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Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies

The Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies at Kansai University was founded in April, 1951, and celebrated its 65th anniversary this year. Our institute is now widely known all over the world as a mecca for oriental and occidental studies.

We often hear nowadays phrases such as “crossing the border between disciplines” and “interdisciplinary research”, but since its inception our institute has been upholding the sublime principle of “contributing to the harmonization in cultures of the world by studying both eastern and western cultures, especially by comparing them”. It is not too much to say that we have been a true pioneer in the development of this contemporary way of thinking. Furthermore, we have succeeded in giving concrete shape to this comparative approach. One such realization is the Global COE Program which aims to construct new academic structures called “Cultural Interaction Studies”. The Global COE Program was adopted in 2007, and although its five-year term is now completed, “the Institute of Cultural Interaction Studies” still continues as a unit of the Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies. Another realization is the “Center for the Study of Asian Cultures(CSAC)” which was adopted as a MEXT Supported Program for the Strategic Research Foundation at Private Universities. (The five-year term of the program runs from 2011 to 2015.) Both programs have produced significant results and have received high evaluations both within and outside Japan.

Currently, eight research groups exist in our institute. Individually each group is involved in a wide range of research activities. Specifically, they are engaged in 1) studying, researching, and publishing research results; 2) holding seminars, lecture meetings, and symposiums; and 3) hosting foreign researchers and visiting academics.

Our research results are also printed in “the Bulletins of the Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies” which, as of 2016, has published 49annual issues. In addition, we have published 55 “Research Collections” in which the cumulative research results of individual researchers are compiled; 20 “Translation and Annotation” series; 73 “Source Material Collections”; one “INDEX” series; and 10 “International Joint Research” series. As is evident from this substantial number of publications, we have accumulated an enormous data base of research results. Furthermore, we have established a system of commissioned researchers while also inviting external researchers and striving to open new fields of study in order to establish an environment of vigorous and open research. Likewise, we endeavor to enhance the function of our institute as a major research center and to improve our ability to deliver our message to the outside world.

We also emphasize the training of young researchers. We aim to improve the research capabilities of graduate students by setting up an “associate researcher” system. And we actively include young researchers who engage in high-level research, even when they do not have official ties with the university, through our newly established program of “part-time researcher”. In this way we are now building up a well-structured organization capable of fostering productive research, one which will actively seek Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Hakuen Shoin, a famous private school of the Chinese classics in Osaka, donated their library of approximately 20,000 books to Kansai University in March, 1951. Our institute was involved in catalogingthis large collection of books. Taking advantage of this opportunity, we established a Hakuen annual commemorative meeting. We also hold a “Hakuen commemorative course” every autumn, one which has already been held more than 50 times.

It is my hope that our researchers will devote themselves even harder to their studies in order to reinforce the Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies at Kansai University brand and help our institute open new frontiers in its long history as a centre of research.

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Research Activities

Language contact and Cultural Interaction

Studies on Cultural and Linguistic Exchanges Between East and West through the Peripheral Approach and the Creations of Archives

The true nature of things is oftentimes better seen from the periphery rather than the center. This is also true in academic research. For example, the Age of Exploration brought foreign people to China through missionary activities and trade, some of whom learned or researched the Chinese language and produced a massive amount of literature on this topic. The literature on the Chinese language developed through the eyes of “outsiders,” including those from Western countries, Japan, Korea, and the Ryukyu archipelago, and demonstrates the writers' multifaceted perspectives in understanding linguistic phenomena in China as well as reflecting the true “face” of the Chinese language from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. The peripheral approach is not only effective in the study of Chinese, but in the study of other languages, such as Japanese.
Although the current world-wide effort to archive the existing literature may have unlimited academic potential, it does not provide the kind of progress we expect to see in the field. We need a new methodology. The purpose of this study is to elevate the quality of Chinese and Japanese language studies through 1) establishing a new field of linguistics in the individual languages (especially Chinese and Japanese) based on the peripheral approach, the leading methodology used in cultural interaction studies, 2) investigating a particular, mostly a modern, language, and 3) constructing archives of the periphery literature on contemporary language studies.

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Cultural Interaction between Japan and China in the Early Modern and Modern Period

Movements of People and Dissemination of Information between Japan and China in the Early Modern and Modem Period

Early Modern and modern East Asia saw a rapid expansion of movements of people and the dissemination of goods and information along with people. This study examines what kinds of goods and information were disseminated between china and Japan, through whose hands, and by what means; as well as how these goods and information, once disseminated, influenced each other's culture. We take a closer look at the cultural aspect of the interaction between China and Japan in the early modern and early periods and compare these cultural phenomena in relation to each other's culture. We inherited a research project promoted by Kansai University as part of the Global Center of Excellence Program, called, “the Wide-Area Cultural Interaction in East Asia from the Standpoint of Circulation and the Inheritance of Material Culture,” and we assume the responsibility to further advance this project.

