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NEH Project: Inter-Cultural Assimilation and Conflict: Japan and Asia

Name: Kathleen Strader Brandt

Discipline: Latin American Humanities

College: Penn Valley Community College

Title: Japanese Culture in Latin America

Courses for which unit is being prepared:

Latin American Humanities


This course is a writing intensive, human diversity course, designed to explore a variety of cultures in Latin American countries. The goal is to examine Hispanic heritage diversity and the pluralistic culture of Latin America, while dispelling stereotypes. 

Goals of unit.

To introduce the community college students to the Japanese influences of art, architecture, music, literature, education, religion and film to Latin America

To explore Japanese Diaspora to Latin America

To familiarize students with basic concepts of art and literature

To demonstrate ways to interpret art and music through an examination of the subject, context, form and style of each piece

To introduce students to Japanese dances and festivals celebrated in Latin America

To enhance student knowledge of the Japanese literary forms of Noh, Kabuki and Renga

To develop skills in writing analytical essays and research papers in the humanities.

Introduction to material; background knowledge a faculty member might need to know to understand what comes next. Keep this to a short paragraph.

The instructor must be familiar with Japanese art and humanities and their assimilation and influence in Latin America. A bibliography and list of World Wide Web links for this background material are included in section 6 and at the end of this document.

Readings that will be given to the student, books or excerpts. If these are short, and relatively hard to find, include in your module. Recommended but not required reading for students if any. (Visual/audio-visual material can augment or replace readings here.)

I. Japanese influence on the Peruvian and Brazilian culture

A. Japanese influence on Art

B. Japanese influence on Architecture

C. Japanese influence on Music

D. Japanese Musical Instruments

E. Japanese dance and festivals in So. America

F. Contributions to Food and Agriculture

Reading:  Japan and Brazil: A Case Study in Global Interdependence, Brooke Ellis, July 1998

II. Cultural Assimilation

A. Gender issues and differences between cultures. 

Reading:  Japan and Brazil: A Case Study in Global Interdependence, Brooke Ellis, July 1998

B. Religions

Buddhism in Brazil:

C. Educational approaches

Reading:  Japan and Brazil: A Case Study in Global Interdependence, Brooke Ellis, July 1998

III. Nippo-Brazilian Writers and Literature

Octavio Paz – "Renga, a Chain of Poems."

Karen Tei Yamashita : Brazil – Maru

IV. Migration back to Japan: The Dekasegi

Reading: Article from Japanese Sun Paper

Paulo Mitsuo Takahashi

Movie: “Gaijin”, JA Films

7. Prereading assignments if any (study questions, journal writing, observations; often it is useful to you if questions are presented in the form you can duplicate for students).













Rarely mentions traits




Trait/Assessment Quality

Notes and Writing

1. Objective Information:

Creator (artist/culture/period);date;

size; exhibition/collection

2. Brief, overall description:

Identifiable subject matter or forms; setting

or space; color; medium

3. Special properties of medium and

artist’s use of medium

4. Art elements that are most

significant for work:

line; shape or mass; color, light/value; texture; space;

time & motion

5. Composition or Design

Principles most significant for work:

unity & variety; balance; emphasis;

focal point, scale & proportion

6. Relationship between elements,

design, and meaning or content



Tonality Major/ minor/ uses both

Instrument piano/ clarinet/ saxophone/ flute/ voice/ other

Kind of Song a slow singing kind of melody/ a fast technique piece/ waltz/ a march/ a song about something/ interesting sound combinations/ dance

Register mostly high notes/ mostly low/ middle/ mixes the registers/ uses them all

Direction of melody upward/ downward/ both

Phrases long/ short/ both long and short

Dynamics loud/ soft/ getting louder/ getting softer

Texture simple melody/ melody with harmony

Articulation, special effects

slur/ staccato/ tenuto/ accent


Tempo fast/ slow/ moderate/ fast/ very fast/ changes tempo

Duration of tones long sounds/ short sounds/ long and short/ rests

Meter moves in 2’s /in 3’s / mixed meter changing 2/4 to 3/4 for example/ compound meter 6/8/ a more uncommon meter such as 5/4

Beat steady throughout/ getting faster/ getting slower/ stop and hold places


Phrases some ways of creating climax

- rise in the pitch
- fall in the pitch
- texture change
- tempo change
- change in rhythmic note values
- dynamic change

Sequential repetition much sequence/ no sequence

Classroom activities (use of small groups, discussion questions if different from study questions, debates, etc.); outside activities-films, museum visits etc.

Speakers through the International Relations Council will present on cultural assimilation. 

Film: Gaijin: A Brazilian Odessey

Writing assignments, examinations questions (possibly in form to use to hand out to students).

A. PowerPoint Presentation:

· Japanese Diaspora to South America

· “Virtual field trip” to web sites listed on hand-outs and in PowerPoint presentation

B. Renga:

· Analyse Renga work from Octavio Paz: “Renga, A Chain of Poems

C. Essay / Research Paper Topics

· The student may choose a cultural aspect of Japanese influence in Latin America. Paper: 

Culture of a County: Compare and Contrast research paper. The students will be provided a list of artists, music/instruments, religions, festivals, and dances. From this list, they will be required to compare/contrast 2 in each category, i.e. compare/contrast 2 artist, 2 festivals, etc. using information such as the country of origin, history (indigenous/African/Asian influence), major works, evolution, etc. 5- 6 pages; double space, MLA citations.

Short bibliography for instructors interested in this topic; works you used.

In addition to the Internet links specified above (section 6), the following may be useful in researching the Japanese influence in Latin America:

Newspaper Articles

(The following are articles regarding the Life of Paulo Mitsuo Takahashi)

Shimbun, Asahi “THIS IS THE FIRST INSTALLMENT OF A SERIES CENTERING ON THE BODY.” Copyright 2002 Financial Times Information, June 15, 2002

HAYASHI, NOZOMU “PAULO FOUND NO PEACE WHEREVER HE WENT” Copyright 2002 Asahi News Service, June 17, 2002 Monday

Shimbun, Asahi “MIGRANTS' DASHED DREAMS TRANSLATE INTO PROFITS FOR JOB AGENCIES” Copyright 2002 Asahi Shimbun Publishing Co, June 18, 2002

Shimbun, Asahi “IN THE END, NEITHER COUNTRY WAS HOME” Copyright 2002 Asahi Shimbun Publishing Co., June 19, 2002

Shimbun, Asahi “BRAZILIAN MOTHER EXPECTS THE WORST AFTER SON LEAVES FOR JAPAN” Copyright 2002 Asahi Shimbun Publishing Co., June 22, 2002


Renga: A Chain of Poems, trans. Charles Tomlinson. N.Y.: George Braziller, 1972 (collaborative poem written with Tomlinson, Jacques Roubaud, & Edoardo Sanguineti).

Yamashita, Karen Tei. Through the Arc of the Rainforest. Coffe House Press, Minneapolis, 1990.

Yamashita, Karen Tei Brazil Maru. Coffee House Press, Minneapolis, 1992.

11. Any other comments.