Why I Majored in Japanese

Zelin Wang ’21

To be honest, I never expected myself to become a Japanese major prior to arriving at Pomona College. Started off as a history major, I took many history courses related to Japan. Then my interest in Japanese history motivated me to explore other fascinating parts about Japan, and fortunately the Japanese major allows me to do so.

Majoring in Japanese at Pomona College allows me to delve into the richness of the language, both modern and classical. Additionally, with the linguistic skills, I have been able to engage with Japan's complex history, enter into the world of Japanese philosophy with thinkers such as Maruyama Masao, and connect with people from Japan and beyond.

The title of my senior thesis is: “The Logic of Nature versus Invention in Watsuji Tetsurō and Maruyama Masao.” I examine how Watsuji Tetsurō's philosophy of fūdo (climate and culture) and betweenness of human beings contrasts with Maruyama Masao's fundamental proposition of politics as an activity of artificial inventions and the implication of their divergence in conceptualizing culture, ethics, politics and modernity.