Japanese Culture Through Film (Summer Course)

Course Description


Single-semester course. For decades, the animated films and TV series of Japan have delighted audiences throughout the world. But how closely related are the Japan of anime and the Japan of the real world? What can we learn about the history and culture of the Japanese people through their most famous and popular films? Students will explore these and related questions in this friendly seminar-style introduction to Japanese history, folklore, and pop culture.

Please note: The materials covered in this class contain content that some families may consider objectionable, including: partial non-sexual nudity (e.g., breastfeeding, bathing); ancestor worship and nature worship; major character death; neglect of children; animated gore; and Japanese perspectives on World War II. Parents are advised to consult the IMDb Parent Guide or another content-warning resource before enrolling their student, and to assist their student in selecting an appropriate film for the final presentation. Bear in mind that other students may present about films that your family prefers not to watch.

Example Syllabus (Download the PDF)

Course texts:

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  • Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)
  • Mimi o Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart)
  • Omoide no Marnie (When Marnie Was There)
  • Kaguya Hime no Monogatari (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya)
  • Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
  • Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)
  • Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)

Class meets once per week for 50-55 minutes.

Class cap: 20 students.

Designed for grades 9-12.

Students in grades 9-12 may be awarded .5 Foreign Languages, Fine Arts, or Elective credit upon completion of this course.

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