Nanzan Library of Asian Religion & Culture

A collection of books, published in collaboration with the University of Hawai’i Press and devoted to the study of religion and culture in Asia. All volumes may be ordered from the Nanzan Institute if they are not available in your home country.

Editorial Advisory Board

  • Hayashi Makoto
    Aichi Gakuin University
  • Thomas Kasulis
    Ohio State University
  • James W. Heisig
    Kim Seung Chul
    Paul L. Swanson
    Okuyama Michiaki
    Matthew D. McMullen
    Saito Takashi
    Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture

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The Collection

  • James W. Heisig & John C. Maraldo, eds.

    Rude Awakenings

    What role did D. T. Suzuki and other Zen figures play in the Japanese nationalism that fueled World War II? What are we to make of nationalist elements in the thought of Nishida Kitarō, Tanabe Hajime, Nishitani Keiji, and other philosophers of the Kyoto school? Fifteen Japanese and Western scholars take up these and other questions about the political responsibility of Japanese Buddhist intellectuals, offering a variety of critical perspectives and a wealth of information for those interested in prewar and wartime history, Zen, Japanese philosophy, and the problem of nationalism today.

    Ultimately, this exceptional collection challenges us to reconsider basic questions concerning intellectuals and society in the cauldron of war.

    John W. Dower

    With its superb translations and meticulous editing, this collection sets a sterling standard for future anthologies.

    Graham Parkes

    Students will find the text quite readable and scholars will find the sixty-five pages of endnotes and appendix a rich resource of information.

  • Jamie Hubbard & Paul L. Swanson, eds.

    Pruning the Bodhi Tree

    Zen is not Buddhism. Buddha-nature is not Buddhism. Nor is original enlightenment or the non-duality of the Vimalakirti Sutra or the philosophy of the Kyoto school. For Hakamaya Noriaki and Matsumoto Shirō, these and many other elements of the Buddhist tradition have diluted the critical discrimination of the truth that is the heart of Buddhist realization and social justice.

    I am convinced that these essays on the critique of hongaku shisō will have a revolutionary impact on contemporary thought in general and Buddhist studies in particular.

    Kamata Shigeo, University of Tokyo

    The appearance of this volume will introduce Western readers to issues important not only in Japan, but wherever Buddhism is taught and practiced.

    John P. Keenan, Middlebury College
  • Mark R. Mullins

    Christianity Made in Japan

    For centuries the accommodation between Japan and Christianity has been an uneasy one. Compared with others of its Asian neighbors, the churches in Japan have never counted more than a small minority of belivers more or less resigned to patterns of ritual and belief transplanted from the West. But there is another side to the story, one little known and rarely told: the rise of indigenous movements aimed at a Christianity that is at once made in Japan and faithful to the scriptures and apostolic tradition. Christianity Made in Japan draws on extensive field research to give an intriguing and sympathetic look behind the scenes and into the lives of the leaders and followers of several indigenous movements in Japan. Focusing on the "native" response rather than Western missionary efforts and intentions, it presents varieties of new interpretations of the Christian tradition. It gives voice to the unheard perceptions and views of many Japanese Christians, while raising questions vital to the self-understanding of Christianity as a truly "world religion."


  • Jamie Hubbard

    Absolute Delusion, Perfect Buddhahood

    In spite of the common view of Buddhism as non-dogmatic and tolerant, the historical record preserves many examples of Buddhist thinkers and movements that were banned as heretical or subversive. The San-chieh (Three Levels) was a popular and influential Chinese Buddhist movement during the Sui and T'ang periods. Absolute Delusion, Perfect Buddhahood uses manuscripts discovered at Tun-huang to examine the doctrine and institutional practices of this movement in the larger context of Mahayana doctrine and practice. By viewing San-chieh in the context of Mahayana Buddhism, Hubbard reveals it to be far from heretical and thereby raises important questions about orthodoxy and canon in Buddhism. He shows that many of the hallmark ideas and practices of Chinese Buddhism find an early and unique expression in the San-chieh texts.


  • James W. Heisig

    Philosophers of Nothingness

    [Also available as a Kindle eBook] Philosophers of Nothingness examines the three principal figures of what has come to be known as the “Kyoto school—”—Nishida Kitarō, Tanabe Hajime, and Nishitani Keiji——and shows how this original current of twentieth-century Japanese thought challenges traditional philosophy to break out of its western confines and step into a world forum. This book may be ordered directly from the University of Hawai'i Press or from the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture (right).


  • Victor Sōgen Hori

    Zen Sand

    In Japan the traditional Rinzai Zen kōan curriculum includes the use of jakugo, or "capping phrases." Once a monk has successfully replied to a kōan, the Zen master orders the search for a classical verses to express the monk's insight into the kōan. Special collections of these jakugo were compiled as handbooks to aid in that search. Until now, Zen students in the West, lacking this important resource, have been severely limited in carrying out this practice. Zen Sand combines and translates two standard jakugo handbooks and opens the way for incorporating this important tradition fully into Western Zen practice.

