Welcome to the UC Berkeley Japanese Language Program!

Teaching of all of the three major East Asian languages in the United States commenced in the University of California, Berkeley's Oriental Languages Department: Chinese in 1872, Japanese in 1900, and Korean in 1943.

During the 1960s and 70s, the Japanese Language Programs grew steadily, replenished with three years of instruction. In the 1980s, demands upon the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department were unprecedented, largely due to the rapid economic growth in East Asia.

All three language programs continued to expand during the 1990s and 2000s. The overall enrollment in the Japanese Language Program was 852 in the 2000-01 academic year, and escalated to 1,028 in 2009-10. Its fourth-year course commenced in 1994, and fifth year in 2000. In addition to the regular course offerings, the Program also provides summer sessions that cover two-semesters of material in 10 weeks: Japanese J1 and J10.


New Fall 2020 Placement Test

If you have never enrolled in a course in the UC Berkeley Japanese Language Program and yet you have had formal instruction in Japanese elsewhere or extensive experience living in Japan, please comply with the following procedure.

  1. Take the Online Placement Test between 12:01 AM, Monday, August 17 and 11:59 PM, Friday, August 21, 2020. The test is available 24 hours a day during this period.
  2. You can access the Test using your own computer from anywhere with an Internet connection. Login with your Cal Student ID number.
  3. If you do not have Internet access or a Cal Student ID number and, therefore, cannot take the Test, please contact Yasuko Konno Baker.
  4. The Test will take about 1-2 hours. Make sure you answer ALL of the questions.
  5. After taking the Online Placement Test, you will need to have your speaking and writing fluency assessed. Please come to Room B-4 Dwinelle Hall (on the B-level floor) at 10:00 AM sharp on Monday, August 24, 2020.
  6. If you are late, you might not have sufficient time to complete these assessment tests.

If you have any questions concerning this procedure, please contact Yasuko Konno Baker.


To Prospective J1A Students

If you intend to take J1A in the spring 2020 semester, we recommend that you start learning hiragana and katakana during the winter break. They are collections of characters used in Japanese writing, like the Roman alphabet in English orthography. Unlike the Roman alphabet, however, hiragana and katakana represent syllables (a consonant and a vowel combined). Japanese has a very simple sound structure, so there are not many syllables to remember. The following websites provide self-study materials.


Yukata Workshop in J101

Sponsored by Professor Hiroko Kawabata from Saitama University and her colleagues. September 15, 2017.

Yukata workshop


New Fall 2020 Proficiency Test

EALC Department offers a proficiency test in Japanese to students who are seeking to have their foreign language and/or other academic requirement waived. The test is scheduled twice each year, during the week right before the first day of instruction of fall and spring semesters. The test has no oral or aural component, and there are no sample tests available to be looked at in advance. Your test scores are interpreted into the number of semesters of UC Berkeley Japanese Language Program (ranging from zero semester to eight-plus semesters).

The test is available only on this day during the fall semester. If you are unable to take it, you will have to wait until January 2021.


To Transfer Students in Our Program

Are you a transfer student who is taking, or has taken, our Japanese language course? How was your experience during the transition from your previous Japanese courses to ours? Was there anything particularly challenging? Do you have some ideas that might make the transition smoothier? Please share your advice in writing like that found in the Advice from Senpai section, but target specifically prospective transfer students. If interested in this project, please contact Kayoko Imagawa.


51st Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival

Naginata Demonstration by Kyung Oh-san from J1B.

Naginata Demonstration



ArrowBack to top



This section lists all of the courses currently offered.

For Heritage Students

If you can speak casual Japanese but not formal Japanese, consider to take our courses designed for heritage students. Here is some advice.


Placement Guidelines

If you have studied Japanese elsewhere, read this page and try sample placement tests. If you can answer about 80% of questions with confidence, you are qualified to take the course. Contact the instructor in charge if you are unable to determine your proficiency level.

For Transfer Students

If you plan to transfer to UC Berkeley, this section provides valuable advice.

Advice from Senpai

Senpai means one's senior at school, in his/her work place, or in martial art and other training clubs, where experience is highly regarded. In traditional Japanese culture, a senpai is expected to teach, guide, and support his/her kohai 'new-comers, junior'. Here is valuable advice from your senpai about how to study the Japanese language.

Study Aids

This section provides various instructional materials to aid your study of the Japanese language. The lists of kanji introduced in J1, J10, and J100 are especially helpful for transfer students.


This page introduces our teaching team.


Useful links, including Errata for Elementary Japanese 1st Printing and the Pan Pacific Foundation-UC Berkeley Homestay Program.