Japan for Sale
Professor: Scott Lineberger
Class Time: Tuesday 7-11
Class Location: World Affairs Center, Room 206
Office: 1-C World Affairs Center (in the basement)
Note: I often do not respond quickly. I feel that many issues (particularly
discussions concerning grades and the requirements for assignments) can be more
effectively handled in person rather than via email, so I may wait to talk to you in
person rather than answer an email about a sensitive topic.
Office Hours: Thursday 1 - 4
Course Description and Objectives:
Visitors to Japan are often struck by the pervasiveness of products based on
traditional culture. For example, bottles of tea are sold from vending machines that are
decorated with poems and images based on the early-eleventh century romance The Tale of
Genji and school children decorate their cell phones with bobbles depicting ancient
supernatural creatures. In recent years, more and more products based on traditional
Japanese culture are being sold abroad as well. This course will examine the ways in which
Japanese culture has been packaged as commercial products for consumption both
domestically and abroad.
Issues related to the commodification of important cultural elements have created
long-simmering tensions in Japan. On one hand, the aristocracy, religious leaders, and
cultural purists have been appalled by what they see as avaricious merchants, who debase the
country’s intellectual heritage by converting priceless texts and artifacts into products to be
sold at market. On the other hand, educators and activists have argued the process of
adapting classical culture into forms that can be easily understood and consumed by people
from all walks of life has actually had the very democratizing effect of opening up these
forms of expression to all parts of society.
Students in this course will investigate a number of case studies of cultural
commodification including the many products based on traditional tea ceremony, manga and
anime, so-called ukiyoe woodblock prints, and the presentation of traditional supernatural
and religious icons in pop culture. Key questions will include: Why are products based on
traditional Japanese culture so successful both domestically and abroad? How is traditional
culture transformed when it is removed from its original context converted into products?
How have market forces influenced the creation the canons of Japanese aesthetic values?
A key component of the course will be a semester-long entrepreneurship project.
Groups of students will research an element of traditional Japanese culture, study how it has
been previously marketed, and then transform it into a product that can be sold to the local
community. For example, students might select Edo period woodblock prints, which have
become valuable commodities and also been converted into T-shirts, postcards, and
wallpaper. The students could use images from traditional woodblock prints to make decals
that could be sold at local bike or skate shops. The students will be asked to create a detailed
business plan and keep track and innovatory and capital. The final and very important
element of this project will be a self-evaluation in which the students will be asked to reflect
on how their products represent Japan. Much of our information about other countries
comes from products based on their cultures, so learning to decode these objects and
understand how they (mis)represent other’s cultures is an invaluable skill.
By the end of the semester students will:
Understand the complex relationship between culture and commerce
Study how Japanese culture is (mis)represented by commercial products both
domestically and overseas
Consider what constitutes “authentic” culture
Learn how to start a company and write a business plan
Obtain greater proficiency in academic and business writing
Become more accustomed to giving presentations
Grow more confident reading and discussing academic discourse
A typical class will consist of the following activities.
Discussion of readings
Lecture on the next step in writing business plan
Report on business plans
Report on companies
My goal is to make grading as fair, objective, and transparent as possible. I want all
students to know where they stand at all times and be satisfied that their work is
being equitably evaluated. If you ever have a question about your grade please speak
with me. Grades in this class will be determined based on the following criteria.
1. Quizzes 10%
2. Discussion Leader 10%
3. Participation 20%
4. Entrepreneurial Project 60%
Company Work 30%
Lecture on Business Plan 20%
Final Business Plan 50%
Quizzes: There will be a quizz every week. The quizzes will consist of simple identification
questions that cover the material from the readings and lectures. Missed quizzes
cannot be made up. Please make sure to arrive to class on time. If a student misses
a quiz due to an excused absence, then that quiz simply will not be factored into their
grade. If a student misses a quiz due to an unexcused absence, then they will receive
Discussion Leader: Each week a team of students will be in charge of facilitating the class
discussion of the readings. You may take any approach that you feel will work best.
You are welcome to use Powerpoints, break the class into groups, introduce
discussion questions, etc. You will be evaluated based on the quality of the
discussion (did everyone participate, were all the important issues covered, was the
discussion exciting, was it civil?). At the end of class your classmates will fill out an
evaluation form and I will decide your grade by consulting this data.
Participation is mandatory. I will determine your participation grade based on evaluations
by your classmates. The three qualities that I am looking for are:
Consistency: Being well prepared and actively engaged in every class.
Quality: Making insightful additions to the conversations.
Courtesy: Respecting the etiquette of the group.
