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From Natsume Sōseki to Murakami Haruki: Discovering Japanese Literature in English


Online via Zoom

Instructor: Ikuya Takahashi 

This class is conducted in English and no prior knowledge of Japanese language is necessary. One work of literature will be used per class. You are required to read the work in advance and prepare for the discussion in class. At the beginning of the class, you are going to briefly share with other students what you think about the work, which is followed by discussion of the contents. In addition to discussion, the instructor will talk a bit about the writer's life.

I hope these classes will be a good opportunity for you to encounter Japanese literature which you have always wanted to read or which you would not be exposed to otherwise. This class is open to everybody who is interested in Japanese culture or literature as well as to Japanese English learners.

This is not a proper literary criticism class that you would find at university. I would rather regard this as a sort of a book club where participants can freely share with one another what they feel about the work. I have taught a similar class (“Reading the World through George Orwell”) for the past 5 years, and I feel that one of the strengths of this kind of class is that students can better understand the text or they can acquire totally new perspectives by hearing a wide range of opinions from other students with varied backgrounds. I would feel very happy if you could simply feel the joy of encountering new authors and works.

Some of the writers who will be discussed in this course:
Haruki Murakami, Masuji Ibuse, Yasunari Kawabata, Ogai Mori, Junichiro Tanizaki, Yuko Tsushima, Atsushi Nakajima, Shusaku Endo, Osamu Dazai, Kenzaburo Oe, Yukio Mishima, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Kuniko Mukoda, Natsume Soseki, Takeshi Kaiko

Flow of class:
1. Share what you think about the work
2. Introduction of the author by instructor
3. Discussion (based on comprehension questions)

1. Read the work
2. Prepare for comprehension questions that will be sent to you at least 5 days before the class

Flow of class
Class Times & Dates
Class times & dates

6:00 PM - 7:35 PM CEST (90 minutes + 5-minute break)

[9:00 AM - 10:35 AM PDT California time / 12:00 PM - 13:35 PM EDT NY time]

Three stories by Osamu Dazai

Self-Portraits: Stories by Osamu Dazai (New Directions Publishing)

*Please make sure to purchase this book by the first day of the course.

July 14 (Sun)

Osamu Dazai One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji

July 21 (Sun)

Osamu Dazai Eight Views of Tokyo

July 28 (Sun)

Osamu Dazai Early Light

Three stories by Banana Yoshimoto

Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto (faber and faber)

*Please make sure to purchase this book by the first day of the course.

Aug. 4 (Sun)

Banana Yoshimoto   Night and Night's Travelers

Aug. 11 (Sun)

Banana Yoshimoto   Love Songs

Aug. 18 (Sun)

Banana Yoshimoto   Asleep

Course Fees
Course fees

1 class = EUR 20€ / USD $24

2 classes = EUR €40 / USD $48
3 classes = EUR €60 / USD $72
4 classes = EUR €80 / USD $96

5 classes = EUR 95€  / USD $115

6 classes = EUR €115 / USD $139

※ The minimum classes are 2.

Maximum Number of Students



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