SOAS University of London

Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions

CSJR Summer International Workshop: Words, Deities and Icons: Performing Rituals in Premodern Japan


Date: 12 May 2011Time: 10:00 AM

Finishes: 13 May 2011Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B111

Type of Event: Workshop

SOAS, Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions, Summer Workshop

Words Deities Icons
Exploring Ritual Performance in Premodern Japan
May 12-13 2011
Brunei Gallery, SOAS

Words, deities and icons are fundamental and entwined elements of religious liturgies, as suggested by ritual, iconographical and literary evidence. In recent years, the joint investigation of textual material, temple architecture, sacred images and iconography has remarkably enhanced our knowledge of premodern practices, opening up new avenues for the understanding of Japanese religion. This has nourished the interest of Japanese and foreign scholars of Japanese religious culture, stimulating fruitful collaborations.

This workshop brings together researchers from different institutions and disciplines to explore the dynamics of ritual performance in premodern Japan  by looking at the role that human and divine agency, sculptures and paintings, ceremonial space and sacred texts played in the construction of ritual.



12 May 2011, Room B111, Brunei Gallery, SOAS

10:00 - 10:15 Introduction and Welcome                                   
10:15 – 12:00 Panel 1 – Doing Things with Words
                    Discussant: Abe Yasurô (Nagoya University)
CHIKAMOTO Kensuke (University of Tsukuba) The sermons (shōdō) of Gedatsubō Jōkei: The Background and Structure of the Solemn Words used in Buddhist Assemblies
Stephan Licha (SOAS) The Word and the Flesh: Embryology, Immortality and the All-penetrating Body in Medieval Sôtô Zen
INOSE Chihiro (Nagoya University) The integration of Words, Sounds and Images in Secret Music Transmission Rituals: A Preliminary  Analysis and Reconstruction.

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch Break
13:30 – 15:15 Panel 2 – Texts and Images
Discussant: John Carpenter (SOAS)
Abe Mika (Shōwa Women's University)  Reading the Yûzu Nembutsu Engi Emaki
Benedetta Lomi (SOAS)  Ritual Choreographies of the Rokujikyô: On the Role of Patrons, Monks and Fashionable Images in the Construction of the Ritual Practice.
IZUMI Takeo (Tōhoku University)  Between Visibility and Invisibility: The Role of Iconography and Paintings in Buddhist Rituals from Late Heian to Early Kamakura Periods.

15:15 – 15:30 Tea Break
15:30 – 17:15 Panel 3 – The Politics of Ritual
Discussant: Lucia Dolce (SOAS)
YAMANO Ryutarō (University of Tsukuba)  The Warriors and the Political Context of the Performance of Buddhist Assemblies
Gaetan Rappo (University Of Geneva – EPHE Paris)  Ritual Warfare in Medieval Japan: A Study of Monkan's Gyakuto-taiji Goma-shidai
UEJIMA Susumu (Kyōto Prefectural University)  The Monks who Created Liturgical Assemblies and Their Thought

17:30 – 19:30 Screening: The Flower Assembly Rite (Hana’e-shiki) of Yakushiji
Brunei Gallery Lecture Theater

13 May 2011, Room B104, Brunei Gallery, SOAS

10:00 – 12:30 Panel 4 – The Construction of Ritual Space
Discussant: Timon Screech (SOAS)
MATSUO Kōichi (National Museum of Japanese History)  Ritual Space and The People of the Combinatory Rituals of the Nara Temples: The Assemblies of the First Month (shushô-e) and of the Second Month (shuni-e) at Horyūji and Yakushiji
Tatsuma Padoan (University of Venice and LISaV) Body, Discourse, and Translation: Reconfiguring the Ritual Space of Katsuragi in the Thirteenth Century
YAMAGISHI Tsuneto  (Kyōto University)  Medieval Temple Halls and the Role of the Leading Celebrants in the Buddhist Assemblies

12:30 – 14:00 Lunch Break
14:00 – 16:00 Panel 5 – Ritual Agency
Discussant: Gaynor Sekimori (SOAS)
Anna Andreeva (Heidelberg University)  Snake Deities and Esoteric Kami Rituals in Miwaryû Tradition
Noriko Horsley (SOAS)  Emerging and Disappearing Deities, the Formation and Transformation of Goryô-e in the Early Middle Ages
FUJIOKA Yutaka (Osaka University)  Bodies in Procession and Living Bodies: The statue of Shōtoku Taishi of Shōryōin (Shitennōji)

16:00 – 16:15 Tea Break
16:15 – 17:30 Roundtable Discussion Abe Yasurô and Lucia Dolce
For further information, please contact Dr Lucia Dolce at

Organiser: Lucia Dolce, SOAS, Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions