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Caleb Carter Last modified date:2023.06.05

Associate Professor / International Masters Program (IMAP) in Japanese Humanities
Department of Philosophy
Faculty of Humanities

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Academic Degree
Field of Specialization
Japanese Religions and Buddhist Studies
Outline Activities
Carter specializes in Buddhist Studies and in the medieval and early modern religious history of Japan with a focus on the mountain tradition of Shugendō. More recently, he has begun investigating contemporary religious practices, such as evolving developments in Shugendō and the current phenomenon of ‘power spots.’ His research interests include issues of space and place, narrative and folklore, women and gender, and ecology. Carter received his PhD from UCLA (Buddhist Studies) and a Japan Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins before joining the Faculty of Humanities at Kyushu in 2018. He has published various articles on early modern and contemporary topics in Japanese religions and is the author of A Path into the Mountains: Shugendō and Mount Togakushi (University of Hawai’i, 2022).
Carter teaches introductory undergraduate courses in Buddhism and Japanese religions. His graduate seminars center on themes in Japanese religions such as vernacular figures, women and gender, space and place, folklore and festival, contemporary research methods, textual translation, and critical approaches to the field.
Research Interests
  • Caleb Carter specializes in Japanese religions within the broader context of Buddhism and East Asian cultures. He is interested in issues related to space and place, narrative and folklore, women and gender, and ecology. His main research focuses on Shugendo, a mountain-based Buddhist tradition in Japan that developed out of medieval esoteric practices as well as Chinese religious influences and local spirit worship (later identified as Shinto). Carter's work centers on the processes by which Shugendo took shape historically through a matrix of social, economic, and intellectual influences grounded at the level of place.
    Carter recently published a book (A Path into the Mountains: Shugendō and Mount Togakushi, University of Hawai’i Press, 2022) that explores the historical formation of Mount Togakushi, a religious site located in Nagano Prefecture. His investigation is based primarily on textual evidence, with special focus on the role of narratives, from the late thirteenth through mid-nineteenth centuries.
    Another project Carter is conducting is on the recent popularity of ‘power spots’ in Japan. Through fieldwork and analysis of print materials, he is studying how this phenomenon has been interpreted, performed, and debated among the general public, local Shinto priests, and the National Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja Honchō).
    keyword : Buddhism, Shugendo, Japanese religions, space and place, narrative and folklore, women and gender, ecology
Academic Activities
Membership in Academic Society
  • Japanese Association of Religious Studies
Educational Activities
Caleb Carter taught undergraduate courses and graduate sections at the University of California, Los Angeles (2014-2016) and Johns Hopkins University (2016-2018) before his appointment at Kyushu University (March 2018), where he teaches subjects on Buddhism and Japanese religions and culture at the graduate and undergraduate level. His courses include: "Vernacular Figures in Japanese Religions" and "Translating Japanese Buddhist Texts" at the graduate level and “Buddhism and the Environment,” “Shamans, She-Devils, and Pilgrims: Women and Gender in East Asian Religions,” “Women and Gender in Japanese Religions,” “Monsters, Demons & Ghosts: Folklore and Festival in Japan,” “Place in Japanese Religions,” “Introduction to Buddhism,” and “Japanese Civilization” at the undergraduate level.