University of California, Riverside

UCR Study Abroad - UCR Summer Abroad Program

2015 Tokyo, Japan

Modern Japanese History & Culture through Film & Media


This is a unique opportunity to study modern Japanese history, culture, and film while being immersed in contemporary Japanese society. You will have the chance to meet students, faculty, activitists and film directors while watching history come to life.

  • General Program Information

    This program provides students the unique experience of studying modern Japanese history, culture and film while being immersed in contemporary Japanese society.  This four-week study abroad program teaches students about Japan's modernization through Japanese film and media (including literature and anime), with a focus on Japan's relationship with the United States.  Students will study the history of World War II, the transformative impact of the U.S. occupation of Japan and the history of social movements during the 1960s and 1970s.  Students will also gain the experience of traveling in Japan, visiting Hiroshima, and meeting some of Japan's most respected filmmakers and leading social movement activists.

    A few featured experiences:

    • 4-week stay in a University in the heart of Tokyo
    • Excursion to Hiroshima

    Setsu Shigematsu, Media and Cultural Studies

    Host Institution:
    Josai University Educational Corporation

    MCS/AST/JPN 184 Japanese Media and Cultural Studies
    MCS 120 Major Figures in Film and Media


  • Accommodations in Tokyo

    Students will have the opportunity to stay in Josai University's Kioicho Campus in downtown Tokyo.

  • Detailed Program Fees

    Program Fees

    Program-Related FeesUndergraduates Graduates 
    Non-refundable application fee/deposit $300.00 Same as undergraduate
    2nd Deposit $700.00 Same as undergraduate
    Course fees – 8 units $2,402.54* $2,902.07*
    Remaining Program Fees – Accommodations, transportation, excursions TBD Same as undergraduate
    *Fees subject to Regental action
    Estimated Additional CostsUndergraduates Graduates 
    Estimated Meal and Personal Costs $1,200.00 Same as undergraduate
    Estimated Pre-Departure Expenses (Photos, Passports, Books, etc.) $300.00 Same as undergraduate
    Estimated Round-Trip Airfare and Transportation
    $1,500.00 Same as undergraduate
  • Courses & Syllabus

    Course One:
    (4 units) MCS/AST/JPN 184 Japanese Media and Cultural Studies: Nationalism, War and the Politics of Representation

              The course provides a critical analysis of how we understand Japan, its history and culture and the unique relationship between Japan and the United States over the course of twentieth century to the present. We take a critical and theoretical approach to the construction of Japan as a modern nation-state and basis of a national identity by examining media, film, anime and visual arts. This course teaches Japanese history and culture through Japanese film and documentaries including works that have been considered masterpieces in global cinema. This course focuses on the historical relationship between Japan and the U.S. during the Pacific War and its aftermath during the U.S. Occupation of Japan. Some of the key critical concepts of this course include: orientalism, invented traditions, national identity, war, nuclearism, and marginalized subjects.
              The first part of this class introduces students to the historical and political context that constructed Japan as a modern nation-state. We will gain an understanding of critical (post)colonial paradigms such as Edward Said’s orientalism, and thereby seek to understand how the global divisions of East/West are themselves political-epistemological constructs that constitute power-knowledge formations. We will next revisit how the historical clash of Euro-American and the Japanese empires resulted in the inter-imperialist Asia-Pacific Wars. We will delve into the history of World War II with a focus on the historical and ethical significance of the use of atomic bombs by the U.S. By
    examining how dominant U.S. discourses constructed the Japanese during WWII as a racialized enemy other, and how this conveniently changed after the end of WWII, for both Japan and the U.S., we will witness the malleability of national agendas and their narratives. By understanding how nations often constitute themselves by constructing an “other” to function as the enemy or threat, we will examine how national identities change and shift according to political exigency.
              The middle part of this course will focus on the representation of atomic catastrophe, and how this may complicate our understanding of war and terrorism. We will read literature and screen different genres of visual texts, namely, documentary, drama and anime, that have attempted to represent what occurred in August 1945, in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We will read these visual texts, along with scholarship and critical commentary regarding the historical and ethical meaning of the onset of nuclear warfare.
              The third and final segment of the course focuses on what we might understand to be the underside of Japanese culture, or a constellation of marginalized voices in Japan. This segment of the course reemphasizes an analysis of the politics of representation by addressing the issues of imperial cannibalism, colonialism and feminist transgression, the burakumin, and other marginalized subjects, such as non-Japanese migrant workers. In the final segment of the course, we will end the course by studying the nuclear disaster of Fukushima known as 3/11.

    Course Two:
    (4 units)  MCS 120 Major Figures in Film & Media: The Action Documentaries of Kazuo Hara & the History of Japanese Documentary Film

              This course will focus on the documentary film director: Kazuo Hara (or Hara Kazuo, to use the Japanese name order) within the context of the history of Japanese political documentary filmmaking.  Hara is known as the "father of action documentary."  Michael Moore is one of Hara's most famous admirers.  We begin the course with an overview of the history of Japanese documentary filmmaking in the postwar period, with a focus on political documentaries.  After an introduction to Hara's films, viewed according to the order of their production, we examine the filmic style and approach of Hara's action documentaries, analyzing the interventions, limits and criticisms of his work.  We will engage in discussions about his filmic techniques and cinematography, and his use of filmmaking as an apparatus for social critique.  Throughout the course, we will also examine the political subjects broached in his films, such as the politics of visibility, ableism, sexual liberation, cross-racial sex, militarism, imperialism, cannibalism and historical memory.  Through an engagement with Hara's work, we will also discuss contemporary Japanese social and political conditions.

  • Planned Experiences


    The main field trip will be taking a 5 hour train from Tokyo to Hiroshima to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.   A significant part of the course content deals with the history of World War II and the rationale for and impact of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Other Field Trips and Guest Speakers

    Other field trips include visits to the museums that commemorate Japanese soldiers (Yasukuni) as well as museums that memorialize victims of Japanese wartime aggression throughout Asia.

    During the section of the course addressing the history of social movements in Japan, students will meet with two to three guest lecturers who were leaders of student movements, civil rights and women’s liberation in Japan.

  • Pre-departure Orientation

    Check back for more information on Tokyo's pre-departure orientation sessions!


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General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Contact Information

Education Abroad
0321 Surge Building

Tel: (951) 827-4113