Tanabe Books

Nonfiction and fiction writings about Religion, Buddhism, Japan, Hawaii, and Japanese-Americans

​George Tanabe writes nonfiction and fiction about Religion, Buddhism, Japan, Hawaii and Japanese-Americans.

George J. Tanabe, Jr.

Professor Emeritus
Department of Religion
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822

Academic Training

University High School, Honolulu, Hawaii. Diploma, 1961.
Willamette University, Salem, Oregon. B.A. (History), 1965.
Union Theological Seminary, New York, N. Y. M.Div. (New Testament), 1969.
Columbia University, New York, N. Y. M.A. (Japanese), 1974; Ph.D. (Japanese), 1983.
Tokyo University, Tokyo, Japan. Foreign Research Student.

2009 Third Place winner for Miki’s Mad (fiction), Prose Writing Competition, Hawai‘i Writers Conference.
2007 Japanese Foreign Minister’s Award (Gaimu Daijin Shō) for the promotion of Japan-U.S. cultural understanding.
2002, 1986 Merit increase, University of Hawaii.
1968 Hudnut Award for Homiletics, Union Theological Seminary.
1965 Honors Program Certificate, Willamette University.
1965 Faculty election for Rhodes Scholarship competition, Willamette University.


Myōe the Dreamkeeper: Fantasy and Knowledge in Early Kamakura Buddhism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.
Nihon Bukkyō no saisei [The Rebirth of Japanese Buddhism]. Translated by Hoshino Eiki. Tokyo: Kōsei shuppan, 1990.
Co-author with Ian Reader, Practically Religious: Worldly Benefits and the Common Religion of Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998).
Co-author with Willa J. Tanabe, Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawaiʻi: An Illustrated Guide. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2013.

Edited Books and Journals
Co-editor with Namai Chishō, “Matrices and Weavings: Expressions of Shingon Buddhism in Japanese Culture and Society,” special issue of the Bulletin of the Research Institute of Esoteric Buddhism and Culture (Kōyasan University, 2004).
Editor, The Writings of Nichiren: Doctrine 2 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002).
Co-editor with Wm. Theodore de Bary, Donald Keene, and Paul Varley, Sources of Japanese Tradition, rev. ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001).
Editor, Religions of Japan in Practice in Princeton Readings in Religion series (Princeton University Press, 1999).
"Conflict and Religion in Japan" (with Ian Reader), special issue of the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 21, Nos. 2-3 (June-September, 1994).
George J. Tanabe, Jr. and Willa Jane Tanabe (eds.), The Lotus Sutra and Japanese Culture (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989).

Edited Series
General Editor, Topics in Contemporary Buddhism, University of Hawaii Press
Stuart Chandler, Establishing a Pure Land on Earth: The Foguang Buddhist Perspective on Modernization and Globalization (2004)
Linda Learman (ed.), Buddhist Missionaries in the Era of Globalization, 2005.
Stephan Covell, Japanese Temple Buddhism: Worldliness in a Religion of Renunciation, 2005.
Sallie King, Being Benevolence: The Social Ethics of Engaged Buddhism, 2005.
Christina Rocha, Zen in Brazil, 2006.
Sally McAra, Land of Beautiful Vision: Making a Buddhist Sacred Place in New Zealand, 2007

Chapters in Books
“The Orthodox Heresy of Buddhist Funerals,” in Jacqueline I. Stone and Mariko Namba Walter (eds.), Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008), pp. 325-348.
Pono and Kapu: Righteousness and Taboo in Hawai‘i,” in Wade Clark Roof and Mark Silk (eds.), Religion and Public Life in the Pacific Region: Fluid Identities (New York: Altamira Press, 2005), pp. 139-187.
“Grafting Identity: The Hawaiian Branches of the Bodhi Tree,” in Linda Learman (ed.), Buddhist Missionaries in the Era of Globalization (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005), pp. 77-100.
“Dying to be a Buddha: The Tendai Funeral Ritual in Japan,” in Korean Cho’en-tae Buddhist Research Institute (ed.),
Bukkyōgaku ronsho (Seoul: Cho’en-tae Buddhist Research Institute, 1999), pp. 457-488.
Section on Hua-yen Buddhism in Wm. Theodore de Bary (ed.) et al, Sources of Chinese Tradition, revised edition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).
"Practice and Practicality in Japanese Religion," in Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (ed.) Asian Religions in Practice: An Introduction (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).
“Glorious Gathas: Americanization and Japanization of Honganji Hymns in Hawaii,” in Kenneth K. Tanaka and Eisho Nasu (eds.), Engaged Pure Land Buddhism: Essays in Honor of Professor Alfred Bloom (Berkeley: WisdomOcean Publications, 1998), pp. 221-237.
"Kōyasan in the Countryside: The Rise of Shingon in the Kamakura Period," in Richard Payne (ed.), Re-Visioning Kamakura Buddhism (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998), pp. 43-54.
"The Lotus in the Lotus Sutra," in Shioiri Ryōdō sensei tsuitō ronbunshū kankō kai [Editorial Committe for Essays in Memory of Professor Shioiri Ryōdō], (ed.), Tendai shisō to Tōajia bunka no kenkyū [Studies in Tendai Thought and East Asian Culture] (Tokyo: Sankibō, 1991), pp. 47-63.
"Tanaka Chigaku: The Lotus Sutra and the Body Politic," in Tanabe and Tanabe (eds.), The Lotus Sutra and Japanese Culture (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989), pp. 191-208.
"Folk Religion and Institutional Doctrine," in Muranaka Yūshō (ed.), Shūkyō ga mietekuru (Tokyo: Taishō University, 1988),
pp. 74-85. Translated into Japanese as "Minzoku shūkyō to shūgi," pp. 66-77.
"Shākyamuni Devotionalism in Medieval Japan," in Takenaka Shinjō kinen ronbunshū kankō kai (ed.), Takenaka Shinjō Hakase kinen ronbunshū [Essays in Honor of Dr. Shinjō Takenaka] (Tokyo: Sankibō, 1984), pp. 59-69.

