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, Kenzaburō Ōe, Yukio Mishima, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Kuniko Mukoda, Sōseki Natsume, 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

Textbook & Class Times & Dates


The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories Edited by Jay Rubin (Penguin)
*Please make sure to purchase this book by the first day of the course.

All the lessons take place from 18:00 to 19:35 JST (90 minutes + 5-minute break)[10:00 - 11:35 CET / 9:00 - 10:35 GMT]

Oct. 10 (Sun)

Ōgai Mori   The Last Testament of Okitsu Yagoemon

Theme: Loyal Warriors

Oct. 17 (Sun)

Aoko Matsuda   Planting

Theme: The Tohoku Earthquake

Oct. 24 (Sun)

Akira Abe   Peaches

Theme: Nature and Memory

Oct. 31 (Sun)

Keita Genji   Mr English

Theme: Modern Life and Other Nonsense

Course Fees

1 class = 20€
5 classes = 95€ 

※ The minimum classes are 2.

Maximum Number of Students



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