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JAPAN 360 A: Topics In Japanese Culture

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
SAV 166
Professor Bhowmik photo
Davinder Bhowmik

Syllabus Description:

JAPAN 360:  Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa


Instructor:        Prof. Davinder L. Bhowmik

Office:             Gowen Hall, Mezannine 239

Office hours:   12:30-1:20 T/Th & by appointment



This course introduces students to modern prose fiction, poetry, drama, and film that depict Okinawa, Japan’s tropical playground on one hand, and its military colony on the other. While the focus of the class will be on representations of Okinawa in literature and the occasional film we will also pay close attention to the socio-historical context of the works in order to more fully understand them.

In addition to introducing students to the variety of literature and film from and about Okinawa, the course will train students to read carefully and critically; to develop the ability to construct sound readings of literary works, and to argue these readings persuasively in English.  All course material will be considered historically as well as analytically. 

No knowledge of Japanese is required; all works are in English translation and films are subtitled.




Prerequisites:  None.


Participation:  Before class meets students will be expected to complete all assigned readings and to select a short quote from the story that stands out in some way, historically, culturally, or literarily, for example. Be prepared to share your quotation and explain its significance.    

Participation will take the form of large and small group discussion.  It may include arguing a point, writing a response, raising a question, taking a pop quiz, or responding to another student or to me.  Bring the assigned text to class for easy reference.


Examinations:  There will be one midterm examination consisting of identification, short answer, and essay questions. I will provide a study guide one week in advance.  The mid-term examination will take place in class on Thursday, February 9.

Final Project: The Final Project is due on Thursday, March 9. Details to follow.


Grading:  Your final grade will be equally weighted in the following categories: 

Participation (40%); Mid-term (30%); Final project (30%). 


Required Texts:

Okinawa:  Two Postwar Novellas, trans. Steve Rabson, IEAS, 1989

Southern Exposure:  Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa, UHP, 2000.

Writing Okinawa: Narrative Acts of Identity and Resistance, Routledge, 2008.

Islands of Protest: Japanese Literature from Okinawa, 2016.  



An excellent website for issues related to Japan, with particular focus on Okinawa, is: Asia-Pacific Journal.


For students who read Japanese, Medoruma Shun, a contemporary author and activist in Okinawa, writes a daily blog:


Academic Accommodations:  If you would like to request accommodations due to a learning disability, please contact:

 Disability Resources for Students 

011 Mary Gates

206-543-8924 (Voice)

206-543-8925 (TTY)

206-616-8379 (Fax)


Academic Misconduct: The presentation of another person’s words and ideas as one’s own is a serious offense; violations will be dealt with according to the University codes of conduct, which stipulate sanctions up to and including expulsion.


Reading List  (Subject to Change)


T          1/3

Course Introduction


Th       1/5

Documentary: Afterburn


T         1/10

IOP: Yamagusuku Seichû, “The Kunenbo Orange Trees”

SE:  Ikemiyagi Sekihô, “Officer Ukuma”


Th        1/12

SE: Kushi Fusako, “Memoirs” and “In Defense of ‘Memoirs’”

Yamanokuchi Baku, “Mr. Saitô of Heaven Building”


T          1/17

SE: Ôshiro Tatsuhiro, “Turtleback Tombs”

Shima Tsuyoshi, “Bones”


Th        1/19

SE & pdf: Medoruma Shun, “Droplets” & “Mabuigumi”  


T          1/24

IOP: Medoruma Shun, “Tree of Butterflies”


Th        1/26


IOP: Medoruma Shun, “Taiwan Woman”


T          1/31

IOP: Introduction & Medoruma Shun, “Hope”


Th        2/2 

Introduction to Writing Okinawa & Chapter 5     


T          2/7

Writing Okinawa, Chapters 1 & 2


Th       2/9

In-class midterm examination

T        2/14

            SE: Yoshida Sueko, “Love Suicide at Kamaara”

            Yamanoha Nobuko, “Will o’ the Wisp”


Th        2/16   

            Film discussion: Level 5


T         2/21

           IOP:  Ôta Ryôhaku, “Black Diamonds”

            UW Libraries:  Matayoshi Eiki, “The Wild Boar George Gunned Down”


Th        2/23

            IOP:  Chinen Seishin, “The Human Pavilion”


T        2/28

            Higashi Mineo, Child of Okinawa

            Oshiro Tatsuhiro, The Cocktail Party

Th       3/2

            UW Libraries:  Sakiyama Tami, “Round Trip over the Ocean” &

"Tale of Wind and Water" (pdf under 'Files' in Canvas)


T        3/7   

            IOP:  Sakiyama Tami, “Swinging, Swaying” 


Th      no class        







Catalog Description: 
Focuses on literature from a limited time period or particular aspects of pre-modern or modern Japanese culture.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 4, 2017 - 9:30pm