22-24th January 2021

Japanese Pilgrimages: Experiences and motivations behind cultural and spiritual peregrinations from and to East Asia

We are pleased to announce the program of our 8th International workshop, “Japanese Pilgrimages”, that has been delayed due to the Pandemic. As mentioned previously, this workshop will be mainly online, via Zoom – more details on that matter below. To view the detailed program, click on the link below, or at the bottom of this page.


Access by Zoom: Instructions will be available here in due course.

It is difficult to plan normally the workshop without knowing the evolution of the Coronavirus crisis in the next months, weeks, even days. We both wish to make this workshop as humanly as possible, but also avoid any risk; and this, of course, while following every sanitary protocols from the Japanese government and Ryukoku’s University. This is why we have no choice but to make this workshop almost fully Virtual:

  • Researchers outside of the Kansai area – meaning not affiliated to Kansai’s universities – will have no choice but to participate via the Zoom Conference system of Ryukoku University.
  • Researchers from the Kansai area will be invited to attend physically at Ryukoku University, as they probably won’t be restricted to move around at that time, considering the distance. If the Coronavirus crisis evolves negatively in January, to the point of having to quarantine, researchers living in Kansai will be, of course, asked to use the Zoom Conference system of Ryukoku University.

This evolution (from a normal workshop, to a semi-virtual, then almost fully virtual one) has required us to considerably adapt the program, especially as we have participants from all over the World, with time-zones that range from Canada to Japan. This makes having traditional panels and panels’ discussions impossible, as well as having everyone being able to assist at every presentation. Despite this, we have tried our best to make coherent groups of presentations, while taking into account each participant’s time-zone; we sincerely hope that you will understand the restrictions that we have been facing, and that the result will be satisfactory nonetheless to everyone.

That being said, every participant will have 20 mins to present their paper, then 10 mins of questioning immediately following – since panel’s discussion would be often problematic due to time-zones. Considering how the program has been tightly done to respect everyone’s time-zones, we kindly ask you to follow the time-limit. If you are not confident about your internet connexion, we also advise you to record a video of your presentation beforehand and share it with us, so that we can display it as a last-resort.

Please be reminded that the workshop will follow the Japanese time-zone: GTM+9.

If you have any inquiries regarding the organisation, please, feel free to contact us.


Pilgrimages are a phenomenon as old as humanity with relevant consequences in the social, economic and cultural lives of countries and regions. On an individual level, there are many motivations behind the pilgrim experience where identity aspects such as religious affiliation, spiritual beliefs, tradition or mere curiosity play an important role. In recent years, the cultural industries and tourism industries have also developed sophisticated strategies in order to reach new audiences and gain market share. Content producers have obtained the sponsorship of national agencies in order to develop their products as a way of reinforcing National Branding. National agencies focused on tourism and development have found that representations of cultural heritage through fictional media positively impacts tourism through these Media Pilgrimages (also referred to as Content Tourism or Media Tourism), and media representations become a relevant tool for regional development.

The aim of the symposium was born from two ideas which correspond with relevant pillars of modern East Asian economies but also to many post-industrial societies. The first is the common cultural background of East Asian countries like Japan, Korea or China. These commonalities have made possible the rise of economic and cultural transnational flows which include as a main vortex pilgrimage destinations. The second, corresponding to a more contemporary shared meaning, is the consequence of the relevance of creative and cultural industries and their influence on the collective global imagination.

With this purpose, graduate students, scholars, independent researchers, and industry practitioners are invited to submit papers and presentations for this workshop. Contributions on the following topics or related areas will be specially considered:

  • Popular Culture and Contents Industries as vehicles for self-representation (manga, anime, games, pop music, film, tv series and more)
  • Interaction, Overlap and Competition between Cultural Heritage and Popular Culture appeal
  • Religion, spirituality, and superstition: temples, shrines, religious figures, animism, yokai and fox spirits
  • Political Communication and Media Culture. The “popular” response to social or natural crises (natural disasters, political transitions, etc)
  • Contents and institutional strategies such as “Soft Power”, from Japan but also other from East Asian Cultures
  • Assessing the concrete (economical, political, cultural) value derived from the international and national markets. Differences in strategies for appealing to each of these audiences.
  • The role of destination image and national branding in impacting tourists’ perception and attitudes toward a culture or nation. Positive (emotional bonds, affect, popularization…)  and negative effects (stereotyping, infantilization…) of the creation and dissemination of these images. 
  • Fictionality vs ‘authenticity’: finding manga, anime, and game settings
  • Media consumption and cultural exchange
  • Media representations and national stereotypes in Japan and other East Asian Cultures in relation to cultural and religious tourism
  • Games and Big Narratives i.e. Pokémon Go for the world traveler: seeking nests all over Asia
  • Comparing media contents tourism among East Asian markets or with other countries
  • The relationship between pop-culture, new media, globalization and tourism trends

We are delighted to confirm that Dr Craig Norris (University of Tasmania) and Dr Eriko Kawanishi (Kyoto University) will be keynote speakers for the Workshop.

Indicative Bibliography about this topic could include:

Anholt, Simon. “Beyond the Nation Brand: The Role of Image and Identity in International Relations.” Exchange: The Journal of Public Diplomacy, vol. 2, no. 1, 2013, pp. 6-12.

Crouch, David et al. “Introduction: The Media and the Tourist Imagination.” The Media and the Tourist Imagination: Converging Cultures, edited by David Crouch et al., Routledge, 2005, pp. 1-13.

Hernández-Pérez, Manuel. “Thinking of Spain in a Flat Way’: Spanish Tangible and Intangible Heritage through Contemporary Japanese Anime.” Mutual Images, vol. 3, 2017, pp. 43-69.

Kawanishi, Eriko. “Two Types of Japanese Pilgrimage to Britain ” EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling, 2018.

Norris, Craig. “A Japanese Media Pilgrimage to a Tasmanian Bakery.” 1, vol. 14, 2013, doi:10.3983/twc.2013.0470.

Okamoto, Takeshi. “Otaku Tourism and the Anime Pilgrimage Phenomenon in Japan.” Japan Forum, vol. 27, no. 1, 2015, pp. 12–36, doi:10.1080/09555803.2014.962565.

Sabre, Clothilde. “French Anime and Manga Fans in Japan : Pop Culture Tourism, Media Pilgrimage, Imaginary.” International Journal of Contents Tourism, no. 1, 2017, pp. 1-19.

Seaton, Philip and Takayoshi Yamamura. “Japanese Popular Culture and Contents Tourism – Introduction.” Japan Forum, vol. 27, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1–11, doi:10.1080/09555803.2014.962564.

Yamamura, Takayoshi. “Anime Pilgrimage and Local Tourism Promotion: An Experience of Washimiya Town, the Sacred Place for Anime “Lucky Star” Fans.” Journal of Tourism and Cultural Studies, no. 14, 2009, pp. 1-9.


Jessica BAUWENS-SUGIMOTORyukoku University, Japan


Manuel HERNÁNDEZ-PÉREZ Hull University/Salford University, UK


Maxime DANESINMIRA Vice-President & Independent Researcher, France


MITANI MazumiDean of the Faculty of International Studies, Ryukoku University, Japan


Craig NORRISUniversity of Tasmania, Australia


KAWANISHI ErikoProfessional Institute of International Fashion, Japan




Stacey JOCOY Texas Tech University (USA)

ClassicLoid, Musical Pilgrimage, and Japanese Intercultural Classicism

The anime series ClassicLoid (2016) featuring the cloned reincarnations of some of the most famous European composers of all time: Beethoven/Beets, Mozart/Motz, and more, intersects with the idea of pilgrimage on several levels. Self-consciously merging anime with Classical music, NHK’s magical-musical boys have the ability to control affective powers of music, using their powers at character-defining moments. Modern artists including Tomoyasu Hotei and tofubeats were enlisted to represent each of the composers, reinterpreting Classical works through modern pop-rock. Apart from references to modern Japan, however, there is no actual place in ClassicLoid that fans can visit, but this is where the Media Mix of modern anime franchising exerts influence. In addition to releasing the ClassicLoid soundtrack, NHK renegotiated rights to original pieces, as well. Global fandom on social media began mentioning their new-found passion for Classical works, derived from their exposure to the series. Audiences visited the only place they could—the music itself. Nick Couldry’s concept of media pilgrimage is essential to negotiate the cultural travel embodied within this musical fandom, guiding the survey of virtual field work to interrogate the concept of intermedia pilgrimage: between anime and pre-existing musics. Additionally, comparative audio-visual analysis of the series highlights its role as scaffolding to the intercultural world of Classicism. What does it mean to venerate and adopt the music of a distinctly different culture? And how might these modern musical pilgrimages into the world of Classical music illuminate patterns of intercultural exchange across the potent medium of anime.

Heike HOFFERThe Ohio State University (USA)

Intersections of Popular Culture and the Musical Past: Animated Representations of Japan’s Mysterious Biwa Hoshi

The world of anime is populated by a dazzling variety of unusual characters, including modernized versions of figures derived from traditional Japanese culture. One such case is animated representations of the biwa hōshi, a group of blind Buddhist monks that traveled Japan on foot during the samurai era playing their biwas and dispensing demons by means of mysterious supernatural powers. For modern Japanese, the unmistakable “twang” of the biwa, combined with the biwa hōshi’s bold recitation style, calls up a sense of rich cultural heritage that allows anime viewers to engage in a form of aural pilgrimage to a bygone era of Japanese history. The biwa often underscores Japanese samurai films viewed abroad, leading international viewers to recognize its sound as an apparatus of cultural nostalgia as well. This presentation briefly examines the daily lives and distinctive performance traditions of the biwa hōshi, drawing on Japanese scholars Hugh De Ferranti, William Malm, Helen McCullough, Barbara Ruch, and Alison Tokita. With a historical model in place, we can examine how anime directors and character designers have re-imagined the biwa hōshi visually and musically to conform to the demands of modern popular culture by constructing an interaction between authentic historical characteristics and narrative-driven fictional traits. Examples include the character “Shige” from the 2004 series Samurai Champloo, who controls a group of zombies in a quest to find buried treasure, and “Biwamaru,” an enigmatic sage and fearsome demon killer from Osamu Tezuka’s 1969 series Dororo and its successful remake from 2019.

Dennis YEONanyang Technological University (Singapore)

Kubo and the two strings as Japanese pilgrimage

The impact of animated movies in shaping the contents tourism (kontentsu tsurizumu) of the next generation cannot be underestimated. While the main studios, Disney, Dreamworks and Pixar, have tapped on different national and ethnic cultures to develop their narratives, only Mulan (1998) and Kung Fu Panda (2008, 2011, 2016) have ventured to the East. Laika Studios’ Kubo and the Two Strings (Knight, 2016) is, however, the first time Japan is prominently featured in the oeuvre. Kubo offers its viewers a veritable media pilgrimage through Japanese culture, history and aesthetics. While the export of ‘Japanese popular culture’ conventionally consists of J-pop, manga, anime, Hello Kitty and Pokemon, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has admitted forms of ‘culture produced in the everyday lives of ordinary people’ (ippan shimin ni yoru nichijo no katsudo de seiritsu shite iru bunka) in their redefinition of ‘pop culture’ (poppu karucha) (Seaton & Yamamura, 2015). Kubo does precisely this by introducing the viewer into a world that borrows from origami, Noh theater, Kiyoyoshi Saito drawings, Issey Miyake fashion designs, shamisen music, obon rituals and Japanese symbolism, philosophy and mythology. This Japanese fusion of both traditional and popular culture, coupled with Kubo’s Western three-act quest journey structure, makes its narrative accessible to a global audience. The resulting pastiche is a constructed diorama that is as transnational and postmodern as it is authentic and indigenous. This paper argues that the movie itself is a form of film-induced tourism and the viewer thus becomes a cultural tourist of Japan.

Krisztina ROSNERMeiji University (Japan)

The Case of the Standing Monkey and the Walkman: Reconsidering a commercial 

Sony Walkman was launched in 1979, celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019. One of their emblematic commercial campaigns, released in Japan in 1980, featured Choro the monkey. At that time Choro was a real monkey-celebrity, on the peak of his popularity as a current star of the traditional Japanese animal performance genre “monkey dance” (sarumawashi). This special commercial is in the focus of my paper. In my presentation I look at this commercial as an interplay between cultural heritage and popular culture. I consider it a prism of layers of Japanese culture: I analyze the “monkey dance” tradition in its social context, its revival from the Japanese avant-garde, and its contemporary situation, based on the interviews I conducted with Yōichi Murasaki, the director of the Kawaguchiko Monkey Theatre. In parallel, I take a look at how the Walkman as a product has shaped the concept of mobility, emphasizing both the entertainment factor and the luxury of disconnected privacy, in the act of urban pilgrimage. Through the example of this commercial I analyze how the current theories in nonhuman performativity, animal studies, performing arts studies are in interplay with popular culture, and cultural studies. The questionable optimism, the irony, the connection, the contradiction of the visual and performative representations of the walking man and the standing monkey..

Dalma KALOVICS – Yokote Masuda Manga Museum (Japan)

Breaking Panel Structures: Adapting Manga from Rental Comics to Mainstream Magazines as Seen through Kojima Goseki’s Period Dramas

Kojima Gōseki is best known for providing the unique artwork of the samurai epos Lone Wolf and Cub, a classic both in Japan and overseas, written by Koike Kazuo. However, Kojima is considered to be a master of historical narratives in his own right, working almost exclusively in this thematic genre since his debut, producing numerous jidaigeki, historical manga both for the rental and the mainstream magazine market, often inspired by novels and popular movies. Kojima Gōseki was a prolific artist: in the 1960s he produced 120-160 pages long rental comic books nearly every month, regularly contributed to monthly rental anthologies, and starting the second half of the 60s he simultaneously worked for mainstream magazines. In light of this workload it is no surprise that Kojima recycled his narratives over the years: he adapted his historical manga from small sized rental paperbacks to big manga magazines, but this required thorough editing of the original material. To adjust to a different publishing format and manga layout, Kojima either cut his original manuscripts and rearranged the panels, or he completely redrew his manga with updated paneling. Using several examples from rental comic books, magazines and genga, original manuscripts, I will examine how Kojima Gōseki adapted manga between the two different media of rental comics and mainstream magazines, and how this relates to prevalent ideas about manga layout and manga making. Instead of artistic and narrative considerations, Kojima Gōseki’s edited manga might suggest a materiality oriented approach of a craftsman..

Olga ANTONONOKA – Kwansei Gakuin University (Japan)

Undermining the Gendered Genre: Kabuki in Manga

According to Jaqueline Berndt, Thomas LaMarre, and other critics, manga is a highly participatory media. Narratives with vibrant characters and creative inconsistences in the plotline encourage the reader to recontextualise the text, create new contents and unfold activities which go beyond reading (such as fan art and CosPlay). Recent popularity of manga about Japanese traditional arts – for example, Kabuki – further expanded the potential interaction with manga and other popular media to include (re)discovering traditional Japanese culture. Examples, such as Kabukumon by Tanaka Akio and David Miyahara (Morning 2008-2011), or Kunisaki Izumo no jijō by Hirakawa Aya (Weekly Shōnen Sunday 2010-2014) and a variety of other manga, anime and light novels exemplify this tendency. Consequently, influential franchises, such as Naruto and One Piece boast adaptations as Super Kabuki stage-plays. Furthermore, Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto observes how thematic and stylistic overreaching in contemporary manga further distort the notions of the gendered genre that lays at the foundation of the manga industry. In this case, Kabuki theatre as a theme employs a variety of gender fluid characters and situations. For this purpose, Kabuki manga utilise cross-genre narrative and stylistic tropes, from overtly parodying borrowed tropes, to homage, and covert inclusions. On the example of Kabuki-manga I will explore a larger trend in manga to employ elements of female genres in male narratives, thus expanding the target readership. My paper explores specific mechanism that facilitates reading manga cross-genre, I also inquire what novel critical potential thematic and stylistic exchange between audiences may entail.

Daniel MILNE – Kyoto University (Japan)

Selling a City in Crisis: Self-Orientialism in the First Guidebook to Kyoto

As we have seen in post-Fukushima Japan, crises help shape tourist images and branding efforts. In the early 1870s, Kyoto was similarly facing a crisis: over half the city had recently been destroyed, and the capital, imperial family, and court—and all they represented—had been lost to Tokyo. As part of a wave of modernization and revitalization measures, city leaders attempted to attract foreign tourists, and in 1873 published the first English-language guidebook to a Japanese destination. This paper explores the context out of which this text emerged, analyzes its unusual merging of Japanese and Western forms of travel media, and examines how the city sought to portray Kyoto at this time of crisis and modernizing vigor. Through this, it demonstrates Japan’s early attempts to use tourism as a tool of “Soft Power,” and to revive and transform economies and regional identities.

Christopher HAYES – Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives (Japan)

Japan’s Rugby Myth: How rugby was enshrined in Japanese tradition for the Rugby World Cup

From September to November 2019, Japan hosted the Rugby World Cup, making it the first Asian country to host the event. Almost 1.7 million people attended matches across Japan, of these approximately 400,000 were foreign visitors, and many travelled the length and breadth of Japan to see multiple games at multiple venues. While rugby has been played in Japan since the game’s creation, it is a relatively minor sport, compared to football or baseball. In hosting the Rugby World Cup, Japan had to show the world that it was a rugby playing nation. In addition to building new stadiums and renovating the old, efforts were made to justify rugby’s position in Japanese culture and history. This paper examines three sites where rugby has been historicised and made a part of traditional culture: Kyoto City, Higashiosaka and Yokohama. What were these sites’ roles in the Rugby World Cup? How did these sites achieve cultural assimilation of rugby? And is there a genuine historical precedent for the creation of a rugby heritage at these sites, or are they merely a part of local tourism strategy? The paper contextualises these questions within the context of sports tourism, Japan’s inbound tourism strategies and concepts of pilgrimage..

