Japanese painting

Japanese at the University of Iowa

The University of Iowa is the only public university in the state of Iowa offering a major and minor in Japanese.  The UI Japanese program offers five years of Japanese language classes; specialty classes including classical Japanese and business Japanese; and courses in Japanese linguistics, culture, literature, film, theater, and translation.

UI students enjoy a wide array of programming outside of the classroom, including film series, visiting speakers and performers, an annual speech contest, and information sessions about jobs and fellowships.  In the collections of the University of Iowa Libraries, students have access to over 45,000 volumes in Japanese, thousands more volumes about Japan in English, and hundreds of Japanese films and recorded performances on DVD and video.

University of Iowa students can study abroad for either a semester or an academic year on one of our exchange programs, or propose their own programs of study in Japan.  For more details, visit our Study Abroad page.

Japanese Studies at the University of Iowa is the recipient of an Institutional Project Support Grant from the Japan Foundation, worth over $300,000, for the academic years 2016-19. This grant has allowed our program to add a new faculty member in premodern Japanese literature and visual culture, create an East Asian Reading Room in the UI Main Library, add to our manga and premodern library holdings, and invite a host of scholars and artists to Iowa City over the next three years. Thanks to this grant, advanced students in our translation course will have the opportunity to work with prominent Japanese writers participating in the UI's International Writing Program. For more information on these exciting events, please see the Japan Foundation grant page. Truly, there has never been a better time to study Japanese at Iowa!

Why study Japanese?

• Japan has for centuries been home to one of the world’s most literate populations, and has extraordinarily rich traditions in poetry, drama, illustrated literature, and the novel.  The Tale of Genji, written about 1000 years ago, is considered by some to be the world’s first novel.
• Japanese film has had a giant impact on world cinema.  In the most recent poll of the British Film Institute, Ozu Yasujiro’s Tokyo Story (1953) was ranked the greatest film of all time by their panel of directors.
• Japan continues to be the world’s single most creative and influential country in a variety of modern media, including anime, manga, and video games.  Only a small fraction of these stories and games appear in English translation.
• Japan is the world’s third-largest economy.  It is the fourth-largest trading partner of the United States, and the second-largest trading partner of China.

What can you do with a degree in Japanese?

Recent graduates have:
• been selected for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program as both Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) and Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs)
• entered graduate programs in a variety of fields, including engineering and the natural sciences
• gained secondary-teaching certification
• found employment in companies in Iowa and around the world

Please click on the subheadings on the menu to the left for more information about majoring and minoring in Japanese, current courses and activities, study-abroad opportunities, and a list of Internet resources that may be of interest.