Over the course of the 2018–2019 academic years, IMAP/IDOC is hosting a lecture series titled the The Many Shapes of Meaning: Object and Performance in Asia Across Time. Over the course of this series, distinguished scholars are invited from institutions around the world to address a range of themes that include the repurposing and reinvention of medieval Japanese performance, ritual performance in religion, music and performance, the performing of tradition, the use of objects to learn about the past, and the circulation of material and embodied practices in a variety of spatial and temporal contexts. The series is supported by a Challenge type 3, Progress 100 (Invitation program for top global researchers) RINK Research Hub for the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Interdisciplinary Studies, Kyushu University Grant.

Past Events


June 20
Gregory Smits (Pennsylvania State University)
”Early Ryukyu as a Frontier Region of Japan”

June 20
Yasuko Tsuchikane (The Cooper Union / Waseda University)
”Why Fukiji Served as the Model for the Shitennōji Murals in Early Shōwa Osaka”
Lecture funded by Kyushu University QR Program Tsubasa Project “Heian Jingū: The Creation of a New Shrine”

June 11
Ran Zwigenberg (Pennsylvania State University)
”The Atomic City: Military Tourism and Urban Identity in Postwar Hiroshima”

April 24
Justin Stein (Bukkyo University)
”Buddhist Youth: The ‘Vanguard of Buddhist Resistance Against Western Imperialism”

April 24
Jolyon Baraka Thomas (University of Pennsylvania)
“Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan”

March 2
Rethinking Object and Performance in Japan and Beyond: An International Workshop

Naoko Frances Hioki (Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture)
”The Jesuits and Japanese Folding Screens: Transcultural Gift-exchange and Its Implications on Japanese Art in the Early Seventeenth Century”

R. Keller Kimbrough (University of Colorado, Boulder)
”Spells and Secret Scrolls in the Martial Fiction of Late Medieval Japan”

Ashton Lazarus (Kyushu University)
”Animate Objects: Kemari as Symbolic Pursuit in Heian Japan”

Beng Choo Lim (National University of Singapore)
”Traditional Japanese Theater in Contemporary Time—From the Perspective of Technology”

Ryoko Matsuba (The British Museum and SOAS University of London)
”Reading Images: Visual Conversation between Performances and Printed Images”

Hanna Mcgaughey (University of Trier)
”Japan’s Richard Wagner? Authorship and Artistry in the Modern Reception of Zeami’s Treatises”

Jeffrey Niedermaier (Yale University)
”Wang Zhaojun (Ō Shōkun) Translated and Reflected in Foreign Objects: Mirror, Stage”

Patrick Schwemmer (Musashi University)
”The Medieval Japanese Life of St. Alexius of Edessa”

Nan Hartman (Waseda University)
January 11: “The Soundless Stage and Imagined Audience—A Translation of Japanese Plays into Vernacular Chinese.” Room E-C-203.

Erin Brightwell (University of Michigan)
January 17: “Now Isn’t the End: A Medieval Experiment in Re-writing Mappō and Violence.” Room E-D-107.

Kristopher W. Kersey (UCLA)
January 22: “Reconsidering the Eyeless Sūtras (Menashikyō): Temporality, Dissonance, Method, and Ritual.” Room E-B-107.

Caroline Hirasawa (Waseda University)
January 25: “Contracts and Cosmologies: The Promotion of Inter-worldly Commitments in Fourteenth-century Japanese Paintings.” Room E-A-105.


“Cultural Circulation in Asia: Narrative, Human, and Visual Flows”
February 1–2, 2018

Speakers: John Breen (Nichibunken), Marcus Bingenheimer (Temple University), David Weiss (University of Tübingen), Akiko Walley (University of Oregon), Hsueh-man Shen (New York University), Lucas Nickel (Vienna University), Tansen Sen (NYU Shanghai).
Funded by Kyushu University’s World Premier International Researcher Invitation Program (“Progress 100”) for the creation of interdisciplinary research hubs in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Charles Inouye (Tufts University)
July 19: “Re-enchantment: Thoughts about Neo-animism and the End of the Secular Era.”

Melanie Trede (Heidelberg University)
October 10: “Cutting, Selling, Repurposing: The Eventful Lives of Handscrolls in Japan.”

Christina Laffin (University of British Columbia):
October 15: “Narrative, Performance, and ‘Premodern’ Forms: Ishimure Michiko’s Contemporary Noh Play Okinomiya and its Costuming by Shimura Fukumi.”

Miyata Daiki 宮田太樹 (Fukuoka Art Museum)
November 19: “An Analysis of the Production of the Standing Yakushi Nyorai at Kokusenji in Relation to the Hachiman Faith.”

Bernhard Scheid (Austrian Academy of Sciences)
November 19: “Hachiman as a Pirate Deity.”

Annegret Bergmann (The Free University of Berlin)
November 26: “What a difference a name makes – ceramics from Gimhae in the Japanese tea ceremony.”

Andrea Castiglioni (UC Berkeley)
December 19: “Talismans, Votive Stelae, and Mummified Bodies: The Religious Performances of Mt. Yudono Ascetics in the Early Modern Period


Dr. Bernard Faure, Kao Professor in Japanese Religion, Columbia University
January 30 and 31, 2017: “Buddhism and Neuroscience”
February 2, 6, and 7, 2017: “Japanese Buddhist Gods”
Funded by Kyushu University’s World Premier International Researcher Invitation Program (“Progress 100”).


Theme: Japanese Religion
January 21–24, 2016.

Speakers: Gina Barnes (SOAS), Michael Como (Columbia University), Lisa Kochinski (University of Southern California), Fabio Rambelli (UCSB), Or Porath (UCSB), William Matsuda (Kyushu University), Henny van der Veere (Leiden University); fieldwork in Ōita prefecture with Satomi Yamamoto (Kyoritsu Women's University) and Lindsey DeWitt (Kyushu University). Funded by Kyushu University’s World Premier International Researcher Invitation Program (“Progress 100”).

“Religion and Imagination in Japanese Contexts”
December 7–10, 2016.

Speakers: Dr. Brian Ruppert (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Dr. Chari Pradel, Dr. Fabio Rambelli (UCSB), Dr. D. Max Moerman (Columbia University), Dr. Cynthea J. Bogel (Kyushu University), Dr. Lindsey DeWitt (Kyushu University).
Funded by Kyushu University’s World Premier International Researcher Invitation Program (“Progress 100”).

Dr. Catherine Vance Yeh, Professor of Chinese & Comparative Literature, Boston University
December 12, 15, and 19, 2016. Funded by Kyushu University’s World Premier International Researcher Invitation Program (“Progress 100”).

Theme: Pre-Modern Japanese literature
December 19, 2016

Speakers: Ivo Smits (Leiden University), Torquil Duthie (UCLA).
Funded by Kyushu University’s World Premier International Researcher Invitation Program (“Progress 100”).


“The Making of Religions and Religious Representations in Pre-Modern Japan: Imported, Native, and Modified Forms”
January 13–14, 2014

Speakers: Max Moerman (Columbia University), Michael Como (Columbia University), Lucia Dolce (SOAS), Samuel C. Morse (Amherst College), Caroline Hirasawa (Sophia University), Hillary Pedersen (Kobe University), Lindsey DeWitt (Kyushu University)

“Fengshui in Asia and Beyond: Origins and Diasporas”
January 27–29, 2014.

Speakers: Florian Reiter (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin), Hong-key Yoon (University of Auckland), Michael Paton (University of Sydney), Stephen Field (Trinity University). Funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, Grant for Young Researchers A (no. 23682001)