Faculty of Liberal Arts
Sophia University


Professor emeritus
University of Texas at Austin

Tai Wei LIM

Tai Wei LIM
Associate Professor
Singapore University of Social Sciences


Department of Economics
Wabash College

Jonathan ZWICKER

Jonathan ZWICKER
Department of East Asian Language and Cultures
University of California, Berkeley


Political Science Department. The Institute for Education on Japan
Earlham College

Karen Nakamura

Department of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley

Juichiro Tanabe

Juichiro TANABE
Assistant Professor
Waseda University

Course Descriptions

Business I : Parissa HAGHIRIAN
Business and Management in Japan

The course introduces the characteristics of Japan as a place of business and the main aspects of Japanese management. The course starts with a theory lecture on culture and its relevance for international management and business communication. After this an overview of the modern Japanese business environment is given. Major points of discussion are the most prominent aspects of Japanese management, such as production management, negotiations, Japanese strategies as well as human resource and knowledge management within Japanese corporations.


Business II : Parissa HAGHIRIAN
Case Studies in Japanese Management

This course focuses on elementary strategic aspects of Japanese corporations. It aims to develop strategic thinking in a Japanese market context and will provide students with an opportunity to sharpen their written and oral presentation competencies. Utilizing a teaching approach that mixes cases, class discussions and group workshops, students will learn key concepts and tools used in solving marketing and management problems in the Japanese market context.

The majority of meetings will be held in a seminar format. Students are expected to attend classes and participate actively in class discussion. Students will form students groups and solve case studies on Japanese Management. Students are required to prepare a case study report and a supporting presentation on their topic. Accordingly, attendance and participation in class discussions will be critical to the success of this course and will also determine students grades.


Culture I : John Willis TRAPHAGAN
Japanese Culture and Society

This course is intended as an introduction to the diversity of culture and lifestyles that exist in Japan. We briefly explore the concept of culture used in anthropology and then move to an application of that concept to the Japanese context. Our aim will be to develop a general understanding of the complexities of the Japanese experience by looking at elements such as kinship and family, internal migration and immigration, political organization, gender, aging and death, education, ethnicity, and identity. One significant aim of the course is to develop a deep understanding of the dramatic demographic change Japan is experiencing and how this is influencing life in rural (and urban) parts of the country. We will combine readings, lectures, and critical discussion to think about ways in which the Japanese inhabit and contest cultural frames.


Culture II : John Willis TRAPHAGAN
Tourism in Japan

Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries internationally—one that often forms a key element in building local economies and expressing local and national cultural identities. Tourism also represents a complex cultural, economic, and political phenomenon that can have significant impacts on local communities and the environment. In this course, we examine some of the anthropological approaches to studying tourism as it relates to Japan. We will explore the culture of tourism in Japan, attempts by local communities to develop tourist industries, and the role of religious sites as primary targets of tourist activities. We will also consider the influences of the Covid pandemic has had on tourism in Japan. There will be field trips to important tourist sites in Tokyo and there may also be an opportunity for students to join a weekend trip to rural Japan, where we will explore a community developing a heritage tourism site.


Culture III : Tai Wei LIM
Japanese Popular Culture: Globalization, Cultural production / Consumption and Creative Ecology

This course is centered round an interdisciplinary area studies (specifically Japanese studies) approach to studying Japanese popular culture. It is divided into three main sections. For its conceptual and theoretical approach, the Japanese studies course employs area studies perspectives in ethnography, globalization studies, historical perspectives and cultural studies to examine the subject matter. In examining the ideas of globalization, the course critically looks at the ethnography and ecology of creative production. In terms of mechanisms of dissemination, it then examines how globalization facilitated the popularity and proliferation of Japanese ACG (Anime, Comics, Games) products.


Economics I : Kealoha Lee WIDDOWS
Encountering Tokyo: A Look at the History, Business, Politics, and Economics of the World’s Most Fascinating City

The primary text for this course is the great city of Tokyo. Largely burned to the ground in World War II, Tokyo rose from the ashes to become the largest metropolitan economy in the world and a global epicenter for finance, business, media, technology, and pop culture. Through a series of readings, moderated discussions, as well as class travel and field work to engage sites around the city of Tokyo, we will interrogate Tokyo's recent history, its current economic and political challenges, its quirks, and the unique lifestyles of its residents through a multi-disciplinary lens.

