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Arts and Material Culture of Japan


Admission requirements

not applicable


This course explores Japanese art and material culture from the sixth century CE through the twenty-first century. The focus is on objects: architecture, painting, sculpture, ceramics, prints, manga, anime etc. The course introduces methods for describing and analysing objects within their cultural and social contexts: What can objects tell us about developments in Japanese culture? How can we analyse objects in order to find out? The first half of the course focuses on early to medieval Japan. The second part of the course covers early modern to contemporary Japan.

Course objectives

  • Students train their visual memory and skills in identifying and describing objects

  • Students learn to interpret the meanings of objects by situating them into their contemporary cultural contexts

  • Students develop an understanding of the historical development of Japanese art in four broad historical sections: early and aristocratic Japan, medieval Japan, early modern Japan, modern and contemporary Japan


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Written examination with multiple choice questions, short open questions, essay question

  • Mid-term Exam (50% of your total grade)

  • Final Exam (50% of your total grade)


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


The resit examination takes place for all parts at once. The resit will cover the entire material of the course and the mark will replace all previously earned marks.

Exam review

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

The textbook for the second part of the course is:
Christine Guth, Art of Edo Japan, Yale University Press, 2010

Readings for the first part of the course will be posted on blackboard.

Students are encouraged to read:
Paul Varley, Japanese Culture. University of Hawai'i Press, 2000
Paul Varley (Varley Paul. Japanese Culture. University of Hawai'i Press, 2000)
in preparation for the course and to get a general overview of the development of Japanese arts and culture.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte zie link

Registration Contractonderwijs zie link


Contact information: Dr. D. Müller


Language: English