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Persian Studies

About Us

Known as the French of the East because of the beauty of its resonance, Persian is today an official language of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. As it is written using the Arabic writing system, the question is usually asked of how it is different from Arabic. However, in terms of language categorization, Persian is classified as an Indo-European language, and its closest relatives in South and West Asian Studies at TUFS are Hindi and Urdu. .

The history of Persian can be traced back 3000 years to the Achaemenid Dynasty of the Persian Empire. Since the 10th Century, a form which is very close to modern-day Persian became the common language along the main commerce route, the Silk Road, and became widely used in areas ranging from modern-day Iran to Central Asia, forming the so-called Persian cultural sphere in the region. On the other hand, as a language boasting of a rich literature tradition, Persian is also regarded as a language of the culturally educated in the region, producing many great poets and philosophers and exerting great influence over the Eastern Islamic world. Persian literature remains the pride and irreplaceable treasure of Persian native speakers.

In Japan, although Persian classes can be found in certain universities which carry out research in international relations and Eastern History, TUFS and Osaka University of Foreign Studies are the only two universities which offer it as an independent major. Probably the biggest difference between TUFS and other universities is that our curriculum brings the Persian-speaking areas closer to the students because they first learn the language before learning about the region and other specialized fields.

Characteristics of the Curriculum

Students admitted into the Persian major attend lessons based on the modular system which was introduced last year. In particular, lessons on the major language are the main focus of the curriculum up till approximately the second year. These lessons are divided into the categories of grammar, reading comprehension, conversation, essay writing and listening comprehension. This is in line with one of our objectives, which is to nurture a comprehensive ability in Persian which can be used across a variety of genres. Generally, after students have built up the foundations of grammar, conversation, reading comprehension and essay writing in the first year, they can create their own timetable by choosing from the various categories the lessons they wish to take according to their learning objectives, abilities and interests. In particular, first-year students learn the basics of grammar and conversation by using our own textbooks designed for the modular system, while gradually beginning to learn reading comprehension and essay writing. In addition, in order to build up students’ basic knowledge on the various regions in the Persian-speaking world, lessons on area studies are also conducted from the first year besides the language lessons.

Apart from formal lessons, the nature of the minor language course also allows students to have many opportunities to interact with native lecturers as well as foreign students from Iran and Afghanistan. Every year, it is customary to have first-year students run the Persian restaurant during the November Cultural Festival, albeit clumsily, after their visits to the homes of our native lecturers or the embassy to pick up culinary skills. Second-year students are mainly responsible for putting up the drama.

Another characteristic of TUFS is the fact that many students can visit the country they are studying about at university and experience life there. Besides sending students to our exchange school, Allameh Tabatabaii University (Tehran), every year many students also go to for long term overseas studies at a language school for foreigners in Tehran or for short term summer language courses conducted by Iranian universities to learn Persian.

It goes without saying that we expect students to acquire a high level of Persian at TUFS, but more than that, we also expect them to have their own views about the problems in the region, and become experts in their own fields after four years at university.

Why not come and learn Persian with us? We welcome students who have an interest in the Persian speaking world and who are constantly curious about problems and wish to learn more.

Careers After Graduation

Graduates have found employment in general companies and are also making use of their language ability in mass communications and trading companies and working as specialists or researchers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There are also graduates who are posted to work as specialist investigators at embassies in Iran and Tajikistan on short-term contracts.


YOSHIE, Satoko Senior Lecturer Persian linguistics and sociolinguistics
FUJII, Morio Professor History of literature and thought in Iran; Persian Sufi texts
SASAKI, Ayano Associate Professor Classical Persian literature, especially concerning Hafiz (the 14th century)
HACHIOSHI, Makoto Professor Modern history of Iran; Modern political thought of Shia Islam
KOHANSAL, Maryam Visiting Associate Professor Persian literature
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