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Mikaël Bauer

Academic title(s): 

Associate Professor of Japanese Religions (Buddhism), School of Religious Studies

Graduate Program Director, School of Religious Studies

Associte Member, Department of East Asian Studies

Mikaël Bauer
Contact Information

3520 University Street, Room 004
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 2A7, Canada

Fax number: 
Email address: 
mikael.bauer [at]

B.A., M.A. (Louvain)
Ph.D. (Harvard)

Curriculum vitae: 

Mikael Bauer studied Japanese Buddhism and History at several Japanese universities, Leuven University in Belgium and Harvard University. His main interests concern the relation between Buddhism and state, the connection between doctrine and ritual, and the material and performative aspects of Buddhist and Shinto rites.

After having completed a B.A and M.A in Japanese studies at the Catholic University of Louvain (KULeuven), he first spent several months in Varanasi, India, to start his study of Sanskrit. After having completed this introduction, he received a grant from the Europalia Belgium-Japan Foundation to start his doctoral research at Kanazawa Daigaku in Japan. He did so under the guidance of Professor Paul Hoornaert, a specialist of Tibetan and Classical Chinese Buddhism. Following his stay in Kanazawa, he received a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Education to start a research period at the Osaka University of Foreign Studies (Osaka Gaidai) from 2000-2001. After eighteen months he entered Otani Daigaku in Kyoto where he studied with Professor Robert Rhodes and Professor Aramaki Noritoshi. Following his stay in Kyoto till 2003, he entered the doctoral program at the Department of East Asian Studies at Harvard University. Studying under Prof, Ryuichi Abe he completed a dissertation on the major monastic complex Kofukuji through the temple’s main ritual, the Yuima-e or Vimalakirti Assembly. During his stay at Harvard he was also fortunate to study Japanese history under Mikael Adolpson, and he was assistant for several courses on Japanese Buddhism, history and literature.

Mikael Bauer has written extensively on pre-modern Japanese rituals, lineages and sovereignty. He has published in Monumenta Nipponica, the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Pacific World, Etudes Asiatiques and The Journal of Asian Humanities at Kyushu University. He has contributed book chapters on Japanese Buddhism in several volumes and has organized a number of international conferences on pre-modern Japanese religion, history and literature. His most recent projects were the history of Yamashina dera, and the translation of the Fujiwara House Chronicle, the Tōshi Kaden, in April 2020. Currently, he is working on a ritual history of the Fujiwara clan temple, Kōfukuji. From 2017, he has organized three annual conferences at McGill with the support of BDK Canada and the Japan Foundation.

He welcomes M.A and Ph.D students wishing to specialize in an any aspect of Classical or Medieval Japanese Buddhism.

Awards, honours, and fellowships: 


Japan Foundation Conference Support Grant, 11.400 CAD, 2018.

Sasakawa Foundation Research Grant, 2013.

Japan Foundation Research Grant for project ‘The Institutional and Doctrinal History of Kōfukuji’, 2012.

Reischauer Institute Supplementary Dissertation Grant, 2010-2011.

Research Fellowship from the Society for the Promotion of Buddhism (BDK), Kyoto Prefectural University, January-August 2009.

Japan Foundation Research Fellowship, declined in favor of the BDK Fellowship, January-August 2009.

Reischauer Institute Graduate Student Associate, 2007-2010.

Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies: Language Study Fellowship, Kanbun Workshop at the University of Southern California, July-August 2006.

Research Fellowship of the Japanese Government, Ōsaka University of Foreign Studies, Japan, October 2002- April 2004.

Honda Foundation Fellowship, Kanazawa University, Japan, September 2002.

Europalia Japan-Belgium Fellowship, Kanazawa University, Japan, August 2001- December 2001.


RELG 253 Religions of East Asia 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

RELG 352 Japanese Relig: Hist & Thought 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

RELG 354 Chinese Religions 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

RELG 368 Japanese Relgns: Pop Culture 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

RELG 450 The Way of the Kami 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

RELG 451 Zen Buddhism: Poetry and Art 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

RELG 551 Special Topics in Buddhism 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

RELG 677 Buddha&Kami:JapaneseReligions 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Selected publications: 


Bauer, Mikael. The History of the Fujiwara House. Kent, UK: Renaissance Books, 2020.

Book chapters:

Bauer, Mikael. “Japanese Buddhism in the Heian Period” In: Brill Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Brill, 2021 (forthcoming).

Bauer, Mikael. “The Six Nara Schools”. Oxford Research Encyclopedias. Oxford University Press, 5/2018.

Bauer, Mikael. “Religion in Nara and Heian Japan”. Routledge Handbook of Premodern Japanese History. Routledge 7/2017.

Peer reviewed articles:

Bauer, Mikael. “Authority and Divine Rule in pre-modern Japanese Religion” In: The New Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions. Nagoya: Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, 2021 (forthcoming).

Bauer, Mikael. “Tracing Yamashinadera”. Journal of Asian Humanities at Kyushu University 5, pp. 17-28 3, 2020.

Bauer, Mikael. “The Chronicle of Muchimaro”. Asiatische Studien-Études Asiatiques 37:2, 05, 2019.

Bauer, Mikael. “The Chronicle of Jōe, A Translation of the second part of the History of the Fujiwara House”. Asiatische Studien-Études Asiatiques 72:1, 4/2018.

Bauer, Mikael. “The Chronicle of Kamatari”. Asiatische Studien-Études Asiatiques 71:2, 6/2017.

Bauer, Mikael. ‘The Absence of the Private: The Jion-e and public ritual in Pre-modern Japan.’ Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist studies, third series, 15, 20134.

