Tenri University Hosts an International Academic Conference

On August 13, Tenri University hosted an international academic conference entitled “Japanese Religions in the Americas,” drawing about 30 scholars engaged in the study of Asian religions from nine countries and regions. This conference was part of a larger international symposium, which, entitled “Management and Marketing of Globalizing Asian Religions,” was held between August 11 and 14 mainly at the National Museum of Ethnology, located in Suita, Osaka Prefecture. Organized by the museum and other institutions, the symposium was supported by organizations such as Tenri University’s Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion.

This four-day symposium was intended to facilitate discussions on the management and marketing strategies of Asian New Religions so as to recast their data in terms of the way these religious organizations are managed in an increasingly globalized society. The museum’s Professor Hirochika Nakamaki, 62, who is one of the organizing committee members of the symposium and also a former lecturer at Tenri University, explained why he chose Tenri for a conference venue: “There are many things we can learn about organizational management from educational and research institutions like Tenri University as well as from the Overseas Department, which coordinates Tenrikyo’s overseas mission. I made this visit to Tenri part of the program in the hope that this would be a good learning opportunity for the scholars of religion.”

After visiting Church Headquarters, the scholars assembled at the university’s alumni hall to attend the conference. The conference started off with a welcome address by Tenri University President Taketo Hashimoto, who briefly explained the history and the present situation of Tenrikyo’s overseas mission by showing for example the statistics on Tenrikyo in the Americas. Following the address, five researchers gave their papers on religions in the Americas, including Professor Masanobu Yamada, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Tenri University, who made a presentation entitled “The Management and Marketing of Tenrikyo in Its Globalization Effort.” In the Q-and-A session that followed, scholars from overseas raised various questions about Professor Yamada’s paper. Also attending from the same department was Professor Yoshitsugu Sawai, who served as the moderator as well as a speaker at the panel discussion.

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