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Studies of Religious Rituals in East Asia

Religious Rituals and Social Order in East Asia

In our comprehensive study of the relations between the rituals of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism and social order, we examine the content of the rituals as well as their underlying beliefs and historical development in different regions.
In East Asia social stability was achieved through various religious rituals, and the execution of these rituals allowed people to visualize their social order. Worship was performed in pursuit of peace not only in this life, but after death. These religious rituals played an important role in the steadfast management and maintenance of communities, from nations to villages, and in the establishment of an orderly system of government within communities.
Our research team, composed of researchers specialized in Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, will collaborate in an effort to reveal the historical and ideological significance of rituals through the comparison and integration of previous studies in each field.

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Studies of Excavated Non-Classical Material

Research on Non-Classical Material Excavated from the Areas Surrounding of China

The purpose of this study is to reconstruct the history and culture of Eastern Eurasia through investigation and analysis of historical material, such as documents, epigraphs, and cultural products, which were excavated from the surrounding areas of mainland China (Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea, and East Turkestan, including Gansu). More specifically, each of us on the team will focus on different research topics; for example, description and classification of colloquial Chinese in the Northwest region around Dunhuang between the seventh and the tenth century (Gen), the role of the Iranian and Turkish tribes, or the role of the non-Han Chinese, on Chinese history from the sixth to the tenth century (Moribe), the establishment and development of the legal system in sixth-to eighth-century Korea, then Silla (Shinohara), and the multilingual society depicted in Chinese and foreign literature discovered in Turpan, Dunhuang (Takata). The effort to transcend the distinction of Chinese and Non-Chinese languages and that of research fields-language, history, and culture, will expand the scope of the research.

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Comparative Studies of Spiritual Culture

Comparative Cultural and Historical Studies of sites of Prayer

This study provides an extensive and multifaceted comparison of “sites of prayer” among various faiths, including Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, and examines their common and distinctive features. The comparison reveals the universal and idiosyncratic nature of people's states of mind toward “praying” across different regions and times, and ultimately, the universality and idiosyncrasy of people's ways of life, epitomized in the act of “praying.” The purpose of this study is to compare “sites of prayer” based on a historical method as well as on the viewpoints of diverse fields, such as folklore, human geography, and art history.

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Japanese Literature Studies

The formation and reception of a culture of Japanese

The theme of our group is “The formation and reception of a culture of Japanese classics.” We will study how in the process of its formation Japanese classical music was influenced by that of the Sui and Tang periods; and how Chinese poems composed in the Nara and Heian periods were received, and their tradition transmitted, in the Hakuen Academy during the Taisho and Meiji periods. We will also examine the continuity and discontinuity between Japanese classics and modern literature; and how Japanese classics and traditional performance art were received in American literature.
Another important objective of our group is to create a research base for Ezra Pound Studies. Pound(1885-1972) was a man of literature who composed haiku in English and translated a Nō play into English. Pound, who was also closely associated with E. F.. Fenollosa, is a subject of enquiry in keeping with the research principles of the Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies.

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Faith and Fiction in Western Literature

Representations of Religion in Western Literature

The purpose of our research is to investigate how “faith” is represented in literatures of the East and the West, and to identify the nature and significance of the forms of contact between different cultures evidenced in these literatures. Our literary studies cover wide areas within Europe, Central and South America, and East Asia notably Spain, France, Romania, Great Britain, Ireland, Russia, Argentina and Chile, Korea and Japan. We will also conduct two comparative studies. One involves systems of construe marks independently devised in both the medieval East (Korea and Japan) and West (the British Isles), which were designed to help students read authoritative religious texts written in Chinese and Latin, respectively. The other study will compare the treatment of history in Western and Japanese chronicles of the early Middle Ages.

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Studies of the Architectural Body

A Study of the Concept of “Architectural Body” in Arakawa + Gins

The purpose of our research is to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to examining the new theories advanced by Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins,namely the theories of “architectural body” and “reversible destiny”, in order to propose a new body theory for the twenty-second century.
The attempt to construct a new body theory by investigating the theories of “Arakawa + Gins” is the defining feature of our study. An interdisciplinary approach is indispensable for studying their theories since “Arakawa + Gins” call themselves “coordinologists”(the term coined by Arakawa) who aim at unifying art, science and philosophy. With that interdisciplinary principle in mind, we propose a new body theory constructed from knowledge of fields such as experiencing theory, comparative studies between Eastern and Western body theories, physical education, the theory of bodywork, representational analysis of fine arts and architecture, environmental ecology, clinical research on rehabilitation and psychiatry and the deployment of the ”Arakawa + Gins” project, as well as neuroscience, systems theory and science art.

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