SOAS University of London

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

Dr Masato Kato

MA (Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley); MA (SOAS); PhD (SOAS)
  • Teaching
  • Research




  • Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions (CSJR)
  • Japanese Association for Religious Studies (JARS)
  • Japanese Association for the Study of Religion and Society (JASRS)
  • BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group (SOCREL)



During my PhD research, I have focused on a Japanese ‘new religion’ known as Tenrikyō as it operates in postwar France to explore the themes and issues pertaining to the particular institutional strategy the religious group has adopted in this socio-cultural milieu. From the inception of its organisational development in the country in early 1970s, Tenrikyō has been conducting religious activities at a religious association (Tenrikyo Europe Centre, originally Tenrikyo Mission Centre in Paris, in Antony) as well as promoting cultural activities at a cultural association (Tenri France-Japan Cultural Association in central Paris) as a way to increase the visibility and legitimacy of the religious group. This organisational development, which reflects an institutional demarcation necessitated by the French legal framework relating to the 1901 and 1905 laws, has coincided with a period of growing interests in the Japanese language and popular cultures in France as well as of the public sentiment against ‘cults’ (sectes). In this study, I sought to contextualise these institutional initiatives in this particular socio-cultural context in light of the religious tradition’s postwar doctrinal discourse, which, paradoxically, presents an abstracted interpretation of its cultural particularity and historical roots.