As I understand it, the word 学際 is usually used to mean "interdisciplinary" when referring to college courses. However, I recently came across the word "超域文化科学" while browsing college websites. In this context, 超域 seems to mean "interdisciplinary" too, but I'm not 100% sure.

What exactly is 超域, how is it different from 学際 and how is it pronounced?


2 Answers 2


I think 学際 is the only standard translation of interdisciplinary (at least according to the dictionary).

Although it is easy to imagine what 超域 means, this word is unfamiliar to me at least as a name of an academic field. And apparently there are very few Japanese university departments with 超域 in their names.

I feel there is no meaningful difference between 学際 and 超域 here. But "超域" sounds somewhat unique and attractive, and that may be the only reason why they used 超域.

And it's a shame that Japanese universities are full of such unusual faculty names.


Both exactly means "interdiscipline(-ary)" here.

Japanese vocabulary doesn't have a word that can translate "discipline", you can only refer to it by saying "academic field" 学問分野 or "specialized field" 専門分野 etc. Thus if you want to make a two-part compound like "inter" + "discipline", you have to think of a workaround.

学際{がくさい} is a solution based on the fact most disciplines are named after ~学 "-logy", and putting it in front of 際 "border, inter-, trans-". So literally it means "inter-learning".

超域{ちょういき} is, on the other hand, composed of 超 "beyond, super-" and 域 "domain, region", which also associable with 領域 "field, area". It literally means "cross-domain".

  • 1
    The latter might be the Japanese rendering of "transdisciplinary" which is somehow distinct from "interdisciplinary" (I say somehow even though I've used the terms in formal writing -- I don't really get the difference myself).
    – virmaior
    Dec 9, 2014 at 11:46
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    @virmaior I found an interesting comparison of how English en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interdiscipline#Conceptions and Japanese ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%AD%A6%E9%9A%9B#.E5.88.86.E9.A1.9E conceptualize those jargons. Dec 9, 2014 at 11:57
  • Yeah, I'm not unfamiliar with the way the distinction is supposedly drawn. I just don't see any practical difference on the ground level.
    – virmaior
    Dec 9, 2014 at 12:00
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    You can say that again. Words are free. Dec 9, 2014 at 12:04

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