I join the faculty at the University of Rochester as an assistant professor from Harvard University, where I completed a PhD in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and taught courses on Japanese religion, literature, art, and East Asian philosophy and politics. Prior to joining the doctoral program at Harvard University, I spent a number of years in Japan as a Buddhist priest in the Buzan Order of Shingon Buddhism.
My primary research focuses on the complex interaction between disaster and religion within the context of premodern Japan. In particular, I explore the ways in which Buddhism—a religion that embraces the impermanence and inevitable cessation of all things—contributed to the flourishing sustainability of Japan’s most important religious sites and inspired some of Japan’s greatest literary and artistic works. My current book project will trace the emergence a religious culture characterized by generative destruction that developed in premodern Japan where calamity became the very language by which the Kannon—the “Goddess of Mercy”—was believed to express her will and the means by which she was thought to compassionately intervene in the karmic destinies of individuals, society, Buddhist institutions, and politics. In addition, I also maintain secondary lines of research into the role of Christianity in the Japanese context and medieval Japanese emaki (Japanese illustrated narrative scrolls) as a form of visual activism at the Japanese court.
I have published in both Japanese and English and my articles have appeared in the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Journal of Religion in Japan, and Mikkyōgaku. I have received numerous research and teaching awards including the prestigious Harvard University Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies Noma-Reischauer Prize in Japanese Studies Award and the Harvard University Bok Derek C. Bok Center for Teaching and Learning Certificate of Distinction and Excellence in Teaching. My most recent translation, a set of annotated selections from the twelfth-century collection of miracle tales entitled Hasedera rengenki (The Miraculous Accounts of Hasedera), was a finalist in the Cornell University Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize.
- Premodern Japanese literature and culture
- East Asian Buddhism
- Christianity in Japan
- Japanese Illustrated Narrative Scrolls
- Translation (theory and practice)
- Myth and Legend
- Ritual and Religious Practice
- Secularity and Modernity
Courses Offered (subject to change)
- JPN 210: Vengeance, Longing, and Salvation: Topics in “Traditional” Japanese Culture
- JPN 216: Cultures of Enlightenment: Meditation, Materiality, and the Literary Cultures of Japanese Buddhism
- JPN 244: Mediated Miracles and Monsters: Religion and Modernity in Korean Film and Television
- “The Rise of Christian Wedding Churches: The ‘Nonreligious’ Transformation of Japanese Christianity.” Journal of Religion in Japan 11, no. 3: 1-32. 2022
- “The Oppressor’s Dilemma: How Japanese State Policy Toward Religion Paved the Way for Christian Weddings.” Journal of Religion in Japan 11, no: 2, 109-38. 2021
- “‘Mikkyō’ no tōjō: Kūkai no ‘shōraimokuroku’ no igi.” 「密教」の登場－空海の『請来目録』の意義 (The Emergence of “Esoteric Buddhism”: The Role of Kūkai’s “Catalog of Imported Items) Mikkyōgaku 密教学 51: 229-49. 2014
- “Christian Wedding Ceremonies: ‘Non-religiousness’ in Contemporary Japan.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 42. no. 2: 185-203. 2015
Contributions to Edited Volumes
- “The Sedgwick Shōtoku Precepts Conferral Certificates, Female Monastics, and the Saidaiji Shingon Ritsu School.” In Hābādo bijutsukan namubutsu taishi zō no kenkyū shiryōshū ハーバード美術館 南無仏太子像の研究 (Research on the Harvard Art Museum Sculpture of the Praying Prince), edited by Abe Yasurō 阿部泰郎 and Chikamoto Kensuke 近本謙介. Tokyo: Chūō Kōronsha 中央公論社, 2022
- “Jolyon Baraka Thomas, Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan,” Religious Studies in Japan6: 73-9. 2022
- “James C. Dobbins, Behold the Buddha: Religious Meanings of Japanese Buddhist Icons,” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 47, no. 1: 353-358. 2020
- “Contemporary Japan’s ‘Nonreligious’ Conversion to Christianity,” Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network. https://thensrn.org/2016/10/31/research-contemporary-japans-nonreligious-conversion-to-christianity/
Organized Conference Panels
- “Borrowed and Stolen: Appropriation and the Unacknowledged in Medieval Japanese Religion.” Association for Asian Studies 2022 Annual Conference. Boston, Massachusetts. March 16-19, 2023
- “Seeing is Believing: Religion and the Illustrated Narrative Scrolls of Premodern Japan.” Association for Asian Studies 2020 Annual Conference. Boston, Massachusetts. March 19-22, 2020.
Selected Invited Lectures
- “The Antifragile Hasedera Kannon: Disaster, Revitalization, and Karma in Medieval Japan.” University of Chicago Divinity School Public Lecture Series. Chicago, Illinois. January 11, 2023.
- “Taking Refuge in Karma: The Pilgrimage to Hasedera and Kannon’s Redemptive Communities of Everlasting Disaster.” Harvard Buddhist Studies Forum. Cambridge, Massachusetts. November 30, 2022.
- “Thinking through Buddhist Sculpture.” Presentation on medieval Japanese Buddhist sculptural and ritual practices for the next generation of professional artists enrolled in the sculpture course SCNG New Genres: A Compromised Object at Otis College of Art and Design. Los Angeles, California. September 27, 2019.
- “Ban dainagon ekotoba ni okeru jinbutsu to sonō no hyōgen: Hirekishiteki monogatari to shite no riaru poritīku” 伴大納言絵詞における人物とその表現－非歴史的物語としてのリアルポリティーク. Presentation at the Kyoto Gakuen University. Kyoto, Japan. July 2019.
- “Buddhism and Race: Experiences of an American Shingon Priest in Japan.” Harvard University Buddhism and Race Conference. Cambridge, Massachusetts. March 2018.
