Division of Department of Global Humanities Department of Religious Studies

We combine theoretical and practical research to explore the essence of religious beliefs

Mt. Osorezan, which is situated on the Shimokita Peninsula at the northernmost tip of Honshū, is known as a gathering place for the spirits of the dead. Every year a grand festival is held there late in July, when worshippers crowd the peninsula. Five stone figures stand in a corner within the sacred precinct. Once I asked an old woman who was putting red caps and bibs on the statues, ‘Who are those figures, and what are you doing?’ ‘Those are Jizō,’ came the prompt reply, ‘And I am here to pray for my departed child.’ The old woman addressed her wholehearted prayers to the statues. But those were not, in fact, Jizō. The stone images represented Five Dhyani Buddhas, deities that do not exactly protect children, according to Buddhist teachings. So how should we interpret this scene? Can one’s faith only be considered true if it follows the doctrine? Or was the faith of the old woman as true as any? After all, her prayers were sincere, even if misguided. The Department of Religious Studies combines theory with fieldwork research to tackle such issues. If you interested, take a look at our website:

Message from Senior


3rd grade, Humanities and Social Sciences
High school : Aomori Prefectural Hirosaki

Recommended book : The pig that wants to be eaten and 99 other thought experiments (Hyaku no Shikō Jikken: anata wa doko made kangaerareru ka) by Julian Baggini (trans. by Mukai Kazumi)
Reason : This book offers one hundred philosophical propositions regarding language, religion, environment, bioethics, etc. in the form of thought experiments. I recommend this collection of really tricky questions to anyone who likes to contemplate things.

Highlights of the Faculty of Arts and Letters

The best thing about the Faculty of Arts and Letters is the amount of autonomy granted to students. Even after joining a department at the beginning of the second year, students are free to attend lectures and complete courses given by other departments. Getting in touch with various fields of research and disciplines might help you come up with a research theme. Furthermore, despite the name of the faculty, research activities are not necessarily limited to reading. Many students at the department of religious studies choose fieldwork as the main research method. Since you can decide for yourself what to study and how, you can explore the subject in the way you see fit, while still receiving guidance and support from the department professors and senior students. This is the specific aspect of the Faculty of Arts and Letters that I find extremely enjoyable.

To everyone aiming for the Faculty of Arts and Letters

If you find out what attracts your interest and attention now, you will be able to enjoy your subsequent studies and research more fully. Reading newspapers, watching news, or simply observing the world around you should provide plenty of opportunities to discover the issues that concern you, or problems you would like to dig into. Of course, exam preparations are essential insofar as they help you acquire basic knowledge, but it is equally important to take a moment from time to time to look at the outside world. You might discover something you did not know or did not notice before, and this new awareness might greatly enrich your studies at university.