Ancient Egypt in Japan. Not An Oxymoron.

So, while Waseda is indeed one of the best universities in Japan, Japanese uni students have mastered the art of BS-ing admirably well. It’s very inspiring. In general, they are much, much more interested in school club activities and preparing for the Real World than actually learning anything. They show up 45 minutes late (and still get attendance marks), sleep in class, beg for deadline extensions, skip classes for weeks at a time, and so on.

Anyway, this is great for the classes I don’t care about, but there was no way I was going to go through a WHOLE YEAR doing absolutely nothing in class.

For people who are interested in digging further, Waseda is a wonderful, very large university with tons of resources. One thing I’ve always been interested in is Ancient Egypt.

Incidentally, I interned for National Geographic in Washington DC last summer

So, I asked the Waseda professor of my English-taught class “Ancient Egyptian Civilization” if he could help me get involved in Egyptology here.

It turns out that this professor has completely taken me under his wing. I am not even kidding. Within the first hour I met him he was offering to write me a recommendation for grad school. He introduced me to the whole department here,  first of all. Then he got me attending his Ancient Egyptian history class (taught in Japanese) every Tuesday. I’ve become good friends with two future Egyptologists (students my age), been proofreading English in archaeological reports, and the department has got me learning how to trace reliefs and wall carvings for publication. I also helped out at the Cairo Forum 2009 at Waseda – definitely an interesting experience to be behind-the-scenes at one of those crazy formal functions in Japan.

Basically, I am VERY involved at the Institute of Egyptology here at Waseda, much more so than anything I’ve ever been involved in back at Georgetown.

Oh, and I’m actually learning Ancient Egyptian properly this time. I had taken a semester-long tutorial in it before and a few weeks of it in high school, but this time I am hardcore doing the homework and memorizing things like no other. Apparently my prof started teaching this class in the first place because I showed interest in it last summer. So… because of me… the whole department of Egyptology at Waseda is learning Ancient Egyptian. Pretty awesome.

I can read this... with a dictionary

The big question mark at this point is probably, “WHY, Natalie??” Why am I putting in so much time and effort, until 10 PM some nights, 4 classes a week, volunteering on top of that?

Well, I don’t think it’s for grad school. I don’t think I want to be an Egyptologist. I am also very interested in international marketing and that seems like a better career choice, plus I would hate to have to teach anything, be a professor, or dig in any sand. I am no academic. But ancient Egypt has always been something I’ve been interested in, and this is the perfect opportunity to really learn about it…. Believe it or not, it’s 100 times easier for me to study Egyptology in Japan than in America.

Plus, it’s amazing Japanese practice. Learning hieroglyphs, being exposed to and part of an authentic Japanese work environment, meeting so many professors and researchers – all in Japanese – is probably going to end up being one of the best experiences I’ve had in Tokyo.

Well, right now, they’re all in Luxor, Egypt doing their job, i.e., archaeology… but don’t worry, I’ll be working way too much again next month.

Ancient Egyptian-inspired soda released this fall. Marketing, Japan and ancient Egypt. All my interests together!

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4 Comments on “Ancient Egypt in Japan. Not An Oxymoron.”

  1. amyymburns Says:

    LOL. Wow…I’m impressed. You know, I never once thought, “Why Egyptology, Natalie?” I believe that interest and passion are always the most legitimate reasons to pursue something. Good on you! I’m quite envious actually. I have yet to find something I can really throw my heart at. Where is the passion in my life?? I am bored out of my mind. Any suggestions for hobbies? I am considering cross-stitching…No…I’m not desperate…

  2. booyah Says:


    I just stumbled on your blog and I was immediately drawn to this post.

    I am currently thinking of applying to SILS Waseda as a freshman and Egyptology is something I have always been interested in. I am not quite sure which school you are in but do you know if I am able to have an experience/academic future similar to yours at SILS Waseda?

    Thank you so much.

  3. Christa Says:

    You go for it!!!! I’m so proud of you!

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