Bauer, Mikael. “The Conflation of Monastic and Imperial Lineage: a revisionist view on the Retired Emperors’ period. Monumenta Nipponica 67:2, pp. 239-262, 2012.

Bauer, Mikael. Monastic Lineages and Ritual Participation: A Proposed Revision of Kuroda Toshio’s Kenmitsu Taisei.’ Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist studies, third series, 14, 2012.

Bauer, Mikael. "The Yuima-e as Theatre of the State.’ The Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 38, pp. 161-179, Fall 2011.

Bauer, D. and Bauer, M. ‘De westerse carmina figurata en de klank in het esoterisch boeddhisme.’ (The Western Carmina Figurata and sound in esoteric Buddhism) D. Bauer en M. Bauer, Cum tanta sit in amicitia vera perfectio, Liber Amicorum Raoul Bauer, Kapellen, 2009, pp. 43-65.

Book reviews:

Bauer, Mikael. Review: 日本仏教と論義. Edited by Kusunoki Junshō, Noro Sei, and Kameyama Takahiko. The Eastern Buddhist: Third Series 3/1, 116-118.

Bauer, Mikael. Review: Real and Imagined: The Peak of Gold in Heian Japan.” Heather Blair, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2015. Pacific World: Third Series, Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies 18, 2016 pp. 219-223, 2016.

Bauer, Mikael. “Review of The Halo of Golden Light: Imperial Authority and Buddhist Ritual in Heian Japan”. Asuka Sango. Monumenta Nipponica 71:2, pp. 381-385, 2016.

Bauer, Mikael. ‘A Review of ‘A New History of Shinto.’’ John Breen and Mark Teeuwen, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, 2010, 226 pp. Japan Forum, 2012.

Selected presentations:

August 28 2020: 'The creation of Fujiwara Legitimacy in 8th century Japan: from the Tōshi Kaden to the Yuima’e’; panel Power, Praxis, and People: Re-envisioning Political and Religious Realms in Premodern Japan. EAJS 2020: 16th International Conference of the European Association of Japanese Studies, Universiteit Gent, Belgium. [ postponed to 2021]

August 11 2020: 'Lineage and Ritual: Buddhism and state in Classical and Medieval Japan’. From the Ground Up: Buddhism and East Asian Religions Intensive Summer Program, University of Toronto [moved to an online format]

May 21-24 2020: ‘ Buddhist historiography in Classical and Medieval Japan’. Workshop "Historicity of Buddhist Sources in the Construction of Buddhist History”. McMaster University [moved to a later date]

April 17 2020: 'Ascending the mountain: The eclectic universe of the Chronicle of Muchimaro ‘. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champlain, online.

March 19 2020: ‘The History of the Fujiwara house and the Chronicle of Muchimaro’. Workshop ‘Interdisciplinary Approaches to the study of Japanese Religions’, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University.

September 14 2018: ‘The Jion’e and Ritual Performance in the Hossō School’ Buddhism and Ritual Performance Conference, McGill.

August 21 2017: ‘The Chronicle of Jōe: The murder of a young Fujiwara monk in 7th century Japan’ IABS International Conference, Toronto.

April 14 2017: 'The Wings of the Sovereign: The Religious and Institutional Policies of Fujiwara no Nakamaro (706-764)' Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University.

February 1 2016: "Walking the Vimalakīrti Assembly: A Buddhist Monk’s Journey in 12th Century Japan”. Department of East Asian Studies, Cambridge University.

August 13-14 2014: 'The formulation of sovereignty and the problematic division of Buddhism and state in pre-modern Japan,’ International Symposium Buddhism and the Formation of Authority in Systems of Rule, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich.

October 5 2012: ‘Kōfukuji's Ritual Space through a Comparative Analysis of the Yuima-e and Jion-e shidai,’ International Workshop: Where Art Meets Ritual, SOAS, London.

May 16-18, 2012: Munich-Berkeley-workshop at Ludwig Maximilians University Munich (LMU). I am invited by LMU as discussant for the panel ‘Public and Private Doctrinal Debate in Medieval Japanese Buddhism.’

March 16-18, 2012: Association for Asian Studies (AAS), annual meeting: organizer of panel “Reassessing Buddhism and State in pre-modern East Asia: New Approaches”; lecture: ‘The Absence of the Private: The Jion-e’s Public Significance and Monastic Hierarchy in Heian Japan.’

October 30-November 1, 2010: American Academy of Religion, annual Meeting: organizer of panel ‘Buddhism during the Insei period (1086-1185)’; lecture: ‘The Northern Rituals as micro sphere of the religious-political: The presence of the Southern Schools in Hosshōji’s Dharma assemblies.

September 9-10, 2010: British Association of Japanese Studies Annual Conference, ‘The Eight Lectures on the Lotus Sûtra (hokke hakkō) and sovereignty during the Insei Period (1086-1185).’

March 21-24 2010: 6th European Association of Japanese Studies Ph.D. workshop, Cambridge University: ‘The History of Kōfukuji from the 8th -14th century: An integration of Institutional and Doctrinal History through the analysis of Ritual.’

February 26-28 2010: 13th Annual HEAS Graduate Student Conference, ‘Facing East: Conversations and Connections’, Harvard University: ‘The Yuima-e as Theatre of the State: The History of Kōfukuji through the analysis of State Ritual.’

February 5-6, 2010: 19th Annual Graduate Conference on East Asia at Columbia University: ‘The History of Kōfukuji from the 8th -14th Century: An integration of Institutional and Doctrinal History through the Analysis of Ritual.’


Public lecture

'The Wings of the Sovereign: The Religious and Institutional Policies of Fujiwara no Nakamaro (706-764)' Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University, April 14, 2017.

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