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Department of Japanese Studies

Where tradition and modernity coalesce
Founded in 1917, our department is one of the oldest Asian language and culture centres in Australia.

We conduct teaching and research in Japanese modern and pre-modern history, language, society and literature. Our students acquire a combination of language proficiency and an in-depth understanding of cultural difference, enabling professional opportunities in a number of areas ranging from international business to government and non-government organisations. 

The University’s East Asian Collection includes over 120,000 titles consisting of primary and secondary sources from China, Japan and Korea. The library also boasts a rich collection of books on Japanese art and art history.

Our study offering

One of the oldest subject areas of its kind in the English-speaking world, Japanese Studies offers consideration of a rich history and culture, as well as a rewarding language experience. Undertake an in-country exchange with our large network of partner universities in Japan and prepare for employment in education, government, media, international relations and the private sector.


*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  


Our research

Our strengths in research cover the following areas:

  • the interconnections of modern Japanese social, cultural, and political history
  • Japanese pre-modern intellectual history and political philosophy
  • pop and media culture and the literature-anime nexus
  • modern Japanese poetry, comparative literature, and Australian literature
  • modern and contemporary Japanese fiction and literary theory
  • Japanese cinema and mass culture
  • Japanese and East Asian media, the government, media industry, and audience nexus
  • Japanese sociolinguistics and linguistics
  • Japanese language and pedagogy
  • Chinese communities in Australia and Japan
  • pre-modern Japanese urban history
  • early temple and residential architecture
  • spatial theory: spatial-structural history
  • Japan-Korea relations, historical and contemporary
  • postcolonial studies and cross-cultural representations. 

The Inoue Yasushi Award

The Inoue Yasushi Award for Outstanding Research in Japanese Literature, Culture and Art has been awarded annually, beginning in 2007, for the best refereed journal article or book chapter published in English by a researcher based in Australia or New Zealand during the previous year. The recipient will receive AU$1,500 and a certificate of award.

Inoue Yasushi was a prominent post-Second World War novelist and poet. He wrote in many genres ranging from contemporary novels focusing on social problems to historical novels. He was a unique writer who managed to combine serious themes with fascinating and intriguing plots. Inoue’s works are still very popular, reaching a wide general readership as well as scholars and intellectuals.

The Inoue Yasushi Memorial Foundation established the award in order to encourage Australian interest in Japanese literature generally, and in Inoue Yasushi more particularly. The Foundation also generously donated 28 volumes of Inoue Yasushi’s collected works, which can be found in the East Asian Collection of Fisher Library at the University of Sydney.


  • Researcher based in Australia or New Zealand 
  • Published refereed journal article or book chapter on Japanese literature, culture, or art published in English during the previous year of award

How to apply

Submit an electronic copy of your work with a cover letter to the Committee Chair, Dr Mats Karlsson:

The 13th Inoue Yasushi Award Ceremony for Outstanding Research in Japanese Literature, Culture and Art in Australia and New Zealand

When: 8 Nov 2019, 6pm
Venue: Old Geology Lecture Theatre, Edgeworth David Building, Science Rd, University of Sydney NSW 2006

Award recipient: Dr Lucy Fraser (University of Queensland)
For her article “Dogs, gods, and monsters: the animal–human connection in Bakin’s Hakkenden, Folktales and Legends, and two contemporary retellings”

More information


Our advanced exchange programs provide life-changing experiences in Japan where students exercise their language skills and develop an understanding of cultural intricacies first hand. 

  • University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki-Ken
  • Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto
  • Nagoya University, Nagoya
  • Rikkyo University, Tokyo
  • Hosei University, Tokyo

Our people


Visit the School's Events calendar to see our full listing of upcoming events.

Department Chair



School of Languages and Cultures

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