An Introduction to Japan

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Focus questions:

  • What are our current perceptions of Japan? How accurate are they?
  • What are some key historical events that have shaped Japan as a nation and as a culture?
  • How has Japan’s geography affected the country’s economy, culture, and society?
  • What factors might account for Japan’s post-World War II economic success and subsequent economic distress?
  • What are some areas of cooperation between the United States and Japan?
  • What are some of the main Japanese aesthetic principles?
  • What are the main writing and literary forms in Japan?

Japan is one of the most influential countries in the world. Its economy is the world’s third largest. However, many Americans know less about Japan than they do about other major world powers. This study theme aims to introduce students to Japan’s topography, feudal history, unique security arrangement, economy, and rich cultural traditions.

The curriculum has been designed specifically for U.S. high school students currently enrolled in social studies or world history classes, but has also been successfully used by teachers from other disciplines, as well as with middle school students.

Designed by Selena Lai, Amy Cheng, and Gregory Francis, Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE)