This course is discontinued

JAP4520 – Traditional Culture in Modern Japan

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

PS! The course is offered for the last time in the fall of 2018. From the academic year 2019-2020 the course will be merged with JAP4110 – Classical Japanese.

Traditional culture has remained remarkably alive in modern Japan in a multitude of ways. Yet it is clear even at a glance that the modern guises of these traditions bear only a superficial similarity to their pre-modern models. Modern festivals, tea ceremonies or kabuki plays may use much Edo-period gear, but it is obvious that they don’t “mean” the same as they did before.

If a traditional institution, be it a temple, shrine or a geisha house wants to survive, it will have to adapt to new social, political and conceptual contexts all the time, and actively seek ways to make itself relevant. How did this permanent search for relevance change traditional culture in the course of the modern period, and how did it affect those traditions?

Learning outcome

This course uses both Japanese- and English-language materials. You will learn to translate and/or summarize Japanese texts of a variety of genres, and improve your skills in using Japanese materials for your own writing. Readings on English-language essays both on broader, theoretical issues and on developments in Japanese traditional culture will be discussed in written and in oral form, raising your awareness of various academic approaches and your ability to apply them to your own research interests.

You will improve your academic writing skills by means of several writing assignments and an essay, in which you are expected to integrate different theoretical perspectives and relate to relevant academic debates. You will also practice your presentation skills, and learn to present your research orally.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Please see the admission requirements defined by the programme option Modern Japan.


The course is taught through a combination of lectures and seminars organised as 10 classes of 3 hours each throughout the semester. The course presupposes active participation in class.

Obligatory assignments, including a translation of a Japanese text, an outline of the final essay, and some short writing assignments, must be approved by the teacher in order to take the exam. The outline and the other writing assignments are to be submitted in Canvas within a given deadline.

An approved essay outline is only valid for one semester. Other approved obligatory assignments are valid in the present semester as well as the next two semesters that the course is given.

Obligatory assignments at HF.


The obligatory assignments must be approved by the teacher in order to take the exam (please see "Teaching" for more information).

The examination consists of two parts:

  1. An oral presentation (15-20 minutes)
  2. An essay on a topic of your own choice, subject to prior approval by the teacher (min. 8 pages).

You need to pass both parts to pass the course. The oral presentation counts for 40% of the grade, and the essay counts for 60%.

Information about writing and submitting assignments at IKOS.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination


Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Periodic evaluation Autumn 2013

Periodic evaluation Autumn 2012

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language