Japan Digest


Japanese Education (Updated September 2005) 
Lucien Ellington 
This Japan Digest is an introductory overview of 1) Japanese educational achievements, 2) Japanese K-12 education, 3) Japanese higher education, 4) contemporary educational issues, and 5) significant U.S.-Japan comparative education topics.

Japan in the U.S. Press: Bias and Stereotypes 
Jeffrey Levick 
Reportage of Japan has been and continues to be riddled with stereotypes and paradox, even in the pages of elite U.S. newspapers. While cultural differences and stereotypes exist everywhere, it is the negative manner in which information is conveyed about Japan that is disturbing and damaging.


Learning from the Japanese Economy revised and updated September 2004 
Lucien Ellington 
An overview of the reasons behind Japan's post-World War II "economic miracle" and Japan's recent economic problems.

The Japanese Family Faces 21st-Century Challenges 
Anne E. Imamura 
Family-related issues are at the forefront of social challenges facing Japan: women postponing marriage, falling birthrate, rising divorce rate, young men finding it difficult to attract wives, and rapidly increasing percentage of population who are elderly. Notes a diversification of patterns, from a single desirable model to a range of socially acceptable choices.

Koto Music 
Anne Prescott 
After a physical description of the koto, this digest discusses the history of the koto, traditional forms of musical composition for the koto, modern koto playing, and how to listen to koto music.


Japanese Religions 
Paul Watt 
This digest discusses the religious traditions of Japan. The author introduces Shinto, Buddhism and Confucianism and discusses the so-called "new religions" as well as the influence of Christianity in contemporary society.

Using Literature to Teach Japan 
Patience Berkman 
This digest discusses literature that can be used to introduce and explore the history and culture of Japan. The author looks at literature from the medieval period, World War II and contemporary times.

Geography of Japan 
Anne Petry 
This digest explores the geography of Japan and how to apply the National Geography Standards. A link to the National Geography Standards is provided at the end of the article.


Using Film to Explore History 
Thomas Keirstead 
After explaining the conflict between historians and filmmakers over the presentation of the past in film, this digest discusses how films can provide a useful perspective on history and how to find appropriate films for classroom use.

Lessons on the Japanese Constitution 
Lynn Parisi 
Following a brief exploration of the history of Japan’s 1947 Constitution, this digest introduces recent scholarship and offers examples of how that scholarship deepens the story of Japan’s postwar constitutional process. In its final section, the digest provides ways in which study of the postwar constitution can enrich social studies instruction.

Using Museums to Teach about Japan 
Willamarie Moore 
This digest introduces teachers to the value of museum learning, reviews different museum resources available to enhance teaching about Japan at the K-12 level, and suggests several Web resources to supplement classroom instruction.


Understanding Okinawa's Role in the U.S.-Japan Security Arrangement 
Jacques Fuqua 
After a brief overview of Okinawa and its history within greater East Asia, this digest offers insight into Okinawa's current role in the U.S.-Japan security relationship. Explores the history of U.S. military presence on the island and the issues and concerns that have arisen as a result of that presence.

Examining the Japanese History Textbook Controversies 
Kathleen Woods Masalski 
Beginning with an examination of the importance of history textbooks in Japan and the United States, this digest then provides background information on Japan's textbook controversies from Ienaga Saburo's first lawsuit in 1965 to the present. Finally, the digest offers some ideas as to how students and teachers can critically examine their own history textbooks.


Exploring Contemporary Japanese Society 
Linda S. Wojtan 
Explores recent trends in Japanese society: "parasite singles," increasing consumption of "western style" foods, economic restructuring, and new i-mode technology.

Teaching about Japanese-American Internment 
Gary Mukai 
Designed to provide educators with a supplement to current textbook offerings on the subject of teaching about Japanese-American Internment.


Teaching Primary Children about Japan through Art 
Patricia Berg Ward 
Introduces Japanese art terms (wabi, sabi, suki), deep looking exercises that explore Japanese objects juxtaposed with similar American objects, and art projects that embody the Japanese tradition of paper saving and reuse.


The History and Artistry of Haiku 
Patricia Burleson 
Provides basic background information on the poetic art of haiku, introduces Basho's life and work, and offers "Hints for Writing Haiku with Students."

Building a Japanese Language Program from the Bottom-Up 
Linda Worman 
Offers guidelines on the establishment of a successful elementary/middle school Japanese language program. Includes a lists of references, curricular materials for younger learners, videos, and additional resources.


An Introduction to Kabuki 
Ryohei Matsuda 
Introduces the origins, history, and culture of kabuki, a Japanese performance art tradition. Also defines the Kabuki devices of mitate (double meaning) and yatsushi (dual identity). Explores kabuki's influence on contemporary drama and popular culture.


Fiction about Japan in the Elementary Curriculum 
Mary Hammond Bernson 
A guide to the selection of "accurate and appropriate" fiction books about Japan for the elementary curriculum. Includes a list of "favorite titles."


Daily Life in Japanese High Schools 
Marcia L. Johnson and Jeffrey R. Johnson 
Describes the life of the typical Japanese high school student: "Getting to School"; "At School"; "Extracurricular Activities"; "Cram Schools"; "Entrance Examinations"; and "Free Time."


Japan's Economy: 21st Century Challenges 
Lucien Ellington 
Begins with a comparison of the U.S. and Japanese economies, then proceeds to focus on the problems with government regulation, productivity, and trade tensions in Japan. Additionally, examines issues surrounding "lifetime employment" and seniority systems in Japanese businesses.


Ideas for Integrating Japan into the Curriculum 
Linda S. Wojtan 
Emphasizes the importance of teaching about Japan in U.S. classrooms and outlines "Strategies for Teaching about Japan." Includes lists of "Helpful Resources for Teaching about Japan" and references.


Rice: It's More Than Food In Japan 
Linda S. Wojtan 
Explores the role of rice in Japan as a "deeply embedded cultural concept" and its role "in the culture as beyond merely a foodstuff," as well as "aspects of the rice trade issue."