80th Annual Conference

A Report on the 80th Annual Conference of the JARS
by the International Connections Committee

Due to continuing pandemic concerns, our annual conference, held on September 6-8, 2021, went online again. We would like to thank the host, the organizing committee at Kansai University, headed by Prof. Miyamoto Yōtarō, who took every measure to make the conference hybrid (on-line/in-person) until a month before, then managed to switch everything to online smoothly. Without their daily hard work, the conference could not have been so successful. There were 455 participants in total, including two guest speakers from the Korean Association for Religious Studies, as mentioned below.

The opening symposium for the public as well as JARS members, “Religion and Humor,” was organized and chaired by Prof. Miyamoto. It aimed to “shed a renewed light on the power of laughter” (80th conference program book) in the face of the COVID-19 situation. One invited speaker was the emeritus director of the hospice department of a Christian hospital. The other speaker was a scholar of Buddhism and ordained priest of the True Pure Land Sect.
KASHIWAGI Tetsuo (Yodogawa Christian Hospital), “Humor and Care”
SHAKU Tesshū (Soai University), “On the Relationship of Religion and Humor”

The International Connections Committee (ICC) also organized a special forum, which was a roundtable-style session, composed of four young and mid-career scholars: two were invitees from the Korean Association for Religious Studies (KARS) and the other two were members of the Japanese Association for Religious Studies (JARS). The ICC had been entertaining the idea of a joint forum with KARS members in the context of JARS annual meetings, ever since the KARS invited two JARS members, Profs. Keta Masako and Ichikawa Hiroshi, to their annual meetings. As tools for online meetings had rapidly developed and spread internationally since last year, the ICC decided to organize an online session with KARS, which was feasible without putting much burden on the invitees or the host.

The session, “KARS-JARS Joint Forum: Toward Post-COVID-19 Networking,” held on the second day, discussed how to build scholarly networks suitable to the post-COVID-19 situation by reflecting upon the four scholars’ experiences in conducting their research projects. Conducted entirely in English, it was later accredited as an IAHR (International Association for the History of Religions) webinar and has been available online with a detailed description at:

Special thanks go to President of the KARS, Prof. Kwangcheol Shin and the two speakers, Prof. Shin Ahn of Pai Chai University and Dr. Hyung Chan Koo, Lecturer at Seoul National University.

The regular program consisted of 10 more panels and 189 individual papers, including one in English.

Panel Titles and Conveners
Eranos as an Intersection: Reconsidering the Formation of Religious Studies (OKUYAMA Fumiaki)

The Eve of Izutsu Toshihiko’s “Oriental Philosophy” (SAWAI Makoto)

Philosophy of Religion and the Criticism against the Concept of Religion (SHIMODA Kazunobu)

Mythology of Eros and Violence (KIMURA Takeshi)

Intellectual History of Calendars (HAYASHI Makoto)

Japanese Buddhists and Their Conversations about Buddhism with an American Audience: Analyses of the Discourses around the Turn of the Twentieth Century (MORIYA Tomoe)

Considering Grief as “Betweenness” (ANDŌ Yasunori)

Religions Infiltrating/Infiltrated by Science and Technology (MORO Shigeki)

A Study of the Impact of COVID-19 on Shin Buddhist Temples Based on an Original Fact-Finding Survey (KADONO Hiroaki)

Advance Care Planning for the COVID-19 Pandemic: Facing Life in the Valley of Death (OKINAGA Takako)

Individual paper titles are available in English at