School of Humanities
Ph.D., 1) Otani University, 2011 2) Columbia University in the City of New York, 2019, 1) Buddhist Culture. 2) Religion
M.A., 1) University of Cambridge 2) SOAS (University of London) 3) Otani University (Kyoto) 4) Columbia University, 1) History of Art 2) Japanese Studies 3) Buddhist Culture 4) Religion
University of California, Irvine
468 Humanities Instructional Building
Mail Code: 6000
Irvine, CA 92697
Buddhism, East Asian Religions, Anthropology of Religion, Art History (Asia), Japanese Tantric/Esoteric Buddhism, Ritual practice, Kami worship, Buddhist/religious visual cultures, spirit possession
I continue to work on the same goal I had when I began my academic career, which is to cast light, for an English-speaking audience, on religious practices that seem inexplicable or illogical from the viewpoint of the "modern" mind (a "modernity" I also question, especially as it was conceptualised and developed in non-western cultures). I am driven by the conviction that we must learn from cultures that seem, and often are, different from our own: to understand why they are different and what emerges from the difference. To this end I have primarily focused on the subject of pre-modern esoteric Buddhism in Japan. I am drawn to this not only because it is often poorly understood, but because years of studies in academia, and monastic training at the Shingon complex of Koyasan, have made it my personal and intellectual passion as well.
Courses taught at UCI include: "The Buddhist Body", "Japanese Buddhism", "Sacred and Scared: Horror and Japanese Religions", "Asian Religions (survey course)", "Sacred Mountains in East Asia", and "Arts and Visual Cultures of Japanese Buddhism".
Born in Portsmouth, England. Studied History of Art at Cambridge with Jean-Michel Massing. MAs from SOAS (London) and Otani University (Kyoto), and PhDs in Buddhist Culture from Otani (advised by Sasaki Reishin, Kiba Akeshi and Miyazaki Kenji) and Religion from Columbia University (NY) (with Bernard Faure, D. Max Moerman, and Michael Como. I trained, was ordained, and initiated into Shingon Buddhism at Koyasan in Japan.
Upcoming: "The Catechism of the Gods: Buddhist Doctrinal Debates and Local Deity Worship in Medieval Japan" ( Journal of Religion in Japan).
Upcoming: "Two-Faced: The Standing, Double-Headed Wisdom King Aizen Myoo in Spatial Contexts". Under contract for The Oxford Handbook of Tantric Studies.
“Kukai and the Development of Shingon Buddhism” in ‘Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia’ ed. Charles D. Orzech, Henrik H. Sorensen, and Richard K. Payne, Brill, 2010, pp. 691-708.
“Intangible Gifts: Buddhist doctrinal debate as an offering to the kami at medieval Koyasan” in Otani Daigaku Otani Daigaku Daigakuin Kenkyu Kiyo 27, December 2010: pp. 141-172. (In Japanese.)
“The Case of the Henmyoin Oracle: Notes on Koyasan, lineage, and the oracular medium of Buddhist teachings in medieval Japanese esoteric Buddhism” in The Eastern Buddhist, New Series, Vol. 45, Nos. 1&2, 2014, pp.77-112.
“The Composition of Decomposition: Erotic-Grotesque Modernity in Buddhist Kusozu Paintings by Ito Seiu and Matsui Fuyuko” in Journal of Asian Humanities at Kyushu University (JAH-Q), Vol.2, Spring 2017, pp. 15-46.
Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Yokohama City University 2017-2018
Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dept. of Asian Art 2016-2017
Fellow, Donald Keene Center / Shincho Foundation for the Promotion of Literature, Yokohama City University 2015-16
Ph.D. Fellow, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, June-August 2012 & 2013
American Academy of Religion (AAR)
Association for Asian Studies (AAS)
Japan Art History Forum (JAHF)
College Art Association
Medieval Japanese Studies Institute: Center for the Study of Women, Buddhism and Cultural History (Daikankiji Convent, Kyoto)
(Tokyovision, 2018) View (English) trailer here: http://tokyovision.net/blog/portfolio/miyabori-carving-divinity/