Musical Culture in Japan (Japanstudier realia 3)

Course content

The enforced opening of Japan in the 1850s and the modernization policies pursued by the Meiji government after 1868 brought profound changes to the practice of music in Japan. Western music was introduced and disseminated through the military and the education system as well as through missionaries. The practice of indigenous Japanese music also changed profoundly as a result of government policies and social and economic changes. In the course of the 20th century developments like the development of mass media (gramophone, film, radio broadcasting) and the emergence of an urban consumer society brought further changes in musical practices.

This course will look at the most important developments in the history of music in Japan and at the contemporary music scene. Themes and possible topics for student assignments will include the different genres of traditional music of Japan, the introduction of Western music in Japan, including popular forms such as jazz and tango, the development of popular songs, music and the emerging middle classes, the search for a “Japanese style” of music etc. In part, the topics treated in class may be selected according to students’ interest and students are encouraged to contact me in advance to discuss these.

There will be a strong focus on the history of musical culture in modern Japan in the weekly lectures. In the seminars and workshops, broader themes will be discussed, including theoretical approaches and methodological questions.


Curriculum for BA elective program in Japanese Studies, 2019



Learning outcome

Bacheloruddannelsen i asienstudier (japanstudier) 2019
Japanstudier realia 3 (Aktivitetskode: HJAB00991E)
Japanstudier realia 2 (Aktivitetskode: HJAB00981E)

Bachelortilvalg i japanstudier, kinastudier, koreastudier (asienstudier) og moderne Indien og sydasienstudier 2019 Japanstudier realia A: (Aktivitetskode: HJAB10211E)
Japanstudier realia B: (Aktivitetskode: HJAB10221E)

Exchange students BA level
Japan Studies Content Course B (HJAB10221E)

Three main components: 1.) Lectures; 2.) seminars with discussions and student presentations; 3.) Methods workshops

Details to be announced. Required introductory readings

Wade, Bonnie C. Music in Japan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

It is also advisable (but not compulsory) to read an introduction to the study of history, such as:

Jordanova, Ludmilla. History in Practice (2nd ed.), London: Hodder Arnold, 2006.

Kjeldstadli, Knut. Fortiden er ikke hvad den har været: en indføring i historiefaget, Frederiksberg: Roskilde Universitets Forlag, 2002.

You should normally have passed the two introductory courses to the history of Japan: Introduction to the History and Culture of Japan before and after 1945.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment

Academic targets

At the examination, the student can demonstrate:

Knowledge and understanding of

important processes or significant problems in specific periods of the history, society or culture of the country/region studied.

the position of studied country/region in a historical and contemporary context in interaction with the outside world.

important institutions and structures of importance to history, society and culture in the area studied. 

Skills in

identifying, delimiting and applying relevant academic literature and other source material.

correctly using notes, references and bibliography.

critically assessing scientific literature and the empirical material in their research context.

Competencies in

navigating sources for understanding the history, society or culture of the country/area studied.

adopting a critical, reflective and analytical approach to a specific topic.

applying research methods and theories relevant for a specific topic to analyse the topic in a critical way

Written communication.


The take-home assignment is written on the basis of 1,200 standard pages of academic literature. A bibliography of pages read and a specification of the topic must be enclosed with the synopsis. 

The bibliography and topic/problem formulation must be approved by the examiner and enclosed with the take-home assignment. The examiner may decide that the literature used in the instruction must be included in whole or in part.

The time of the signing of the bibliography is to be agreed between the student and the examiner.

For group exams with two participants, a minimum of 1,800 standard pages are required, and with three participants, at least 2,400 standard pages of academic literature.

Teaching and working methods

The teaching and working methods may include both combinations of lectures and exercises with the active involvement of the students, e.g. in the form of a student presentation or a paper on a delimited assignment, as independent study combined with individual supervision.


Exam provisions

Form of exam: Take-home assignment, optional subject.

Scope: 16-20 standard pages.

Assessment: Internal exam with a single examiner with assessment based on the 7-point grading scale.

Regulations for group exams: The exam can be taken individually or as a group (max. 3 students) with individual assessment. If several students work together on an assignment, each participant’s contribution must constitute a distinct unit that can be identified and assessed separately. The joint part must not exceed 50% of the total.

Take-home assignments for group exams are: 24-30 standard pages (2 students) or 32-40 standard pages (3 students).

Exam language(s): Danish or English.

Permitted exam aids: All.

Make-up exam/resit: Conducted in the same manner as the ordinary exam.

Special provisions: The topic of the take-home assignment must be approved by the examiner and differ from topics covered by other realia subjects.




Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • English
  • 412,5


Course number
See exam description
Programme level
Bachelor choice

1 semester


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Study Board of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
Contracting department
  • Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator
  • Margaret Dorothea Mehl   (4-6f676a6e426a776f306d7730666d)

Margaret Mehl,
Marie Højlund Roesgaard,

Saved on the 11-08-2023

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