Academic's research into Japan pilgrimages receives foundation funding

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

A University of Salford academic’s research project to explore the history of pilgrimages to Japan for international audiences has been awarded funding by a prestigious foundation.

‘Japan Pilgrimages’ is an ongoing research volume of translated original Japanese pieces that explores pilgrimages to and from Japan and their effects on the social, economic and cultural lives of wider countries and regions.

Work on the project was started in Kyoto, Japan in 2021 by Dr Manuel Hernández, a Lecturer in Digital Media at the University of Salford alongside Dr Maxime Danesin of the Mutual Images Research Association and Professor Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto of Ryukoku University.

This month, the project has been awarded funding from the Great British Sasakawa Foundation to continues its research which is expected to raise the ambition of the project by funding the translation and edition of different texts that have never been published in English.

This includes original works by reputed scholars in Japanese studies such as Professor Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, Professor Iwano Masako, Mitani Mazumi and Professor Yasuda Shinichi.

Dr Hernández said: “The support provided by this funding will make possible the translation of original Japanese pieces from these noted academics and will contribute to more diverse and plural discussions on the topic of Japanese pilgrimages.

“The diversity of the topics is also quite significant since it can cover the most traditional pilgrimages such as the Shikoku Henro or the Kumano route of long Buddhist tradition in Japan and key elements of their religious and spiritual heritage.”

The project has been currently gathering discussions around the cultural, social and spiritual significant of the pilgrimage in the context of Japan with participations from scholars based in South and East Asia, Europe and North America.

Due to Japan’s cultural and tourism industries developing new sophisticated strategies to bring in new audiences and markets in recent years, the project is also looking to explore the visits of manga and anime fans to shrines and temples in which they engage with rituals inspired in Shinto tradition known as the ‘seichi junrei’, mixing media fan engagement and pilgrimage.

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