Symposia are held on the average every second year, and the results published in book form. 16 such symposia have been organized to date.

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The Collection

  • Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, ed. [1976]

    Religious Experience and Language

    Available only in Japanese

    A discussion between several of Japan's most eminent representatives of the Christian and Buddhist traditions. From the Buddhist side, the participants wrestle with the problem of striking a balance between the Buddha's preference for silence and the rational systematization of the Buddha's teachings that took place after his death. In particular, the Zen representatives stress the "bodily" dimension of the word and the superiority of pure experience to its verbal expression. The Christian participants, in contrast, draw attention to the personal relationship between the divine and the human that is reflected in scriptural language.


  • Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, ed. [1980]

    Absolute Nothingness and God

    Available only in Japanese

    The third symposium of the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture brought together leading representatives of the Kyoto School of philosophy to discuss matters of common interest between Christian philosophers and theologians and their Buddhist counterparts. This volume is an indispensable source of reference for students of the Kyoto School and the encounter between Christianity and Buddhism in contemporary Japan.


  • Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, ed. [1983]

    Shinto and Christianity

    Available only in Japanese in PDF format. Order here.

    The fourth Nanzan symposium brought together a crosscut of eminent Shinto and Christian scholars in perhaps the first formal dialogue between these two traditions in Japan.

    The discussions focused on the problem of identifying a religious tradition with a particular racial or cultural group and at the same time preserving the dimension of universality that seems essential to religion in the modern world.From the Shinto side, hard questions were raised about Christianity’s interest in “inculturation” and its commitment to religious pluralism. The participants agreed, however, that “universality” and “particularity” are categories that apply to both Christianity and Shinto, albeit in differing proportions.


  • Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, ed. [1985]

    Esoteric Buddhism and Christianity

    Available only in Japanese as an eBook (PDF format). Order here.

    In an attempt to broaden the base of its dialogues, the fifth Nanzan symposium invited representatives from the mikkyõ or "esoteric" Buddhist tradition of Shingon to discuss with Christian scholars the relationships between popular religiosity and organized religion.

    Papers discuss comparatively a wide variety of practices associated with pilgrimages, healing, thaumaturgy, veneration of the dead, and the appeasement of spirits. The discussions take a closer look at the oppressive aspects of superstition and the role of these aspects, as well as at the process of the indigenization of historical religions in Japan.


  • Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, ed.

    Tendai Buddhism and Christianity

    Available only in Japanese

    The sixth Nanzan symposium brought together representatives of the Japanese Tendai Buddhist tradition, on the occasion of the 1200th anniversary of the founding of Japanese Tendai Buddhism on Mt. Hiei, to conduct a Buddhist-Christian dialogue on the theme of theory and practice in religion.

    The discussions were organized around a threefold structure (based on the Tendai scheme) of Buddha/God, mind, and sentient beings/nature. In the search for a contemporary meaning to doctrine and practice, the role of social responsibility and religious structures came up frequently in the discussions.


  • Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, ed. [1989]

    Pure Land Buddhism and Christianity

    Available only in Japanese

    The seventh Nanzan symposium was the occasion for a lively dialogue that not only highlighted differences between Pure Land Buddhist and Christian ideas of what it means to be “saved,” but allowed for the rich variety of opinion within each tradition to express itself on the subject.

    In addition to systematic discussions of the distinction between religions of salvation and religions of enlightenment, the volume contains a record of the attempts of seasoned scholars from both traditions to address the problem interreligiously.


  • Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, ed. [1993]

    Religion and Culture

    Available only in Japanese

    The eighth Nanzan symposium, offered as a festschrift to Jan Van Bragt, director of the Nanzan Institute from 1978-1991, focuses on the meaning of “interreligious dialogue,” its role in the present-day history of religions, and its prospects for the future.

    The Buddhist, Shinto, and Christian scholars brought together to reflect on these questions offer a rich fare of views-everything from a critique of the latent Christian biases in the dialogue to a plea for the synthesis of world religions. Together they argue not only for a plurality of religious traditions but a pluralism of forms for those traditions to collaborate with one another.


  • Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, ed.

    Catholicism and Soka Gakkai

    Available only in Japanese

    In 1996 scholars from the Institute for Oriental Philosophy (located on the campus of Soka University in Tokyo) and the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture joined in symposium to conclude a year’s dialogue between Soka Gakkai and Christianity. The present book is a record of that symposium.

    Formal papers on the nature of interreligious dialogue, the role of social praxis in religion, and the relationship between faith and institutional structures make up the core of the book. Each paper is followed by an opening comment and an extended discussion, which is presented here in full.


  • Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, ed. [1997]

    What does Christianity have to learn from Buddhism

    Available only in Japanese

    The tenth Nanzan symposium focuses on the efforts of a number of contemporary Christian thinkers who have devoted themselves for a generation and more to dialogue with Buddhism. It asks them to reflect on their experience in response to the question, “When all is said and done, what does Christianity have to learn from Buddhism?”

    The symposium intself was given mainly to an extended and lively dialogue with Buddhist representatives who have accompanied these Christian thinkers in the dialogue. Only the concluding dialogue is included in the volume itself, which centers on the papers prepared for the symposium.


  • Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, ed. [2002]

    Religion in the Midst of Social Problems

    Available only in Japanese

    The eleventh Nanzan symposium focused on social problems emerging in connection with religious movements. It brought together a group of 9 specialists in religious phenomena to consider the question from a variety of standpoints, including civil law, journalism, sociology, and psychology.

    The volume is available only in Japanese, but an English summary of the Symposium may be downloaded from the pages of the Nanzan Institute's annual Bulletin.


  • Paul L. Swanson, ed. [2006]

    Science, Kokoro, Religion

    Available only in Japanese

    The 13th Nanzan symposium brought together a group of distinguished scientists to explore with scholars of religion the borderlands at which their worlds intertwine. The symposium was the culmination of over a year of colloquia during which scientists and scholars of religion were asked to discuss their research and comment on the relationship between science and religion, especially in terms of the Japanese concept of “kokoro” (heart/mind). Many of the top scientists in Japan, in fields such as brain science, robotics, small particle physics, simulation science, and primate research, took part in the animated discussions.

    The project on “Japanese Perspectives on Science & Spirituality” is part of the Global Perspectives on Science and Spirituality (GPSS) program is supported by the Templeton Foundation.


  • James W. Heisig, ed. [2004]

    Japanese Philosophy Abroad

    Also available in Japanese

    The twelfth bi-annual symposium of the Nanzan Institute took up the problem of the philosophical tradition of Japan and how it has fared abroad. There were two principal foci of the meetings: the history and future prospects of the study and teaching of Japanese philosophy outside of Japan, and the preparation of a Sourcebook of Japanese Philosophy aimed at providing a solid anthology of Japanese philospohical resources from the earliest times up to the present.

    To address these two questions, 16 participants from six language-groups— Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish—were invited to Nanzan to deliver papers and discuss projects of common interest, including the Sourcebook. The final day of the conference included a discussion with selected Japanese philosophers and intellectual historians at Kyoto University.


  • Paul L. Swanson, ed. [2011]

    Brain Science and Kokoro

    Under the aegis of a Templetion Foundation project on “Global Perspectives on Science & Spirituality” (GPSS), scientists and humanities scholars from Japan, China, Korea, India, Russia, and the United States discuss the most recent discoveries in Brain Science and apply it to age-old questions of consciousness, mind, spirituality, and the self. The Japanese concept of kokoro-a broad concept that includes the rational workings of the “mind” and the emotional feelings of the “heart,” as well as the movings of the “spirit” and the impulses of the “will”-served as a foil for rethinking these issues and proposing new perspectives.


  • Paul L. Swanson, ed. [2012]

    Pentecostalism and Shamanism in Asia

    Available as a bilingual English/Japanese collection It is common knowledge that Shamanism is an important part of the religious heritage of Asia. What, then, are the influences and connections between Shamanism and the growth of charismatic Christianity in Asia? The essays in this collection are case studies and analyses that grew out of an international conference, Nanzan Symposium 16, which sought answers to these questions. How can we compare Shamanism and Pentecostalism? How do we define shamanistic elements within Pentecostalism and charismatic Christianity? How should we conduct an academic analysis of Shamanism and Pentecostalism given that Christian believers reject the connection? The essays look at these questions as they appear in various areas and the cultural contexts of Japan, Korea, Brazil, and Sri Lanka.

    Individual chapters can be downloaded:

    In the interest of stimulating debate on the issues discussed in this book, the Nanzan Institute gives permission for copies of this book to be freely downloaded from the Internet, distributed in electronic form to others, and printed out and distributed to others for non-commercial purposes as long as full credit is given to the Nanzan Institute and the text is not altered. Distribution, copying, and printing for educational use is particularly encouraged.
  • (Unpublished) [1978]

    Mass and Elite in Religion

    No publications from the 1978 symposia.


  • Unpublished [2006]

    Rescue, Recovery and Religion

    The results of this symposia were not published.


  • [Unpublished (2016)]

    Religion and Science in Dialogue

    Nanzan Symposium 17

    On 29 and 30 January 2016 the Nanzan Institute hosted an International Symposium to complete a three-year project funded by the Templeton Foundation to explore avenues work bringing the results of the dialogue between science and religion to bear on textbooks for religious education.