SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea

Aspects Of Japanese Culture II

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 2

Lectures and seminars will focus on continuity and change in Japanese cultural history from early modern period to the Occupation.

Varied topics will be discussed, such as:

  • women in Tokugawa Japan, 
  • early modern religious practice, 
  • Tokugawa power, 
  • the modern imperial institution, 
  • democratic movements 
  • and ultra right wing movements.



Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

Objectives: an introduction - using multiple methodologies - to key issues in Japanese history, 1600-1945.

Learning outcomes:

  1. students will acquire basic understanding of issues in political, social, intellectual, literary and religious history.
  2. through presentations and written assignments, students will develop critical skills in speaking, discussing, thinking and writing.


Total of 11 weeks teaching with 2.5 hours classroom contact. Teaching is by means of interactive lectures, discussion and student presentations.

Scope and syllabus

Aspects of Japanese culture 2 is structured broadly chronologically, focussing on key themes in different periods: Tokugawa power; women in early Japan; Tokugawa literature, Tokugawa religion; Tokugawa Japan in East Asia; the collapse of the Tokugawa; Meiji restoration; Meiji society; Meiji religion; Meiji literature; imperialism; people's rights; Taisho culture; Japan at war; the US occupation.

Method of assessment

One two-hour written examination taken in May/June (60%); one 2,500 word essay (40%) to be submitted on the last Monday, term 2.

Suggested reading

Required Reading:
  • Patricia Buckley Ebrey, Anne Walthall, and James B. Palais, East Asia: A Cultural, Social and Political History (Wadsworth, 2008)
  • Internet resources
Recommending Reading:
  • Cambridge history (5 volumes)
  • Collcutt et al., Cultural Atlas of Japan
  • Eisenstadt, S., Japanese civilisation: a comparative view
  • Reischauer and Craig, Japan: tradition and transformation
  • C Totman, A History of Japan
  • H P Varley, Japanese Culture - 4th edition


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules