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Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies

 The Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies at Kansai University, which was established in April 1951, celebrated its 70th anniversary last year (2021). Today, the Institute is known worldwide as a hub for East-West academic research.

 Nowadays, cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research have come to be in high demand, but ever since its foundation, the Institute has held the high ideal of “conducting academic research on both Eastern and Western cultures, with a focus on comparative research, and contributing to the fusion of world cultures,” thus truly anticipating contemporary principles of academic knowledge. The result is a broad perspective that spans East to West, multifaceted viewpoints that avoid monoculturalism, a flexible perspective focusing on intercultural exchange, and a symbiotic philosophy that underlies all of this.

 These principles were embodied in the Global COE Program (2007–12), which aimed to build a new academic system called “Cultural Interaction Studies,” and the Center for the Study of Asian Cultures (CSACII, 2011–16), which was selected as a MEXT-Supported Program for the Strategic Research Foundation at Private Universities project. Both of these projects have been established under the Institute and have achieved significant results, receiving high domestic and international acclaim.

 As an extension of these projects, in April 2017, the Kansai University Open Research Center for Asian Studies (KU-ORCAS) was established as a private university research branding project. After five years of activities, this Center, which promotes the construction and dissemination of digital archives in East Asia, was relaunched in April 2022 as a permanent research center attached to this Institute. In the future, to complement our existing humanities research, digital humanities will be added.

 The current system of the Institute comprises five research groups and two research groups under KU-ORCAS, which are developing a wide range of research activities in their respective fields. These activities include (1) research, surveys, and presentations of results, (2) regular research meetings, lectures, and symposia, and (3) hosting foreign researchers.

 Besides our full-time faculty members, we invite outside researchers to participate as contract researchers, visiting researchers, and part-time researchers, and we are also networking with many overseas research institutions to develop research fields and enhance our ability to communicate our findings to the outside world. We also endeavor to train young researchers and establish a student research assistant system to enhance the research abilities of graduate students.

 In addition to publishing academic papers in the annual Bulletin of the Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies at Kansai University (which has reached its 55th edition as of 2022), we make available the findings of individual researchers in the Research Series (69th edition), the Translation Series (21st edition), the Source Material Collections (92th edition), the Index Series (1st edition), the International Joint Research Series (10th edition), and the Oriental and Occidental Studies Series (17th edition). It is rare for a research institute in Japan to continuously achieve such a large number of results, and we are truly proud of that.

 On another front, the Institute received a donation of approximately 16,000 volumes from the collection of Hakuen Shoin, a famous private school for the study of Chinese classics in Osaka, which led to the establishment of the Hakuen Memorial Society in 1961. We hold the Hakuen Memorial Course every fall, which has been conducted 62 times to date, and we have published 61 issues of the Hakuen magazine as well.

 In this way, we have pursued our mission for 70 years, resulting in significant achievements. However, we are conscious that there are still many areas of investigation to be addressed, even as the need to respond to contemporary issues, such as globalization and digitalization, is ever increasing. With your understanding and support, we look forward to achieving further growth and development in the future.

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Research Activities

Language contact

Cultural and linguistic interactions between East and West and the construction of an archive—from the perspective of their peripheral regions

In this research group, we focus on the contact between East Asian languages, especially Chinese and Japanese, and Western languages. The term "negotiation" does not mean "negotiation" but refers to "interaction". In other words, it can be replaced with "language contact." For example, by looking at East Asian language research of people from non-East Asian language groups, our goal is to grasp the characteristics of East Asian languages. It is the so-called "peripheral approach" and is also regarded as one of the areas of "cultural interaction". Specific contents include modern Japan-China-Europe vocabulary exchange history, conceptual history research, Chinese language history, style theory, lexical research, Chinese studies of Westerners, etc.

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Cultural Interactions of Thought and Arts in East Asia

Cultural Interaction Studies of Philosophies, Thought, Literature, and Art in East Asia

Our research group studies phenomena such as cultural propagation, exchange, conflict, and decline from the perspective of cultural interaction, with a focus on East Asian thought, religion, literature, and art.
The introduction of Confucianism from China and Buddhism from India to various parts of Asia caused a number of changes in each region, including the creation of new cultures. Writings in Chinese characters, including literary works, became the standard literature of East Asia, and this in turn gave rise to major cultural phenomena. The Analects and Lotus Sutra became important classics in Japan and South Korea, and standard reading throughout East Asia. Tang poets such as Li Bai and Du Fu also contributed to the cultural foundations of East Asia. Taoism had a limited but powerful influence. Chinese paintings and Buddhist statues also had a major impact on East Asia as a whole.
With these influences, unique cultures were formed in Japan, South Korea, and regions such as Vietnam. An in-depth study of these topics may clarify phenomena related to East Asian thought, religion, literature, and art from the perspective of cultural interaction.