Donatella FAILLA – University of Genoa (Italy)

Pilgrimages and Their Imagery in Edo-period Japan

The main pilgrimage routes of Japan were established during the Heian period, but the Momoyama and the Edo period saw a remarkable increase in the popularisation of pilgrimage activities. Guidebooks published in the late 18th century to offer reliable and updated information to travellers attest to the increasing success of pilgrimages: for example, the “Illustrated Guide to the Ise Pilgrimage” of 1797 (Ise sangū meisho zue, Kansei 9) by Shitomi Kangetsu (1747-1797) and Akisato Ritō, can be regarded as a true and proper milestone. This paper analyses the iconographic, historical and economic contents of three art documents, mostly unpublished, relating to three important pilgrimage centres: A painted album depicting the Ise meisho 伊勢名所, by an 18th century Tosa-school artist; A series of thirty-three votive tablets of the Kannon Pilgrimage to Thirty-three Sites in Saigoku  西国三十三観音霊場 (Western Japan, Kansai); A series of three painted handscrolls by Nishimura Nantei 西村楠亭 (?1754 or ?1774-1834) entitled “Exploring the prosperous city of Kyōto” (Keiraku Hanjō zukan 京洛繁昌図巻), depicting the  popular pilgrimage to Kiyomizudera 清水寺on the occasion of its festival (sairei 祭礼), that was celebrated on the ninth day of the fourth lunar month.

Lindsey DeWITT – Ghent University (Belgium)

Cult as Heritage and the Cult of Heritage: Reflections on Two Japanese World Heritages Sites (Okinoshima and Mt. Omine)

What can a pair of cult pilgrimage sites reveal about the modern cult of heritage in Japan? Who or what do heritage designations privilege, and who or what is excluded? How do sacred and secular forces coexist—and clash—at heritage hotspots? This talk brings the vectors of religion, politics, cultural heritage, tourism, and gender into a critical and mutually constituting dialogue through a case study of two Japanese World Heritage Sites: the island Okinoshima (designated in 2017) and the Sanjōgatake peak of Mt. Ōmine (designated in 2004). Both sites feature rich transregional/transcultural histories and bear the symbolic and material traces of more than a millennium of pilgrimage and patronage. Religious authorities at both sites presently enforce a controversial ban on women’s access (and both sites are associated with powerful and purportedly jealous female divinities). The culture industries imagine and brand both sites as romantic repositories of an original or authentic “Japan.” The Japanese government recognizes both sites as central nodes in the nation’s patrimonial repertoire. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee affirmed the “outstanding universal value” of both sites by inscribing them on the coveted World Heritage List. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and an array of sources (historical and material records, governmental documentation, and popular culture forms such as news media, manga, and cosplay), I sketch the World Heritage stories of Okinoshima and Mt. Ōmine—articulating their fascinating commonalities, noting their key differences, and situating them within national and global imaginaries.

Ioannis DIAMANTAKOS – University of Edinburgh (UK)

Evolving motivations for Japanese pilgrimage: An analysis of pilgrim’s motivations and experiences in the 2010’s with particular reference to the Shikoku pilgrimage

The topic I will investigate revolves around the evolution of contemporary Japanese pilgrimage of the 2010’s through the study of the motivational factors and the afterthoughts of a selective group of individual pilgrims. I will endeavor to utilize contemporary means of communication like YouTube videos, vlogs, blogs and social media from 2010 to 2019 coupled with more traditional means like books and interviews I have already conducted myself via e-mail as my primary sources in hopes of demonstrating the relevance and adaptability of Japanese pilgrimage in contemporary technological reality. The essay primarily utilizes the Shikoku pilgrimage as a case study, arguably the most prominent among Japanese pilgrimage trails since its popularization in the Tokugawa (1603- 1868) period, with occasional references to other important pilgrimage trails in Japan such as the Kumano Kodo. As Ian Reader suggests most of the academic discussion revolves around the events and occurrences taking place during the practice of pilgrimage. The aim of this essay is to delve into ”the before” (motives) and ”the after” (afterthoughts/ experiences) of the pilgrimage that ultimately shape its contemporary practice and the pilgrimage community itself. Through the study of reoccurring patterns and broader themes indicated by the writings and claims of various blogger/ vlogger pilgrims as well as interviews conducted at Buddhist temples during pilgrims’ passage, I attempt to outline the evolution of a traditionally religious practice in the materialistic society of the 2010’s and deduce if contemporary attitudes towards pilgrimage correlate with those of its traditional status of asceticism and spirituality..

Martina GONZATO – Independent researcher (Italy)

Evolving Pilgrimages: Towards “This-Worldly Benefits”

In Japan, the concept of Genze Riyaku, which literally means ‘this-worldly benefits’, implies the sphere of this life in which most prayers, requests and needs of the Japanese towards the supposed power of the other world (takai) and its occupants (such as kami, Buddhas and ancestors) are directed; the notion, aside from its materialistic ethic, also aims at the attainment of peace of mind and emotional solace. As a matter of fact, shrines and temples can provide support in different ways, such as through specific rituals, prayers from priests, the personal worship of statues or other sacred objects, and through the establishment of pilgrimages. In this last case, in particular, the partaking of pilgrimages becomes a primary method to store Kudoku (“merit”), namely the positive influence which will lead to Genze Riyaku. Nevertheless, the historical changes and transformations that the country went through, deeply affected the concept, with people seeking different kinds of support; a simple example is the birth of new shrines and temples, or even deities, influenced by the appearance of certain diseases, or during principal historical events, such as wars or major catastrophes. As this lead people in seeking new types of assistance, and gradually neglecting others, how did this affect the world of pilgrimages? What kind of insight can we obtain by comparing the transformations of major pilgrimages and Japanese main historical events?.

Junhong MA – University of Alberta (Canada)

Tea trips from Taiwan to Japan: 1960s-2010s

In the 1960s, Li Ruihe, the founder of Tenren Tea, visited Japan multi times for tea packaging ideas. In the 1970s, Liu Hanjie, the owner of Chun Shui Tang, traveled around Japan, pursuing a better tea brewing method for the hot summertime in Taiwan.  He got inspired by the cold-brewed coffee and invented the bubble tea, an icon for Taiwan popular culture today. Since the 1980s, Li Shuyun, an influential name in contemporary Taiwan tea art, learned both chanoyu and senchadō in Japan. Her tea art school trained hundreds of students in Taiwan and Mainland China respectively. In the 2010s, Xie Zhizhang, the author of The Chinese Tea Ceremony, held a series of Oolong tea gathering in Tokyo and Kyoto, promoting Taiwan tea art as a unique aesthetic form. Today, governments enthusiastically promote their distinguish national foods and drinks for serving touristic purposes and cultural presentations, and East Asian countries are no exception. China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea…all claim that they possess a unique tea culture heritage, endowing tea the aura of ethno-commodity. By examining the cases that Taiwan tea community paid visits to Japan for different purposes in history, this research hopes to reveal the cultural ties in-between the East Asian countries that are overlooked or neglected before. The complex history endowed the Taiwanese layers of cultural legacy and at a time “invention of tradition “prevails, the Taiwan tea community has enjoyed the freedom to create new aesthetics forms, to experiment with new utensils and rituals.

Jie YAN – University of Alberta (Canada)

Root Seeking and Cultural Restoration: Pilgrims from Japan and the Revival of a Chinese Temple

The Japanese Buddhist master Enni Ben’en (1202-1280) studied in China and established close ties with the Jingshan temple, a Chan Buddhist temple in Hangzhou. After returning to Japan, Enni founded in Kyoto the Tofukuji temple, one of the most renowned Zen monasteries in Japan, and honored his Chinese teacher Wuzhun Shifan (1178-1249) as patriarch. Since 1980s, groups of Japanese Buddhists, especially the Buddhists of Tofukuji, made pilgrimages frequently to the Jingshan temple to seek their roots, and contributed greatly to the rebuilding of the temple, which had collapsed due to 20th century’s social movements. Meanwhile, the Chinese Buddhists of the Jingshan temple also made pilgrimages to the Tofukuji temple to rediscover and learn the Buddhist culture well preserved in Japan, including the temple’s history and Chan tea ceremony, which boosted the revival of the Jingshan temple. By examining the historical and contemporary interactions between the Japanese Buddhists and the Chinese temple in Hangzhou, this paper argues that both the pilgrims and the agent of the destination can be engaged in the reshaping of a place, and that the transnational cultural flows are historically mutual and dynamic, producing new cultural life.

Cody POULTON University of Victoria (Canada)

Kumano a la mode: The Kii region as a modern site of pilgrimage

 “The story is a map, the landscape a narrative.” Rebecca Solnit. In 1997, the ancient pilgrimage routes to Kumano, known as Kumano kodō, were twinned with the popular Santiago de Campostella pilgrimage in Europe and in 2004, the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” (紀伊山地の霊場と参詣) was designated a UNESCO world heritage site. For more than a millennium, the faithful have sought salvation in these mountains, people from literally all walks of life, ranging from mystic hermits to emperors, commoners, and especially women. Since its designation as a world heritage site, tens of thousands of hikers a year, many from abroad, walk stretches of Kumano kodō, the Nakahechi, from Tanabe to Hongu, being the most popular route. With reference to a number of trips to this region over the years, most of them on foot, my paper will focus on the recent history of pilgrimage in this region and the reasons behind the resurgence in hiking as a means to reconnect one with one’s own physical essence and its place in the natural world. Here geography became sacred in what Alan Grappard has called the “mandalization of space.”

Giovanni RUSCICAFudan University (China)

A pilgrimage from China to India, from Japan to the world

The Journey to the West, also translated as The Pilgrimage to the West, is one of Chinese ancient literature’s masterpieces. Published anonymously by Wu Cheng’en in the late 16th century, the novel traces in broad outline the journey taken by the monk, Tripitaka, in 629 to India to acquire Buddhist scriptures. In this fiction, Wu Cheng’en moves away from the authenticity of the traditional pilgrimage: here the monk is escorted by sinful-followers (i.e. a dragon-horse, a pig, a demon, and a monkey) capable of removing malevolent beings throughout the journey. Sun Wukong, the wild and skillful monkey, ascends to Buddhahood becoming the Victorious Fighting Buddha at the end of the work. Later on, the Chinese fiction is used as a source of inspiration for the creation of Dragon Ball, a Japanese martial arts manga. Published in 1984 as a manga and then adapted into an anime, Dragon Ball follows the Chinese fiction. After coming across Bulma, the awesome Son Goku decides to escort the girl in her quest to collect the seven dragon balls. The series’s success allowed the manga’s author, Akira Toriyama, to continue the story arc and in 2015 to launch a new series. Since 1986, several consoles, PC, and mobile videogames with a monkey character have entered the market. The purpose of this research is at first to highlight the main affinities between Sun Wukong and his successor Son Goku, and then try to explain how the monkey character could have become a world-famous symbol.

Nongnut SUPPAWANNational Museum Bangkok (Thailand)

Nine-tailed Fox: A Journey of the Fox Spirit from East Asia to Thailand and Backward 

Story of the nine-tailed fox arrived Thailand, probably, in four waves; the first wave nearly 200 years ago, from a Chinese literature Fengshen Yanyi – Investiture of the Gods that widely held in the Siamese elites. The oldest elaborated and a unique nine-tailed fox found at the mural painting of a Chinese shrine inside the National Museum Bangkok premise. After that, more than two centuries the Chinese soap opera named The Legend of Lady Chung in 1985 hit the second wave and disseminated the story to the wider awareness of Thais. Until 1992, the third wave of manga called Ushio to Tora published in Thailand. And lastly, one that makes repeat impact to Thai society once more, the manga named Uzumaki Naruto was published in Thailand in 1999 and remains popular among Thais in the present day. Interestingly, it has never been found any religious figure that related to the nine-tailed fox before the year 2000 in Thailand. The study found that it is a kind of pop-culture that designed for tourism and extremely welcome even now. The best evidence is the increasing numbers of the export nine-tailed fox amulets at the Office of the Antiquity Control by the Fine Arts Department. We cannot predict the future of this kind of trend that will be more fashionable or decline, however, it represents the movement and exchanges idea between regions or country through globalization on these days.

Jon MORRIS – Komazawa Women’s University (Japan)

Sokushinbutsu, Literature, Popular Culture and Pilgrimage

The sokushinbutsu 即身仏 are mummified “buddhas in this very body” closely associated with the Shingon (真言) sect and Mt. Yudono 湯殿. Much previous scholarship has centered on the influence of the Shingon doctrine of achieving Buddhahood in this very body (sokushinjōbutsu 即身成仏). Though this doctrine is of fundamental significance, much further detail is required to explain the sokushinbutsu phenomenon. We may look to the Japanese tradition of worshiping certain recently deceased human beings as divinities for much explanatory context. Recent scholarship has interpreted the apotheosis of deceased men and women believed to offer blessings to the living as an aspect of secularization, a process of reframing sacred ideals in terms of the local, the tangible and the popular. During the Edo period this reframing was reflected in popular dramatic and literary presentations of the sokushinbutsu, and in the vital income provided by pilgrimage to the temples which enshrined them. After something of a hiatus in the Meiji and Taisho periods, the sokushinbutsu were rediscovered by periodicals and by scholars in the Showa period. This renaissance of interest led to increased individual and group tour visits to the temples, and to the appearance of sokushinbutsu in popular culture media such as manga, anime and video games in addition to various literary and TV documentary portrayals. This presentation explores the ongoing relationship between sokushinbutsu, associated themes of itinerancy and pilgrimage, and literary and popular culture.

Ramesha JAYANETHTHI – University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka)

Wisdom in Mountains: A Comparative Study between the Pilgrimage cultures among the Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Japan

Pilgrimage is a world-recognized aspect of religious behaviors which in every religion and every region of the world were recognized as a culturally oriented event. As Shinno Toshikazu has described pilgrimage is one of the great pillars in Japanese religion. Especially among Japanese Buddhists pilgrimage culture is popular as an individual culture as well as collective behavior. There are some well-known Japanese Buddhist pilgrimage routes. These include the well-known Saikoku route, which is the model for several other 33-temple routes with icons of Kannon and the famous Shikoku route of 88temples associated with Kobo Daishi. Also, there are some other routes organized around other Buddhist deities like Yakushi, Fudo Myoo, or Jizo and routes based on historical Buddhist figures like Honen or Dogen. Some routes based on multiple deities like the thirteen Buddhas or the seven gods of good fortune as well as other Shugendo and Shinto routes are popular among the Japanese. One fact in Japanese Buddhism is that modern pilgrimages have become increasingly widespread, internationalized, commercialized, and secularized. Similar to that, in Sri Lanka, there are some famous pilgrimages among Buddhists like climbing Sri Paada Mountain and the visit of eight sacred places in Anuradhapura. Sri Lankan Buddhists developed a different culture in these routes with some chanting, flower offerings, burning incense, lighting oil lamps, worshiping and performing other rituals. Since the Buddhist pilgrimage culture in Japan and Sri Lanka resemble the age-old ritualistic behaviors and the harmony of the Asian Buddhist culture, it is one way to understand the grass-root level practices of Buddhist devotees.

Malika DEVI – University of Delhi (India)

China-Japan Relations: Lacking Mutual Common Images and Memories

Why did China and Japan quarrel over history not immediately after the war but only from the early 1980s, when the majority of population had no direct experience of the war and the two countries had normalized diplomatic relations and developed close bilateral economic and social ties? The ‘othering’ of Japan over history issues-Japan’s past aggression through domestic patriotic education campaigns in China became the major source of animosity among Chinese population. Reacting to Chinese criticism, feelings of disgust and frustration with China spread widely in Japan. Mutual negative emotions and perceptions contributed to hardening popular altitudes and thus prevented reaching any compromise. National mythmaking generated considerable memory divergence between nations and caused mistrust and mutual antipathy. Memory divergence resulting from national myth making harmed long term prospects for reconciliation. Constructing shared memories is essential for maintence of peace. The measure of amicable and cordial relations between China and Japan depends upon their common memory. This is because the enduring trauma of past memory can fuel mutual grievances and mistrust, nations cannot avoid addressing historical memory when searching for a path to reconciliation. In other words, deep interstate reconciliation is the harmonization of national memories.  Deep reconciliation is non-negotiable or else psychological and emotional wounds are not healed and peace remains elusive. Sustainable peace is realized not only through solving the actual problems between enemies but also eliminating the emotional barriers.

Wanda LISTIANI – Bandung Institute of Art-Cultural (Indonesia)

Hanami in Japanese Art History

Hanami is used only about cherry blossoms. Hana can be a generic terms that signifies all blossoms. While Japanese also to view lavender and sunflower fields, these are not called hanami. Appreciation of the value of sakura illustrated in Japanese woodblock print such as hanami illustration. The famous cherry blossoms and hanami at Ueno, Yoshino, Sumidagawa river, Tama River, Mt. Oe, Mimeguri Inari Shrine, Sesoji Temple, Shin Yoshiwara Guarters, Gotenyama Hill were a favorite motif of these woodblock print masters. As in the prints by Hishikawa Moronobu, Sugimura Jihe, Kanō Naganobu, Higashiyama, Hishikawa Morohira, Torii Kiyonaga, Fujimaro, Miyagawa Chōshun, Hasegawa Settan, Torii Kiyotada II, Teisai Hokuba, Shunkōsai Hokushū, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Hishida Shunsō, Suzuki Kitsu, Uemura Shōen, Kikukawa Eizan, Katsukawa Shunchō, Utagawa Toyohiro, Katsukawa Shunsui, Utagawa Kunisada, Yamaguchi Shigeharu, Chōbunsai Eishi, Kubo Shunman, Okada Saburosuke, and, most famously, Utagawa Hiroshige. Under the cherry blossoms they dance, sing, masquerade, eat and drink, becoming intoxicated, literally and figuratively.

Liliana MORAIS – Tokyo Metropolitan University (Japan)

Mashiko, a transnational folk pottery “Mecca”, from nostalgia to utopia

Mashiko town, located in Tochigi prefecture about 150 km from Tokyo, can be described as a Mecca for folk pottery both in Japan and abroad. Due to the transnational activities of the leaders Japanese folk crafts movement (mingei), Soetsu Yanagi, Shoji Hamada and Bernard Leach, Mashiko has been attracting artists, potters and designers from around the world, who come to the to the small countryside region not only to visit its well-known touristic cultural attractions but also to learn Japanese ceramics styles and techniques at local pottery studios. This paper looks at the life-stories of Western nationals who have crossed borders to practice ceramics in Mashiko, from the 1960s until today. Drawn by images of Japan as a “living past”, a repository of premodern culture and traditions, in a clear heritage of Orientalism, Japonisme and Japanese cultural nationalism, these Westerners have come to the country in a quest for self-invention through a search for something beyond the normative patterns of their society, thus showing the role of cultural narratives, imagination and self-realization in migration. Yet, by relating Yanagi’s ideas of folk crafts to contemporary concerns focused on self-sufficiency, self-fulfillment, and sustainability, these potters show cosmopolitan orientations echoed in their universalistic understandings of humanity and its place in the natural world. In this sense, I propose that their attraction to Mashiko and the ideas of mingei transmutes from nostalgia to utopia by reflecting alternative visions of society beyond the neo-liberal model that reveal post-growth and post-material values.

Elettra GORNI – Independent researcher (Italy)

Mokuhanga pilgrimage

I would like to talk about the touristic “pilgrimage” between Edo and Kyoto as evidenced by the Japanese woodblock prints, analyzing the cycles of prints made by Hokusai and Hiroshige dedicated to the Tokaido and Kisokaido roads and focusing my attention on the use of japanese woodcut (moku hanga) as an expressive medium to build a thriving market of geographic-tourist-sentimental-folkloristic images in 19th century.

Tatiana LAMEIROVigo University (Spain)

Synergies and Japonisme regarding the materialization of visual messages. Art, Graphic Design and Advertising as a cross-cultural crossroads

Movement is a sign of a globalized society, as portrayed in different flows of individuals, images, data, etc. Such flows define connections between different cultures, creating synergies among various countries and social communities and thus promoting the cultural heritage and highlighting their own culture as a valuable asset. The increasing cultural exchange between Asian and European countries has shifted the way things are conceived, made and produced in many different fields of knowledge. Ultimately, this shift is but the result of the mutual influences (…) that have transformed the work of European and American artists and designers, leading to new advances regarding color space, perspective, composition and topics. Since the first cultural exchange between Japan and the West took place there has been a mutual influence in the creative fields, seen through different historical periods and artistic movements such as Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, Constructivism, Futurism and Dada. Through a wide sample of artists and works coming from close fields (such as painting, graphic design, and advertising) and analyzing the aforementioned cultural flows and their impact in different contexts, this presentation will try to show how the exchange of artworks between Japan and the West deeply changed the way messages-through-images are made and shared..

NAKAMURA HirokiThe Open University of Japan (Japan)

Anime conventions in Tokushima: Findings from the prefectural survey and shopper’s opinions on “Machi★Asobi”

The purpose of this presentation is to consider the relations between an anime event and those who live in the area where the event is held. The area of Higashi-shinmachi in Tokushima Prefecture on Shikoku Island has become one of the places of « anime tourism » for anime fans from other prefectures. The main street (called Higashi-Shinmachi) in this area used to be a central shopping street, but it has been a little economically depressed since the 2008 financial crisis. The anime convention named « Machi★Asobi » has been held there since 2009. Participating in this anime convention is not exactly a pilgrimage, because it has no particular anime which is related to the area, and this point could cause some problems for the local residents. According to the data, 83,000 people participated in the event held for the19th time in 2017. Although it had a major impact on the economy of Tokushima prefecture, contributing about 700 million yen to the local economy, we have little information concerning what shoppers in this area think about it. The following points will be discussed. 1) The differences between pilgrimage to a « sacred place » and « anime tourism », 2) Our findings from the data of the prefectural survey published in 2018, and 3) The results of our fieldwork concerning shoppers’ opinions in this area. These points can be important for understanding the acceptance of the event by the people concerned.

Edmund HOFFTokyo Denki University (Japan)

Creating Pilgrimage – Positioning the World Cosplay Summit as Sanctum for Community Congregation 

Cosplay (Costume Play) is becoming a mainstay element of popular culture celebrations the world over. From science fiction to anime and video game events, costuming is as a way of momentarily affect the image of self and commune with a like minded fandom. In a hyper-connected world, the speed of interaction within this global community has developed dramatically and international events such as the World Cosplay Summit serve as gathering points for practitioners and fans alike. With over 40 nations sending representatives to Japan each year and being held since 2003 it is the largest and longest running event of its kind. Moreover, the WCS is held in Japan, a dream destination for consumers of manga and anime related contents. Tokyo is seen as the focal point many facets of Japanese culture and society. The WCS, however is held in Nagoya. Traditionally, Nagoya is not a popular tourism destination and often maligned as simply a bullet train stop off point between Tokyo and Kansai region.  In light of this, WCS event participants, members of the Sakae and Osu shopping districts, and government agencies of all levels  are stakeholders in seeing the events success. With this eclectic assembly of interest groups, the question is whether Nagoya, Sakae and the Osu Kannon temple are can be established as a contents tourism destinations. Pilgrimage to a site is often undertaken to a locale that becomes renowned due to previously celebrated storylines. This presentation will explore the agency that a location has in positioning itself as a site of pilgrimage.

Lucille DRUET – Kansai Gaidai University (Japan)

Kimono Pilgrims: The Impact of Rental and Second-hand Shops on Kimono Culture

The kimono is often described as a stiff, tedious garment. It is also used to represent tradition and transmission, richly connected to the Japanese millennia-old sartorial and craft culture. Over the past century, the kimono is a mode of dress and an industry that has been keeping up with the trends and changing into a more casual, more affordable garment, with a very active “social life” and a prominent place on the global fashion stage. (Milhaupt (2014), Hall (2015), Cliffe, (2016), Valk (2017, 2020)). As a result, in Japan, the kimono is employed by varied communities of wearers (Geisha, Maiko, Kabuki actors, tea practitioners, collectors etc.) and in a variety of formal and casual events celebrated by wearing it. Meanwhile, in the West, a kimono is a versatile item, either a jacket completely detached from its original silhouette, an antique, a souvenir serving as the embodiment of Japaneseness or — more precisely — Kyoto. In fact, over the past few years, the number of tourists visiting the city with the will to buy or rent a kimono to experience the culture “as authentically as possible” has dramatically increased. Via a survey of the kimono rental and casual wear phenomenon, this presentation will be focusing on the modalities of this “kimono pilgrimage”, ultimately showing how modern and contemporary commoditization of the kimono can illuminate a path for its future, as well as addressing the issues of cultural consumption, cultural appropriation, fast and slow fashion.

Shiri LIEBER-MILO – Osaka University (Japan)

Pink Purchasing: Interrogating the Soft Power of Japan’s Kawaii Consumption

In Japan, high value and appreciation is ascribed towards anything that features the physical characteristics considered to be kawaii (roughly translated as cute in English), particularly infants. As such, kawaii plays a significant role in Japanese popular consumption culture, especially for female consumers. From Hello Kitty and Pokémon to idols, election campaigns, and popular characters, this lecture will take place upon contemporary kawaii aesthetic, its vast usages in the Japanese industry and its psychological characteristics. With a display of both the visual and behavioral aspects of the trend, an acknowledgment will be made on the kawaii’s vast impact in Japan and its positive behavior attributes.

Raditya Halimawan NURADI – Kyushu University (Japan)

Anime Pilgrimage In-Situ: Natsume Yujincho and Hitoyoshi

Recently, anime pilgrimage has appeared as a phenomenon capable of influencing local economy and tourism. A form of content tourism, fans in Japan have chosen to name this activity seichi junrei, which directly translates into “sacred site pilgrimage.” The name seichi junrei adds a spiritual aspect to the journey, turning it into something more than a regular trip. The city of Hitoyoshi in Kumamoto prefecture, which is the location of the Natsume Yūjinchō anime pilgrimage, serves as an example of how anime pilgrimage can reshape religious sites and imbue them with new meanings and functions for fans. This presentation looks at the material culture left by fans at a particular shrine in Hitoyoshi, Sugawara Tenmangu Shrine, such as ema and notebooks, to analyze how these votive offerings might function as a way for fans to bring the fictional world of Natsume Yūjinchō closer to reality.

Dale ANDREWS – Tohoku Gakuin University (Japan)

Ghostly Musings: When Anime Fans Traverse into the World of “Natsume’s Book of Friends”

In his book “Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan,” Jolyon Baraka Thomas commented that “When scholars examine what Japanese people do (rather than what they say they believe), it becomes clear that many people participate in rituals in a manner that can reasonably be described as religious…” (2012:10). With this frame of thought as a springboard, in this presentation I will address the question of whether anime fans undertaking anime pilgrimages (anime seichi junrei) are performing “religious” acts and consequently being religious themselves. Specifically, I will showcase one of the more conspicuous and defining activities of anime fans observed at pilgrimage sites, the act of dedicating votive prayer tablets (ema). Not only does this act draw attention to the pilgrimage, I will argue that it visibly marks the juncture when anime fans breach the threshold where the two-dimensional (digital) and three-dimensional (analog) worlds conjoin. Based on a detailed analysis of 998 votive tablets surveyed at the Tamachi Sugawara Tenman Shrine in Hitoyoshi City, Kumamoto Prefecture, I will demonstrate that a large number of anime fans who converge on the shrine as part of their pilgrimage experience, elect to partake in a communion with the characters that inhabit the ghostly world of the anime “Natsume’s Book of Friends,” thus further authenticating their existence..

Manuel HERNÁNDEZ-PÉREZ Hull University/Salford University (UK)

Media Contents and Fan Memories: Experience and Performance in Tourist narratives


YOSHIOKA Shiro – Newcastle University (UK)

“They come here/we recreate it here”: Fan experience outside Japan as a pseudo-pilgrimage

Within the context of Japanese popular culture, the idea of “pilgrimage” is often associated with the fans’ practice of visiting locale of manga, anime etc and the term “contents tourism.” The assumption behind these terms is that “contents” induce tourism to specific places. Recent Japanese researches often define the “contents” very broadly to argue that people visit places not because they have specific link with the contents (e.g. locale of anime) but to consume what happens and/or people performing/coming there (live performance, anime -themed events in various Japanese towns). While these researches tend to focus on Japanese cases and fans, this also applies to those outside Japan. However, in the case of foreign events, the geographical factor is even less important because usually specific link between the geographical location of the event and its content is weak, if any. Yet, what these events outside Japan have in common is Japan as the pinnacle of authenticity of culture and the media/texts they focus on. This is observable in existence of Japanese culture-related aspects in anime conventions ranging from food to martial arts as well as prominent Japanese figures as guests. In the case of live performances by idols and singers as well as stage play, the situation is more complicated, but still in general, there is a hierarchy with Japan at the top as the authentic origin. In short, these events enable fans to establish an image of Japan as a place with special meaning without physically making a pilgrimage.

José Andrés SANTIAGO IGLESIAS University of Vigo, Spain

“Oishii!” Addressing food in manga from a narrative and aesthetic perspective

Food has never looked better. In these fashionable times of food-porn and Instagram, highly elaborated and visually-stylised representations of food and cooking are common in people’s social media and advertising. Moreover, regional cuisine is openly addressed as a paramount cultural asset and a key aspect in promoting national culture. Food is —more than ever before— a truly successful medium for cultural exchange. Sushi, ramen, tempura, udon, takoyaki or okonomiyaki are true ambassadors of the Japanese culture worldwide. However, while there’s nothing better than tasting these delicacies first hand, many young readers get to know these Japanese gastronomic specialties through manga and anime. A detailed depiction of food in manga is not a recent trait, and yet it is also utterly contemporary. Since a naturalistic and unidealized representation of daily life is quite common in many manga series, it usually involves detailed portraits of cooking, food and the most sophisticated Japanese cuisine. Although thematically oriented, ‘food manga’ also raises social awareness and questions regarding food literacy and political and environmental issues. However, mainstream manga engages with detailed depictions of food too, for aesthetic and narrative purposes, and character development. Focusing on different mainstream serialized manga series, in this presentation I will try to discuss the relevance of aesthetically pleasing and attractive representations of food in manga, not only as an asset in cultural promotion but also with formal and narrative intentions — defining a different sense of rhythm and helping in the development of the characters interpersonal dynamics.