SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Professor Lucia Dolce

Laurea MA (Venice); PhD (Leiden)
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Expertise
  • Publications


Lucia Dolce
Department of Religions and Philosophies, School of History, Religions and Philosophies

Numata Professor of Japanese Buddhism

Centre of Buddhist Studies


Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions (CSJR)

Chair, Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions

SOAS Japan Research Centre (JRC)

Academic Staff, Japan Research Centre

SOAS World Languages Institute


Professor Lucia Dolce
Email address:
020 7898 4217
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
Mon 9-10 (online), Thurs 1-2 (342), or appointment


Programmes Convened
Modules Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Emanuela Sala, Hermeneutical Strategies of Japanese Medieval Religions: The Yōtenki (working title)
  • Ronit Wang, Representations of The Apāya in Thai Cosmological Parks
  • Yeonju Lee, Korean New Religions and the Construction of Nationalism

Recently awarded PhDs

  • Masata Kato, "Translating a 'Religion', Translating a 'Culture': Cultural Negotiations of a Japanese New Religion in a Transcultural Context."
  • Yaara Morris, "The Kinpusen Himitsuden: Space, Myth and Ritual in a Medieval Cultic Site."
  • Shinya Mano, Yôsai and the development of Zen-Esoteric Buddhism.
  • Kigensan Licha, The Esoterization of Soto Zen in Medieval Japan. 
  • Benedetta Lomi, The Precious Steed of the Buddhist Pantheon: Rituals, faith and images of Batô Kannon in Japan. 
  • Masaaki Okada, Nature in the healing and farming practices of Okada Mokichi of Sekai Kyūsei Kyō.
  • Fumi Ouchi, The Somatic Nature of Enlightenment: Vocal arts in the Japanese Tendai tradition.
  • Tullio Lobetti, Faith in the flesh: body and ascetic practices in contemporary Japanese religious context. 
  • Satomi Horiuchi, Expressing Emotions: Memorial Services in Contemporary Japanese Christianity.



I am currently carrying out two distinct (albeit interrelated) projects on Japanese religious culture.

The first project explores the discourse on the body in the ritual landscape of mediaeval
Japanese Buddhism, with the aim of demonstrating the fluidity of ritual knowledge and the need of linking Japanese notions of the body to continental (Tantric) practices. In the context of this large project I am addressing methodological questions related to the application of performative theories on Japanese premodern ritual (see also Dolce 2010a &b) and the possibilities of a practice-centred approach to analyse Japanese religion in its entirety.

The second project deals with the relation between Buddhism and ‘Shinto,’ in particular contemporary forms of associative practices. I have recently completed a co-edited volume (in Japanese), based on an international workshop held at SOAS in spring 2011, which reflects on the paradigms through which the ‘Buddho-Shinto combination’ has been studied (Dolce 2013) and the particularities of the locativization of Buddhism in Japan. I continue to explore this topic by addressing the revival of premodern practices in well-known shrines in the Kyoto area.

The Lucky Gods of Tokyo: Religious and Spatial Politics of a Contemporary Urban Pilgrimage (with Dr Tatsuma Padoan, Newton Fellow, 2014-2016)

This project explores how Tokyo urban space is reconfigured in specific pilgrimage routes connecting Buddhist and Shinto institutions: the pilgrimage of the Seven Gods of Fortune (shichifukujin). Focusing on a number of case studies, it seeks to study the processes of negotiation and confrontation between different institutions and institutional levels, as well as the dynamics of religious marketing that shape the relationship between cultic centres and practitioners.


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Available for
  • Radio
  • Press
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
  • Long Term Consultancy
  • TV
Regional Expertise
  • East Asia
Country Expertise
  • Japan
  • Italian
  • Japanese



Dolce, Lucia (2022) 'A (Presumably Chinese) tantric scripture and its Japanese exegesis: the Yuqi Jing 瑜祇經 and the practices of the Yogin'. Studies in Chinese Religions, (8) 1, pp 1-32.

Dolce, Lucia (2009) 'Duality and the kami: Reconfiguring Buddhist notions and ritual patterns'. Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, (16), pp 119-150.

Dolce, Lucia (2007) 'Taimitsu ni okeru hokekyô kaishaku to girei: hokkehô to hokke mandala ni tsuite [台密における法華経解釈と儀礼—法華法と法華曼陀羅につして]'. Tendai gakuhô = Journal of Tendai Buddhist Studies, (48), pp 13-32.

Dolce, Lucia (2006) 'The State of the Field: A Basic Bibliography on Astrological Cultic Practices in Japan'. Culture and Cosmos: a journal of the history of astrology and cultural astronomy, (10) 1/2, pp 45-48.

Dolce, Lucia (2006) 'The worship of celestial bodies in Japan: politics, rituals and icons'. Culture and Cosmos: a journal of the history of astrology and cultural astronomy, (10) 1-2, pp 3-43.

Dolce, Lucia and Smits, Ivo (1999) 'Hora est. 'Het einde der wet' en historisch besef in middeleeuws Japan'. Leidschrift : historisch tijdschrift, (14) 2, pp 87-107.

Dolce, Lucia (1999) 'Criticism and Appropriation: Ambiguities in Nichiren's Attitude Towards Esoteric Buddhism'. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, (26) 3/4, pp 349-382.

Dolce, Lucia (1996) 'Esoteric patterns in Nichiren's thought'. Studies in Central and East Asian Religions, (9), pp 89-95.

Dolce, Lucia (1992) 'Awareness of Mappô. Soteriological Interpretations of Time in Nichiren'. Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan (fourth series), (7), pp 81-106.

Edited Books or Journals

Dolce, Lucia, (ed.), (2018) Nichiren to Hokekyô, Japanese Translation of Esoteric Patterns in Nichiren’s Interpretation of the Lotus Sutra. Sekido Gyôkai and Miwa Zenshô transl.. Tokyo: Sankibô shoten. [Forthcoming]

Dolce, Lucia and Mitsuhashi, Tadashi, (eds.), (2013) Shinbutsu shûgô saikô 「神仏習合」を再考 [Rethinking Syncretism in Japanese Religion]. Tokyo: Bensei shuppansha.

Dolce, Lucia, (ed.), (2012) Japanese Religions, 4 vols.. London: Sage. (Sage Benchmarks in Religious Studies).

Dolce, Lucia and Ikuyo, Matsumoto, (eds.), (2010) Girei no chikara –chûsei shûkyô no jissen sekai 儀礼の力—中世宗教の実践世界 [The Power of Ritual: The World of Religious Practice in Medieval Japan]. Kyoto: Hôzôkan.

Dolce, Lucia and Raz, Gil and Triplett, Katja, (eds.), (2010) Grammars and Morphologies of Ritual Practices in Asia. Section II: Ritual Discourse, Ritual Performance in China and Japan. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (Ritual dynamics and the science of ritual, 1).

Dolce, Lucia, (ed.), (2006) The Worship of Stars in Japanese Religious Practice. Special issue of Culture and Cosmos: a journal of the history of astrology and cultural astronomy. v.10(1/2). Bristol: Sophia Centre Press. (Culture and Cosmos, vol. 10, no.1/2).

Book Chapters

Dolce, Lucia and D'Ortia, Linda Zampol and Pinto, Ana Fernandes (2022) 'Saints, Sects, and (Holy) Sites: The Jesuit Mapping of Japanese Buddhism (Sixteenth Century)'. In: Curvelo, Alexandra and Cattaneo, Angelo, (eds.), Interactions Between Rivals: The Christian Mission and Buddhist Sects in Japan (c.1549-c.1647). Berlin: Peter Lang, pp 67-107.

Dolce, Lucia (2022) 'The Abhiṣeka of the Yogin: Bodily Practices and the Interiorization of Ritual in Medieval Japan'. In: Rambelli, Fabio and Porath, Or, (eds.), Rituals of Initiation and Consecration in Premodern Japan: Power and Legitimacy in Kingship, Religion, and the Arts. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp 275-320.

Dolce, Lucia (2021) '“And the zasu Changed his Shoes”: The Resurgence of Combinatory Rituals in Contemporary Japan.'. In: Bulian, Giovanni and Rivadossi, Silvia, (eds.), Itineraries of an Anthropologist. Venezia: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari, pp 151-180.

Dolce, Lucia (2016) 'The Embryonic Generation of the Perfect Body: Ritual Embryology from Japanese Tantric Sources'. In: Andreeva, Anna and Steavu, Dominic, (eds.), Transforming the Void: Embryological Discourse and Reproductive Imagery in East Asian Religions. Leiden; New York: Brill, pp 253-310.

