A Report on the 81st Annual Conference of the JARS
by the International Connections Committee
Our annual conference was held at Aichi Gakuin University in Nagoya from September 9 to 11, 2022, with a hybrid opening symposium, as well as online panels and individual presentations. We would like to express our gratitude to the organizing committee at the university, headed by Prof. HAYASHI Makoto, for their tireless efforts in making the conference a great success. There were 439 participants in total.
The opening symposium was entitled “The Course and Outlook of Religious Studies: Where Does It Come From and Where Does It Go?” and focused on the disciplinary history of the study of religions in Japan since the 1970s. It included four speakers who discussed the trajectory and prospects of the discipline with the members of the organizing committee.
The symposium began with a roundtable of scholars belonging to the baby-boomer generation (“dankai no sedai“) in order to contextualize the development of the discipline within the student and countercultural movements. They discussed how scholars of religions interacted with anthropologists, folklorists and interdisciplinary historians in the 1970s-80s, represented by Yamaguchi Masao, Amino Yoshihiko and Abe Kinya.
Part 1 Transformation of Humanities in the 1970s: Religious Studies, Anthropology, and Folklore
KOMATSU Kazuhiko (International Research Center for Japanese Studies)
SHIMAZONO Susumu (Taisho University)
HAYASHI Makoto (Aichi Gakuin University)
The second session consisted of scholars from the next generation, who presented papers on various sub-fields. They discussed the achievements of Japanese scholars of religion since the 1990s and the challenges they are currently facing.
ŌTANI Eiichi (Bukkyo University), “A Sketch of Studies of Contemporary Japanese Religions since the 1990s”
DATE Kiyonobu (The University of Tokyo), “Scrutinizing the Concept of ‘Religion’: From the Perspective of French Secularism”
ITŌ Masayuki (Aichi Gakuin University), “Sociology of Religion since the Late 1990s: Trends in the United States and the United Kingdom”
KOBAYASHI Naoko (Aichi Gakuin University), The Course and Outlook of Gendering Religious Studies
The conference also featured a special panel session in English with the support of the International Connections Committee. The panel, “Esotericism, Occultism, and Spiritual Therapies during the Long Twentieth Century: Theoretical Implications,” was planned and organized by Prof. Ioannis Gaitanidis (Chiba University). Four young scholars from Denmark, France, South Korea and Japan presented interesting case studies of esotericism in Japan. All of them had been inspired by Prof. Yoshinaga Shin’ichi, a member of the JARS board of directors and a pioneer in the academic study of esotericism in Japan. Unexpectedly, the panel became a memorial session for Prof. Yoshinaga, who had passed away six months before the conference.
The presentations were followed by a lively discussion, starting with comments given by Prof. Erica Baffelli (University of Manchester), who extended the theoretical implications of each paper. The papers and comments will be published in a special issue of Religious Studies in Japan, our English journal.
MURAKAMI Aki (Komazawa University), “What Is ‘Lived Religion’ Made of? Rethinking ‘Religion’ in Contemporary Shamanism”
Stephen CHRISTOPHER (University of Copenhagen), “Global Spiritual Business: Modern Mystery School”
HAN Sang-yun (Tohoku University) “Orthodox but New, Secret but Popular: Reconsidering Mikkyō’s Boundaries in the 1970s”
Sarah TERRAIL-LORMEL (INALCO) “Neurosis and Mental Cultivation in the 1930s: Morita Therapy as Seishin Shūyō”
Also noteworthy was a workshop given by the JARS Gender Equality Working Group. Prof. INOSE Yuri (Ryukoku University) presented the results of the first JARS Gender Equality Survey, which was conducted in 2021. Prof. KOJIMA Yuko, Secretary of Gender Equality Association for Humanities and Social Sciences, gave comments. Prof. TAKAHASHI Norihito (Toyo University) chaired the workshop.
The regular program consisted of 14 more panels and 173 individual papers.
Panel Titles and Conveners
The IAHR, Phenomenology of Religion, and Religious Organizations in History
(Re)Thinking Philosophically about the Religious Truth/Falsehood: Afterlife of the Concept of Religion
Who Was Yoshinaga Shin’ichi?: Reexamining His Research History
Circulations of Calendars and Religious Cultures in Premodern and Modern Japan
The Virtual Image and Real Image of Onmyōji
Buddhism in India-Japan Relations: In Search of Indian World by Japanese Buddhists
Izutsu Toshihiko and Thinkers in the Orient
Survey Status for Koshinestu, Tokai and Kinki Regional Buddhist Temples in the Declining Population Society
Prospects for Temple Management and Preservation: Funds, Donations, and Membership Fees
Information and Life: Looking towards the Role of Religion in the Future
On the Social Implementation of Advanced Technologies Including AI and Others in Religions and the Related Issues
For Connecting the Publicness of Religion and the Public Study of Religion
Religiosity and Spirituality in the Disaster Culture: Facilities, Carriers, Behaviors, and Circumstances
Toward the Study of Religious Changes in the Military Occupation
Individual paper titles are available in English at: