Akira NISHIMURA

Cultural Resources Studies, Associate Professor

What type of existence is the dead to the living? How are experiences of historical events like wars remembered by the parties concerned and how are they propagated and inherited by the third parties and generations that follow? These are the types of questions on which my research continues to be based. Particularly from a religious studies standpoint, I am interested in rituals for the dead such as mourning and holding commemorative services of worship to honor and console people mourning those who have passed, and on comparisons between historical and religious experiences. Perspectives on the material culture that support such memories and inheritance are also vital.

In contrast, I have also started to gain an interest in the association between religion and museums. Masaharu Anesaki (1873–1949), who was the first professor of religion at the University of Tokyo, had considered a plan toward the end of the 19th century for a “Display Area of Religious Items” which failed to materialize and, in addition to orders of both traditional and new religions, many religious universities are equipped with museum facilities for the display of their religious artifacts and artwork. Where is it that we may find continuity and distinctions between exhibitions today which focus on temples and shrines and unveilings (displays for viewing) of the treasured Buddha in modern times? How do the perspectives of religious believers and observers and those in positions of research such as art history and religious history toward exhibits cross paths? I also find the functions of facilities for mourning and honoring the dead in the ways of a museum to be of great interest. These are the types of things on which I am now attempting to deepen my studies.

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