SOAS University of London

Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions

The Forgotten First London Buddhist Mission, 1889-1892: Charles J W Pfoundes and the Kaigai Senky├┤kai

Brian Bocking

Date: 12 December 2013Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 12 December 2013Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Kamran Djam Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: 0


According to every scholarly account of the introduction of Buddhism to the West, the first London Buddhist mission was that of the British monk Ananda Metteyya (Allan Bennett, 1872-1923) who arrived in London in 1908 on a visit sponsored by a wealthy Burmese Buddhist laywoman. However, an earlier Buddhist mission has just been discovered, that of Omoi Tetsunosuke (Charles Pfoundes, 1840-1907), an Irish emigrant who arrived in Japan in 1863, became fluent in Japanese and lived through the Meiji Restoration. Between 1889-1892, Pfoundes headed a Buddhist mission in London, acting on behalf of the Japanese Buddhist missionary organisation the kaigai senkyōkai. This mission, so long forgotten, has been rediscovered in the past few months through collaborative research undertaken by Yoshinaga Shin’ichi (Japan) and Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking (Ireland).


Brian Bocking is a former Professor of the Study of Religions at SOAS. He became Professor of the Study of Religions and Head of the newly established Study of Religions Department at UCC in January 2008. He is currently acting Head of the School of Asian Studies at UCC.
Professor Bocking's publications include works on Japanese religions and Buddhism as well as essays and articles on the Study of Religions as taught in universities. His books include the first English translation of the 5th century Chinese text of Nagarjuna's Middle Treatise (1995); a Dictionary of Shinto (1996) and a study of the changing form and interpretations over four centuries of a key Japanese religious scroll known as 'The Oracles of the Three Shrines' (sanja takusen) (2000). He is currently researching, with Alicia Turner (York University, Toronto) and Laurence Cox (NUI Maynooth), the life and career of the forgotten 'Irish Buddhist' U Dhammaloka (?1856-?1914), a pioneer Western Buddhist monk celebrated throughout S/E Asia in the early 1900s, and with Laurence Cox and Yoshinaga Shin'ichi the life of the Irish Japanologist and pioneer London Buddhist missionary Charles J W Pfoundes (1840-1907).

Organiser: Center for the Study of Japanese Religions

Contact email:

Contact Tel: 020 7898 4950