Students who complete this course will have a broad understanding of the history and geography of the city; the unique ways in which its residents work, travel, eat, connect with technology, and generally live in the city; the changing labor market, and the growing economic challenges of a super-aged population. A final collaborative project will allow students to apply and extend what they learn about Tokyo in imagining its future.


Economics II : Kealoha Lee WIDDOWS
Dynamics and Innovation in the Japanese Retail Market

Often regarded as traditional or even backward by outsiders, Japanese retailing has demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt. Changes in the global economic environment, the competitive landscape of traditional luxury retailing, consumer behavior and buying habits, technology, and demographics have all left their marks on the industry and will continue to shape its future. This course will introduce you to the many facets of Japanese retailing, from its opulent department stores to “combinis” to the tiny “mom-and-pop” operations that cluster around its huge train stations. We will investigate the evolution of the retail sector and its future through lectures, class trips, readings, case study discussions of Uniqlo, Rakuten, and 7-11, as well as individual fieldwork.

Students who complete the course will have a broad understanding of the evolution of the Japan’s retail sector and distribution network, the dynamic role of Japan in the expanding global luxury market, Japan’s technology culture and its influence on retailing (including a history of the ubiquitous Japanese vending machine), the battle of fast fashion giants such as Zara for the wallets of Japanese consumers, and the growing role of ecommerce in Japan. A final group project will allow students the opportunity to apply creatively what they have learned to an aspect of Japanese retailing of particular interest.


History I : Tai Wei LIM
The Contemporary History of Japan: An Area Studies Approach in Examining Historical Transitions from postwar Showa to Reiwa Eras

This course introduces class participants to selected issues and developments in contemporary Japan. It studies the crucial debates, challenges and trends that have shaped Japanese history, including developmental history, natural disaster recovery, environmental perspectives, demographics, culture and society. It does not pretend to be comprehensive but utilizes these selected issues to motivate class participants to analyze critically contemporary Japan from eclectic perspectives. Two focused cases studies, the Great East Japan Earthquake recovery as well as the demographic transition in Japan, will be discussed in the course. Embedded in the course are fieldtrips and video presentation for the experiential learning experience.


Literature and Art I : Jonathan ZWICKER
Tokyo on Page and Screen

This course will explore depictions of Tokyo in major literary and cinematic works from twentieth-century Japan. We will examine films by directors including Mizoguchi Kenji, Ozu Yasujirō, and Kurosawa Akira, and fiction by writers including Higuchi Ichiyō, Natsume Sōseki, Tanizaki Jun'ichirō, and Dazai Osamu. Themes will include the changing nature of the city, how the experience of urban space shaped narrative techniques in fiction and film across the twentieth century, and how the experience of the city changes our own reading and viewing of the works.

*Students are required to obtain the textbooks for the course. Please refer to the textbook section in the syllabus.


Literature and Art II : Jonathan ZWICKER
Murakami Haruki and Miyazaki Hayao: the Politics of Japanese Culture from the Bubble to the Present

This course will examine the works of the novelist Murakami Haruki and the animator Miyazaki Hayao within the context of contemporary Japanese aesthetics and history. Both Murakami and Miyazaki debuted in 1979 and their work has very much defined Japan’s cultural experience from the tail end of the Era of High Growth Economics through the Bubble Era, the Lost Decade, and into the twenty‐first century. Students will explore the works of these two figures in the context of the history of Japanese literature and film and its relation to larger political, social, and cultural trends of Japan from the 1980s to the present.

*Students are required to obtain the textbooks for the course. Please refer to the textbook section in the syllabus.


Politics I : Dyron DABNEY
Contemporary Japanese Politics

As a leading democracy (the oldest in East Asia) and a G7 nation (#3 in the world), Japan, arguably should be positioned at, or near "center stage" of global politics. Yet, Japan has remained "offstage;" a politically comfortable space, until more recent postwar decades. Thus, Japanese domestic politics remains wholly unfamiliar to occasional spectators of world politics. This course makes the unfamiliar politics of Japan, familiar. It begins with a historical reflection of Japan's immediate postwar period. It then continues with a "deep dive" into the contemporary political structure of Japan, inclusive of a critical overview of Japan’s political institutions, namely Japan's National Diet, the Office of the Prime Minister and political parties. Within this context of the political institutions, this course surveys Japanese political culture and society, national electoral politics, Japanese public opinion, voter behavior and public policy.

Individuals enrolled in this course will develop a deeper appreciation for Japan’s political institutions that shape political attitudes and political outcomes. By the completion of the course, students will have a comprehensive understanding of contemporary politics in Japan and a stronger appreciation of contemporary domestic socio-political issues of Japan.

