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Writings About Japan--Analyzing Cultural Representations, From Orientalism to Artificial Intelligence

About the lecturer

Yujin Yaguchi received his B.A. from Goshen College (1989) and Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary (1999). He was also a Fulbright visiting scholar to U.C. Santa Cruz and the East-West Center (Honolulu). He has published widely in Japanese and English on the intercultural dynamics of Japan-Pacific-US relations.  His analyses of contemporary US-Japan cultural issues have been quoted in major news media such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, BBC World Service and NHK World. He has also appeared in various educational media venues, including NHK Educational and Coursera. For further information, see


1 Subject Writings About Japan: Analyzing Cultural Representations, From Orientalism to Artificial Intelligence
2 Field Cultural Studies, American Studies, East Asian Studies
3 Key words representations, Orientalism, media, gender, power
4 Unit 1
5 Lecturer Yujin Yaguchi
6 Period July 5 - August 6, 2021
7 Time Students should participate at least one of each Onlines Discussions 1 and 2

Online discussion 1
 July 12, 2021; 5:00-6:30pm
 July 14, 2021; 5:00-6:30pm
 July 19, 2021; 8:30-10:00am
 July 21, 2021; 8:30-10:00am

Online discussion 2
 July 26, 2021; 5:00-6:30pm
 July 28, 2021; 5:00-6:30pm
 August 2, 2021; 8:30-10:00am
 August 4, 2021; 8:30-10:00am

Students can take On-demand contents any time during the course period.
8 Lecture style On-demand
9 Evaluation Criteria Excellent (S) 90 –100%; Very good (A) 80–89%; Good (B) 70–79%; Pass (C) 60–69%; Fail (D) 0–59%
10 Evaluation methods Students will be required to participate in an online discussion based on certain themes designated by the instructor. They will also be required to submit a 10 page (double spaced) paper based on the content of the course. Detailed instructions will be given to the registrants later.  

Online forum 20%; online synchronous discussion 20%; Final paper\60%.
11 Prerequisites There is no prerequiste for the course. However, students must be willing to take an active interest in new and different ways of thinking about culture and its representations.
12 Contents This course explores different ways of representing cultures.  Rather than searching for one true way of portraying a culture (i.e. Japan is A or B), it analyzes how culture is written and understood by focusing on how Japan has been represented in English language texts (especially in the U.S). It pays attention to the political, economic, and social dynamics behind such representations to gain a better understanding of the concept of a culture and its usage in the past and today.

The course will be offered in an on-demand format. Students will be able to view the lecture in segments during a designated period (July 5 to August 6). There will also be a required online non-synchronous forum for students to discuss the course material and content (this will be led by UTokyo teaching assistants). Additionally, there will be live (synchronous) interactive sessions with the instructor--at least two attendances will be required (dates are listed below).  

Schedule (subject to change)

1. Introduction: “Writing Culture” of Japan: Cultural Dynamics of Representation.
2. Japan Day by Day: Edward Morse and Orientalism.
3. A Women’s View of Rural Life: Ella Wiswell and John Embree in Suye Mura, Kumamoto.
4. Can You Write About Japan Authoritatively Without Ever Visiting? Ruth Benedict and The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.
5. Portraying Devastation: John Hershey and Hiroshima.
6. Japan as Number One: Ezra Vogel and Japanese Miracle
7. A Mysterious Nation: Lost in Translation and Mystifying of Japanese Culture
8. A Foodie Nation: Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Popularization of Japanese Cuisine
9. Japan, Endless Discoveries: Tourism Narratives about Japan
10. Robots Like Japan, too: Artificial Intelligence and Using Data to Attract Tourists

Students are required to:
(1) View 10 segmented lectures carefully. They will be available between July 5 and August 6. Students must view the first five lectures by the week of July 12 (i.e. before attending the first in-person session) and the second five by the week of July 26 (i.e. before attending the second in-person session).
(2) participate in an online discussion forum between July 5 and August 6 based on certain themes designated by the instructor. UTokyo teaching assistant will be supervising this forum.
(3) attend at least two in-person real time interactive discussion sessions with the instructor. Sessions will be set in the mornings and evenings to enable students from different time zones to attend.
   Students must attend one synchronous session from each of the following date brackets (=two sessions).
   The dates for the first session are (note: these are Japan Standard Time):
    July 12 1700-1830
    July 14 1700-1830
    July 19   830-1000
    July 20   830-1000
   The dates for the second session are (note: these are Japan Standard Time):
    July 26   1700-1830
    July 28   1700-1830
    August 2  830-1000
    August 4  830-1000

(4) submit a 10-page (double spaced) paper based on the content of the course by August 27. Detailed instructions will be given after the registration.  

Note: this is a one-unit session, consisting of ten lectures. Each "lecture" comprises relatively short video segments, self-assignment, on-line quizzes, and on-line non-synchronous discussion forum where students are asked to post their ideas and comments.
13 Required readings None. See, however, below for reference readings.
14 Reference readings Students are strongly encouraged to read the books mentioned in the content section to gain a better appreciation of the lectures. In particular, the books by Benedict, Hershey, and Vogel are generally readily available, so it would be beneficial for them to take a look in advance. They are also encouraged to view the two films (Lost in Translation and Jiro Dreams of Sushi) if possible.  In addition, those who are interested in the cultural theory of repreesentation should familiarize themselves with Edward Said's Orientalism, which will be discussed in the first lecture.
15 Notes on Taking the Course This is an on-demand class that is NOT offered synchronously. There is no need, therefore, for the students to attend at a set time.  The lectures and online forum will be available to registrants between July 5 and August 6. Students MUST, however, attend at least one live interactive synchrnous session with the instructor during the times noted above. (see "Time" at #7 of this table)


UTokyo Global Unit Courses
International Exchange Group, Education and Student Support Department,
The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1, Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8652 JAPAN

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