Japanese was taught at IUPUI by a part-time instructor from 1984 to 1990. The Program in Japanese Studies Program was formally established in the fall of 1990 with the hiring of the first full-time faculty member, Professor Reiko Yonogi, who became the Director of the new Program and immediately created a minor in Japanese Studies. Since 1996, the Program in Japanese Studies, formerly housed in the German Department, has been a part of the merged Department of World Languages and Cultures. Professor Yonogi remained the sole full-time faculty member in the program, which she ran with the help of two devoted part-time instructors, until May 2014 when she retired.
In the fall 2014, Dr. Keiko Kuriyama was hired as a full-time lecturer of Japanese to replace Professor Yonogi as Director of the Japanese Program. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is the only credit-granting institution in the metropolitan Indianapolis area offering college-level Japanese courses. As a result, each semester students from Butler University, the University of Indianapolis, and Marian College interested in learning Japanese take Japanese language classes at IUPUI. The Program in Japanese Studies at IUPUI not only exposes students to Japanese language and culture, but also offers a different lens through which to see the world. It can provide students with intercultural and linguistic skills and knowledge needed for functioning competently across cultures.