The Japanese Philosophy Blog

News and discussion of ancient and modern Japanese philosophy

May Roundup

A new month means it’s time for a new post rounding up all the news from the world of Japanese philosophy. Here we go!


Issue one of the long awaited Journal of Japanese Philosophy is now available for order. Here is the TOC:

Uehara Mayuko

The Significance of Japanese Philosophy
Fujita Masakatsu, translated by Bret W. Davis

Japanese Philosophy as a Lens on Greco European Thought
John C. Maraldo

Opening Up the West: Toward Dialogue with Japanese Philosophy
Bret W. Davis

Kūkai and Dōgen as Exemplars of Ecological Engagement
Graham Parkes

Japanese Postmodern Philosophy’s Turn to Historicity
Lin Shaoyang

Book Review

McCarthy, Erin. Ethics Embodied: Rethinking Selfhood through Continental, Japanese, and Feminist Philosophies
Leah Kalmanson


  • Hesig, James. An Inquiry into the Good and Nishida’s Missing Basho.” Comparative and Continental Philosophy 4.2 (2012) 237–251.

    In December 2010 Kyoto University hosted a symposium honoring the hundredth anniversary of the publication of Nishida Kitarō’s An Inquiry into the Good. The following is an English version of a talk delivered on that occasion. In it I have tried to argue against the widely held view that this maiden work contains the germ of Nishida’s mature philosophy, and at the same time to suggest that an early strain of ambiguity regarding the notion of the will points to a neglect of the natural world in his “logic of place.”

  • James, Jeffery. “Exist-Stencil.” Architectural Design 83 (Apr. 2013): 112–117. doi: 10.1002/ad.1599.

    Architect and interior designer Jeffrey James admits an ambivalent attitude towards nature. Here he turns that ambivalence to positive effect through a series of poetic digital collages that provide a mediation between ‘our incomprehension of the vast magnificence and complexity of the natural world and the actual spaces that we can physically touch and inhabit’.

    (Blogger’s note: deals especially with the aesthetics of wabi-sabi.)

  • Matsunagaa, Louella. Review of Critical Buddhism: Engaging with Modern Japanese Buddhist Thought by James M. Shields, Ashgate: 2011. Journal of Contemporary Religion 28:2 (2013).

  • Satō Kenji. “Sociology of Culture in Transition.” International Journal of Japanese Sociology, 22 (Mar. 2013): 32–40. doi: 10.1111/ijjs.12007.

  • Sumida Manabu. “The Japanese View of Nature and Its Implications for the Teaching of Science in the Early Childhood Years.” In International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Care by Jan Georgeson and Jane Payler. McGraw-Hill International: 2013.

Conference Proceedings



  • Berque, Augustin. Thinking Through Landscape. Routledge: 2013.

    Our attitude to nature has changed over time. This book explores the historical, literary and philosophical origins of the changes in our attitude to nature that allowed environmental catastrophes to happen. It presents a philosophical reflection on human societies’ attitude to the environment, informed by the history of the concept of landscape and the role played by the concept of nature in the human imagination and features a wealth of examples from around the world to help understand the contemporary environmental crisis in the context of both the built and natural environment.

    Thinking Through Landscape locates the start of this change in human labour and urban elites being cut off from nature. Nature became an imaginary construct masking our real interaction with the natural world. The book argues that this gave rise to a theoretical and literary appreciation of landscape at the expense of an effective practical engagement with nature. It draws on Heideggerian ontology and Veblen’s sociology, providing a powerful distinction between two attitudes to landscape: the tacit knowledge of earlier peoples engaged in creating the landscape through their work — “landscaping thought” — and the explicit theoretical and aesthetic attitudes of modern city dwellers who love nature while belonging to a civilization that destroys the landscape — “landscape thinking”.

    This book gives a critical survey of landscape thought and theory for students, researchers and anyone interested in human societies’ relation to nature in the fields of landscape studies, environmental philosophy, cultural geography and environmental history.

    (Blogger’s note: Berque is the leading interpreter of Watsuji Tetsurō’s Climate and Culture.)

  • Shigaraki Takamaro. Heart of the Shin Buddhist Path: A Life of Awakening. Tr. David Matsumoto. Wisdom Publications: 2013.

    In his Heart of the Shin Buddhist Path, Takamaro Shigaraki examines Shin Buddhism anew as a practical path of spiritual growth and self-transformation, challenging assessments of the tradition as a passive religion of mere faith. Shigaraki presents the core themes of the Shin Buddhist path in fresh, engaging, down-to-earth language, considering each frankly from both secular and religious perspectives. Shigaraki discloses a nondual Pure Land that finds philosophical kinship with Zen but has been little discussed in the West. With its unassuming language and insights drawn from a life of practice, Heart of the Shin Buddhist Path dispels the fog of misconception that has shrouded Western appreciation of Shin traditions to reveal the limitless light of Amida Buddha that reaches all.