    This impressive compendium of texts central to Zen practice offers a wealth of information not only to students of Zen or Buddhism in general, but to anyone interested in the history and culture of East Asia.


  • Robert J. J. Wargo

    The Logic of Nothingness

    The writings of Nishida Kitarō, whose name has become almost synonymous with Japanese philosophy, continue to attract attention around the world. Yet studies of his thought in Western languages have tended to overlook two key areas: first, the influence of the generation of Japanese philosophers who preceded Nishida; and second, the logic of basho (place), the cornerstone of Nishida’s mature philosophical system.

    The Logic of Nothingness addresses both of these topics. Robert Wargo argues that the overriding concern of Nishida’s mature philosophy, the attempt to give a reasonable account of reality that includes the reasonableness of that account itself—or what Wargo calls “the problem of completeness”—has its origins in Inoue Enryō’s and Inoue Tetsujirō’s preoccupation with “the problem of standpoints.” A translation of one of Nishida’s most demanding texts, included here as an appendix, demonstrates the value of Wargo’s insightful analysis of the logic of basho as an aid to deciphering the philosopher’s early work.


  • Paul L. Swanson & Clark Chilson, eds.

    Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions

    A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title The Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions has been prepared as an aid for students and scholars engaged in research on Japanese religions. It is the first resource guide to encompass the entire field of Japanese religions and provide tools for navigating it. In the nearly forty years that have elapsed since the appearance of Joseph Kitagawa's Religion in Japanese History (1966), there has been a large amount of new scholarship on the role of religion in Japanese history. What general summaries there are of Japanese Buddhism and Shinto have tended to rely on scholarship from the 1960s and 1970s. In the intervening years, the field has seen considerable development and given rise to a host of new questions, leaving a great deal of earlier work outdated and out of focus. The Nanzan Guide offers the latest scholarship on a wide range of issues.


  • Translation & commentary by Ruth Fuller Sasaki Edited by Thomas Yūhō Kirchner

    The Record of Linji

    The Linji lu (Record of Linji) has been an essential text of Chinese and Japanese Zen Buddhism for nearly a thousand years. A compilation of sermons, statements, and acts attributed to the great Chinese Zen master Linji Yixuan (d. 866), it serves as both an authoritative statement of Zen’s basic standpoint and a central source of material for Zen koan practice. Scholars study the text for its importance in understanding both Zen thought and East Asian Mahayana doctrine, while Zen practitioners cherish it for its unusual simplicity, directness, and ability to inspire.


  • Edited by James W. Heisig Thomas P. Kasulis John C. Maraldo

    Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook

    • "Outstanding Academic Title" (Choice)
    • "Outstanding Reference Source" (Reference and User Services Association)
    • "Accolade in the Social Sciences" (International Convention of Asian Scholars)
    [Available from Amazon] With Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook, the English reader can now access in a single volume the richness and diversity of Japanese philosophy as it has developed throughout history. Leading scholars in the field have translated selections from the writings of more than one hundred philosophical thinkers from all eras and schools of thought, many them available in English for the first time.


  • Benjamin Dorman

    Celebrity Gods

    Celebrity Gods explores the interaction of new religions and the media in postwar Japan. It focuses on the leaders and founders of Jiu and Tenshō Kōtai Jingū Kyō, two new religions of Japan’s immediate postwar period that received substantial press attention. Jiu was linked to the popular prewar group Ōmotokyō, and its activities were based on the millennial visions of its leader, a woman called Jikōson. When Jiu attracted the legendary sumo champion Futabayama to its cause, Jikōson and her activities became a widely-covered cause célèbre in the press. Tenshō Kōtai Jingū Kyō (labeled odoru shūkyō, “the dancing religion,” by the press) was led by a farmer’s wife, Kitamura Sayo. Her uncompromising vision and actions toward creating a new society—one that was far removed from what she described as the “maggot world” of postwar Japan—drew harsh and often mocking criticism from the print media.


  • James W. Heisig

    Nothingness and Desire

    [Also available as a Kindle eBook] The six lectures that make up this book were delivered in March 2011 at London University’s School of Oriental and Asian Studies as the “Jordan Lectureship on Comparative Religions.” They revolve around the intersection of the two, nothingness and desire, as they apply to a re-examination of the questions of self, God, morality, property, and the East-West philosophical divide.


  • Clark Chilson

    Secrecy's Power

    For centuries throughout Japan, covert Shin Buddhists met in homes, the backrooms of stores, and on secluded mountains. In these undisclosed places they taught their hidden doctrines and conducted secret rites. Among their adherents was D. T. Suzuki’s mother, who took her son to covert Shin meetings when he was a boy.