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History and Culture of Eurasia

The history and culture of Eurasia told through the written, excavated, and carved historical materials

The Group will concretely reconstruct the diverse history and culture of Eurasia and seek a new picture of Eurasian history.
In Eurasia, there are historical materials that are unique to each region, such as letters, stone carvings, documents excavated in Central Asia, and drafts of official documents from the royal court, apart from the chronicles of dynasties. At first glance, the picture of the diverse Eurasian history that emerged from the analyses of these materials appears to be fragmented. The Group will structure the History of Eurasia, not by dividing it periodically in a conventional manner—such as ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern to present—but by setting a new alternative periodization and applying a historical picture to each period.

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Urban Heritage and Religious Culture Research Group

East Asian Urban Heritage and Religious Culture

This research group focuses on events in and aspects of temples, shrines, and religious culture within the cultural heritage that developed in ancient and medieval cities such as Asuka, Naniwa, Nara, and Kyoto, and examines their historical and cultural evolution. Previous research examining the development of temples, shrines, and religious culture has not considered the local characteristics of Japan in depth, and has neglected to observe its relationship with East Asia more broadly. In addition to considering the local characteristics of Asuka, Naniwa, Nara, and Kyoto, this research group will examine relationships with religious facilities and religious culture in East Asian countries such as China, Korea, Ryukyu, Khitan, and Vietnam. Further, by the perspective of the history of cultural interactions, it will investigate the development and transformation of temples, shrines, and religious culture in ancient and medieval cities in Japan.

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Studies on Representations of Landscape

A study of the comparative cultural history of landscape representations

This research group studies various forms of landscape representation from multiple perspectives, including history, geography, art, literature, and environmental urban studies, with the aim of constructing a comparative cultural history of landscape representation.
“Landscape” exists in all time periods and in all places. However, landscape representation, which can include landscape pictures, photographs, maps, pictorial maps, buildings, and basic structures, is the result of sophisticated cultural activities based on human attitudes toward the natural environment, and appears in various guises. The dynamic and fluid correlation between humans and the natural environment varies from place to place and from time to time, and its spirituality and technical conditions create infinite possibilities for representation.
This research group studies the various landscape representations that have been realized in this way. In addition to, conducting research based on the traditional regional divisions of Asia and the West, it also adopts a comprehensive comparative cultural and historical approach, taking into account the correlation between natural landscapes and the urban environment, the political and economic historical context of colonization, and the perspective of historical and historiographical landscape representations.

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Studies of Japanese Language and Culture

The inside and outside of the culture of the Japanese Language

This research group studies “the inside and outside of Japanese language and culture.” The group’s research examines the relationship between internal and external aspects of Japanese literature, which can be considered an embodiment of Japanese language and culture, from ancient to modern times.
If one considers native speakers of Japanese as internal to Japanese language and culture, two major issues emerge: the reception of foreign cultures moving toward the inside, and the influence of Japanese culture moving outward toward foreign cultures. Examining this point will relativize the internal and external aspects of Japanese language and culture, advancing research on “the inside and outside of Japanese language and culture” from a broader perspective.
In time, this should lead to a relativization of the internal/external perspective itself, and this process of relativization may in turn open up new research perspectives.

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Cities as centers of conflict and acculturalization in East and West

Exploration of cultural conflict and accommodation in Eastern and Western cities old and new

The purpose of our research is to explore cultural conflict and accommodation in old and new Eastern and Western cities as represented in literature. Our study covers a wide range of time and space—cities and areas with various cultural, social, political and historical backgrounds from the early middle ages to the present day: chronologically, from 8th-century Nara to medieval Wales, 14th-centry Waterford, 19th-centry St Petersburg, ending with contemporary London, Hamburg, Karachi and Raqqa. Our approaches and methodologies, which vary according to time and place, include narratology, multilingualism, cultural geography and cultural representation. The aim is to look for common denominators and shared trends while being cognizant of differences.