Kat Young

Hello Stranger. My name is Katherine (Kat) Young. I’m a freshman at the College of William and Mary (Class of 2014) and I intend to major in East Asian Studies.

I was first exposed to Japanese culture through different anime that were shown on TV while I was growing up (Toonami!). Both of my older brothers really liked to watch anime and I would sit down on the couch with them and watch shows like Dragon Ball Z, Gundam Wing, and Outlaw Star. They never let me watch Sailor Moon (to this day I have never watched it).  I feel like there hasn’t really been a point in my life where I haven’t been watching an anime or reading a manga.

Anime had not only affected the the TV I watched but, my art as well. In 5th grade I started to learn to draw in an anime/manga style. Over the years I had to move on from drawing in an anime style in order to build a better portfolio for myself as an artist but, even today, almost everything I doodle is in anime style. Japanese culture in general though has had an influence on some of the other art that I do outside of my doodles, such as a painting I made of a Geisha.

Anime is what really sucked me into the Japanese culture. I really wanted to learn to speak and understand the Japanese language that I heard in every show I watched or Japanese song I had listened too. As I started learning more about the language I began to want to learn and understand more about the Japanese culture and not limit my knowledge to what I had learned from anime.

I feel so lucky that in 2009 I got to attend Virginia Governor’s School Japanese Language Academy for three weeks. Not only did I get to learn more of the language but I also learned so much about Japanese culture, history, customs, food, traditions, literature, film, and even social problems. It was so intense to have so much information thrown at me in such a short period of time but, I loved every minute of learning it.

I’m pleased to say that my knowledge of the language and culture has grown over the years but I know there is so much more that I need to learn. I still like watching anime, I like reading manga every week, and yes I like going to cons and dressing up in dorky costumes for a weekend but, I really want to be more than that. I want to be an informed and educated person on the Japanese culture and lifestyle and not have a limited view through the narrow lens of anime. I’m really hoping that Japanophilia will help me grow in such a way.

Cosplays I’ve done.

I like to cook Japanese food with my friends too. We made this once. It was super yummy.

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Jamie Chen

Hi this is Siliang(Jamie) Chen. I’m a freshman this year at College of William and Mary. I want to major in Mathematics and finance.

My reason for enrolling Japanophilia is probably a little different from most of the other students. I took this class not only because I am interested in Japanese culture, but also because that I want to give up the prejudice I used to have against Japan and learn about it more objectively.

 Having spent my childhood in northeast China where the Mukden Incident took place, I have heard many stories about the cruel invasion of the Japanese soldiers and the damages they have done to my city. Even my middle school history teacher emphasized on the Japanese slaughter and the tragic stories that happened to the Chinese victims. All of these, which led to my dislike of Japan as a young child despite the fact that I watched sailormoon almost every day after school and always dreamed to have a robotic cat like Doraemon.

After spending my high school years in the States and meeting people from all over the world, my attitudes towards many things have changed, including my dislike of Japan. I have gradually learned to appreciate and respect the Japanese culture and the more I learned about it, the more fascinated I became with it. From the Japanese TV shows, movies, pop music to the Japanese products Sony, Casio and even the delicious Japanese food Sushi, I’m turning into a big fan of Japan. Now I just wish to learn more about its development in the previous centuries and I am really glad to take Japanophilia as my freshman seminar class:)

Austin Lahiff

I, Austin Lahiff, am an 18 year old Freshman currently attending The College of William and Mary. I am originally from Fairfax, Virginia and last year attended W.T. Woodson High School. I hope to enter the Mason School of Business here at The College, and aspire to study abroad for a semester or more.

I do not consider myself to be a traditional “Japanophile” by any means. Though I, like any Elementary School kid worth his salt from the late 90’s and early 00’s, was of course obsessed with Pokemon for a time, I do not have any pressing interest in any Japanese area of culture at the present. Rather, I am more curious as to how Japan was able to, so seamlessly, Americanize itself while Japanizing the West. We seem to have cultivated a mutually beneficial cultural relationship that has taken a firm foothold in each nation and stayed relevant for a half-century or longer.

I feel that through this intensive study of Japanese history and interaction with the West, I’ll better be able to understand the evolution of Japan beyond the lacking historical attention it is afforded. While ignorance may be expected or even encouraged of me as an American, I feel that it is my duty to combat this stereotype and better understand the world around me.

