JAPAN 323: Japanese Literature III

Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 9:30-10:20 a.m.
CHL 015

Modern Japanese Literature, 1868-2005


This survey of Japanese writing covers the literature of the modern (1868-today) period, with a specific focus on short fiction, all in English translation.  The goal of the course will be to introduce students to some of the most famous works of prose fiction in the modern period in Japan, and to train them to read more carefully and critically.  At the same time, the course aims at developing students' ability to construct interesting readings of literary works and to argue them persuasively in English.


PREREQUISITES: JAPAN 321 and 322 are highly recommended, though knowledge of pre-modern Japanese literature is not required. Japanese language ability is not a prerequisite for this class; all readings are in English translation.

PARTICIPATION: All class members will be expected to complete all assigned readings before class meets. At the beginning of each class, one student will be chosen at random to summarize the story and present a reading of that story. This presentation will strongly affect the participation component of the final grade. After that presentation, other students will be called on to respond to the reading. The ability to make a productive and interesting point when selected will affect one's participation grade, as will voluntary contributions to class in the form of questions and comments. Late arrivals disrupt class; therefore you are expected to arrive on time. Please turn off all beepers and cell phones before class begins.

EXAMINATIONS: Two exams will be given, each made up of identification questions and short essay questions.

GRADING: Your final grades will consider your participation (40%), your mid-term exam (30%), and your final exam (30%). Though the quality of your work is central to your grade, evaluations of that quality will take into consideration individual skills. Effort will be rewarded.

STUDY GROUPS: I encourage students to meet outside of class to discuss the texts. Please note that this does not include dividing up the reading of a story; all students will be expected to have read all of the stories, in full.

CHEATING AND PLAGIARISM: The presentation of another's words and ideas as one's own is a serious offense; violations will be dealt with according to the University codes of conduct, which stipulate sanctions up to and including expulsion.

ACADEMIC ACCOMMODATIONS: I will do everything I can to accommodate students with particular needs. To request such an accommodation, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating that you require such accommodation, we can discuss ways to meet those needs.


  1. Theodore W. Goossen, ed. The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories. Oxford University Press, 2002.
  2. Ibuse Masuji, Black Rain, Kodansha America, 1994.

A copy of each required text is on reserve (2 hour loan, no overnight) in the East Asian Library (PL782.E1 E23 2002). Students with Japanese language ability are encouraged to use the original texts, which can also be found in the library. Story lengths are indicated in parentheses ().

Reading Schedule

3/28 (Monday) Introduction
3/29 (Tuesday) Higuchi Ichiyô, "Separate Ways" (1896)
3/31 (Thursday) Kunikida Doppo, "The Bonfire" (1896)
4/1 (Friday) Natsume Sôseki, "The Third Night" (1908)
4/4 (Monday) Nagai Kafû, "The Peony Garden" (1909)
4/5 (Tuesday) Satomi Ton, "Blowfish" (1913)
4/7 (Thursday) GUEST LECTURER: Mori Ôgai, "Sansho the Steward" (1915)
4/8 (Friday) GUEST LECTURER: Tanizaki Jun'ichirô, "Aguri" (1922)
4/11 (Monday) Shiga Naoya, "Night Fires" (1920)
4/12 (Tuesday) Akutagawa Ryûnosuke, "In a Grove" (1921)
4/14 (Thursday) Miyazawa Kenji, "The Bears of Nametoko" (1924)
4/15 (Friday) Kawabata Yasunari, "The Izu Dancer" (1925)
4/18 (Monday) Kajii Motojirô, "Lemon" (1925)
4/19 (Tuesday) Yokomitsu Riichi, "Spring Riding in a Carriage" (1926)
4/21 (Thursday) Hayama Yoshiki, "Letter Found in a Cement Barrel" (1926)*
4/22 (Friday) Ibuse Masuji, "Carp" (1928)
4/25 (Monday) Hayashi Fumiko, "The Accordion and the Fish Town" (1931)
4/26 (Tuesday) Okamoto Kaneko, "Portrait of an Old Geisha" (1938)
4/28 (Thursday) Nakajima Atsushi, "The Expert" (1942)
4/29 (Friday) Hirabayashi Taiko, "Blind Chinese Soldiers" (1946)
5/2 (Monday) Ibuse Masuji, Black Rain (1965-6)
5/3 (Tuesday) Dazai Osamu, "Merry Christmas" (1947)
5/5 (Thursday) Sakaguchi Ango, "In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom" (1947)
5/6 (Friday) Review session
5/9 (Monday) MIDTERM EXAM: Monday, 9 May 2005, 9:30-10:20, CHL 015
5/10 (Tuesday) Kojima Nobuo, "The Rifle" (1952)
5/12 (Thursday) Mishima Yukio, "Onnagata" (1957)
5/13 (Friday) Ôe Kenzaburô, "Prize Stock" (1958)
5/16 (Monday) Abe Kôbô, "The Bet" (1960)
5/17 (Tuesday) Inoue Yasushi, "Passage to Fudaraku" (1961)
5/19 (Thursday) Kôno Taeko, "Toddler Hunting" (1961)
5/20 (Friday) Endô Shûsaku, "Unzen" (1965)
5/23 (Monday) Kaikô Takeshi, "The Duel" (1968) & Yoshiyuki Jun'nosuke, "Three Policemen" (1974)
5/24 (Tuesday) Enchi Fumiko, "The Flower-Eating Crone" (1974)
5/26 (Thursday) Mukôda Kuniko, "Mr. Carp" (1984)
5/27 (Friday) Tsushima Yûko, "A Very Strange, Enchanted Boy" (1985)
5/30 (Monday) HOLIDAY -- Memorial Day
5/31 (Tuesday) Murakami Haruki, "The Elephant Vanishes" (1987)
6/2 (Thursday) Shimada Masahiko, "Desert Dolphin" (1992) & Yoshimoto Banana, "Dreaming of Kimchee" (1993)
6/3 (Friday) Review session
6/8 (Wednesday) FINAL EXAM: Wednesday, 8 June 2005, 8:30-10:20, CHL 015

Required Materials:


Participation, preparation, and worksheets (40%):

All class members will be expected to complete assigned readings before class meets. The participation grade will be particularly affected by your presentation of the text on days when you are randomly selected to summarize the story and present a reading of that story.

Midterm Exam (30%; Monday, 9 May 2005, 9:30-10:20, CHL 015):

The midterm exam will be made up of identification questions and short essay questions.

Final Exam (30%; Wednesday, 8 June 2005, 8:30-10:20, CHL 015):

The final exam will be made up of identification questions and short essay questions.

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Page last updated on May 23, 2005