Faculty of PhilosophyJapanese Studies

Japanese studies in Heidelberg focuses on past and current Japanese culture and society.

The aim of the subject Japanese Studies is to convey a holistic as well as a transculturally comparative understanding of Japanese culture and society. A special emphasis is placed on the embedding of Japan in an East Asian context. Nowadays, Japanese studies at university is taught as both a subject and as a conglomerate of vastly differing scientific disciplines. The subject’s individual components, in particular from a methodological perspective, overlap with related disciplines such as Political Science or Literary Studies. At the same time, they also rely on interaction with subjects that have an entirely different orientation. The department of Japanese Studies attempts to develop own topics and questions in this interplay. The “external perspective” of Japan is considered crucial for the subject.

Special Features and Characteristics

The subject’s current orientation in Heidelberg reflects the lecturers’ fields of work and can be broadly outlined as follows: Japanese literature and Japanese history, politics and society in Japan, Japanese intellectual history, as well as selected areas associated with the Japanese economy and culture. It should be noted, however, that teaching and learning activities in Japanese studies are slightly broader than the respective research activities.


The research focus at the Institute for Japanese Studies at Heidelberg University is on:  

  • Politics 
  • Society and history of ideas in Japan 
  • Japanese literature and culture 
  • History, in particular as of 1868 

Selected topics on Japanese business and economics are also studied. These research topics are also represented in teaching practice in the department.

Occupational Areas

Japanese Studies does not directly train students for a specific career. Graduates of the subject can enter into professions that are associated with Japan by applying their specific skills and aiding with an enhanced and refined understanding of general questions and issues thanks to their various encounters with Japan, its culture and society. Courses in the department are designed in such a way so as to develop a specific understanding of Japan that is ultimately required to formulate and answer general related questions.


Studierender Japanologie Uni Heidelberg

As Japan is becoming more and more relevant as a business hub, and I have been interested in the country ever since I was a child and love the culture, I decided to study Japanese Studies to foster my future career in business in this area.

Torben Stegmüller, 20, Japanese Studies, 1st semester Bachelor