Articles and Reviews in International or National Journals
“Telling Beads: The forms and Functions of the Buddhist Rosary in Japan,” Beiträge des Arbeitskreises Japanische Religionen, 2012. http://tobias-lib.uni-tuebingen.de/portal/bajr/
“Playing with Religion,” Nova Religio, Vol. 10, No. 3 (Feb., 2007), pp. 96-101.
“The Death and Rebirth of Buddhism in Contemporary Japan,” Buddhist Studies Review (UK Association of Buddhist Studies), Vol. 23.2 (2006), pp.249-258.
“Popular Buddhist Orthodoxy in Contemporary Japan,” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Fall, 2004), pp. 291-313.
Review of Miyake Hitoshi, Shugendō: Essays on the Structure of Japanese Folk Religion (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2001), in Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 62, No. 1 (February, 2003), pp. 289-90.
Review of Ryūichi Abe, The Weaving of Mantra: Kūkai and the Construction of Esoteric Discourse (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999) in Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 28, Nos. 1-2 (Spring 2001), pp. 153-156).
Review of S. A. Thornton, Charisma and Community Formation in Medieval Japan: The Case of the Yugyō-ha (1300-1700)  (Ithaca, New York: East Asia Program, Cornell University, 1999) in Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 59, No. 2 (May, 2000), pp. 448-449.
Review of Helen Hardacre, Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997) in Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 25, Nos. 3-4 (Fall 1998), pp. 377-380.
Review of Bernard Faure, Visions of Power: Imagining Medieval Japanese Buddhism (Princeton: Princeton University Press,1996). Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 56, No. 2 (May, 1997), pp. 500-501.
Review of William R. LaFleur, Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992). Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 21, No. 4 (December, 1995)
Review of Janet R. Goodwin, Alms and Vagabonds: Buddhist Temples and Popular Patronage in Medieval Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994). Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1 (1995), pp. 228-231.
"Conflict and Religion in Japan" (with Ian Reader), editors' introduction to special issue of the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 21, Nos. 2-3 (June-September, 1994), pp. 123-135.
Review of William R. LaFleur, Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992). Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 68 (1994), pp. 374-5.
Review of Young-ho Kim, Tao-sheng's Commentary on the Lotus Sutra (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990). Philosophy East and West (1991), pp. 351-355.
Review of James C. Dobbins, Jōdoshinshū: Shin Buddhism in Medieval Japan (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989).  Journal of Religion (October, 1991), pp. 614-615.
Review of Edward Kamens (trans.), The Three Jewels: A Study and Translation of Minamoto Tamenori's Sanbōe (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, 1988). Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 17, No. 4 (December, 1990), pp. 442-443.
Review of Royall Tyler, The Miracles of the Kasuga Deity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990). Journal of the
Association of Teachers of Japanese
, Vol. 24, No. 1 (April, 1990), pp. 107-111.
Review of Alan Sponberg and Helen Hardacre (eds.), Maitreya, the Future Buddha (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1988). Monumenta Nipponica, Vol 45, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 117-118.
Review of The Gosho Translation Committee (tr.), The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, 5 vols. (Tokyo: Nichiren Shoshu International Center, 1985). Eastern Buddhist, n.s. Vol. XXII, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 138-141.
Review of David Edward Shaner, The Bodymind Experience in Japanese Buddhism: A Phenomenological Study of Kūkai and Dōgen (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985). Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. LV, No. 1 (Spring, 1987), pp. 184-185.
Review of Thomas James, Exile Within: The Schooling of Japanese-Americans, 1942-1945 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987). Educational Studies, Vol. 19, No. 3/4 (Fall/Winter, 1988), pp. 418-422.
Review of Mike Sayama, Samadhi: Self Development in Zen, Swordsmanship, and Psychotherapy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986). Philosophy East and West, Vol. XXXVII, No. 3 (July, 1987), pp. 336-337.
Review of Notto R. Thelle, Buddhism and Christianity in Japan: From Conflict to Dialogue, 1854-1899 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987). Buddhist-Christian Studies, Vol. 7 (1987), pp. 247-249.
"Nijū isseiki no shakai ni okeru Bukkyō [Buddhism in the 21st Century]," Ōsaki gakuhō, No. 141 (June, 1986), pp. 181-193.
Review of David Pollack, Zen Poems of the Five Mountains (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1985). Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese.
Review of Hisao Inagaki, Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist Terms (Kyoto: Nagata bunshodō, 1984). Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Summer, 1985), pp. 253-255.
Review of Nichiren Shoshu International Center (ed.), A Dictionary of Buddhist Terms and Concepts (Tokyo: Nichiren Shoshu International Center, 1983). Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Winter, 1984), pp. 484-486.
"Kōbō Daishi and the Art of Esoteric Buddhism," Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Winter, 1983), pp. 409-412.

Articles in Encyclopedias and Anthologies
“Abortion,” “Merit and merit-making,” “Kōben,” “Nara Buddhism,” “Mizuko kuyō,” and “Chanting and Ritual” in Robert Buswell (gen. ed.), Encyclopedia of Buddhism (Macmillan, 2003).
“Japanese Buddhism” in Sandra Buckley (ed.), Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture (London: Routledge, 2001).
"Shinto" in Asian American Encyclopedia (Pasadena: Salem Press, 1995)
"Myōe" and "Eizon" in Encyclopedia of Japan (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1983).
"Kūkai," "Hōnen," and "Myōe" in Ian P. McGreal (ed.), Great Thinkers of the Eastern World (New York: Harper-Collins Publishers, 1995).
"Myōe's Letter to the Island" and "The Matsumoto Debate" in Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (ed.), Buddhism in Practice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), pp. 88-91 and 241-248.

