HUM-444 / 3 credits

Teacher: Vogel Chevroulet Irène Elizabeth

Language: English

Remark: Une seule inscription à un cours SHS+MGT autorisée. En cas d'inscriptions multiples elles seront toutes supprimées sans notification.


Introduction into the culture of Japan - its thought and way of life - designed to foster future study of the archipelago. We elucidate the specificities of a Japanese identity that is imbued with both tradition and openness to innovation, to create sustainability - society, economy, environment.


Culture and thought for sustainability as mirrored in cinema and anime


Specifics in four parts

Do The Way

Keys of understanding: Japanese society after the opening of Japan to the West at the end of the 19th century.

Spirituality and martial arts: Akira Kurosawa's film Judo Saga (Sanshiro Sugata) 1943

Introduction to Zen: traditional as in Japanese temples and in a contemporary global context.

Professional and private life

Several reflections on the lives of women and men from the postwar period to the present day

Examples of arranged marriage Yasujiro Ozu's film Banshun (Late Spring) 1949

Communication through a third party


First examination: written answer to one thematic among five


Cool Japan - Aging Japan: innovation and ethics

Animé and science fiction: Osamu Tezuka

From Hiroshima to Fukushima: questioning ethics in a nuclear context

Visualizing dreams: Satoshi Kon's animé Paprika 2006

Contemporary Japan

From technological visions to reality: Soul in Japanese robotics, by Raphaël Holzer

Nature, nurture, Shinto as a social reinvigorator: Naomi Kawase's film An (Sweet bean) 2016



Second examination: research plan for the spring semester (individual or as a group)


Sustainability, interculturality, Do, Shinto, Zen, arts, communication, robotics, food, nurture, innovation, ethics, cinema, anime

POLY-perspective :

  • interdisciplinary perspective
  • creative perspective

Learning Prerequisites

Recommended courses

Japon Contemporain A BA5

Histoire de l'Asie contemporaine A BA3

Histoire de l'Asie contemporaine B BA6

Chine Contemporaine BA4

Economie de la Chine BA5

Chine: une nouvelle puissance globale? BA6


Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

  • Develop a critical methodology for studying ethnocentric thinking
  • Interpret cultural stereotypes attached to Japan (spirituality, gender, arts)
  • Develop an intellectual argument on a proposition relevant to the course
  • Synthesize the array of knowledge necessary to have a good understanding of social integration in Japan
  • Synthesize the contributions of contemporary Japan (innovation, work ethics, spirituality, robotics, arts, architecture, gardens, food)
  • Compose or write a paper
  • Use a work methodology appropriate to the task

Transversal skills

  • Take responsibility for environmental impacts of her/ his actions and decisions.
  • Communicate effectively, being understood, including across different languages and cultures.
  • Communicate effectively with professionals from other disciplines.
  • Demonstrate the capacity for critical thinking
  • Take account of the social and human dimensions of the engineering profession.

Teaching methods

Fall semester: lecture and visiting speakers supervision (English/French) of the elaboration of a research plan

Spring semester: supervision of research, mini-colloquium, a paper sample will be furnished to students

Expected student activities

Elaboration of a group research plan, active participation, critical lecture of articles and books, working discipline and time management, writing skills

- Fall semester: individual written examination, research plan (two pages: title, issue, detailed plan, bibliography)

- Spring semester: abstract (250 words), participation to a mini-colloquium, paper (4000 words)

Assessment methods

Fall semester: written examination (50%), quality of the research plan (50%)

Spring semester: oral presentation at the mini-colloquium (50%), paper (50%)


Office hours Yes
Assistants Yes
Forum No



Bibliography will be furnished (see below), plus specialized resources on the moodle

Yoshio Sugimoto An introduction to Japanese Society Cambridge Press 2021

Ayako Kano Japanese Feminist Debates Hawaï Press 2016

Yoshiko Okuyama Japanese mythology in film: a semiotic approach to reading film and anime Lexington Books 2016

Satoshi Kon Dream Fossil: The complete stories of Satoshi Kon Vertical Comics Edition 2015

Kenzaburo Ôé Teach us to outgrow our madness: four short novels Grove Atlantic 2011

John W. Dover Embracing defeat Japan in the wake of World War II WW Norton & Company 1999


Ressources en bibliothèque

Moodle Link

In the programs

  • Semester: Fall
  • Number of places: 50
  • Exam form: During the semester (winter session)
  • Subject examined: Contemporary Japan I
  • Lecture: 2 Hour(s) per week x 14 weeks
  • Project: 1 Hour(s) per week x 14 weeks
  • Type: mandatory

Reference week

Related courses

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