JAPAN 533: Japanese-Language Texts at Seattle's Nihongo Gakkô

According to Itô Kazuo, Seattle was home to the first Japanese-language school in the contiguous United States, taught in 1902 by Shibayama Yoshio. The Nihongo Gakkô shown above was built in 1913 to house this growing school. (Hokubei hyakunen zakura 692-693.)


Professor Hibi Yoshitaka (日比嘉高) of Nagoya University will be joining us as the 2009 Visiting Scholar of Japanese Literature.

Hibi is the author of 'Jiko hyôshô' no bungakushi (A Literary History of 'Self-Representation') [expanded edition] (Tokyo: Kanrin Shobô, 2002). He also co-edited the volumes Bungaku de kangaeru 'Nihon' to wa nani ka (2007) and Tekusuto-tachi no ryotei (2008).


Professor Ted Mack and Professor Hibi Yoshitaka
TTh 1:30-3:20

This goals of this seminar are as follows:

  1. To survey the Japanese-language texts held by Seattle's Nihongo Gakkô, arguably the oldest Japanese-language school in the contiguous United States, and produce an inventory of those texts so that they might become a valuable part of the Japanese Cultural & Community Center's collection.
  2. To examine both literary and non-literary works not as disembodied texts, but as material books, possessing a diachronic existence amid a concrete readership, rather than ontologically belonging to an imaginary "national readership." The goal of this will not be to establish these books as "exceptional" in their existence among "marginal" readers, but as representative of the heterogeneous ways in which books circulate.
  3. To study the history of the circulation of Japanese-language texts in North America, allowing the examination of this archive to deepen our understanding of the global flow of print during an age of mass migrations.
  4. To work in conjunction with the Seattle Japanese Language School, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington, and with Densho to see the various activities already underway to preserve Japanese American history in Seattle and beyond.

The following assignments and schedule are tentative and subject to change.

Students will be expected to supplement these core readings will relevant additional readings as necessary.




March 31
April 2
Nihongo gakko
The MT 205 bus departs the HUB at 1:41, arrives at Boren and Yesler at 2:02.
Itô Kazuo, Hokubei hyakunen zakura (Tôkyô : Hokubei hyakunenzakura Jikkô Iinkai, 1969)
Nihongo gakko
Wada Atsuhiko, Shomotsu no Nichibei kankei: riterashii-shi ni mukete (Tokyo: Shin'yôsha, 2007)
Nihongo gakko
Andrew B. Wertheimer, "Japanese American community libraries in America's concentration camps, 1942--1946," Ph.D. dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004.
Special Friday meeting: Hibi; Nihongo gakko
Hibi: Selections by Hibi
Hibi: Selections by Nakane, Kumei, Mack
May 5
Hibi: Project presentations
Hibi: Discussion
Markus Lecture: Norma Field, University of Chicago, 7:30pm

Preparatory reading: Shimamura Teru, "2008-nen no 'Kani kôsen' genshô," Nihon kindai bungaku 79, 131-37, this summary of Shimamura's taidan with Komori Yôichi, and this article by Matthew Ward.
Special Workshop: Norma Field
Special Monday meeting: Hibi
Presentation of findings
Presentation of findings
Presentation of findings
Paper drafts due
Discussion of papers
June 2
Discussion of papers
Concluding summary

June 11

Final paper due


Most texts will be on reserve at the East Asian Library.
Some of the readings (marked with an asterisk) are available through the University of Washington E-reserves. E-reserves
Some of the texts for this class require Adobe Acrobat Reader. Acrobat Reader


ENROLLMENT: Enrollment in this class is with permission of the instructor only.

PARTICIPATION: Students should be prepared to explain or respond to any portion of the assigned reading. Since participation is a vital aspect of the class, attendance is required at all sessions.  Unexcused absences will affect one's participation grade.

PAPERS: Students will coordinate the topic, nature, and scale of their paper with the instructor at the beginning of the term. Students are encouraged to develop a field paper during the course, applying concepts that we explore through our readings. Final papers will be submitted to academic journals in the hopes of publication.

GRADING: Your final grades will consider your participation (60%) and your paper (40%).  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 and problems they have encountered in reading those texts.

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.

Page last updated on February 27, 2009