Important notes: This course includes several local field trips
It is important to stay abreast of the day-to-day social, economic and political events in Japan available through any number of media sources. To that end, discussions about current political events will take regularly in class.


Politics II : Dyron DABNEY
Global Issues and Political Controversies in Japan and Asia

This course is an introduction to the study of international relations within the context of Asia-Pacific politics and Japanese foreign policy. Past, present and emerging transnational and transregional issues will be examined by way of public policy action/inaction. This is an overview of international relations theory, political culture, political institutions and political regimes, especially democratic development, state-to-state and regional conflicts and cooperation, and national identity and nationalism.

The course is equal parts lecture and discussion. Critical to extracting the most out of this course is being informed about the day to day social, economic and political news stories in the Asia-Pacific region available through any number of media sources. To that end, regular in-class discussions on current political events in the Asia-Pacific region will serve to connect the dots to themes and concepts introduced in course. Supplementing in-class instruction will be tours of political and politicized sites, such as the Japan’s National Diet and Yasukuni Shrine, to name a few.


Anthro/Sociology I : Karen NAKAMURA
Disability and Japanese Society

The recent Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics was for many people in Japan and beyond to see the progress that Japanese society has made in terms f of disability inclusion - making sure those with physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities feel part of the social fabric. This inclusion comes after more than a century of activism by disability organizations in Japan and much fighting against entrenched attitudes, and there remains much to be done. This course examines disability history, politics, and culture from the perspective of Critical Disability Studies, an emerging intellectual field that critiques normative social categories of disability and diversity. This course is designed explicitly to be inclusive and welcoming of students with all forms of disability, whether disclosed or not.

*Students with disabilities are welcome at the Waseda Summer Session for this and all other classes. Please let us know early on what accommodations you need to thrive in our program.


Interdisciplinary I : Junichiro TANABE
Studies in Japanese religion and philosophy: Japanese spirituality, comparative analysis with Christianity and Islam, and challenges for harmonious globe

One of the critical challenges for humanity is how people having different cultural and religious values can understand and learn from each other. To this end, this course will analyze Japanese religion and philosophy and make comparative analysis with Christianity and Islam. The course will be divided into three sections. The first section will introduce major Japanese religions and philosophies. Here, core values of Buddhism and Shintoism will be presented. The second section will examine what Buddhism and Shintoism can offer to contemporary social and global problems facing humanity. The third section will explore what Japanese religion and philosophy and Christianity and Islam can learn from each other. Here, we will discuss how different civilizations can co-exist in the middle of diversity for more harmonious and humane globe.


Japanese Language Courses

Japanese Language Courses will not be provided in 2023.

Course Schedule

CLICK HERE to see the course schedules.

  • * Course schedule is subject to change.
  • * Some fieldworks are scheduled on Friday and weekends.


Choose 2 courses out of 14 courses

Grading Policies

Grading Policies

The student's academic performance is assessed according to four different criteria: class participation, attendance, assignments and exams. Each professor, however, may prefer a different attendance policy, and in such case, students should follow the professor's guidelines. Generally, course performance is graded on the following 100-point scale:

90-100 A+
80-89 A
70-79 B
60-69 C
0-59 F

Grading is professor's authority and privilege that the Summer Session office cannot interfere with.

Credit System and Transfer

Credit System

Students can earn 2 credits through 1 regular course. Each class is 100 minutes long and held 14 times. This means that it is necessary for students to attend each course for a total of 23.3 hours (1,400 minutes (100 minutes ×14 times)) to earn 2 credits.

Credit Transfer

Waseda University will issue an official academic transcript for the participants. We will send it to the designated address around the middle of September. Students who wish to transfer the Summer Session program credits are advised to consult with the appropriate academic authorities at their home institutions in advance, whether or not the home institutions are Waseda's exchange partners. The home institution's academic advisors decide whether a particular Waseda Summer Session course may be applied towards the major or elective requirement. Students usually refer to the uploaded syllabus on our Waseda Summer Session website to determine credit transferability to their home institution.

Extracurricular Activities

Field Trips

Both Nikko and Iwate field trips will be provided in Waseda Summer Session 2023.

Student Interns' Events

WSS Student Interns will organize some events for participants. You will learn and discover more about Japan through the events with them.

Visitor Sessions

Summer Session students will have opportunities to socialize with Waseda students over discussions on various topics.