About The Center for Japanese Studies

wall of green bamboo stems

The CJS Mission

The Center for Japanese Studies (CJS) seeks to put into practice Portland State University's (PSU) motto "Let Knowledge Serve the City" by offering quality public programs addressing the complexity of Japan and the Japanese American experience.  These programs, which are designed to be accessible to specialists and non-specialists alike, are open not only to students, staff, and faculty, but also to the greater Portland community.  The CJS provides a forum for academic activities and the free exchange of ideas, and is a source of expertise for all the Japan-related organizations in the area. The Center supports research about Japan.  The Center is committed to nurturing PSU students to become leaders in business, government, arts, and the academy by fostering cross-cultural understanding, which for many students includes learning the Japanese language.

Word from The Director

I am often asked what makes Japanese Studies at PSU unique.  In some ways, we are not unique, and in fact model ourselves after older programs in Japanese Studies at institutions such as Columbia University and Harvard University.  But there are also some ways that our program is distinct.  First, there is no other university in the United States with a profile similar to PSU (e.g., many of our students are the first in their families to attend college) that has such a strong program in Japanese Studies.  Higher education already can be transformative, but add to the equation study abroad in a country like Japan, and one has a truly life transforming formula.  Second, we have a particularly strong and popular Japanese language program, so much so that we are a rare university in the continental United States where Japanese is one of the most highly enrolled languages!  Third, interest among PSU students in Japanese Studies, already unusually high, is remaining steady and even growing.  Finally, in a way that distinguished guests such as Carol Gluck find admirable and unparalleled, the CJS profoundly links Japanese Studies at PSU with individuals and organizations in the broader Portland community who share an interest in Japan in a manner that produces wonderful synergy.

CJS Faculty

All of PSU’s senior faculty in Japanese Studies have international reputations in their fields and are regularly asked to share their expertise at leading universities not only in the United States but also worldwide. Junior and mid-level faculty are quickly establishing themselves as leaders in their disciplines.  Professors from PSU's World Language and Literatures department form  the university's Japanese language program, which is well recognized for its ability to produce the most Japanese-major graduates in a national Top Ten ranking.


The Advisory Board

The Advisory Board is the main link between the CJS and the community, facilitating the flow of information about Japan and Japan-related activities between PSU and the broader community.  The board is also intended to serve as a community for individuals who share an interest in Japan to get to know each other.  The board provides recommendations to the faculty about topics for the CJS to address in its public events.  Finally, in this age of declining state support for higher education, the board provides financial and other resources necessary for the CJS to carry out its mission.  

CJS Sponsors and Collaborators

Since its creation, the Center for Japanese has depended on external funding for its existence. In addition to CJS advisory board members, many other generous individuals have contributed financially to ensure the continuance of the Center and its programs. Private donations from community supporters have provided our  base of support over the years.  In additionally we have enjoyed the support of grants and donations from a number of organizations and businesses.

Japanese Studies Alumni

Our alumni have graduated from many disciplines across campus. Many are language majors, while others have studied Japan through different lenses, such as history, international studies, economics, journalism, or even art and theater. Their success in the various paths they have taken upon graduation invariably illustrates how valuable their PSU education was in propelling them into careers they may have dreamed of, or perhaps never even imagined. Going forward, we will share their ongoing stories with you when we get updates about where they are now.