#HI-04-10 An Introduction to Japanese Subcultures

  • Categories History
  • Duration 12h
  • Total Enrolled 8
  • Last Update January 9, 2021

About Course

Keio University


Subcultures have existed for a long time: the greasers of 1950s America, the mods and rockers of the 1960s and 70s in England, the grunge of the 1980s and 90s, to name a few. Each subculture sits within a broader ‘parent’ culture and can often give us an insight into cultural fears and hopes, especially in the youth of the population.

On this course you will get an introduction to Japanese subcultures that have developed since the 1970s.

Explore different aspects of Japanese subcultures

Japanese subculture has been long considered as ephemeral youth culture compared to authentic traditional culture. It contains, however, subversive power which encourages younger generations to re-create the world they live in. We mainly focus on the significance of immaturity and vulnerability of youth which eventually give permission to younger people (in other words, minorities) to stay as they are.

In this course, together with three other specialists, Professor Niijima, Professor Takahashi and Professor Ohwada, we will explore girls comics, boys comics, the Hatsune Miku vocaloid, cosplay, and J-pop idols, focusing on the themes such as LoveBattleTechnology and Fan culture, in which you’ll learn about the different cultural creations that underpin Japanese subcultures. With materials for cultural analysis, you’ll develop a basic knowledge of key Japanese subcultures, learning the recognisable traits of each.

Understand the historic context of Japanese subcultures

On the course you’ll discover historic background of youth culture in Japan, and understand the enormous impact of World War II.

Learn about Japanese subcultures and the youth of Japan

Finally, this course will give you a new perspective on the young people of Japan, exploring how they can be seen to elaborate the world of “immaturity” and “vulnerability.” You will see the reason these characteristics of Japanese subculture attracts “global” attentions.

What topics will you cover?

  • Understanding Japanese youth culture
  • Considering vulnerability and immaturity in Japanese social context
  • Love relationship and self-acknowledgment
  • Battles and competition in educational institutions
  • Machine and Human
  • Derivative works and fan culture
  • A history of subculture since 1970

Who will you learn with?

Hisayo Ogushi

I am Hisayo Ogushi, a Professor of English at Keio University’s Faculty of Letters. I’m the lead educator of the course, “An Introduction to Japanese Subcultures.”



Who developed the course?

Keio University

Keio University is Japan’s first modern institution of higher learning, and since 1858 has established itself as a leader in Japan through its continued commitment to education, research and medicine.

What Will I Learn?

  • Evaluate the significant meanings of youth culture
  • Interpret subcultural materials along with social background
  • Compare the context of Japanese subculture with learners’ own cultural background
  • Investigate the reason why Japanese culture has a strong impact and popularity in global context

Topics for this course

21 Lessons12h


In this course, we will explore girls comics, boys comics, the vocaloid phenomenom, cosplay, and J-pop idols, focusing on the four themes of Love, Battle, Technology and Fan culture.
Welcome to the World of Japanese Subculture00:03:10
What is subculture?
Academic background of Japanese Subcultures00:03:09
Youth Subcultures in Japan
What is your favorite subculture in Japan ?

Immaturity and Relationships with Others?

Immaturity is one of the key terms that describes Japan after modernization (post WWII). How is immaturity manifested in Japanese subculture?

Love Relationships in Japanese Culture?

What is "Shojo"? What is "Otometic" ? Let's find out more about those uniqe aspects of Japanese subcultures through Japanese shojo comics from 1970s and 80s.

Kawaii Relationships?

What is Kawaii to you? Let us try to redefine Kawaii by reading articles and through discussion.

Love and Sexuality?

Discussions about Fujoshi, Yaoi and BL.

Student Feedback


Total 4 Ratings

3 ratings
1 rating
0 rating
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0 rating

Awesome! Just awesome. I didn't expect it to be so interesting! It changed my view om Japanese teenagers a lot.

This course goes over elements of pop culture such as Technology, Battle, Love and Fan Culture in postmodern Japan. Though this course can be taken by anybody; they do use quite a bit of terminology used in settings such as anime and manga.

This course is well-though, properly laid out and tightly paced. Since I consider myself a Japanophile, I knew this course was not going to let me down. As an Applied Linguistics MA student, I can apply the information this course offered me in intercultural settings, as well as to understand Japanese subcultures and their practitioners outside of Japan.

The content was very complete, complex but well done. The teachers made an extraordinary work. Everything was amazing, with dedication instruction and construction. I loved it. It was more than I expected.


Material Includes

  • Official Certificate

Target Audience

  • This is an introductory course and is open to anyone with an interest in Japan and Japanese culture.
  • Some of the course videos will be in Japanese with English subtitles.