Conferences & Symposia

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The Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies supports many opportunities for scholars from across the country and around the world to come together at Harvard. These conferences and symposia provide a setting in which scholars can share their research, exchange ideas, and contribute to discussion and debate surrounding various topics in Japanese studies.


Oceanic Japan: Environmental Histories of the Archipelago and the Sea

Date: January 24-25, 2020
Location: Harvard University

Organizers: David Howell and Ian Miller, Harvard University

This conference brought together a diverse, multi-national, multi-disciplinary group to expand the ambit of Asian Studies, drawing energy from a broader turn to the sea—the “New Thalassology”—developing within our fields and in adjacent areas such as Atlantic History, Pacific History, and Indian Ocean Studies. One particular spatial focus was Japan’s place within oceanic history, concerning the environmental history of the sea.


Medieval Japanese Buddhist Practices and their Visual Art Expressions

Date: January 18-19, 2019
Location: Harvard University

Organizers: Ryūichi Abe, Harvard University; Tesshin Michimoto, Ryukoku University

Responding to the surge of interest in Buddhism in fields outside traditional Buddhist studies, the symposium had two goals: first, to create a forum for academic exchange between scholars of Buddhist studies and art history; and second, to provide a forum for scholars from the U.S., Japan, and elsewhere to share innovative archival and documentary research. Co-sponsored by the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and the Research Center for Buddhist Cultures in Asia (BARC) at Ryukoku University, this two-day event included panel presentations and a visit to the Harvard Art Museums to view and study the sculpture "Sedgwick Prince Shōtoku at Age Two," the oldest dated medieval Japanese sculpture of this genre.


Harvard Symposium on Japanese Politics

Date: August 29, 2018
Location: Harvard University

Organizer: Daniel Smith, Harvard University

Organized by Daniel Smith with the support of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, this symposium aimed to nurture dialogue and debate among political scientists dedicated to the study of Japanese politics, as well as explore the latest developments and new directions for future research. The keynote speaker was Steven Reed, Professor Emeritus of Chuo University, whose many contributions to the study of Japanese politics span several research areas, including elections and parties, political economy and policymaking, and religion and politics.


Debating Japan's Constitution: On the Streets, In Parliament, and In the Region

Date: November 3, 2017
Location: Harvard University

Organizers: Helen Hardacre, Harvard University; Keigo Komamura, Keio University

This conference was the third and culminating event in a series of gatherings since the establishment of a joint research agreement between the Harvard University Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and the Keio University Faculty of Law in 2015. The focus of this conference was civil society activism and participation in the debate surrounding constitutional revision in Japan, as well as the current debate as an aspect of Japanese politics and international relations.