 question(s) to raise to your group to discuss

  2. “Title/name of the second concept”

    1. Short (2-3 sentences) summary of the concept

    2. Reason(s) why you find it interesting, how it compares to the U.S., how it confirmed/changed your prior knowledge

    3. 1-2 question(s) to raise to your group to discuss

  3. “Title/name of the second concept”

    1. Short (2-3 sentences) summary of the concept

    2. Reason(s) why you find it interesting, how it compares to the U.S., how it confirmed/changed your prior knowledge

    3. 1-2 question(s) to raise to your group to discuss

Each section (1~3) should be total of ½ page in length (single-spaced).

My discussion leader days are....

1. Date: _____________    Assigned readings/video:__________________________________  
2. Date: _____________    Assigned readings/video:__________________________________  
In class, you will first share your thoughts about the reading, including the 3 concepts/figures/events that you thought were important and why you chose them.  For each concept, you will raise the questions that you prepared and lead the discussion in your group.  You should come up with thought-provoking questions rather than questions to simply test your group’s knowledge from the reading. Also ask other students’ opinion on other concepts in the reading that they found interesting/important.  Each discussion leader will be responsible for sharing what your group discussed to the whole class.  See WebCampus for the grading rubric.
DAILY WEBCAMPUS QUIZZES                            5 pts x 23 = 115pts

There will be daily quizzes on WebCampus to evaluate your knowledge of the assigned reading.  Each quiz will expire an hour before the class that the readings are assigned.

TEST       150pts x 2 = 300pts

There will be one mid-term test that you will take on WebCampus, and one take-home essay/test at the end of the term to evaluate your knowledge and analysis of the information you learned in this class. Students must submit their essay via Assignment on WebCampus. No late submission will be accepted.

PAPER (100pts)  & PRESENTATION (50pts)        100pts + 50pts = 150pts

Each student is going to choose a topic from the list below. Each topic should have 2-3 students to form a group.  You will choose a subtopic within your group topic, and you will be responsible to research on the subtopic of your choice.

Each of you will...

1) write a 3 page research paper (double-spaced) on the assigned subtopic. Submit your paper and PPT slides (or alternative) via WebCampus Assignment by June 6th before class.

2) create a PPT presentation to put all of your information together and submit it to the instructor via WebCampus Assignment.

As a group, you will...

3) combine all of your PPT presentations and create one presentation. You will do an in-class presentation as a group on June 6th (Friday), but you will be mostly graded individually based on the quality of your part of the presentation (5-6 min each = 15 min~20 min/group).
Possible students’ Paper/Presentation topics

- Movie History in Japan

- History of Animation

- History of Japanese Music

- Traditional Music Instruments (shamisen, shakuhachi, koto, taiko)

- Technology (originated in Japan, used uniquely in Japan, etc)

- Discrimination in Japan (Buraku, Ainu, Okinawan, Chinese/Korean communities)

- Women in Japan

- Sports (baseball, marathon, kakutoogi)

- Do- Sports (Kendo, Judo, Aikido, Kyudo, Iaido, Karate)

- Political system

- Japanese folk tales & ghost stories

- Crimes in Japan

- Architecture

- Arts in Japan


Choose one Japanese literature and write one-page (font 12, single-spaced). You must submit the title of the book by the end of the first week, and get an approval. Write one-page (font 12, single-spaced).

Your review(s) should include:

1. Overall evaluation of the book (rate 1 not good – 5 very good) – this should be the first thing you write on your review.

2. Summary of the story, which describes main characters, setting, and a brief plotline

3. discussion on things you found interesting in the book, examples from the book that reflect Japanese cultural aspects/values that we discussed in class, and your opinion whether or not you recommend the book you reviewed and clear reasons why. Keep in mind your audience here are students who wish to learn about Japan and Japanese culture and you are supposed to evaluate the book/movie based on that viewpoint instead of how entertaining they are. DUE: 5/30 (F)

Final grades will be assigned as follows:
























F (0)

Attendance/Participation 150 pts                               

Discussion Leader 200 pts                               

Daily Online Quiz  (23) 115 pts                              

Test (2) 300 pts                               

Paper 100 pts

Presentation           50 pts                 

Total 915 pts                               
Extra credit               BOOK REVIEW 20pts              


                FOOD DAY 10pts


  1. Although Japanese language is not required for this course, students may expect to encounter Japanese words or phrases (written in romanization).  They will be explained in class when necessary.  Students are also expected to recognize them when they appear in the quiz/test.

  2. “Incomplete” will be given only for legitimate non-academic reasons (as required by the university policy).  Make sure you know the last day to: drop mini-term classes; change from credit to audit; withdraw from the course without a grade being recorded.


Disability Services: Any student with a disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with me or the Disability Resource Center (Thompson Building Suite 100) as soon as possible to arrange for appropriate accommodations.
Academic Dishonesty: Any form of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in this class. The minimum penalty for academic dishonesty is an F in the course. See Student Handbook and UNR Catalog for rules about and sanctions for academic dishonesty.
Audio and Video Recording: Surreptitious or covert video-taping of class or unauthorized audio recording of class is prohibited by law and by Board of Regents policy. This class may be videotaped or audio recorded only with the written permission of the instructor. In order to accommodate students with disabilities, some students may have been given permission to record class lectures and discussions. Therefore, students should understand that their comments during class may be recorded.

Tentative Schedule

Day 1

5/19 (M)

Syllabus/ Introduction

Introduction (up to Nara Period)

Day 2

5/20 (T)

Japanese Mind: Amae, Aimai, Chinmoku

Quiz 1 due before class


Quiz 2 due before class

Day 3

5/21 (W)

Heian Period

Quiz 3 due before class

Heian Culture

Quiz 4 due before class

Day 4

5/22 (Th)

Kamakura/Muromachi period

Quiz 5 due before class

Surviving Traditional Arts, Literature

Quiz 6 due before class

Day 5

5/23 (F)


Quiz 7 due before class

Azuchi-Momoyama period

Quiz 8 due before class

Presentation/ Paper topic & outline Due

Last day to sign-up for book/ movie review

Day 6

5/26 (M)

Memorial Day (No Class)

Day 7

5/27 (T)

Edo period

Quiz 9 due before class

Game Day (Traditional games and games in the modern days, Calligraphy, Origami)

Quiz 10 due before class

Day 8

5/28 (W)

Edo Culture/ Japanese Traditional Arts

Quiz 11 due before class

Meiji Period

Quiz 12 due before class

Day 9

5/29 (Th)

Taisho, Showa period (During war)

Quiz 13 due before class

Japanese Family

Quiz 14 due before class

Day 10

5/30 (F)

Showa period (Post-war)

Quiz 15 due before class

Current Social Issues in Japan 1

Quiz 16 due before class

Book review & Movie review Due

Midterm (WebCampus, opens 5/31 12:00 and closes 6/3 8:00am)

Day 11

6/2 (M)

Food, Etiquette, gestures

Quiz 17 due before class

Education system in Japan

Quiz 18 due before class

Day 12

6/3 (T)

Sports in Japan

Quiz 19 due before class

Japanese Language

Quiz 20 due before class

Day 13

6/4 (W)

Current Social Issues in Japan 2

Quiz 21 due before class

Ceremony: Funeral, Wedding

Quiz 22 due before class

Day 14

6/5 (Th)

Pop-culture (pop-music, manga, anime, game)

Quiz 23 due before class

Japanese Entertainment

Quiz 24 due before class

Day 15

6/6 (F)

Presentation + Japanese Food Day

Presentation Paper & Powerpoint slide due before class

Final Exam Due by 5:00 pm

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