Studies in Japanese Popular Culture at TUJ

The information below is for the program in 2010. Please see here for the program in 2011.

Program Overview

Photo above by Stuart Isett (

Based at Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) in central Tokyo, the Summer Institute of Studies in Japanese Popular Culture is a program for undergraduates who wish to focus their academics on studies of Japanese popular culture. The program will run from May 24 through July 28.

Courses are taught by distinguished faculty and are conducted in English. Japanese language proficiency or previous Japan experience is not required, but students may begin or continue their study of Japanese as a component of the program.

This unique program is designed to introduce students to various aspects of Japanese popular culture, including the inter-related fields of art, music and design, and analyze their collective expression in mass media and youth subcultures. Summer Institute courses include Anime in Japanese Popular Culture, Manga in Japanese Popular Culture, Youth and Popular Culture, and Problems in Sociocultural Anthropology. Students also have the option of studying Japanese language, commensurate with their level of language proficiency. Although courses focus particularly on contemporary popular culture, they are contextualized by broader perspectives on Japanese society and culture, with anthropological and sociological analyses of identity, media and contemporary social problems in mass society. The courses are comparative in nature, and are informed by academic discourses on globalization (the diffusion of cultural innovation in popular culture) and the influence of popular culture, both in Japan and abroad.

These courses are open to all TUJ students: there is no restriction on which courses are available, and students may take individual courses alongside the more general curriculum offered to undergraduate students. While students may choose to focus on these courses and take one or all of the offered courses, the courses are open to general enrollment and to all students.

Japanamerica by Roland Kelts / The Otaku Encylcropedia by Patrick W. Galbraith

In addition to lectures and class discussions, the program also includes group field trips to art and anime exhibitions, participation in special public events related to media/popular culture (including clubs and concerts), as well as a wide variety of art and film-related events and activities.

Because this program takes place during the regular summer session at TUJ, students also have the opportunity to participate in university-organized field trips and excursions that are of general interest to students of Japanese culture.

TUJ is home to the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS), which sponsors special programs devoted to Japanese contemporary culture and language, as well as a lecture series. During the summer, the ICAS will produce a major academic conference devoted to popular culture, with prominent scholars and authorities participating and lecturing in the program courses. Previous conferences aligned with course curriculum have included: “Youth and Imaginative Labor: East Asia and Beyond,” “Digital Youth in East Asia” and “Youth Work in Contemporary Japan.” Participating scholars associated with these conferences have lectured at TUJ, and ICAS lecturers have included such noted authorities as Donald Richie, Anne Allison, Ian Condry, Frederik Schodt, Robert Whiting, David Leheny, Mizukoshi Shin, Patrick Macias, Roland Kelts, Patrick Gailbraith and Yoshimi Shunya, among others.


