SOAS University of London

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Introduction to Pre-Modern Japanese

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2
Taught in:
Term 2

The module will give an overview of pre-modern Japanese grammar and expressions as well as providing an overview of its relevance in the context of contemporary Japan.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a clear knowledge of pre-modern Japanese in the contemporary context

  • Have a basic understanding of grammatical structures of pre-modern Japanese

  • Be able to read simple pre-modern texts


Total taught hours: 20 hours. 2 hours of lectures per week for 10 weeks.

Independent study: 130 hours

Total hours for module: 150 hours

Scope and syllabus

This module will look at pre-modern texts as well as modern and contemporary texts using pre-modern Japanese. Grammatical structures and differing script will also be introduced.

Method of assessment

  • Short translation (100 words) 15%
  • Short translation (100 words) 15%
  • Translation and commentary (2000 words) 70%

Suggested reading

Core Reading

  • Keene, Donald. World within walls : Japanese literature of the pre-modern era, 1600-1867. New York: Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 1976.
  • Katsuki-Pestemer, Noriko. A Grammar of Classical Japanese. Munich Linocom, 2009.
  • Shirane, Haruo. Classical Japanese. A grammar. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.
  • Wixted, John Timothy. A Handbook to Classical Japanese. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules