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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 70th anniversary this year. Our institute is now widely known all over the world as a major center 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 lofty 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(CSACII)” which was adopted as a MEXT Supported Program for the Strategic Research Foundation at Private Universities. (The five-year term of the program ran from 2011 to 2015.) Both programs have produced significant results and have received high evaluations both within and outside Japan.
The project, “East Asian Cultures Research of Kansai University by Open Platform” was adopted as a Private Universities Research Branding Project by the Ministry of Education, Culture Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), while KU-ORCAS (Kansai University Open Research Center for Asian Studies) was established in the year 2017.
Currently, eight research groups exist at our Institute. Individually, each group is involved in a wide range of research activities related to its area of specialization. Collectively, 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 communicated in “the Bulletin of the Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies” which, as of 2021, has published 54 annual issues. In addition, we have published 65 “Research Collections” which contain the cumulative research results of individual researchers; 21 “Translation and Annotation” series; 88 “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 in order to open up new fields of study which will promote an environment of vigorous and open research. Likewise, we endeavor to enhance the public role of our Institute as a major research center and to communicate the results of our research to the outside world. As part of that effort we have made agreements with many overseas research institutes to conduct joint projects.
Another aspect of our mission is to train 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.
Closer to home, Kansai University received in March 1951 the library of Hakuen Shoin (a famous private school of the Chinese classics in Osaka), consisting of approximately 16,000 books. Our Institute was involved in cataloging this large collection of books. Taking advantage of this opportunity, we established a Hakuen annual commemorative meeting; and we also hold a “Hakuen commemorative course” every autumn, which to date has met more than sixty 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 it to advance its mission as a center of research on East and West.
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.
Cultural Interactions of Thought and Arts in East Asia
Cultural Interaction Studies of Philosophies, Thought, Literature, and Art in East Asia
The Group aims to trace the dynamic paths of cultural interactions in East Asia, such as the propagation, exchanges, and conflicts of cultures through the Chinese and Japanese philosophies, thoughts, and religions including Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism as well as the modern Japanese ideas advocated by Konan Naito and others.
With regard to the art of East Asia, mainly that of Japan and China, the Group will examine artworks such as buildings, paintings, sculptures, and crafts, as well as literary works such as poems of the Tang Dynasty era written by Du Fu and others. The Group will also study in detail the philosophies of art developed by Dong Qichang, Tenshin Okakura, and others. In light of the development of the theories of East Asian art in recent years, the Group will study academic methodologies that are suitable for the new era.
Moreover, the Group will identify the roots of Kansai University, highlighting various figures in relation to the philosophy, history, and culture of Hakuen Shoin, with a focus on Nangaku Fujisawa. The Group will also clarify the philosophies, thought, art, and religions of East Asia from the perspective of cultural interactions by probing deep into these types of studies.
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.
Urban Heritage and Religious Cultures
The urban heritage and religious cultures of East Asia
The Group will mainly focus on the events and elements related to temples, shrines, and religious cultures from among the cultural heritage developed in ancient and medieval cities such as Asuka, Naniwa, and Kyoto and examine their historical and cultural transitions. When considering the development of temples, shrines, and religious cultures, the local nature within Japan has not been considered much in conventional studies, and its relationship with East Asia, mainly with China and Korea, has been neglected. In this study, the Group will consider regional characteristics of cities such as the three aforementioned ones and investigate the process of development and transformation of temples, shrines, and religious cultures in the ancient and medieval cities of Japan by examining their relationships with the religious facilities and cultures in East Asia from the perspective of the history of cultural interactions. At the same time, the Group will consider the cultural interactions between Kyushu, Kinai, and the Kanto provinces in Japan as much as possible.
Studies on Representations of Landscape
A study of the comparative cultural history of landscape representations
Although landscapes exist in any time and place, landscape representations that can include pictures and photos of landscapes, maps, pictorial maps, or even buildings and infrastructures appear under various aspects as a result of excellent cultural practices based on human attitude toward the natural environment. There are differences in the dynamic and fluid correlations between human beings and the natural environment, which are based on a specific region and time, and their spirituality and technological conditions bring about unlimited possibilities for representations. The Group aims to conduct a comprehensive radical study of the comparative cultural history of landscape representations that have been realized in the way described above. The research will not only be based on the traditional regional divisions but also studied under the subtitles of the representations in natural landscapes and the development of infrastructures in cities, the historical contexts of political economy and colonialism the historical representation of landscapes in Europe.
Studies of Japanese Language and Culture
The inside and outside of the culture of the Japanese Language
The Group studies the relationship between the inside and outside in Japanese classical literature, regarded as the crystallization of the culture of Japanese language and Japanese modern, contemporary literature, under the research theme of the inside and outside of the culture of the Japanese language.
The Group will thoroughly discuss the culture of the Japanese language from a broad perspective by relating the two through an examination of the acceptance of a foreign culture directed inward to the culture of the Japanese language and the spread of a foreign culture directed outward when native Japanese speakers are regarded as inside of that culture. For instance, Ezra Pound (1885–1972), known for his English poetization of haiku and the English translation of Noh songs/chants, will be an important research subject for the Group.
The perspectives of the inside and the outside should related to each other, and the Group believes that a new horizon will open up in this process of relating.
Faith and Fiction in Western Literature
Representations of Religion in Western Literature
The purpose of our research is to investigate “faith” as represented in the literatures of the East and 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 and Japan. We will also conduct comparative research in two areas of study. The first involves the practice of construe marks, systems of dots and other symbols which were independently devised in both the medieval East (Japan) and West (the British Isles), with a view to help students read authoritative religious texts written in Chinese and Latin, respectively. The second area of study involves narratological comparisons between Western and Japanese chronicles of the early Middle Ages.
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.