Japan is a land of traditional cultures such as paper folding, origami arts, and more recent sub-cultures such as animation, ”manga” cartoons, and TV games that attract the interest of people worldwide. The country has a long history of over 2000 years where they absorbed influences from the surrounding Asian cultures from ancient times to the Middle Ages. Japan was “discovered” in the 13th century by Marco Polo, who introduced it to the world as “Zipangu” – the land of Gold. Since then, it has advanced successfully in technology from the latter half of the 19th century, leading the world in many industrial fields such as automobiles, electronics, Information Technology, energy-saving environmental technologies, and bio-science.
The Japanese language is the 9th most spoken language in the world, with about 127 million speakers in Japan and elsewhere worldwide. The language is linguistically predictable based on its grammar, which forms sentences regularly with the word-order of subject-object-verb in the past or present tense and has no gender distinction in words to agree with verbs. The language has pitch accent, which is based on the two relative pitch levels of high and low, and is written in a combination of three scripts, Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji. Katakana is used to express words of foreign origin, whereas Hiragana is used for syllables and expresses the grammar relations between them. Kanji, adapted from Chinese characters, is used for some basic units of meaning.
The Japanese Language Program at Rice offers a three-year academic program of studies. The courses offered through CLIC guide students to understand the Japanese-speaking culture and society through our focus on language awareness and critical language analysis.
Japanese is one of the options that fulfills the language requirements for the Asian Studies major offered by the Chao Center for Asian Studies and for the Linguistics major offered by the Rice Linguistics Department.