Japanese at Bowdoin

Studying Japanese at Bowdoin is about much more than learning grammar patterns and vocabulary. You will also become part of an active community that shares an interest in Japanese language and culture. Whatever your initial ability level, the Japanese language teachers will help you build a strong foundation in Japanese language in an environment that is encouraging, motivating, and takes advantage of your language learning strengths.

Weekly Language Table

Every week the Japanese language teachers meet with students to practice Japanese and share stories over dinner in one of Bowdoin’s dining halls. It is a great way to practice your Japanese language skills outside the classroom whatever your expertise. Even those students who are just starting out can learn something by listening to what is going on around them and trying out what they have learned in class. 


Bowdoin Japanese language students have a unique opportunity to share their love of Japanese language and culture with the Brunswick community. Over the past two years, students have been teaching a voluntary Japanese language class to kids at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School. The students, who plan lessons and teach the classes themselves, meet weekly with a Bowdoin Japanese language teacher who acts as an advisor. It’s a wonderful way to share what you’ve learned with the community and help develop the next generation of Japanese language enthusiasts.

Cultural Events

Throughout the year, classroom learning is supplemented with opportunities for hands-on cultural activities. In the past we have had a sushi party with a trained chef where students could view sushi making, ask questions, and make their own sushi. Our tea ceremony demonstration was held at Howell House as part of College House Multicultural Week. Students dressed in Japanese yukata and participated in a tea ceremony demonstrated by an experienced practitioner.

Movie Events

During the school year we show Japanese films that cover a range of topics and genres, including anime, history, science fiction, gaming, and documentary. These screenings may include lectures by Japan scholars, audience participation, or student panel discussions. It’s a great opportunity to view Japanese cinema, hear from noted scholars, and listen to and share your thoughts about the films.

L.L. Bean in Japan Internship

Bowdoin Japanese language students also have the opportunity to apply for a summer internship at L.L. Bean in Japan at their Tokyo office. Each summer a student is chosen for a paid internship where they can learn about brand experience and use their Japanese language skills to communicate with coworkers and give presentations. Students come away with valuable real life work experience in an international setting.

Bath-Tsugaru Sister City Exchange Program

Bowdoin Japanese language students have also participated in the Bath-Tsugaru Sister City Exchange Program by helping teach basic elements of Japanese language and culture to Maine residents traveling to Tsugaru, Japan. Bowdoin students who have traveled to Japan for study away and internships have also shared their experiences and made recommendations for those in the program.

Japanese Language Competition in Boston

Every spring, advanced Japanese language students submit essays and speeches for the Japanese Language Competition in Boston. In the last two years Bowdoin has had five students finish in first and second places for the essay and speech competitions. It’s a wonderful way for students to test their Japanese language abilities and see how far they have come in just a few short years.