With the generous support of the Japan Foundation Research Fellowship, I have conducted a nine-month research in Japan in affiliation with the Institute for Research in Humanities (Jinbunken) of the Kyoto University. The Institute’s rigorous academic programs and rich archival resources have significantly expanded my research perspective and knowledge in Buddhist art.
My research, which focuses on the circulation of Buddhist icons in early Japan (around the sixth to the eighth centuries), deals with the issues of cross-cultural interaction and the dynamics across religion and politics across the East Sea. I spent most of my time in the Kansai area (especially the cities of Kyoto and Nara), and examined the Buddhist art collection in institutes such as the Kyoto National Museum, the Nara National Museum, the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, and the Asuka Historical Museum. Given that a large body of artifacts related to my project is still enshrined for Buddhist rituals today, I also visited temples such as Hōryūji, Yakushiji, Kōfukuji, Tōshōdaiji, and Tōdaiji. It was extremely rewarding to observe the icons in situ, which gives me a better sense of how they operated in relation to light and different architectural spaces in ancient times.
Apart from research, I have also benefited immensely from participating at workshops, seminars, and research colloquiums at Kyoto University. In particular, I am very honored to be invited to participate in the esteemed Yungang Buddhist Cave Research Workshop, which edits, re-collates, and updates the information of the 1938-45 excavation trips spearheaded by the late Nagahiro Toshio and Mizuno Seiichi. Their pioneering research and image database on Yungang cave temples in China has been paramount for the study of Buddhist art for generations of scholars. I was very much inspired by the rigorous scholarship and stimulating discussion involved in the editing process
I would like to express once again my sincere gratitude to the Japan Foundation for making all of my research and adventures possible, and for offering me the invaluable opportunity to experience the excellence in research in the Japanese academia.