Fall 2019 - Alice Ashiwa is not a fair TA. Even though I made sure to talk during every discussion section she gave me a B for my participation grade instead of an A, which meant my final grade was an A- and not an A. For essays she gave low B+'s. She refused to give papers a good grade and she said she would grade the last paper harshly in comparison to the first. Professor Hirano is a good lecturer but he needs to make sure his TA's grade papers similarly. The lesson to learn is not to get Alice Ashiwa as your TA, she is unfair and expects people to write flawless essays in order to get an A.
Spring 2019 - I took this class in my freshman year. It is still the best class I have taken at UCLA. There were two essays, a group project and weekly reports (that were only a paragraph long). Hirano is an extremely engaging professors, he doesn't care ıf the students get the small details. He emphasizes the students understanding the topics at a more general level. The topics discussed in class, the figures that are taught and the textbooks that are assigned are all very interesting. There is attendance in lectures, but even if there wasn't, I still would've gone to every lecture. The TA Rory was also amazing. I hope I can take another class by Hirano when I am a student at UCLA.
Winter 2018 - I enrolled into this class during week 2 and Professor Hirano was very lenient about me making up missed assignments. Every week there are two assignments due based off of the readings. Some of the readings are from his course website and some are from the books he assigned. Professor Hirano is without a doubt a leader in his field, the sheer amount of knowledge he has with regards to Japanese History is astonishing. His lectures are extremely helpful and clear, if you go to lecture and take good notes, you will be more than prepared for the Midterm (paper), and the Final (paper). There are no in class exams. This class is not your typical history class, rather than just spewing historical facts, he takes the class through Japan's history through the lenses of various Japanese philosophers. Take this class if you like history, you will learn a lot.