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Washington State University
News Travels December 2015 newsletter home page

New Majors in Japanese

This semester the Japanese program initiated two new majors in Japanese: the standard Japanese Language and Culture option and the Japanese for the Professions option (second major only). The Language and Culture degree prepares students to enter the teaching profession and/or continue their study of the language at the graduate level. The Professions option provides proficiency-oriented training that prepares students to communicate in Japanese in professional settings. To meet demand for beginning Japanese, we have opened a third section of Japanese 101. For more information, see the Checklist on the Japanese Program website.

Japanese ’Dual Immersion’ Course Flourishes

Instructor Reho Abo (far left) with this semester's Dual Immersion group.
Instructor Reho Abo (far left) with this semester’s Dual Immersion group.

As it has since 2013, the Japanese program this semester offered a “dual immersion” bilingual course that placed WSU students in a single classroom with visiting Japanese students. The course begins with a pledge: WSU students would speak only Japanese, and the exchange students would speak only English. This, both sides recognize, is a rare opportunity to apply the skills they have honed in their language classes while interacting and forming friendships with foreign peers. Course time is devoted to in-class conversation, cultural understanding and critical thinking activities, special projects, and excursions to local sites and events. Students describe the experience as tough but enjoyable, intense but rewarding.

The 2-credit, 2-week course is the result of collaboration between American Cultural Exchange of Japan, Intensive American Language Center director Pamela Duran, and Puck Brecher, associate professor of Japanese in the DFLC. It is co-taught by bilingual course specialist Deborah Connell, who teaches for the Union County Public Schools in Monroe, N.C., and Reho Abo, Japanese instructor in DFLC. Students have consistently responded enthusiastically, and some plan to take the course again next year.

Faculty-led Program to Japan

In summer 2016, Puck Brecher will lead a group of students on a two-week trip to Japan. After flying into Tokyo, students will receive three days of hands-on experience at an ecovillage near the foot of Mt. Fuji. They will then spend four days in Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital, where they will learn further about local sustainability initiatives, visit museums, temples, and shrines, and tour the ancient capital of Nara. Students will then ride the bullet train to Hiroshima, where they will visit the world-famous Peace Museum and attend an educational program at the Peace Institute. While in Hiroshima students will board a ferry to visit the island of Itsukushima, one of Japan’s most iconic religious sites. They will then visit legendary Himeiji Castle, a World Heritage site, before flying out of Osaka. Students may also have the opportunity to witness a local festival.

The trip dates are June 18 – July 1, 2016. The program is offered as JAPANESE/ASIA 123 Modern Japanese Culture (3 credits), or (provisionally) JAPANESE 180 Special Topics. Contact Puck Brecher ( for more information.

Faculty Activites

Congratulations to Assistant Professor Kota Inoue on being awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Fall 2015 International Travel Grant. He will receive $1,000 to support scholarly and creative endeavors to Japan.

Inoue also presented his paper, “Underneath the Benign Words of Welcome: Kenji Miyazawa’s ‘The Restaurant of Many Orders,'” at the biennial conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment this summer held in Moscow, ID.  He also worked as one of the conference volunteers, welcoming and assisting the participants from all over the world.  Earlier this fall, he presented another paper, “Colonialism of the Everyday: Recontextualizing the Domestic Space of the 1930s ‘Middle-Class Film,'” at the annual conference of the Rocky Mountain Modern Languages Association held in Santa Fe, NM.

Puck Brecher is working on several research projects, including a book manuscript provisionally titled: Honored and Dishonored Guests: Caucasians in Wartime Japan. He is also in the process of co-editing a volume titled Japan’s Asia-Pacific War as Lived and Remembered: New Interpretations, and he recently completed a book chapter titled “Being a Brat: The Ethics of Child Disobedience in the Edo Period,” forthcoming in Values, Identity, and Equality in 18th– and 19th-Century Japan (Brill, 2015).

Japanese Instructor Kayo Niimi was awarded a $1,000 grant from the Japan Foundation. She will use the funds to purchase new teaching materials for the Japanese Program.