    Although historians thought covert Shin Buddhists had disappeared before the mid-twentieth century, the author serendipitously encountered a group that survives today. This led him to discover that a variety of covert Shin Buddhist groups still conceal from outsiders the very existence of their religion.

    Drawing on historical and ethnographic sources, as well as the author’s fieldwork among a covert Shin Buddhists in central Japan, Secrecy’s Power introduces the histories, doctrines, and practices of different covert Shin Buddhists. It shows how and why they have concealed their Shin traditions and the effects secrecy has had. In doing so, Secrecy’s Power indicates how Shin Buddhism is a richer, more diverse, and more contested tradition than commonly depicted. It also reveals how secrecy has the power to produce multiple consequences, even polar opposite ones, among those who keep secrets.

    University of Hawai'i Press, 2014

  • Paul L. Swanson

    Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight

    The Mo-ho chih-kuan (Great cessation-and-contemplation) by T’ien-t’ai Chih-i (538–597) is among the most influential treatises in the long history of Buddhist scholarship. In Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight, one of today’s foremost scholars on T’ien-t’ai (Tendai) Buddhism offers the first complete, fully annotated translation of this significant work. The full scope of Buddhist tradition and its practices is illuminated: from sitting or walking in meditation to chanting the Buddha’s name, to defining the tenets of ethical living—and its teachings; from the “Hīnayāna” Āgama texts to Mahāyāna sutras and treatises, to various Buddhist and non-Buddhist (indigenous Chinese) beliefs.

    Extensive annotation accompanying the translation (volumes 1 and 2) will help readers understand the original text and implications of various crucial passages and ideas, as well as the place the Mo-ho chih-kuan occupies in the development of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese Buddhism and its critical importance for figures such as Nichiren. Volume 3 contains ample supplementary materials, including translations of related texts, a comprehensive glossary, and a list of Buddhist sources.

    Nanzan Library of Asian Religion and Culture, vol. 14

  • Thomas P. Kasulis

    Engaging Japanese Philosophy

    Philosophy challenges our assumptions—especially when it comes to us from another culture. In exploring Japanese philosophy, a dependable guide is essential. The present volume, written by a renowned authority on the subject, offers readers a historical survey of Japanese thought that is both comprehensive and comprehensible.    Adhering to the Japanese philosophical tradition of highlighting engagement over detachment, Thomas Kasulis invites us to think with, as well as about, the Japanese masters by offering ample examples, innovative analogies, thought experiments, and jargon-free explanations. He assumes little previous knowledge and addresses themes—aesthetics, ethics, the samurai code, politics, among others—not in a vacuum but within the conditions of Japan’s cultural and intellectual history. For readers new to Japanese studies, he provides a simplified guide to pronouncing Japanese and a separate discussion of the language and how its syntax, orthography, and linguistic layers can serve the philosophical purposes of a skilled writer and subtle thinker. For those familiar with the Japanese cultural tradition but less so with philosophy, Kasulis clarifies philosophical expressions and problems, Western as well as Japanese, as they arise.    Half of the book’s chapters are devoted to seven major thinkers who collectively represent the full range of Japan’s historical epochs and philosophical traditions: Kūkai, Shinran, Dōgen, Ogyū Sorai, Motoori Norinaga, Nishida Kitarō, and Watsuji Tetsurō. Nuanced details and analyses enable an engaged understanding of Japanese Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintō, and modern academic philosophy. Other chapters supply social and cultural background, including brief discussions of nearly a hundred other philosophical writers. For additional information, cross references to material in the companion volume Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook are included. In his closing chapter Kasulis reflects on lessons from Japanese philosophy that enhance our understanding of philosophy itself. He reminds us that philosophy in its original sense means loving wisdom, not studying ideas. In that regard, a renewed appreciation of engaged knowing can play a critical role in the revitalization of philosophy in the West as well as the East. 30 b&w illustrations Nanzan Library of Asian Religion and Culture
  • Mark R. Mullins

    Yasukuni Fundamentalism

    Although religious fundamentalism is often thought to be confined to monotheistic “religions of the book,” this study examines the emergence of a fundamentalism rooted in the Shinto tradition and considers its role in shaping post-war Japanese nationalism and politics. Over the past half-century, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the National Association of Shrines (NAS) have been engaged in collaborative efforts to “recover” or “restore” what was destroyed by the process of imperialist secularization during the Allied Occupation of Japan. Since the disaster years of 1995 and 2011, LDP Diet members and prime ministers have increased their support for a political agenda that aims to revive patriotic education, renationalize Yasukuni Shrine, and revise the constitution. The contested nature of this agenda is evident in the critical responses of religious leaders and public intellectuals, and in their efforts to preserve the postwar gains in democratic institutions and prevent the erosion of individual rights. This timely treatment critically engages the contemporary debates surrounding secularization in light of postwar developments in Japanese religions and sheds new light on the role religion continues to play in the public sphere. Nanzan Library of Asian Religion and Culture