Sofia University, the oldest university in Bulgaria, began enrolling students interested in Japanese language in the late sixties of the twentieth century. Initially, there were only evening classes taught by graduates of Russian universities. Following the emerging bilateral interest of Bulgaria and the Country of the Rising Sun, that naturally kindled alongside the deepening of economical and political relations between the two countries more and more Bulgarian specialists in Japanese language, literature and history pursued their education at academic institutions in the former Soviet Union. They became the first translators and scholars dealing with Japanese language, religion, literature and history.
Japanology, however, takes on its clear-cut form in 1990 when it officially obtains recognition within the University as “Japanese philology”. The five-year course produces specialists with wide range of knowledge on Japanese language, literature, history, sociology and economics. Following the Russian academic model, the discipline slowly but steadily develops curriculums, and despite the hardship of the socio-economical context of emerging democracy, gathers books, teaching materials etc. The higher education coherence-seeking Bologna process calls for necessity of introducing the tripartite model of bachelor, master and doctoral programs in Bulgaria too. In compliance with it, Japanese Studies are divided into a four-year bachelor course, two-year master course and three-year doctoral course. Only a year ago, on March 28, 2018 Japanese Studies officially became an independent Department within the structure of Sofia University.
For the three-decades of existence, Japanology has produced over 350 of specialists in Japanese language and Culture. The academic output includes a vast number of book translations, project implementations, academic publications etc. The Department of Japanese Studies has laid the grounds for the inauguration and successful implementation of Japanese classes (curriculum and syllabus) at three schools in Sofia (Schools Nr 18, Nr 138th and Nr 40), and a kindergarten (Nr 95). It has worked alongside the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, The National History Museum, the National Ethnographic Museum, the National Library, local Municipalities in Sofia, Burgas, Varshets, Gabrovo and many other institutions in order to promote actively and effectively Japanese culture in Bulgaria and to educate public in the highest humanitarian values of multiculturalism, ecology, democracy, equality and freedom of thought.
A short introduction to our Japanese Studies Department
Our mission as expressed at the 30th Conference of the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists, 18-21 September 2019, Sofia University