Research Projects

Student Scholarship Recognition Day (SSRD) is held each spring to celebrate the exemplary scholarship and creativity of Willamette University students. Students work directly with faculty members or design and conduct their own research throughout the year.

Featured Projects

Here are a few projects that exemplify the wonderful research students from the Japanese department have done over the years.

Abstract: This presentation will focus on the Tokyo Disneyland Resort, founded in Chiba prefecture in 1983. Since its conception, it has seen many changes and expansions, especially over the past twenty years. In his book Riding the Black Ship: Japan and Tokyo Disneyland, published in 1999, Aviad E. Raz claims that, "Rather than being an agent of Americanization, Tokyo Disneyland is a simulated 'America' showcased by and for the Japanese." I plan to analyze how the recent expansions of the Tokyo Disneyland Resort have modified Raz's claim from an "American" simulation to an "International" simulation.

Cassidy Andrews (2019)

Abstract: A biographical study of Shozo Tanaka, Japan's first environmental conservationist and human rights activist, and an analysis of his ethics of nature, civil rights, religion, and politics. Drawing from English academic texts and through a translation of a Japanese biography into English with commentary, I have found that these four ethical categories drove him to fight against the Ashio Copper Mine Pollution Incident in Meiji Japan and allowed him to imagine an alternative view for Japan's future that differed greatly from national goals of industrial advancement.

Ben Bajema (2019)

Abstract: There are copious amounts of material on the pre-war Japanese American generations (first-generation "issei", second-generation "nisei", etc.) whose parents immigrated pre-World War II; terms created specifically for that initial mass immigration. However not much is written about the cohorts created to identify those raised post-World War II such as shin-nisei (new second-generation). This new group of individuals have taken on a new form of the infamous terms and yet raised in much different social climates creating a gap between the generational cohorts. This research paper will aim to examine various methods of categorizing Japanese American identity formation. The intention is to argue that the implications of these categorizations can overlap, be inadequate and/or outdated depending on the individual.

Kazutoshi Koba (2019)

Additional Research Projects

These are all the projects the Japanese department has presented at SSRD in the last few years.


  • Tokyo Disneyland: A Uniquely Japanese Experience and "International" Simulation - Cassidy Andrews (Independent Research)
  • An Analysis of Shozo Tanaka's Ecological and Social Ethics in Regard to the Ashio Copper Mine Pollution Incident - Ben Bajema (Thesis)
  • Shin-Nisei: The 'new' Japanese American experience - Kazutoshi Koba (Thesis)
  • Yayoi Kusama and the Narrative of Mental Illness in her Work - Gabby Pine (Thesis)
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