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.

Jack Lyons '16 in Kyoto.

A student’s immersion on campus and abroad

Jack Lyons ’16 started studying Japanese language and culture in high school and even went abroad for a few weeks, during which he fell in love with the city of Kyoto. One reason he picked Hamilton College was it enabled him to study abroad his junior year at the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Study. He's an Asian studies major with a focus on Japan and his favorite language.

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The summer before he left, Lyons worked with Associate Professor of Japanese Kyoko Omori on a project for Hamilton’s Digital Humanities Initiative; Omori is building a comparative Japanese film archive.

As part of his studies in Kyoto, Lyons is taking courses on postwar Japanese film and the arts of Japan. He can walk to some of the places that show up in his textbooks, for instance the famous Kinkakuji or Golden Pavilion.

“After Hamilton, I am hoping to do the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program where I will go to Japan for a couple of years to teach Japanese. After that, I am not really sure what field I may go into, but I am certain that it will be related to Japan,” says Lyons, a history minor.

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.

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“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.