The following actions are considered detriments to the class and will count against a
Being rude to others
Using electronic devices (laptop, cell phone, etc)
Not completing the readings
Not carefully reading or viewing
Not participating in discussions
Excessive eating, drinking, chewing
Entrepreneurial Project: This is the most important aspect of the class and consequently
accounts for 60% of your grade. Please note most of this project involves group
work and, although individual effort will be considered, you will often be graded as a
group. Also note that you will be expected to develop these projects on your own
outside of class time. In order to succeed in this class you will need to be self
motivated, able to plan your time wisely, and capable of working in a group. The
project will consist of two elements: starting a small scale company during this
semester and writing a detailed, professional business plan by the end of the semester.
Company Work: During the semester the class will from several small companies to
produce and market products based on some element of Japanese culture. In the
first few weeks we will research what kinds of products already exist and brainstorm
for new ideas. In week four each student will pitch their product idea and the class
will vote for their favorites. The winners will be the CEOs of their respective
companies and the other students will be “hired” to work with them. Each group
will be provided with seed money to start their business. From there you are on your
own. Go out and try to make some money! Each group will report back to the class
each week. Your grade for this project will be based on: the success of the company,
how well you work together as a group, and your effort. Your grade will be
determined by your company’s weekly reports and a group evaluation that each
student will fill out.
Lecture on Business Plan: During the second half of the semester each group will
draft a business plan based on the criteria provided by the Small Business
Administration. Each week a team of students will be in charge of explaining one
element of how to write a business plan. See:
You will be graded based on the following criteria:
Quality of the information presented. Is our presentation engaging and
useful to your classmates? How much do your classmates learn?
Quality of the sources used. Have you done some real research or just
checked Wikipedia and a few other websites?
Quality of your delivery. Have you practiced your talk so that you are
able to present smoothly while making the most of the time you are
allotted? Has the group met to plan out who is in charge of each part?
Do you comport yourself professionally and use language appropriate to
an academic setting? Note: if you are using technology it is your
responsibility to make sure it works properly.
Final Business Plan: At the end of the semester each group will submit a final
business plan and present their plan to the class. The business plan must include the
1. Business Plan Executive Summary
2. Market Analysis
3. Company Description
4. Organization & Management
5. Marketing & Sales Management
6. Service or Product Line
7. Funding Request
Each student will be graded based on the overall quality of the document (it will be
peer reviewed) and their effort in the group (based on student evaluations).
* * * Important Notes on Grading * * *
A significant portion of your grade in this class is based on:
Group work: you will have to find a way to work out the issues that come up.
Peer assessments and evaluations: you will have to get along with your classmates.
Class participation and in-class presentations: Find your voice!
Semester-long projects: Get organized and budget your time!
If you have a disability and would like to discuss the possibility of accommodations, please
visit the Learning Enrichment and Disability Services Office located on 2nd floor Pearsons
(north side) or call x: 2572 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need accommodations in
my class, you must bring me an Accommodation Verification Letter from the Learning
Enrichment and Disability Services office and then we will discuss specifically how to meet
your needs. Please make an appointment there as soon as possible; accommodations are not
In an academic institution, few offenses against the community are as serious as academic
dishonesty. Such behavior is a direct attack upon the concept of learning and inquiry and
casts doubt upon all measures of achievement. Beloit insists that only those who are
committed to principles of honest scholarship may study at the College. Acts of academic
dishonesty include cheating, fabrication, and plagiarism. I take these issues very seriously-
cheating, fabrication, and plagiarism contradict the very basis of that a liberal arts education.
The assignments in this class are designed to help you become more thoughtful and
articulate, so when you cheat, fabricate sources, or plagiarize; you cheat yourself and defraud
the educational system. Therefore, I work hard to maintain the integrity of the system.
Date Class Activates Entrepreneurial Project
January 18 Class Introduction
January 25 Discuss Japanese products
View film The Japanese Way
February 1 Snow day
February 8 Discuss tea readings Product brainstorming
February 15 Elevator pitch
Discuss tea readings Organization &
View film Rikyu Management
Discuss ghost & monster
March 1 2. Product or Service
March 8 No Class No Class
Discuss manga & anime
March 15 readings Market Analysis
View film Made in Japan
March 22 Discuss ukiyoe readings Company Description
Marketing & Sales
March 29 Discuss cars readings
Discuss cars readings
April 5 Funding Request
View film Made in America
Discuss Japanese food
April 12 Financial Analysis
Discuss Japanese food
April 19 Executive Summary
April 26 TBA Final Sales Pitch
Note all readings are available on Moodle