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SOSCI Seminar Anthropology of Japan


Admission requirements

This course is only accessible for BA Japanstudies students. Students must have successfully completed their propedeuse, two BA2 seminars and the course Texts IIb.

Admission to a cluster seminar happens only through application via the head of the programme board or coordinator of studies.


Anthropology emphasizes complex processes and is inherently interpretive and situational. Its goal is to reach a better understanding of the world by examining how individuals and groups give form to and make sense of their lives. The body is a crucial aspect of social experience, as well as an important subject of anthropological research. As noticed by Thomas Csordas (1993, 135), “embodied experience is the starting point for analyzing human participation in a cultural world.” Starting from shared conceptions of the body in Japan, this course will tackle topics such as illness and health, the senses and the search for wellbeing, the role of material culture, religious practices, and interactions with nonhuman entities. We will consider these issues through examples of daily life, emphasizing the experiences of those involved.

Course objectives

When you finish this course you will be able to:

  • Identify key themes in the anthropology of the body;

  • Situate aspects of contemporary Japanese culture in anthropological context;

  • Learn to select topics and methods suitable for a thesis;

  • Analyse, summarise and reflect on academic sources in English and Japanese;

  • Report on original research into a topic related to this seminar in verbal and written form.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment Method


Assessment of the course is broken down into two categories.
Participation (50% of the final mark)

  • You are required to attend at least 70% of all sessions.

  • You are expected to show your individual engagement with the sources during class discussions.

  • You are required to write at least five (5) out of the total six (6) web postings.

  • You are to give an oral presentation about a topic for your final paper agreed upon with the instructors.
    Final paper (ca. 3,000 words; 50% of the final mark)


The final grade consists of the weighed average of the partial grades. To receive a passing grade, you have to obtain a passing grade for the Final Paper.


There is no resit for the participation element:

  • If you miss more than 30% of sessions, you cannot successfully finish this seminar;

  • If you miss or fail two or more web postings, we will provide a substitute assignment.

  • Everyone will receive feedback on their presentation, but you do not have an opportunity to redo the presentation. Instead, you are expected to use this feedback to improve your research and incorporate it into your final paper.
    The final paper takes the format of a first draft and final version. After submitting a draft for the first deadline, you will receive feedback and may always rewrite your draft for a final version. This rewritten version counts as the resit for the final paper.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Information about the readings will be made available through Brightspace.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof


Not applicable.