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."