- “Shōmyō: An Introduction to Traditional Buddhist Chanting.” Lecture and Workshop at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Washington D.C. March 2014.
Selected Conference Presentations
- “Hasedera, the Forgotten Gift of Revitalization, and the Miraculous (Re)birth of Mount Kōya.” Association for Asian Studies 2022 Annual Conference. Boston, Massachusetts. March 16-19, 2023.
- “Execution, Torture, and Visual Activism at Court of the Cloistered Sovereign: The Illustrated Narrative Scroll of Major Counselor Ban, Large-Format Illustrated Scrolls, and Remembering the Righteousness of the Fujiwara Regency.” New York Conference on Asian Studies State and Society in Asia: Past and Present. Syracuse, New York. October 6-7, 2022.
- “Christianity as Japan’s New Normal: Wedding Ceremonies and Nonreligiousness in Postwar Japan.” Harvard East Asia Society Conference The New Normal: Changes and Exceptions in East Asia. Cambridge, Massachusetts. February 19-20, 2022.
- “An Ahistorical Tale as Realpolitik: The Portrayal of Domestic Terrorism and Social Order in the Ban dainagon ekotoba.” Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference. Boston, Massachusetts. March 19-22, 2020.
- “The Politicization of Image: The ‘Elite Populism’ of the Illustrated Narrative Scroll of Major Counselor Ban and Its Implications for Medieval Large-Format Illustrated Scrolls.” Harvard University Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Japanese Buddhism Conference Workshop. Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 16-17, 2020.
- “Hirekishiteki monogatari to shite no riaru poritīku: Ban dainagon ekotoba ni kansuru hitokōsatsu.” The Forefront of Japanese Religious Conference Workshop at Nagoya University. Nagoya, Japan. June 2018.
- “Mañjuśrī, Hinin, and Mount Wutai: Kasuga’s Pure Land and the Development of Funerals in Medieval Japan.” Pure Land in the Nara Schools Conference at McGill University. Montreal, Canada, September 29, 2017.
- “Printing Networks and the Production of the Sedgwick Shōtoku Image: Song Dynasty Printed Lotus Sutra Copies and their Networks.” The Time Capsule Prince: The Sedgwick Shōtoku Taishi at Age Two and the Horizons of Medieval Japanese Religious Art Conference at Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 2017.
- “Critical Evidence of Saidaiji Influence in the Production of the Sedgwick Shōtoku Image: The Origin and Meaning of Installed Precept Certificates.” The Time Capsule Prince: The Sedgwick Shōtoku Taishi at Age Two and the Horizons of Medieval Japanese Religious Art Conference at Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 2017.
- “The Rise of “Wedding Churches”: The “Non-religious” Transformation of Japanese Christianity.” International Institute for Asian Studies Secularisms and Religion in Asia: Pluralism, Globalization, Modernities Conference at Nanyang Technological University. Singapore. February 2016.
- “‘Mikkyō’ no tōjō: Kūkai no “shōraimokuroku” no igi.” Heian Buddhist Studies Conference at Shuchiin University. Kyoto, Japan. December 2014.
- “Christian Wedding Ceremonies: ‘Non-religiousness’ in Contemporary Japan.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting. San Diego, California, November 22-25, 2014.
- “Kūkai no “shōraimokuroku” ni tsuite: kyōtenmokuroku kara hajimaru ‘mikkyō.’” Kyoto Graduate Union of Religious Studies Conference at Ryukoku University. Kyoto, Japan. July, 28 2014.
Selected Appearances in Media and Press
- “Japan’s Love of Western Weddings is Bizarre, If Unsurprising.” Tokyo Weekender. May 17, 2022. https://www.tokyoweekender.com/2022/05/japans-love-of-western-weddings-is-bizarre-if-unsurprising/
- “Curating a classic ‘Genji’ exhibit at the Met.” The Harvard Gazette. March 20, 2019. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/03/harvard-professor-curates-classic-genji-exhibit-at-the-met/
- “Christian nuptials all about inclusiveness, says American celebrant.” Kyodo News. June 23, 2017. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/06/d146b384679c-feature-christian-nuptials-all-about-inclusiveness-says-american-celebrant.html
- “Christian-style weddings remain popular in Japan, but allure is more about optics than religion.” The Japan Times. June 23, 2017. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/23/national/christian-style-weddings-grow-popular-japan-allure-optics-religion/
Honors and Activities
- Harvard University Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies Dissertation Completion Grant (2022)
- Derek C. Bok Center for Teaching and Learning Certificate of Distinction and Excellence in Teaching, “Buddhism and Japanese Culture” (2022)
- Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize Finalist, Translation: Hasedera Regenki: The Miraculous Accounts of Hasedera (Annotated Selections) (2022)
- Harvard University Edwin O. Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies Dissertation Research Grant (2021)
- Harvard University Edwin O. Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies Dissertation Research Grant (2020)
- Harvard University Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies Noma-Reischauer Prize in Japanese Studies Award (2020)
- Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in Buddhist Studies (2019)
- Kyoto Gakuen University Summer Fellowship (2019)
- Harvard University Edwin O. Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies Summer Pre-Dissertation Research Grant (2018)
- Harvard University Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations Satoh-Tsuchiya Merit Scholarship Award (2017)
- Harvard Asia Center Fung Foundation Fellow (2016)
- Shuchiin University Graduation Thesis Top Paper Award (2014)
- Shuchiin University Research Fellowship (2013)
- Shuchiin University Research Fellowship (2012)
- United States Government Critical Language Scholarship (2010)
- Government of Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Scholarship (2009)
- University of Hawaii Center of Japanese Studies Fellowship (2007)
- Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship (2006)