Japanese and Chinese Languages and Literatures


  • Japanese Language and Literature
  • Chinese Language and Literature

This research field looks at the literature and languages of Japan and China, two major countries located in East Asia that have had a close relationship throughout history.

There are two research courses: one for Japanese language and literature studies, and the other for Chinese language and literature studies.

In the Japanese Language and Literature research course, a variety of approaches are used to conduct research on the classical literature of Japan from the Nara and Heian periods until the Edo period, on the modern literature of Japan from the Meiji period onward, and on the history of the Japanese language.

Within the classical literature, the emphasis is on research that uses original materials such as manuscripts and wood-block printings and employs bibliographical/philological methods to perform detailed deciphering.

Within the modern literature, literary works such as novels and critical essays are analyzed in depth while incorporating consideration of their social and cultural connections and the lens of gender critique.

Within the history of the Japanese language, research is conducted on historical changes to the phonemes of the language and their orthographical representation in kanji, hiragana, and katakana; particular effort is focused on historical research on kanbun kundoku, the reading of Chinese texts in Japanese.

In the Chinese Language and Literature research course, research is conducted on the classical literature from the pre-Qin period through the Qing period and on the vocabulary and grammar of Middle and Modern Chinese. Furthermore, research is also conducted on the history of the exchange of written works throughout East Asia, including Japan and China.

Techniques for elucidating academic truths by close readings of original texts, particularly the prose and poetry of the Six Dynasties and the Tang Dynasty and the novels of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, are emphasized.

When reading works of Literary Chinese (that is, the written language), kundoku (the reading of Chinese texts in Japanese) is primarily used, but the readings put into practice have been based on and thoroughly implemented by the research results of senior scholars on Middle Chinese.

When reading modern colloquial Chinese (that is, the spoken language represented in writing) novels, the cultural and social background of the time should be kept in mind while incorporating trends within modern Chinese language research, allowing a deeper reading to be pursued.

Using the classical Chinese materials existing in Japan, research is also conducted to elucidate the nature of the Sino–Japanese cultural exchange from the Song Dynasty onwards.

Additionally, comparative research on the literature and languages of Japan and China is being actively carried out, with a focus on enrolling exchange students into the comparative literature program.