Dianna Balint


                       Hi, my name is Dianna Balint and I am a freshman majoring in undeclared with a double minor in exploration and discovery (Meaning I have no idea what I want to do). My interest in Japanese culture began at the tender age of six when my brother turned on the TV before school one morning and we discovered a strange show with a boy, a yellow mouse-thing, and a caterpillar thing. We quickly learned that these animal things were called “Pokémon” and the rest is history. I became fascinated by the TV shows (Pokemon, Digimon, Sailor Moon), the video games (All hail Nintendo), and most importantly THE FOOD. When my family moved to Williamsburg we discovered Kyoto Restaurant (On Richmond Road, check it out). I was enchanted by the Koi Pond, enthralled by the fans, screens, and lucky cats that decorated the place, envious of the hostesses wearing beautiful kimono, and most of all in love with the food. Tuna rolls, soba noodles, green tea ice cream (ok maybe not the green tea ice cream but Mr. Ken, the sushi chef, told me it was Wasabi ice cream and since then I been wary of eating it), the list goes on and on. From then on I knew I wanted to study this culture that could create such wonderful food. My dream is to one day visit Japan to study the culture, eat the food, and maybe find a way to create a real Vulpix.

Alexandra McPhee

Hello, everybody! I’m Alexandra McPhee, currently a student at the lovely College of William and Mary. As of now, my major is undecided, but I’m interested in logic, psychology, and, not so recently, Japanese!

My curiosity probably stems from the good old days of Sailor Moon and Pokemon (surprise, surprise). Posters, figurines, and various other rainbow and pink paraphernalia  dotted my room as a kid, invariably planting a seed inside my young, developing mind. Nowadays, it seems that such bits of Japanese media have successfully nestled themselves comfortably in my life and style.

I pick up the occasional anime (Baccano!, for instance) and manga (Bakuman, anybody?), but after some ten years, I now realize there’s more to this Japan business than meets the eye. In taking Japanophilia, I think it’ll help to broaden my perspective, show that it ain’t all I thought it was. Which is refreshing. And maybe, if I play my cards right, studying abroad in Japan will seem like a real possibility, too.

Wait, I totally forgot about these cool little figurine-things I picked up from KB Toys! They’re so exciting! You can, like, rip apart their bodies, pull out their eyes, and put them all back together again! And they’re so colorful and cute!

So you go from THIS:


Three cheers for Japanese innovation!

Andrew Cook

I’m Andrew Cook, a member of the class of 2014 with intentions to get into business school.  I grew up in the nineties/early 2000s, so anime was just a regular part of the Saturday morning line-up; being interested in it never struck me as unusual until publications started running features on “otaku” and the spread of Japanese culture in the West.  Then I was all, “Hey, how about that,” and went back to watching Digimon.

These days, I thrive mostly on doujinshi, Vocaloid, and indie games, most of which are inspired by innovations created or made famous by the Japanese.  I think it’s really amazing how a fandom can grow to the extent that it eclipses the actual thing that it’s based off of; these days, Touhou doujins draw more from other Touhou doujins than they do from Touhou itself.

Pictured: Touhou. Not Pictured: Sappy shoujo-ai seen in every other Touhou doujin.

David Loebman

It's me!Konnichiwa minasan! My name is David Loebman; I am a freshman set to graduate in 2014. I am currently on track for an Studio Art major, though I am considering either a major or minor in East Asian Studies.

Interestingly enough, I was inspired to become an artist because of anime. About six years ago, I set up an online account on deviantART, an art sharing website, with learning how to draw anime in mind. From there, I grew to understand and appreciate all different sorts of artwork; I began to explore traditional Japanese artwork along the way, too. Before I graduated high school, I wrote a 20 page “Extended Essay” about anime, emakimono, and sumi-e art styles.

I intend to study abroad in Japan in either my Sophomore or Junior year. I don’t know quite yet whether I will be staying for a semester or a year, but I know I will enjoy it regardless!

I hope you enjoy all the website has to offer!

Nich Schools



When I was young, I was fascinated with cultures other than my own. I caught glimpses of China, of Russia, of Italy with every step I took. Little china dolls and pizza shops advertising authenticity seem to pervade every city, every town, every square mile of inhabited land in this melting pot called the United States. But what’s melted into this pot is no more than bits and pieces, generalizations and stereotypes. And when I realized this a few years ago, it ignited a desire in me to seek the truth of these cultures.

One, in particular, became the forefront of my obsession: Japan. Japan is a country often thought of and rarely understood (from my experience). As a child, I was enthralled with English dubs of Japanese anime and translated manga in bookstores. I loved their art, their values, their eccentricities, and most all, how foreign they were to my daily experience.

But as I researched more into this place called Japan, I also began to realize how misunderstood it really is in today’s culture. It’s generalized to the point where it becomes no more than a few meaningless words. It loses its real value more every day, every minute. And that saddens me. Because I find Japan one of the most fascinating places on Earth.

But I knew, that even within my own mental image that I’d conjured up from years of watching, reading, and searching, that my view of Japan was just as inadequate as the average person’s. I could witness no more than the average American, learn no more than the average child. And it humbled me to think that I was, in fact, one of the countless many who stereotype–without reprieve–the cultures that are foreign to them.

