Rethinking Japanese Studies from Practices in the Nordic Region

Nichibunken’s Overseas Symposium

22-24 August 2012

Co-organised by:
The section of Japanese Studies and The Asian Dynamics Initiative, University of Copenhagen

International Research Center for Japanese Studies

The International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken), celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, has annually organised an overseas symposium in different regions in the world since 1995, for the purpose of internationally sharing the fruits of its activities and further enhancing scholarly interchange through Japanese studies. This is the first occasion of such kind in Scandinavia, and our primary gratitude goes to the section of Japanese Studies and the Asian Dynamic Initiatives, the University of Copenhagen.

This area in the world is well remembered as the home of Carl P. Thunberg, who came to Japan in the 18th century as a Swedish doctor of the Dutch Factory in Nagasaki and brought back specimens of Japanese plants to Uppsala University. While having such historical memories, we can now find among scholars in this region innovative approaches to Japanese studies, aiming to overcome conventional divisions between academic fields as well as geographical areas. In this symposium, we will be spotlighting such movements, and will rethink the possibility of “Japanese Studies”. We believe that this will be recognised as an important challenge to the Japanese studies of the world.

We hope that this symposium will further encourage such efforts in the Nordic region and will end with inspiring each individual’s studies on the one hand, and on the other hand will create and enrich our multi-cultural network leading to more and more productive scholarly cooperation in future generations and to the discovery and sharing of Japan related resources.

The section of Japanese Studies and the Asian Dynamics Initiative, The University of Copenhagen

At the University of Copenhagen the Asian Studies unit celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010. Starting with a focus on Chinese studies, the unit added Japanese studies in 1968 and has since developed teaching and research in major fields and languages of Asia, so that today the 50-year old programme covers China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Tibet and various areas in between.

In the case of Japanese studies, apart from research and teaching directly involving language and area studies as it goes on in the present-day Japanese Section, research and teaching on Japan and Asia has also for a long time been conducted in disciplines such as Anthropology, Geography, Political Science and Economy.

Building on this base, the university has recognized the need for an improved and renewed approach on Asia-related research and teaching. With the launch of the Asian Dynamics Initiative (ADI) in 2008, a new interdisciplinary Asia focus based in the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Social Sciences, the University of Copenhagen aims at creating a platform for developing new competencies based on research on social, economic, political, cultural, and religious complexities in Asia.

The present symposium is arranged in cooperation between Nichibunken, the Japanese Section at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, and ADI. It is our hope that this symposium will be productive and stimulating evidence of the strength of Japanese Studies in the Nordic countries as well as marking the improved and renewed level of cooperation with Japanese research institutions.

Provisional Programme

Day 1 *Invited participants only.

14:00 ~ 17:30 Cultural tour of the City of Copenhagen

The tour bus departs from and returns to the hotel. Please note that the tour includes some walking and a canal tour. 

19:00~ Opening Ceremony & Welcome Reception hosted by the University of Copenhagen

Venue: NIAS (Nordic Institute of Asian Studies), Leifsgade 33, 3rd Floor

Ulf Hedetoft
Dean, Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen

Kazuhiko Komatsu
Director General, Nichibunken

Day 2
Venue: Multisal (21.0.54), Building 21, Faculty of Humanities (Address: Njalsgade 118)

10:00~ Keynote Lecture 1:
Kazuhiko Komatsu (Nichibunken) *Lecture in Japanese.
Reflections on Japanese Yōkai Culture

<Coffee Break 11:00~11:30>

11:30~ Session 1: From Religion to Popular Culture: New Readings of Texts and Spaces

Convener: Mark Teeuwen (University of Oslo)


1) 11:45~ Patricia Fister (Nichibunken)
In Memoriam? Rethinking the Portrait Sculptures of Princess-Abbesses Enshrined in the Dharma Hall at Shinnyoji Temple

2) 12:10~ Laeticia Söderman (University of Helsinki)
Medieval Buddhist Textuality: Kyōgyōshinshō as Literature

3) 12:35~ Alari Allik (Tallinn University)
The Concept of Final Thought-Moment in Buddhist Setsuwa

<Lunch break 13:00~14:10.> *Invited participants only.

4) 14:10~ Hiroshi Araki (Nichibunken)
The Visual Image Media and the Narrative Literature: Re-thinking Setsuwa-bungaku Studies in Post War Japan

5) 14:35~ Jørn Borup (Aarhus University)
From Elite Zen to Popular Zen: Readings of Text and Practice in Japan and the West

6) 15:00~ Reiko Abe Auestad (University of Oslo)
Between History and Heritage: The tropes of Forests and Mountains in Tsushima Yūko’s Nara Report

<Coffee break 15:25~15:55>

7) 15:55~ Yoshiko Imaizumi (Meiji Jingu Research Institute)
Order and Disorder in Meiji Shrine: Festive Events and Practices in 1920

8) 16:20~ Aike Rots (University of Oslo)
The Rediscovery of ‘Sacred Space’ in Contemporary Japan: Intrinsic Quality or Discursive Strategy?

Discussion: Fumihiko Sueki (Nichibunken) ~ All participants

*After Session 1 finishes, there will be an informal talk by Toshinori Egami (Nichibunken Librarian) on overseas Japan resources.

Day 3

Venue: Multisal (21.0.54), Building 21, Faculty of Humanities (Address: Njalsgade 118)

10:00~ Keynote Lecture 2:
Rein Raud (University of Helsinki)
What is Japanese about Japanese philosophy?

<Coffee Break 11:00~11:30>

11:30~ Session 2: Japan and Europe-Leading to Globalised “Japanese Studies”

Convener: Yoichi Nagashima (University of Copenhagen)


1) 11:45~ Tetsunori Iwashita (Meikai University) *Presentation in Japanese.
Information about Napoleon in Bakumatsu Japan

2) 12:10~ Jianhui Liu (Nichibunken) *Presentation in Japanese.
Another Path towards “ Modern”: Roles of Canton and Shanghai in the Japan-West Interchange during the 19th Century

3) 12:35~ Margaret Mehl (University of Copenhagen)
Western Music and Japan

<Lunch break 13:00~14:10> *Invited participants only.

4) 14:10~ Marie Roesgaard (University of Copenhagen)
Globalisation in Japan: The Case of Moral Education

5) 14:35~ Bart Gaens (Finnish Institute of International Affairs)
Japan, Europe, and East Asian Regionalism

6) 15:00~ Frederick Dickinson (University of Pennsylvania)
From “International” to “Global”: Diplomatic Reflections on Modern Japan beyond a West European World

<Coffee break 15:25~15:55>

6) 15:55~ Noriko Takei-Thunman (University of Gothenburg)
Haiku: A Bridge between Sweden and Japan

7) 16:20~ Gunilla Lindberg-Wada (Stockholm University)
Japanese Literature in Global Contexts

Discussion: Shigemi Inaga (Nichibunken) ~All participants

19:00~ Closing Ceremony & Farewell Dinner hosted by Nichibunken
*Invited participants only.

Venue: Restaurant “Ravelinen” (Address: Torvegade 79)

Kazuhiro Kuramoto
Senior Research Coordinator, Nichibunken

Marie Roesgaard
Head, Steering group of ADI, University of Copenhagen


Day 2 & 3

General Discussants: Kazuhiro Kuramoto (Nichibunken)
Akihiro Ogawa (Stockholm University)
Kirsten Refsing (University of Copenhagen)
Jens Sejrup (University of Copenhagen)
Dick Stegewerns (University of Oslo)
Shoji Yamada (Nichibunken)

Coordinator (MC): Mayuko Sano (Nichibunken)