SOAS University of London

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

Dr Tatsuma Padoan

PhD (Venice)
  • Overview
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications


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Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions (CSJR)

Research Associate

Dr Tatsuma Padoan
Email address:
21/22 Russell Square
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Tatsuma Padoan (*1979, PhD) obtained his doctorate in Languages, Cultures and Societies (Religions and Anthropology of Japan) in March 2011 from Ca' Foscari University of Venice. He has been research student in Cultural Anthropology at Tokyo’s Keio University, carrying out research activities on mountain asceticism and pilgrimage in Japan. Before coming to SOAS, he has been teaching Japanese Religions at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and Cultural Anthropology at the Free University of Bolzano, where he also conducted an ethnographic and semiotic study of learning processes in design. His research areas cover the study of ritual – including pilgrimage, religious materiality and spirit possession – as well as the study of design practices and the politics of urban space. In terms of methodology, he is particularly interested in the relationship between generative semiotics, linguistic anthropology and actor-network-theory, as a set of models for the practical analysis of local discourses in religion, material culture, and science and technology studies.



Dr Padoan’s current research at SOAS focuses on: “The Lucky Gods of Tokyo: Religious and Spatial Politics of a Contemporary Urban Pilgrimage”. This study intends to analyse the relationship between religious and spatial politics in contemporary Japan, through an investigation of how Tokyo urban space is used in specific routes of pilgrimage that emerge from the interaction between Buddhist and Shinto institutions. Urban studies tend to ignore the role of pilgrimage in shaping contemporary city life, especially in the rich Asian traditions. By focusing on the extremely popular – but little studied – pilgrimage of the Seven Gods of Fortune, and on some of its specific settings, this project will try to fill this gap, and to explain how this religious practice: (1) reconfigures urban space and institutional boundaries, within a changing geography of religious interests, economical activities and quests for local identity, and (2) leads us to reconsider the category of social, as a process produced by networks of human and divine actors.


Authored Books

Padoan, Tatsuma (2020) Towards a Semiotics of Pilgrimage: Ritual Space, Memory and Narration in Japan and Elsewhere. Berlin, Germany: DeGruyter. [Forthcoming]


Padoan, Tatsuma (2014) 'Drawn by Images: Control, Subversion and Contamination in the Visual Discourse of Tokyo Metro'. Lexia. Journal of Semiotics., (17-18), pp 579-599.

Padoan, Tatsuma (2008) 'Kami in Fabula: A Tentative Analysis of a Mediaeval Mythological Text'. SOAS Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions Newsletter 16-17, pp 24-27.

Book Chapters

Padoan, Tatsuma and Sedda, Franciscu (2016) 'Sémiotique et anthropologie'. In: Biglari, Amir and Roelens, Nathalie, (eds.), Sémiotique en interface. Paris: Kimé. [Forthcoming]

Padoan, Tatsuma (2015) 'Buddhism'. In: Laycock, Joseph, (ed.), Spirit Possession around the World: Possession, Communion, and Demon Expulsion Across Cultures. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, pp 54-59.

Padoan, Tatsuma (2014) 'Hinter den Zeichen. Über Strategien der Verordnung und Verhandlung von Verhaltensregeln in der Tokioter U-Bahn'. In: Gleiter, Jörg H., (ed.), Symptom Design: Vom Zeigen und Sich-Zeigen der Dinge. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, pp 183-209.

Padoan, Tatsuma (2012) 'Dei treni e dei riti. Politiche ferroviarie e memoria estetico-rituale nella Tokyo contemporanea [On Trains and Rites. Railway Policies and Aesthetic-Ritual Memory in Contemporary Tokyo]'. In: Mangano, Dario and Mattozzi, Alvise, (eds.), La ricerca semiotica. Rome: Aracne, pp 11-52.

Padoan, Tatsuma (2007) 'The Hybrid Power of the kami mandara. Polythetic Classifications and Anthropological Perspectives on the Combinatory Religion of Medieval Japan'. Shinto – In Search of Sincerity (Essays on Shinto, vol. 4). Tokyo: International Cultural Workshop, pp 37-51.

Padoan, Tatsuma (2007) 'Sacred Economy and Transactional Religion: Dynamics of Power, Economics and Religion from Pre-modern to Contemporary Japanese Society'. Shinto – In Search of Sincerity (Essays on Shinto, vol. 4). Tokyo: International Cultural Workshop, pp 6-15.

Book Reviews

Padoan, Tatsuma (2012) 'Un pensiero tutto curve: su François Jullien [A Detour-Making Thought: On François Jullien]'. Alfalibri (supplemento mensile di Alfabeta2) 17.


This list was last generated on Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 21:58 Europe/London.