Summer 2021 - GA 201 D100

Introduction to Japanese Civilization (3)

Class Number: 3472

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 16, 2021
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    15 units.



An introduction to historical and cultural perspectives covering the basic aspects of Japan: geography, history, culture, politics, economy, etc. Students with credit for ASC 201 may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


This synchronous lecture- and tutorial-based course provides students with an introduction to selected cultural and historical perspectives on Japan from its origins to the present. The goal of the course is to learn some of the foundations of Japanese civilization, which will help to understand how Japan has developed over time and how it interacts with the world today. The main themes of the course will include: spiritual beliefs and traditions, particularly Shinto and Zen Buddhism; the changing roles of the imperial family; the development of the samurai; the impact of Western imperialism on Japanese society; the role of technology in modern Japan’s identity; the environmental legacy of natural disasters. This course does not require prior knowledge of Japanese history or society nor any fluency in Japanese.

Normally in this course, I organize a field trip where you can have a hands-on Japanese culture experience. Sadly, we cannot do that in a remote learning format. So your major writing assignment for this course will be to organize your own Japanese cultural activity, such as a tea ceremony demonstration, an anime film festival, a taiko drumming concert or some other activity of your choice. You will write a cover letter and a proposal that outlines how you will organize your cultural event.

Please note:

  1. This course will be delivered LIVE from the instructor’s living room/storage room! Since we will be LIVE on air, there will therefore be multiple opportunities for students to interact and ask questions. Lectures will be recorded and made available for students who cannot easily attend the “live” lecture because of time-zone differences.
  2. I deeply regret that the global pandemic requires that this course be offered remotely instead of in-person. I prefer in-person classes because I believe that the human connections and spontaneous reactions between me the instructor and you the students, as well as between your classmates, promotes better learning. But in order to stay safe during the pandemic, we are required to sacrifice the many benefits of in-person classes and will strive to do our best using online tools.


  • Tutorial attendance and participation (tutorials will be held live online) 20%
  • Japanese Cultural Event project (10% + 30%=40%) 40%
  • Midterm test 20%
  • Final exam 20%



Required textbooks: None; Coursepack will be provided

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Teaching at SFU in summer 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods, but we will continue to have in-person experiential activities for a selection of courses.  Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112).