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From cyberpunk to information science via our MA in Japanese Studies

Callum Sarracino, a fourth year student of Japanese, traces his journey from manga fan to speech contest prize winner and a Daiwa Foundation Scholarship.

A long-term fan of Japan's popular culture, Callum Sarracino was originally intending to study computer science at university.

Instead, he chose to follow his interest in anime and manga and study Japanese at the University of Edinburgh.

What drew him to our four-year MA Hons degree was the “chance to utilise that interest [in popular culture] in courses such as cyberpunk, where I could look at Japanese popular culture, write about it  and then even use it in my dissertation.” 

Callum’s degree highlights include an amazing two appearances in the UK finals of the Japanese Speech Contest for University Students organised by the British Association for Teaching Japanese (BATJ) and the Japan Foundation. In 2017, he was a runner up in the Individual Presentation category for students at post-beginner level, and then in March 2019 he picked up third place in the Speech Category for advanced speakers for his talk on ‘the power within manga to overcome societal prejudice’ drawing on “A Silent Voice” (written and illustrated by Yoshitoki Ōima) as an example.

Nagoya to Tokyo

Like many undergraduate language students, another of Callum's highlights was the Year Abroad (third year), which he spent in Nagoya, the largest city in the Chūbu region of Japan.

Asked what made it so special, he says: "I got to further utilise my Japanese and spent time with a host family, which gave me a chance to fully immerse myself in Japanese culture and familial traditions.”

With his final year at Edinburgh almost over, he now holds an offer to study a Masters in Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo in Information Studies, where he’ll continue the research he’s been doing for his undergraduate dissertation on 'A handbook to gay identity in Boys' Love (BL) manga', his long-term goal being to become an academic in the field.

As a mark of his success, he’ll be doing so under a prestigious Daiwa Foundation Scholarship in Japanese Studies, which will cover his tuition fees and a monthly stipend.

Are you interested in Japanese Studies at LLC?

Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland to offer undergraduate honours degrees in Japanese, enabling you to learn the language in the context of Japan’s history, politics, philosophy and culture, past and present.

Find out more about studying undergraduate Japanese at LLC