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, J10, and J100.



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.

Fall Semester Placement Tests -- Revised

If you have never enrolled in a UCB Japanese language course, or if you have had formal instruction in Japanese elsewhere or extensive experience in Japan, please follow this procedure.

  1. Take an Online Placement Test between 12:01 am, Tuesday, August 18 and 11:59 pm, Thursday, August 20 (open 24 hours a day). Use your own computer and login with your Cal student ID number. The test will take 1-2 hours. You must answer ALL the questions.
  2. Alternatively, you can take the exam in Room B-21 Dwinelle Hall between 1-4 pm on August 17-20.
  3. After completing the Online Placement Test, come to the office hours: 9:00 – 12:00 am, Monday, August 24, Room 4411 Dwinelle Hall. You will be given a short oral interview and a writing test. Please arrive before 10:00 am.
  4. If you do not have internet access or cannot obtain a Cal student ID number before August 20, please come to the office hours on Monday, August 24 at 9:00 am.
  5. If you have questions concerning the Online Placement Test or office hours, please contact Yasuko Konno Baker.


Prospective J1A Students

If you're considering to take J1A in the fall 2015 semester, we recommend that you start learning hiragana and katakana during the summer. 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.


Proficiency Test

EALC Department offers a proficiency test in Japanese to students who are seeking to have their foreign language requirement waived. The test is scheduled twice each year, usually on the Thursday or Friday before the first day of instruction of fall and spring semesters. The test is written only, with no oral or aural component, and there are no sample tests available to be looked at in advance. The test is evaluated in terms of the number of semesters of university-level study (the range is from zero semesters to eight-plus semesters). For further information, contact Yoko Hasegawa.

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2015 Career Forums

Los Angeles Career Forum
October 10 - 11 (Sat. - Sun.)

Boston Career Forum
November 20 - 22 (Fri. - Sun.)

Preparing for the Los Angeles Career Forum 2015
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
8:00PM ~ 8:30PM (US EST, Seminar)
8:30PM ~ 9:00PM (US EST, Q&A Session)


To Heritage Students in Our Program

Are you a heritage student who is taking, or has taken, our Japanese language course? How was your experience? Please share your advice in writing like that found in the Advice from Senpai section, but target specifically heritage Japanese learners. If interested in this project, please contact Noriko Komatsu Wallace.


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.