Dolce, Lucia (2015) 'Possession and Exorcism in Japanese Religions'. In: Laycock, Joseph P., (ed.), Spirit Possession around the World: Possession, Communion, and Demon Expulsion across Cultures. Santa Barbara; CA: ABC: CLIO, pp 178-185.

Dolce, Lucia (2014) '“Hokekyô to mikkyô,” [The Lotus Sutra and Tantric Buddhism]'. In: Hôshô, Komatsu and Jûdô, Hanano, (eds.), Hokekyô to Nichiren. Tokyo: Shunjûsha,, pp 268-293.

Dolce, Lucia (2013) 'Reconsidering the Origins of Nichiren's "Great Mandala of the Lotus Sutra"'. In: Hokekyô gakkai jitsugyô iinkai, , (ed.), The Universal and International Nature of the Lotus Sutra. Tokyo: Sankibô shoten, pp 187-209.

Dolce, Lucia and Mitsuhashi, Tadashi (2013) '"Shinbutsu shûgô” o saikô suru tameni「神仏習合」を再考するために [Revisiting the Concept of kami-buddha Combination: Issues and Perspectives]'. In: Dolce, Lucia and Mitsuhashi, Tadashi, (eds.), Shinbutsu shûgô saikô [Rethinking Syncretism in Japanese Religion]. Tokyo: Bensei shuppan, pp 5-26.

Dolce, Lucia (2013) 'Daiei hakubutsukan zô no “Sanshû no jingi” zu: shinbutsu shûgô bijutsu to 19seiki Igirisu ni okeru Nihonteki shinkuretisumu rikai 大英博物館蔵の「三種の神器」図 − 神仏習合美術と19世紀イギリスにおける日本的シンクレティズム理解 [The British Museum “Three Regalia Scrolls:” Shinbutsu Art and the Nineteenth-Century Representation of Japanese “Syncretism”]'. In: Dolce, Lucia and Mitsuhashi, Tadashi, (eds.), Shinbutsu shûgô saikô「神仏習合」を再考 [Rethinking Syncretism in Japanese Religion]. Tokyo: Bensei shuppan, pp 338-382.

Dolce, Lucia (2011) 'Taimitsu: The Esoteric Buddhism of the Tendai School'. In: Orzech, Charles, (ed.), Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia. Leiden: Brill, pp 744-767.

Dolce, Lucia (2011) 'Taimitsu Rituals in Medieval Japan: Sectarian Competition and the Dynamics of Tantric Performance'. In: Keul, Istvan, (ed.), Transformations and Transfer of Tantra in Asia and Beyond. Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter Publishers, pp 329-364.

Dolce, Lucia and Mano, Shinya (2011) 'Godai’in Annen'. In: Orzech, Charles, (ed.), Esoteric Buddhism And The Tantras in East Asia. Leiden: Brill, pp 768-775.

Dolce, Lucia (2010) 'The Practice of Religion in Japan: An Exploration of the State of the Field'. In: Dolce, Lucia, (ed.), Japanese Religions, vol. 1. London: Sage, pp xix-lvii.

Dolce, Lucia (2010) 'The contested space of Buddhist public rituals: the shûnie of Tōdaiji'. In: Michaels, Axel and Mishra, Anand and Dolce, Lucia and Raz, Gil and Triplett, Katja, (eds.), Grammars and Morphologies of Ritual Practices in Asia. Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz Verlag, pp 433-458.

Dolce, Lucia (2010) 'Nigenteki genri no girei: Fudô Aizen to chikara no hizô [Ritualizing Duality: Fudô, Aizen and the Secret Iconography of Empowerment]'. In: Dolce, Lucia and Matsumoto, Ikuyo, (eds.), Girei no chikara. Kyoto: Hôzôkan, pp 159-206.

Dolce, Lucia and Matsumoto, Ikuyo (2010) 'Nihon shûkyô kenkyû ni okeru gireigaku no ronten” [Ritual Theories and the Study of Japanese Religious Practices]'. In: Dolce, Lucia and Matsumoto, Ikuyo, (eds.), 儀礼の力 : 中世宗教の実践世界 / Girei no chikara : Chusei shukyo no jissen sekai.. Kyoto: Hôzôkan, pp 3-28.

