After your first year of Japanese language studies, you will be able to speak and write about everyday life. After your fourth year, you will be able to write and present a term paper on a topic you choose. Your courses will emphasize language and introduce you to Japanese literature, film, culture and society.

Quan Wan '14 eats lunch with Kyoko Omori, associate professor of East Asian languages and literatures. 

A student’s passion: language for the love of it

Quan Wan ’14 minored in Japanese simply because he loves the language and culture. He is a psychology major with a long-term plan to become a professor, probably in behavior sciences. Wan, who is from China, is intrigued by the relationship between the Chinese and Japanese characters and languages.

More >>

“Somehow I’ve been fascinated like how the same characters are employed in a different language and it’s pronounced differently. It has similar meaning but it’s not exactly (the same) and it’s just really, really cool to me,” Wan says.

The Japanese language, he says, is a portal to the culture, and he loves Japanese film and literature. His favorite author is Haruki Murakami. He used to be into manga (Japanese comics) but these days, not so much.

Wan loves research as well as Japanese and is looking for a research position post graduation. He hopes that work will help him zero in on precisely what he wants to pursue in grad school. His advice to students with a passion for Japanese – follow it, as he did.

“That’s what liberal arts is about,” Wan says.

Karen Haedrich '06 at an event for NHK, the radio station she works for in Japan.

A graduate’s progress: a career abroad

Studying in Tokyo junior year clinched Karen Haedrich's ’06 passion for Japanese language and culture. She graduated from Hamilton College with a minor in Japanese studies and a major in creative writing and moved to Tokyo. She works at NHK, writing and narrating for an English radio program called Kiso Eigo Two (Basic English Two) for junior-high students.

More >>

“I use both my creative writing and Japanese language studies every day at work.  I write the daily dialogues for the textbook that are part of an overarching story over the school year – from April to March in Japan.  We narrate in English on the show, but I use my Japanese language skills every day for meetings, emails, et cetera.  My studies at Hamilton played a huge role in allowing me to have this job,” she says.

At Hamilton, Haedrich won a Freeman-ASIA Award for undergraduate study in East and Southeast Asia and tutored in the Writing Center. Her interest in the Japanese language, movies, music, anime and culture, traces back to high school, even though her small school offered no Asian language classes.

“I tried studying Japanese on my own, but I didn’t get very far. I decided to look for a college with a good Japanese program. When I took a tour of Hamilton College, I visited one of the Japanese classes. It was a great experience.  When I started at Hamilton as a freshman, I signed up for Japanese language class right away,” she says.