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Koichi Shinohara (Numata Visiting Professor, Spring 2007)
Koichi Shinohara (Bachelor of Letters and Master of Letters, The University of Tokyo, Ph.D, Columbia University) is senior lecturer of Religious Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University, where he works primarily on Buddhism in East Asia. Before coming to Yale in 2004 he taught at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. For the past several years his work has centered around the writings of an influential commentator on monastic practices and historian Daoxuan (596-677) and his collaborator Daoshi (d.u.) at the Ximingsi monastery in the capital city. In recent articles he has written on Daoxuan's discussion of the monastic robe, monk's begging bowl, image worship, and the instruction at the moment of death. He has also examined in some detail the evolution of the cult of Buddha images attributed to King Asoka and worked on Tiantai Buddhist biographies, exploring the religious and political circumstances surrounding the composition of the biography of the founding figure of the school Zhiyi (539-98) and the way lineages of abbots at local monasteries were transformed into a Buddhist universal history by 12th century Tiantai Buddhist historians. Among his current projects is the study of the cult of a deity with a terrifying appearance, Shensha or Jinja ("Deep Sand"). This cult originated in China in connection with the story of a famous pilgrim to India and later became popular in Japan, where a temple bearing the name of the deity continues to flourish outside of Tokyo.