  • Asian Studies 2000: Special Topics in Asian Studies I: Manga in Japanese Popular Culture (3 credits)
    This course will provide a basis for understanding Japanese manga in social, historic and cross-cultural context, reviewing the emergence of manga and the conditions of its development as an art form, commercial industry and cultural commodity. Topics include the art historical origins of manga; the variety of manga characters, genres and their relation to social and technological development; the relation of manga to computer games; and their adaptation in contemporary Japanese TV and cinema. Special attention will be paid to the 1970s and 1980s, when "otaku" fan culture emerged. Through the lens of popular culture and its most devoted fans, the course will examine various issues in Japanese society, running the gamut from race, class and gender to nature, technology and the human. The course adopts a hands-on approach to manga, offering guided excursions into areas including Akihabara, Nakano and Ikebukuro. Manga artists and industry insiders will also visit the class to share their experiences and insights.
  • Asian Studies 3000: Special Topics in Asian Studies II: Anime in Japanese Popular Culture (3 credits)
    This course critically examines the themes and representations in anime works in relation to the historical and socio-cultural contexts of postwar Japan, in order to gain insights into how and why it has gained global significance as a subculture. Topics to be covered include the historical development of the production and reception of anime, in relation to media, visual arts and technology; the themes, characters and representation in major works; and their symbolic meanings in the Japanese as well as global context.
  • Sociology 2130: Selected Topics in Sociology: Japanese Youth and Popular Culture (3 credits)
    This seminar addresses the convergence of youth and popular culture, highlighting the performative aspects of youth subcultures in contemporary Japanese society. The course looks at the impact of mass media (music, film, television) on Japanese society and youth culture in particular; the intensive communities of on-line cyberculture and digital media networks; racial and political representation in Japanese hip hop and punk music; the style subcultures of Goth[Lolita], Cos-play and their subcultural networks; and examines how youth culture embodies and creates new forms of cultural innovation in these various realms.
  • Anthropology 3310: Problems in Sociocultural Anthropology (3 credits)
    The focus of this course is to develop a nuanced understanding of contemporary Japanese society, by incorporating substantial fieldwork and collaborative research projects addressing social problems facing youth today. Youth issues are of global concern, as they reflect the structural dislocations of late modernity, but, in Japanese society, they are often conceived to reflect ‘uniquely Japanese’ particularities of the local culture. These issues underlie the production or consumption of popular culture, and in Japan have come to be expressed in social problems facing youth, as they respond to the challenges of social change.
  • Japanese 1001: Japanese Elements I (4 credits)
    Beginning Japanese for students who have had little or no Japanese language study. This course introduces some basic but useful conversational expressions, the two sets of syllabic symbols, some 30 pictograph-kanji, and most fundamental grammatical rules.
  • Japanese 1002: Japanese Elements II (4 credits)
    Prerequisite: Japanese 1001, equivalent or permission of instructor.
    A continuation of Japanese 1001, this course focuses on learning new sentence structures and vocabulary. An additional 50 kanji (beyond Japanese 1001) and some basics for different levels of formality in conversation will be introduced. Students are required to write short compositions and letters.
  • Japanese 1003: Beginning Oral Japanese (3 credits)
    Prerequisite: Japanese 1002, equivalent or permission of instructor.
    A bridge between beginning and intermediate Japanese levels, this course emphasizes vocabulary building and the use of spoken Japanese through situational conversational practice. Tests will be in the forms of listening and reading comprehension and structured interviews. An ability to read and write hiragana and katakana is required, as is a mastery of most basic grammatical rules.
  • Japanese 2001: Intermediate Japanese I (3 credits)
    Prerequisite: Japanese 1002, equivalent or permission of instructor.
    A focus on functional and situational practice and vocabulary in the textbook. Students study 80 to 90 kanji (beyond Japanese 1002) and are required to read some short passages, write short essays and make brief oral presentations. Oral practice in the lab and in class groups is strongly encouraged.
  • Japanese 2002: Intermediate Japanese II (3 credits)
    Prerequisite: Japanese 2001, equivalent or permission of instructor.
    A course focusing on reading, listening to and summarizing short stories. Students study some 80 kanji (beyond Japanese 2001), write short essays and give oral presentations.
  • Japanese 2003: Oral Intensive Japanese II (3 credits)
    Prerequisite: Japanese 2002, equivalent or permission of instructor.
    A bridge between intermediate and advanced Japanese levels, this course focuses on vocabulary acquisition in a variety of conversational situations. Throughout the semester, several vocabulary quizzes and structure tests will be given, while the final exam will be in the form of interviews. Students are required to complete one project involving various communication activities outside the classroom.
  • Japanese 3000: Special Topics in Japanese I (3 credits)
    Prerequisites depend on topic.
    Topics vary and may focus on aspects of the language, literature or culture of Japan.
  • Japanese 3001: Advanced Japanese I (3 credits)
    Prerequisite: Japanese 2002, equivalent or permission of instructor.
    A focus on Japanese sociocultural studies, including the levels of formality in writing and conversation. There are approximately 300 kanji and 600 kanji idioms to review or to learn. Students are required to write a number of essays and make oral presentations.
  • Japanese 3002: Advanced Japanese II (3 credits)
    Prerequisite: Japanese 3001, equivalent or permission of instructor.
    A course focusing on intercultural studies. Students review or learn some 300 kanji and 600 kanji idioms, conduct a descriptive survey of a cultural aspect, and report on the results.


