The Asiatic Society 
of Japan


Next Lecture: 2019.4.8 (details below)

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April 8, 2019 18:30
Mr. Avery Morrow, PhD Candidate, Brown University 
"Anesaki Masaharu: The Spiritual Side of a Liberal Intellectual"

Shibuya Kyōiku Gakuen, Shibuya 1-21-18, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0002

In the late 1910s, Japan struggled with questions of how to preserve liberal democracy against rising currents of nationalism and illiberal beliefs. Anesaki Masaharu (1873–1949), one of Tokyo Imperial University’s most far-sighted intellectuals, relied on the new sciences of social psychology and religious studies to answer these questions.

Anesaki believed the moral development of the individual to be grounded in spiritual values, and accordingly brought religious leaders together in state-supported interfaith dialogue. In his view, religious groups could only triumph over narrow-minded fundamentalism and cultivate good citizens when they had a healthy liberal democracy backing them, but the health of the state conversely depended on transcendent values which should be properly identified as religious.

These sociological theories intersected with his personal beliefs, a unique mixture of Buddhism, Shinto, spiritualism, and hope for the future of Japan. Anesaki's political and spiritual theories still speak to us today as we aim to understand the meaning of liberal democracy in the 21st century.

Mr. Avery Morrow is an incoming Ph.D. candidate at Brown University. His research has been published by the International Shinto Studies Association, and in Correspondences: Journal for the Study of Esotericism as well as other books and journals. His first book, The Sacred Science of Ancient Japan, analyzed various alternative perspectives on Japanese mythology.

May 13, 2019 18:30
Roundtable Discussions for Members: "What's Next for ASJ? "

For the past year, the Interim Council has been stabilizing ASJ and working to reduce the risk of collapse of governance and operations in the future. As the Interim Council prepares to step down, all ASJ members are invited to roundtable discussions on formulating a comprehensive strategy for ASJ. As a new chapter begins for ASJ and, as we approach our 150th anniversary, this is your chance to help shape ASJ's future.

By Erich Berendt, Co-Editor of The Transactions

Donald Lawrence Keene (1922-2019) passed away February 24th at the age of 96. Born in New York, but reflecting his deep commitment to Japanese language and literature, he became a Japanese citizen in 2012. Dr. Keene has been recognized for his extraordinary contributions in Japanese culture as the most important person in the creation and establishment of Japan studies in the West. The New Yorker noted, “Through his graceful, resourceful translations and his elegant, exhaustive scholarly books he is almost single-handedly responsible for the popularity of Japanese literature in English-speaking countries.”

Regarded as a child prodigy, Keene entered Columbia University at the age of sixteen, studying the classics of Western literature in particular French and Greek. While browsing in a used bookstore he came across The Tale of Genji translated by Arthur Waley, becoming fascinated with the elegance and sophistication of Japanese culture. On enlisting in the US Navy, he volunteered to study Japanese, which led to his working as an interpreter. After the Second World War, he returned to Columbia University to study Japanese literature.

Returning to Japan in the 1950s, Keene continued his studies at Kyoto University on a Ford Foundation scholarship and befriended many famous living authors such as Abe Kobo, Mishima Yukio, Kawabata Yasunari, Ooka Shohei and Tanizaki Junichiro. Among his notable friends was Nagai Michio who was his closest friend in Japan. His intense dedication to Japanese literature led him to produce about 25 volumes, scholarly works, translations and edited anthologies. Perhaps his multi-volume series on the history of Japanese literature had the greatest impact on the spread of Japanese literary studies, but he had a broad range of interests including Haikai, Noh theater, Bunraku and wrote an influential monograph series on modern Japanese writers (Dazai, Mishima, Abe). His work and contributions to the studies of Japanese culture have been recognized by many prizes and honorary degrees, both in Japan and abroad.

The Asiatic Society of Japan has been honored by Professor Keene’s lectures, and he contributed seven papers to the Transactions journal. In 2002 at the recommendation of the society’s patron Prince Takamado, he gave the keynote address on the life of Emperor Meiji for the ASJ’s 130th anniversary. More recently, he was awarded the Prince Takamado Award for his distinguished contributions to Japanese cultural studies. Throughout his career, Donald Keene always generously gave advice to aspiring students. No matter how busy his obligations made him he always was available to friends and colleagues alike. His warm-hearted humor and humility will long be remembered. His greatest pleasure more than awards was to enjoy good food and good conversation with friends in Kyoto, Usami and Tokyo, the domiciles of his Japanese soul.

The Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan
Dr. Erich Berendt and Professor Kei Yamanaka, Editors
The TRANSACTIONS editorial committee welcomes the submission of research articles, scholarship in brief papers, essays and book reviews for the next Transactions (Volume 11) by June 30, 2019. Now in its 147th year of publication, the Transactions has contained papers from the following fields as related to Japan:

Sociology, Anthropology, and Ethnology
Government, Politics, and Law
Economics and Business
Natural Sciences
Mythology, Religion, and Philosophy
Art and Technology

How to Submit Your Paper
All submissions should be e-mailed to the Editors and be labeled “Transactions Manuscript”: or

Stylistic Guidelines
Submissions should follow the stylistic guidelines below:

• Manuscripts should be prepared in MS Word, in 12-point Times New Roman font. 
• Articles should be accompanied by an abstract of approximately 200 words and a list of key words/phrases.
• Articles should not exceed 12,000 words (approximately 27 pages), including title page, abstract, key words, graphs, tables, pictures, footnotes, etc.
• Scholarship in Brief, Essays, and Book Reviews should not exceed 6,000 words. They do not require an abstract and a list of key words.
• Articles, Scholarship in Brief, Essays, and Reviews should all be accompanied by a brief author note consisting of the author’s bio in narrative form not exceeding 100 words.
• Put page numbers in the upper right corner of each page. Do not include any other material, such as a header or footer.
• For issues not covered in this guide, please refer to the APA style book.

Review Process
Research papers will be reviewed in two stages, first by the editorial committee, and if deemed necessary by blind peer review. Notification of acceptance will be made by September 1, 2019.

In May 2018, an Interim Council Interim was appointed by the remaining Councilors of Council 2018 (i.e., the Councilors who had not resigned in 2018Q1) to replace them.  Per the terms of appointment, the Interim Council's purpose has been: (i) to stabilize the governance and operations of the Society; and, (ii) to implement measures to reduce the risk of collapse of governance and operations in the future. Documents regarding the circumstances that led to the appointment of the Interim Council, data, analysis, auditors' reports, investigation findings, and recommendations of the Interim Council may be downloaded from the following link:

May we remind Members who have not yet renewed their membership for this year to please do so by remitting the subscription amount (Regular Membership: ¥11,000) to one of ASJ's accounts:

• Postal transfer to Japan Postal Account No. 00120-0-167991
• Bank transfer to MUFG Bank [三菱UFJ銀行], Aoyama-dori Branch, Ordinary Account No. 1048353
• Payment by U.S. dollar cheque is also acceptable