Articles and Reviews in Other Publications
“Shaka Buddha: An Eastern Faith Goes Local,” Hana Hou!, Vol. 11, No. 3 (April-May, 2008), pp. 82-91.
“Nihon Bukkyō no kokusaika (The Internationalization of Japanese Buddhism),” Kōyasan kyōhō, No. 1271 (June 1, 2001), p. 11.
Commentary in Susan Loving, “In a Japanese Cemetery,” International Cemetery & Funeral Management (February-March, 2001), pp. 50-55.
“Japanese Need Crew Remains” [Ehime Maru], Honolulu Advertiser, February 25, 2001.
“Japanese Tradition and Innovation on the Internet,” International Cemetery & Funeral Management (April-May, 2000), pp.
"The Path to Blind Obedience," Honolulu Advertiser, March 13, 1993.
"The Careers of Lu Sheng: History and Fiction on the Road to Han-tan," Asian Culture Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Summer,1991), pp. 87-92.
Response to Thomas P. Kasulis, "Philosophical/Religious Aspects of Japanese Behavior," Roots of Japanese Behavior: Proceedings of the Symposium (Honolulu: The Japan-America Society, 1990), pp. 55-59.
Eulogy for Archbishop Hagami Shōchō (in Japanese), Hagami Shōchō tsuitōshū kankō iinkai (ed.), Zanshū (Tokyo: Zenponsha, 1990), pp. 428-431.
"Religion in the Yellow Pages," Humanities News, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Fall, 1989), p. 1.
Masayo Duus, Unlikely Liberators (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987). Honolulu Advertiser, December 14, 1987.
"Microsoft Word and the Tower of Babel," Humanities News, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring, 1987), p. 1.
"The Death and Renewal of Buddhism in Hawaii," Spring Wind, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Winter, 1985-86), pp. 26-32. Reprinted in Metta, Vol. 13, No. 6 (July-August, 1986), pp. 1-4.
Review of David W. Chappell (ed.), T'ien-t'ai Buddhism: An Outline of the Fourfold Teachings (Tokyo: Daiichi shobō, 1983). Chūgai Nippō (August 29, 1984), p. 10.
"Gaikokujin kara mita Hōnen Shōnin [A Foreigner's View of Hōnen]," Geijutsu Jōdo, No. 7.

(December 25, 1982), pp.5-8. "Encounter with John Cobb and the Buddhist-Christian Dialogue," Kalavinka, vol. 4, no. 3 (April, 1980), pp 2-3.
"Myōe's Pure Land Thought and Hōnen's Influence," Transactions of the International Conference of Orientalists in Japan, No. 21 (1976)
"The Many Faces of Buddhism," The Lamp, Vol. 72, No. 6 (June, 1974), pp. 21-26.
"The Hindu View of Life," The Lamp, Vol. 71, No. 8 (August, 1973).

Translations from Japanese
Arai Yūsei, A Handbook for Shingon Believers (Kōyasan: Kōyasan daigaku shuppanbu, 1997).
Articles on "Amahata Inkstones," "Akama Inkstones," "Nanao Household Buddhist Altars," and "Kawanabe Household Buddhist
Altars," in Yoshida Mitsukuni (ed.), The Traditional Crafts of Japan, Vol. 8 (Tokyo: Diamond Publishers, 1992), pp. 102-103, 114-115, 126-127, and 146-147; and "Awa Paper" and "Tosa Paper" in Vol. 7, pp. 140-141 and 144-145.
Shingen Takagi, "Working Toward a Dialogue with Different Cultures," Mikkyō: Kōbō Daishi and Shingon Buddhism, ed. Research Institute of Esoteric Buddhism Culture of Kōyasan University (Kōyasan: Kōyasan University, 1990), pp. 3-8.
Yūkei Matsunaga, "The Role of Esoteric Buddhism in the Twentieth Century," Mikkyō: Kōbō Daishi and Shingon Buddhism, ed. Research Institute of Esoteric Buddhism Culture of Kōyasan University (Kōyasan: Kōyasan University, 1990), pp. 9-16.
Ryōdō Shioiri, "The Structure and Meaning of the Lotus Sutra," The Lotus Sutra and Japanese Culture, ed. George and Willa Tanabe (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989), pp. 15-36.
Yūkei Matsunaga, Reconsidering Life (Kōyasan: Kōyasan Kongōbuji, 1987). 28 pp.
Taiken Maruyama, "Words of Kōbō Daishi." Kōyasan, No. 1 (1986), p.1.
Mikio Imai, The Meaning of Funerals (Honolulu: Shingon Mission of Hawaii, 1985). 12 pp.