JAPAN 431: Readings in Contemporary Japanese Literature

Koike Mariko, Kakuta Mitsuyo, and Aoyama Shinji

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 12:30-1:50pm
Thomson 202
Professor Ted Mack

Koike Kakuta Aoyama

This term we will focus on two works of contemporary short fiction that appeared in recent years: Koike Mariko's "Suteru" (May 2006 Bungei shunjû), Kakuta Mitsuyo's "Mazakon" (January 2006 Subaru), and Aoyama Shinji's "Yakei" (October 2006 Gunzô). All three stories were reprinted in Bungaku 2007 (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2007), a collection of the best stories of the year.

Although the texts will be available through e-reserves, you can also find the originals in the UW library, which subscribes to Bungei shunjû, Bungei, Subaru, and Gunzô. The relevant issues will be on reserve in the East Asian Library in Gowen Hall.

The following are recommended. We will discuss how to order them from Japan on the first day of class.

  1. This grammar reference is extremely handy.
  2. A good collegiate Japanese-English dictionary. One of my favorites is this one.
  3. A medium-sized Japanese-Japanese dictionary, such as this one.
  4. You should consider investing in an electronic dictionary.

The reading schedule below is tentative, and will adjust based on the progress of the class. Class dates marked with an asterisk (*) will be taught by a guest instructor. If there is time, we will begin reading one of the additional recommended texts listed below.

Reading Schedule

9/26 (Wednesday) Introduction
9/28 (Friday) Koike Mariko, "Suteru," pp. 117-18.
10/1 (Monday) "Suteru," pp. 118-19.
10/3 (Wednesday) "Suteru," pp. 119-20.
10/5 (Friday) "Suteru," pp. 120-21.
10/8 (Monday) QUIZ #1; "Suteru," pp. 121-22.
10/10 (Wednesday) "Suteru," pp. 122-23.
10/12 (Friday) "Suteru," pp. 123-24.
10/15 (Monday) QUIZ #2; "Suteru," pp. 124-25.
10/17 (Wednesday) "Suteru," pp. 125-26.
10/19 (Friday) "Suteru," pp. 126-27.
10/22 (Monday) QUIZ #3; pp. 127-29.
10/24 (Wednesday) Kakuta Mitsuyo, "Mazakon," pp. 19.
10/26 (Friday) "Mazakon," pp. 19-21.
10/29 (Monday)* QUIZ #4; "Mazakon," pp. 21.
10/31 (Wednesday)* "Mazakon," pp. 21-23.
11/2 (Friday) NO CLASS
11/5 (Monday) QUIZ #5; "Mazakon," pp. 23.
11/7 (Wednesday) "Mazakon," pp. 23-24.
11/9 (Friday) "Mazakon," pp. 24-25.
11/12 (Monday) HOLIDAY -- Veteran's Day
11/14 (Wednesday) QUIZ #6; "Mazakon," pp. 25-27.
11/16 (Friday) "Mazakon," pp. 27-28.
11/19 (Monday) QUIZ #7; "Mazakon," pp. 28-29.
11/21 (Wednesday) "Mazakon," pp. 29-30. Aoyama Shinji's "Yakei," pp. 205.
11/23 (Friday) HOLIDAY -- Thanksgiving
11/26 (Monday) QUIZ #8; "Yakei," pp. 205-6.
11/28 (Wednesday) "Yakei," pp. 206-7.
11/30 (Friday) "Yakei," pp. 207-8.
12/3 (Monday) QUIZ #9; "Yakei," pp. 208-9.
12/5 (Wednesday) "Yakei," pp. 209-10.
12/7 (Friday) REVIEW
12/13 (Thursday) FINAL EXAM: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 8:30-10:20 am

About the Course:
This course focuses solely on developing advanced Japanese reading skills through practice. Students read through contemporary Japanese fiction on their own and then meet to go over that reading, focusing on grammar and vocabulary but also discussing literary devices and effects. Unlike most other language offerings, this course is made up of readings that have not been tailored or selected for ease of comprehension. Students read celebrated stories of recent years, regardless of difficulty, in their complete form. The goal of the course is to introduce students to the real complexity and beauty of literary Japanese, while providing them with the tools necessary to read even the most challenging fiction. The hope is that the course will begin students on a lifelong path of reading Japanese literature – whether professionally or recreationally.

A grade of 2.5 or higher in JAPAN 313 or its equivalent is an absolute requirement. A high level of Japanese reading ability is required; expect the gulf between third-year Japanese readings and these stories to be substantial.

The syllabus below will be in flux throughout the semester as we move through the stories. Watch the online syllabus and talk with your classmates about where we are for any given class meeting.

Required Materials:


All texts are available online.
All necessary texts are available through the University of Washington E-reserves.
Bungaku 2007 (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2007) may also be available at the Seattle Kinokuniya bookstore.
Many of the texts for this class require Adobe Acrobat Reader.


Additional recommended readings (available as e-reserves):

Hoshino Tomoyuki, "Tete nashi kurabu" (Spring 2006 Bungei)

Machida Kô, "Howaito Happii/Goran no supon" (October 2006 Gunzô)

Hoshino Machida


Participation and preparation (50%):

All class members will be expected to complete assigned readings before class meets. Class meetings will involve recitation in Japanese, translation, and discussion of grammar in either English or Japanese. Every student will be called on at every class meeting; likely each will be called multiple times. Inadequate preparation will result in a reduction of one's participation grade. Late arrivals disrupt class; therefore you are expected to arrive on time. Please turn off all beepers and cell phones before class begins.

Quizzes (30%; every Monday, unless otherwise noted):

Quizzes will be made up of translation questions involving sentences chosen from the previous week's reading.

Final Exam (20%; Thursday, 13 December 2007, 8:30-10:20 am):

The final exam will be made up of translation questions involving sentences chosen from the reading as a whole.

Recommended References:

Japanese-Japanese dictionary: Shinmura Izuru, ed, Kôjien. Fifth edition. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1998.

Japanese character dictionary: John M. Haig, et al., ed. The New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary. Tokyo: Tuttle, 1997.

Japanese-English dictionary: Watanabe Toshirô, et al., ed. Kenkyûsha's New Japanese-English Dictionary. Fifth Edition. Tokyo: Kenkyûsha, 2003.

Fair Use:

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Page last updated on February 3, 2008