To dismiss my initial perceptions of Japan would be a mistake. I must build on them, transform them, and use them as an example of my own mistakes in relation to the misconceptions of others. So that’s exactly what I’m doing. I sit in class now, looking back at my old dirty slate of stereotypes and misconceptions and correcting those mistakes on a clean slate laid by its side. I seek to remedy my old delusion of Japan by replacing it with a more informed perception.

That, in effect, is why I’m here today taking Japanophilia.

I hoped this class would allow me to critically engage upon the misconceptions of Japanese culture that permeate so deeply our own, that cause us to solidify a false image of such a rich and wondrous culture. So far, it’s done just that. And I look forward to furthering the experience more.


But, for a moment, allow me to take a lighter tone. Below is a simple biography of myself, first written in Japanese, and then translated. It’s not quite as critical a look as I’ve already taken in the “depths of my soul”, but I think a little fun is in order here.

There are a few lists of my likes and dislikes that I’ve come across in everyday life, as a well as few random details about myself and my personal effects.

So, now you can relax, take a breath, and have a little laugh!




(This is the view from the driveway of my house.)


English | Japanese







まいしゅうまんがをよみます!ヂーグレイマンまんががだいすきです (いま)。でも、めったにあにめをみません。にほんのぶんかはとてもおもしろいです!さむらいときものととうきょうとにほんのたべものと。。。ああ!とてもおもしろい!

















(My Cat)


(PS: I’m very excited to be at William and Mary. All my professors seem like amazing people (thus far =P). I’ve made some awesome new friends in my first few weeks, and I sincerely hope the trend continues. I already can’t wait for second semester classes! After I pass all my first semester ones, of course. Anyway, it’s great to be here; the William and Mary community is amazing!)


{Random Links}

My Blog

My Facebook Page

Victoria Witt

This is (from left to right) Lizard as Sailor Jupitar, Zumreta as Sailor Mars, and myself as Sailor Moon

Greetings and Salutations! I’m Victoria Witt and I hail from Richmond, VA. I am a Freshman at William and Mary and I plan on being a Psychology major. I first became introduced to Japanese culture at a young age when I became obsessed with Sailor Moon and Pokemon, similar to many of my peers. I was then drawn into manga and my sister and I would illustrate our own stories. As I grew older, I was fascinated with Japanese films such as and not limited many Miyazaki movies (Princess Mononoke being my personal favorite), Battle Royale, Suicide Club, and many others.

Wolf, I want it.

I saw the opera Madame Butterfly with my sister a few years ago, and this also sparked my interest in Japanese culture. Japanese cuisine is delicious as well. Although I didn’t learn too much in high school, which is one of the reasons I wanted to take Japanophila, I was interested in Japan’s history of isolation and uniqueness.

Maximillian Nikoolkan

Narita International Airport - thousands of people walk through this area daily eating Japanese fast food, analyzing business over smartphones beyond our comprehension, and drinking teas you never knew could have been brewed.
As a bypassing traveler through Narita International Airport, processing the myriad of clashing imagery, buzzy bees, and white intercom noise always seems hard at first. When you feel as if the “Look, Don’t Touch” policy applies to everything it’s only natural feeling hesitant – of things, people, and shops. In some respects, you should. In a different place and time (a 12-hour difference) filled with polar opposite lives you just tilt our head and bat your eyes lashes. It is likely your mouth is agape. So much is bizarrely alien. But, so much is frighteningly human. Gummis of lychee, melon, and plum flavors exist in packaging tailored with so many sharp, criss-crossed colors you thought Picasso himself came back from the dead. Rice balls (onigiri) you saw Ash Ketchum eating in episode one of Pokemon really do exist – in delicately perfect labels and wraps – tasting nothing like you’ve ever had before. It seems off, you think. Everything. The modern and the traditional subtly clash everywhere. A tiny restaurant offers black-lacquered bowls brimming with sushi-rice layered with fresh fatty tuna and shredded rectangles of crisp seaweed.

One step away a patron demands an “Iced Venti Americano” from Starbucks . For some, this is just some weird layover before the next big thing, another stop through before Bangkok or Budapest. “It’s just some weird country where the adults, children, and teenagers devour manga, collectively bathe together, and eat raw… things,” one can say. For otaku, its a religious sanctuary where J-Pop, anime, and everything just “sooooo friggin’ amazingly amazing” come from. But, for me, it’s different. Narita International Airport is and has always been a personal microscope into the vast expanse called Japan. I’ve always felt a small holistic sense of a much broader and quirkier culture walking through the halls of Narita.
That is my Japan.