The Centre for Asian Studies is one of the research centres of the University constructed on the basis of multidisciplinary regional knowledge. Therefore, the Centre’s main object is Asia, from the perspectives of humanities and social sciences, with the emphasis on the modern trends of Asian politics, economy, society and culture. Presently we are concentrated on East Asia region (Japan, Korea and China), but there are plans to expand our interests to Southwest, Central, South and Southeast Asia regions in the future.

The introduction video of CAS:

CAS leaflet.

DSC_0294The main aims of the Centre

To conduct research in the field of Asia region studies in cooperation with other foreign academic institutions by initiating and participating in joint projects. Our Centre’s main research line is concentrated on Asian cultures and their worldwide perceptions (images);

To promote knowledge on Asian cultures in Lithuanian society through academic, educational and cultural events like conferences, symposiums, public lectures, summer schools, exhibitions, concerts, etc. We are cooperating with several students’ organizations (Club Hashi, Hallyu Club and Club Wu Wei) to achieve this aim;

To teach University’s students the subjects on East Asian cultures, languages, society, politics and economics. Together with the Regional Studies Department and the Centre of Foreign Languages we are coordinating the East Asia Region studies program (MA, since 2007), East Asian Languages an Cultures progrogram (BA, since 2012) and the courses of Asian languages;

To collect and expand funds on Asian countries, located in the reading room of the Centre. We are cooperating with the University’s Library to achieve this aim.

The history of Asian studies at Vytautas Magnus University

The centre for Asian Studies at Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas) was reorganized in 2009 by unifying two already existing institutions: the Asian Studies Centre and the Japanese Studies Centre. The short history concerning these two institutions is as follows:

1993-95 Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rio Kojima lived in Kaunas and taught Japanese language and the course on Japan’s history, society and culture at the University. He was the first lecturer from Asian country to teach at VMU;

1994 Gabija Čepulionytė and Goda Tomono started teaching Japanese language. During one year 4 issues of the journal “Ritoania-Nihon Tsūshin” (“Laiškai iš Japonijos”) were issued;

1996 On the initiative of the lecturer Arvydas Ališauskas the subject of Japanese language was started to be taught;

1997 The first student exchange agreement with Kansai Gaidai (Japan) was signed. Up to now the University has exchange agreements with more than 30 Asian universities;

2000 Asian Studies Centre was established by prof. Algimantas Prazauskas;

Sugiharos namai

2001 The official establishment of Japanese Studies Centre. The Japanese Studies Centre moved to the historical building (Vaižganto 30, Kaunas) of the Japanese pre-war consulate, where the famous consul Ch. Sugihara worked and issued visas for Jewish refugees in 1940. The Centre occupied the second floor of the building. Initially the main activities of the Centre were the Japanese language and culture education;

2001 The club of Japanese lovers was founded. Since then the Club has been organising public lectures, cultural events and art exhibitions for Lithuanian society with the aim to promote Japanese culture;

2003 Japanese Studies Centre received the ODA support from the government of Japan: the audiovisual equipment for Japanese language teaching;

2005 The club of Japanese lovers was renamed “Hashi”.

2005 The first Japanese art exhibition was held. The ink painting – sumie – by Dalia Dokšaitė were demonstrated. Since then, the Centre organizes the exhibitions of East Asian art;

2006-2013 new academic periodic journal “Regioninės studijos” (Regional Studies), concentrating on different regions of the world (mainly Baltic Sea region and East Asia) is being published;

February 2007 The first course of introduction to Korean language was held. The course was lectured by the teacher from our university’s partner Kyunghee University;

September, 2007 New MA program for East Asian Region Studies (political science) with cooperation of Regional Studies Department of the Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy was launched;

Since September, 2007 Chinese language course was started;

Since November, 2007 Annual International academic conferences, mainly concentrated on the topic of representation (images) of East Asian countries in Europe are being organized. The conferences are getting financial support from Toshiba International Foundation, Japan Foundation and Taipei Mission;

January, 2008 The new head of the Centre Aurelijus Zykas was appointed;

2008 Japanese Studies Centre was integrated into the Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy.

November, 2008 In the premises of the Centre the Chiune Sugihara Reading Room (a part of VMU Library) was established. The Reading Room systematically collected the materials related to Asian studies;

2008-2009 Annual Summer Schools on Japanese and Korean culture have been organised;

November 16, 2009 Japanese Studies Centre and Asian Studies Centre were unified into the centre for Asian Studies and it became the part of the Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy;

May, 2010 On the initiative of the lecturer Jinseok Seo the club of Korea lovers “Hallyu” was established;

September, 2010 The website of the Centre for Asian Studies was launched;

September, 2012 A new BA degree program “Languages and Cultures of East Asian countries” was launched;

March, 2013Taiwan Centre was established with cooperation of Taipei Mission in Latvia.

April 13, 2013 Chinese culture club “Wu Wei” was established.

October, 2013 the Academic journal “Regioninės studijos” (Regional Studies) changed the name to the International Journal of Area Studies and since then has been published by De Gruyter.

June, 2014 Confucius Institute Teaching Point was established with cooperation of Vilnius University Confucius Institute.

October, 2014 Asia Week was organized for the first time. The second Asia Week was organised in Spring, 2016.

Since 2015 Centre for Asian Studies has been dealing with R&D, conducting applied research for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of Japan, Embassy of Peaoples Republic of China, etc.

September 1, 2016 Centre for Asian Studies was integrated into the Faculty of Humanities. On October 3, it moved to the new premises: Multifunctional Centre of VMU (Putvinskio 23, 419/420, Kaunas), where is located presently.

September 30, 2016 The funds of Chiune Sugihara Reading Room were moved to the Main Library thus forming the Asian Books Space (ABS).

March 13, 2017 Establishment of Global Japan Office (GJO) in cooperation with Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

October 5, 2018 The King Sejong Institute was established in Kaunas by the Korean Government.

March 7, 2019 25 years anniversary of Asian studies in Kaunas.

March, 2019 the New Head of the Centre for Asian Studies Linas Didvalis was appointed. 

March 5-7, 2020 CAS organized international Baltic Alliance for Asian Studies Conference which gathered 100 researchers of Asia from various countries.