The faculty for this program have diverse experience and academic expertise which complement each other, so that the courses are integrated into a structured academic program that explores the multi-faceted varieties of Japanese popular culture. The Institute faculty are:

  • Roland Kelts (M.A., Columbia University, Fine Arts) is the half-Japanese American author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US and the forthcoming novel, Access (Penguin). He is also a contributing editor and writer for Adbusters magazine and A Public Space literary journal, and a columnist for The Daily Yomiuri. He has taught at New York University, The University of Tokyo and Sophia University, and has delivered speeches on contemporary Japanese culture at numerous institutions across the US, Japan, Australia and the UK. His writing appears in Psychology Today, Animation Magazine, Bookforum, Vogue, The Village Voice and other publications, and he is a contributor to the collections A Wild Haruki Chase, Playboy Fiction, Gamers, Kuhaku, Art Space Tokyo, Zoetrope and others. He is the Editor in Chief of the Anime Masterpieces screening and discussion series and a frequent contributor to National Public Radio.
  • Patrick W. Galbraith (Ph.D. Researcher, The University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies) is a cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on the impact of material conditions on fantasy, specifically how shifts in modes of capitalism and consumption impact otaku culture in Japan. He has worked as a freelance journalist specializing in Japanese popular culture since 2004, which culminated in writing The Otaku Encyclopedia and co-founding . He contributes to Metropolis, CNN Go and Otaku USA Magazine and offers a professional weekly guided tour of Akihabara.
  • Sachiko Horiguchi (Ph.D., University of Oxford, Anthropology) is an Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Temple University Japan Campus. She is the only anthropologist who has successfully conducted long-term field-based research of hikikomori (socially withdrawn youth), with particular focus on the social construction of the hikikomori problem and changing notions of the "self" in contemporary Japan. She has published in both English and Japanese on hikikomori and has taught at Sophia University and in the exchange program at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.
  • Kyle Cleveland (Ph.D., Temple University, Sociology) is the Director of TUJ’s Summer Institute in Studies of Japanese Popular Culture, and is an administrator and Associate Professor of Sociology at Temple Japan. As the founding Director of the university’s Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies, he has supervised special programs in Japanese popular culture and visual media studies, organized a lecture series, and produced events and symposia related to contemporary political issues. Through the Wakai Project, he organizes a series of events in which students from various universities, scholars, activists, and media collaborate to address how globalization is affecting youth culture in Japan.

Application Procedures and Deadlines

Japan-based students (including local TUJ students) and students applying from non-U.S. overseas countries may apply directly to TUJ in Tokyo through TUJ Admissions Counseling at or 0120-86-1026.
Application is consistent with general procedures, and students may enroll up to the beginning of the semester.

Students who reside in the U.S., and who are coming as study abroad students via US-based institutions must register through Temple University's Office of International Programs in Philadelphia. Please see their website Open in New Window icon for more information.

Tuition and Fees

Below are the tuition and fees for Japan-based students (including local TUJ students) and students applying from non-U.S. overseas countries. For students who reside in the U.S., and who are coming as study abroad students via US-based institutions, please see the website for Temple University's Office of International Programs Open in New Window icon.

Budget Item Fee Notes
Application Fee ¥15,750 (Japan-based)
¥18,250 (Overseas)
Applicable only to new, non-degree-seeking one semester students
Tuition ¥527,400 - ¥586,000 Based upon total of 9 to 10 credits
3-credit course ¥175,800 Substantive content courses are 3 credits
4-credit course ¥234,400 Japanese language courses are 3 or 4 credits
Media Fee ¥8,400 per course Applicable only to 3 credit substantive courses; not applicable to Japanese language courses