Course Code JAPA
Co-ordinator Mami Sasaki 
Levels Offered 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th year Full course list *
Minor Available Yes More details
Placement Test Required for students with previous knowledge More details
* Not all courses are offered every term. Please check Carleton Central and/or the Public Class Schedule for course availability.

Why study Japanese?

Sushi, manga, sumo wrestling, and high end electronics are just a few of the many things one may associate with Japan.  But a country is so much more than just its stereotypes, and Japan, with its rich cultural history, thriving economy, and distinctive artistic traditions, continues to play an influential role in our global community.  Plus, if you scratch the surface of the language…even just a little bit…you’ll uncover a puzzle as complex and curious as a cross between Sudoku, cryptography, and a choose-your-own-adventure!

To start with, Japanese uses 3 different writing systems:

  • kanji: words borrowed from Chinese
  • hiragana: a phonetic writing system used exclusively for Japanese words
  • katakana: used to spell out words borrowed from other languages

But they also have something called romaji, which uses the Roman alphabet (the same as English) to spell out the sounds of Japanese words to help with pronunciation.  And, just keep things interesting, Japanese can be written vertically from right to left or horizontally from top to bottom. 

And, if it’s true that language tells you something about the people who use it, then take a look at the Japanese words below to get an idea of the things Japanese speakers feel are important:

  • honne (本音) vs. tatemae (建前): what you truly believe vs. the behaviours and opinions you show in public
  • omotenashi (おもてなし):  the spirit of showing great hospitality and treating guests wholeheartedly
  • irusu (居留守): pretending to be out when someone knocks on your door
  • komorebi (木洩): sunlight filtering through leaves
  • betsubara (べつばら): literally this means “having another stomach” but it actually means having room for dessert even though you have already eaten a full dinner
  • shichitenhakki (七転八起): an expression of resilience; literally “to fall down 7 times but get up 8”

Students who choose to minor in Japanese at Carleton come from a wide range of degree programs (political science, international business, applied linguistics, computer science, and engineering to name a few) and often choose to spend at least some time in Japan either on exchange or after graduation.  Others choose to go as part of the JET Programme.  While others have even fallen in love, gotten married, and now live in Japan!

Former Students

Registration Information

Space in language courses is limited.  Register as early as possible.  If the course is full when you attempt to register, please submit a Course Registration Override Request or, if applicable, add your name to a waitlist on Carleton Central.  Click here to learn more about how waitlisting works.