The University of Zaragoza is the first and only one in Spain to offer a Master’s Degree in Japanese Studies, a degree aimed at students in the legal, social and humanities fields, as well as those trained in science and anyone interested in Japanese society and culture. Specialized professors with long teaching and research careers in the field ensure that students acquire a general knowledge of the Japanese country through subjects on history, international relations, law, economics, sociology, art, literature, music, film and Japanese language.
A millenary civilization and pacifist by constitution, Japan is an economic power in the Asia-Pacific region, of great strategic political, business and commercial value. In addition to being a powerful nation on the international stage, it has a rich cultural tradition and a language of its own. In short, “it is an attractive culture”, as stated by Carmen Tirado, director, professor and researcher of the Master in Japanese Studies.
In addition, it is not necessary to live in Zaragoza to take the Master’s program. Given its non-attendance-based nature, the degree attracts students from all over the world, from Argentina, Japan, Ireland, Italy, students living in Korea and even from different regions of Spain. And it is concentrated two days a week, Thursday and Friday afternoons in order to achieve compatibility with students’ schedules. The main objective is to achieve a wide and varied training to then have the possibility of going to Japan to study or work.
Why in Zaragoza?
Zaragoza has always had a close relationship with Japan. In the capital city of Zaragoza, there are a series of circumstances that make the city the ideal place to offer this degree program. First of all, the initiative comes from two research groups based in Zaragoza: the Japan Research Group and the Japan and Spain Research Group, relations through art.
In Zaragoza there is also a very valuable collection of Japanese art in the Museum of Zaragoza, the Federico Torralba Collection. There is also a small community of Japanese in Zaragoza grouped in the cultural association Aragón Japón and in the Parque Grande there is a space called “Japanese garden”. For various reasons, the capital of Zaragoza has a special connection with Japan.
What makes Japan different from the West?
According to Carmen Tirado, Japan has “many virtues that we should learn in Spain and in Europe in general”. For her, some of the most important are education and respect for others. Pacifist by constitution, Japan gives more importance to the group than to the individual in an attempt to avoid confrontation, in addition to other values that stand out such as respect for work or punctuality.
Interest in Japan, an exotic culture coming from a developed and powerful country on the international scene, is becoming more and more popular. K-Pop and manga have succeeded in attracting young audiences. However, there are still many preconceived ideas and prejudices about Japan that need to be discarded: “People have many clichés in their heads, such as sushi, martial arts, manga or anime,” says the director of the master’s program.
Other ways to promote Japanese knowledge
“In Spain, Japanese studies have been developed through art and history, but not so much in other areas,” says Tirado. However, there are other ways to learn about Japanese culture. The researcher’s advice is to always “go to primary sources”. Websites such as those of the Embassy of Japan in Spain, the Japan Tourism Office or the Japan Foundation (an entity similar to our Cervantes Institute, which depends on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is dedicated to the dissemination of Japanese knowledge and culture) are very accessible and allow you to learn about Japan in a direct way.
The pre-enrollment period will begin in June. If you would like more detailed information about the Master’s in Japanese Studies, please visit the web page in the section on Japanese Studies. You can take the master’s degree with a university degree or even if you are missing 12 ECTS credits. It is also possible to access without a university degree through the path of notable experience. As Carmen Tirado says: “what you need is the will to work”.