Fall Semester: Detailed Curriculum


The ISJP offers the following courses:

1. Introduction to Shinto and Folk Religion

2. Introduction to Japanese Buddhism (history, teaching, and practice of the different schools)

3. Introduction to Japanese New Religions

4. Introduction to Japanese Christianity

5. Introduction to theology in dialogue

6. Introduction to basic Japanese language

  The courses are held over the period of one semester   


Expusure Program

— Fieldtrips to Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines,

   headquarters of new religions, and Christian churches.

— Dialogue meetings with representatives of other


— Special lectures by scholars on selected themes.

— One week fieldtrip to Tokyo

Shinto and Folk Religion

Folk (minzoku) shinto, sect (kyoha) shinto, shrine (jinja) shinto, state (kokka) shinto; shrine buildings and precincts, festivals (matsuri), social organizations (ujigami, ujiko), mythology, Izumo and Ise, basic concepts such as deities (kami) and evil beings (tengu), ritualists and rituals, etc.

Listening to a Priest at Daitoku-ji

Japanese Buddhism

Introduction of Buddhism to Japan; history, teaching and practice of the different Buddhist schools during the Nara period (Kegon, Hosso, etc.), Heian period (Saicho and Tendai), Kamakura period (Pure Land: Honen and Jodo-shu; Zen: Eisai and Rinzai-shu; Nichiren and Nichiren-shu), Buddhism during Muromachi and Edo periods.

Special topics such as Buddhism and the state, amalgamation of Buddhism and Shinto, social organizations (danka seido, etc.), Buddhist personalities, etc. Japanese


Japanese New Religions

Meiji period: Shinto derived: Tenri-kyo.
Pre/Post WW II: Mahikari group; Nichiren derived lay Buddhism: Rissho Koseikai.
1980/1990s (new-new religions): Agon-shu, Aum Shinri-kyo.
Special topics: Japan’s modernization and the response by new religions, social organization, relation to state, international activities and mission, use of media, transition from the founding period to the state of an established religion.


Japanese Christianity

Foreign mission to Japan in the 16/17th and 19/20th century; Japanese church history: formation of denominations, forced union in the United Church of Christ

(Kyodan) during WW II, and restructuring thereafter, Christian social engagement, Mukyo-kai (Non-Church movement), Japanese indigenous churches (Makuya, Iesu no Mitama Kyokai, etc.), special topics: problems of indigenization (Gospel and culture), funeral services and ancestor veneration, Christian weddings, etc.

Theology in dialogue

Inclusivistic (Karl Rahner, etc.), exclusivistic (Karl Barth, etc.), pluralistic (John Hick, Paul Knitter, etc.), and other approaches (R.Panikkar, John Cobb, Jacques Dupuis, etc.), Asian (Indian and Japanese) contributions, etc.

Reading Classic Japanese Buddhist Texts

A specialist will read together with the students an important Buddhist text and explain it (e.g. Honen’s Senchaku-shu, Shinran’s Tanni-sho, Dogen’s Shobo genzo, Nishitani’s What is Religion?, etc.)


Introduction to Basic Japanese language

Basic introduction to Japanese for beginners.

Exposure Program

Parallel to the classes, weekly fieldtrips to sacred places of various religions will be offered and dialogue meetings with their representatives will be arranged.

The fall semester also includes a one-week trip to Tokyo sponsored by Tomisaka Christian Center.