Dolce, Lucia (2008) 'Girei ni yori seisei sareru kanzen naru shintai –chûsei mikkyô no ‘hiseitôteki zuzô’ to shuhô o megutte [儀礼により生成される完全なる身体 –-中世密教の「非正統的」図像と修法をめぐって'. In: Yasurô, Abe, (ed.), Nihon ni okeru shûkyô tekisuto no shoisô to tôjihô. Nagoya: Nagoya daigaku bungakubu gurobaru COE puroguramu, pp 58-71.

Dolce, Lucia (2007) 'Mapping the “Divine Country:” Sacred Geography and International Concerns in Mediaeval Japan'. In: Breuker, Remco E., (ed.), Korea in the middle : Korean studies and area studies : essays in honour of Boudewijn Walraven. Leiden: CNWS Publications, pp 288-312.

Dolce, Lucia (2006) 'Icons, Scriptures, and Their Ritual Use: Reflexions on the Nineteenth-Century European Understandings of Japanese Buddhism'. In: Murakami-Giroux, Sakae, (ed.), La Rencontre du Japon et de l'Europe. Images d'une découverte. Actes du troisième colloque d'études japonaises de l'université Marc Bloch.. Aurillac: Publications Orientalistes de France, pp 57-78.

Dolce, Lucia (2006) 'Reconsidering the Taxonomy of the Esoteric. Hermeneutical and Ritual Practices of the Lotus Sutra'. In: Scheid, B. and Teeuwen, M., (eds.), The Culture of Secrecy in Japanese Religion. Abingdon: Routledge, pp 130-171.

Dolce, Lucia (2004) 'Nichiren (1222-1282) Leader of Japanese Buddhism'. In: Goethals, George R. and Sorensen, Georgia and Burns, James MacGregor, (eds.), Encyclopedia of Leadership, volume 3.. London: Sage, pp 1087-1091.

Dolce, Lucia (2003) 'Hokke Shinto. Kami in the Nichiren Tradition'. In: Teeuwen, M. and Rambelli, Fabio, (eds.), Buddhas and Kami in Japan. Honji Suijaku as a Combinatory Paradigm. London: Curzon Routledge, pp 222-54.

Dolce, Lucia (2003) 'Nel nome del 'vero' dharma: ortodossia, strategie di legittimazione e conflitti religiosi nel buddismo giapponese'. In: Raveri, Massimo, (ed.), Verso l'altro : le religioni dal conflitto al dialogo. Venezia: Marsilio, pp 241-262.

Dolce, Lucia (2003) 'On the Use of Prophecy in Mediaeval Japan. Nichiren, the Future of Buddhism and the Country of Japan'. In: Hoyo, Watanabe, (ed.), Hokke bukkyo bunkashi ronso. [Essays on the cultural history of Lotus Buddhism] = 法華仏教文化史論叢 : 渡邊寳陽先生古稀記念論文集. Kyoto: Heirakuji shoten, pp 59-90.

Dolce, Lucia (2002) 'Between Duration and Eternity: Hermeneutics of the "Ancient Buddha" of the Lotus Sutra in Chih-I and the Nichiren'. In: Reeves, G, (ed.), A Buddhist Kaleidoscope: Essays on the Lotus Sutra. Tōkyō: Kosei Publishing Co, pp 223-239.

Dolce, Lucia (1998) 'Buddhist Hermeneutics in Medieval Japan: Canonical Texts, Scholastic Tradition & Sectarian Polemics'. In: van der Kooij, A., (ed.), Canonization and Decanonization. Leiden: Brill, pp 229-244.

Book Reviews

Dolce, Lucia (2009) 'Review of Patricia J. Graham, 'Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art 1600-2005''. Nihon bukkyô sôgô kenkyû [Interdisciplinary studies of Japanese Buddhism], (8), pp 129-138.


Dolce, Lucia (2015) 'Performance, Asceticism and the Power of Ritual: The Repentance Liturgy of Tōdaiji' Dharma World Magazine [Online].

Dolce, Lucia (2006) 'You May Detest This World, But You Cannot Escape It: Engaged Lotus Buddhism in Medieval Japan'.


This list was last generated on Sunday, 2nd October 2022, 09:28 Europe/London.