A Forest of Knowledge about the Texts and Images regarding Buddhist Saints, Sages, Translators, and Encyclopedists

A Forest of Knowledge about the Texts and Images regarding Buddhist Saints, Sages, Translators, and Encyclopedists

[Illustration from Fayuan zhulin 法苑珠林 (A Forest of Pearls from the Dharma Garden). National Institute of Japanese Literature 国文学研究資料館.]

A Conference in Honour of Prof. Koichi Shinohara’s 80th Birthday
(October 14–16, 2021)

Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies @ UBC
Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies @ Yale
Institute of Asian Civilization of the University of Zhejiang


Abstracts Panelists Schedule Books
Keynote presentation Photo Gallery Tributes Reports

Students of East Asian Buddhism are undeniably familiar with three tremendous resources: the medieval encyclopedia in 100 juan compiled in 668 by Daoshi  道世, A Forest of Pearls from the Dharma Garden (Fayuan zhulin 法苑珠林), Prof. Koichi Shinohara’s partial English translation thereof, and his own extensive publications. In 2019–2020, Prof. Shinohara published three volumes of an English translation of A Forest of Pearls from the Dharma Garden for the Bukkyō Dendōkyōkai (BDK) English Tripiṭaka Series, which covers the first 20 juan of this colossal compendium. Prof. Shinohara’s career has so far spanned half a century, during which time he has studied many aspects of medieval Chinese and Japanese Buddhist texts and images. Although he primarily taught at McMaster and Yale universities, Prof. Shinohara’s research has inspired or deeply touched nearly everyone working in the broader field of East Asian Buddhist Studies. In addition to the seven edited volumes published with Prof. Phyllis Granoff (spanning from 1988 to 2012), including Images in Asian Religions: Texts and Contexts (UBC Press, 2004), he published an innovative study of esoteric Buddhism in medieval China and Japan: Spells, Images, and Maṇḍalas: Tracing the Evolution of Esoteric Buddhist Rituals (Columbia University Press, 2014), and numerous articles and book chapters on topics ranging from so-called apocryphal Buddhist literature to textual and ritual studies, investigations of sacred biography or hagiography, particularly from the genre of Biographies of Eminent Monks (gaoseng zhuan 高僧傳) in China, and much more.

The Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies at UBC and Frogbear (www.frogbear.org), with the assistance of the Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies at Yale and the Institute of Asian Civilization of the University of Zhejiang 浙江大學亞洲文明研究院 (collaboration of this university is sought because Zhejiang is home to the Chinese Buddhist tradition on which Professor Shinohara has spent so much time and energy and for which he has achieved a worldwide reputation so early), will jointly host an online international conference to between October 14–16 to honour Prof. Koichi Shinohara and his impact upon the fields of Chinese Buddhist studies, East Asian Buddhist studies, Religious studies, and those who specialize in cross-cultural research about sacred biographies or hagiographies. The primary focus of this conference will be text and image in the study of Medieval Asian Buddhism. Although this conference will honour the career and contributions of Prof. Shinohara by emphasizing his contributions to the study of medieval East Asian Buddhist texts and images, as well as monastic biographies or hagiography, medieval Chinese Buddhist studies, East Asian Buddhist literature and especially encyclopedias or compendia, the conference will also address the following research areas:

  • Medieval East Asian Buddhist texts about images (all types);
  • The relationship between medieval East Asian Buddhist images and texts;
  • Intersections between medieval East Asian religious texts, images, and saints, sages, and archetypal monastics;
  • Medieval East Asian Buddhist thought, philosophy, and studies of texts and images;
  • Medieval Chinese Buddhism and devotional practices with special attention to images or texts;
  • Medieval Chinese and Japanese Buddhism and (the history of) images and texts within Buddhist institutions;
  • Medieval Chinese and Japanese Buddhist books and their histories;
  • Medieval East Asian Buddhism and painting, sculpture and the arts;
  • Medieval East Asian Buddhism and literature and the arts.

This conference will follow a symposia format. Panelists will first address comments from session discussants, then exchange feedback with fellow panelists, and if time allows, respond to questions from public attendees.

Please contact frogbear.project@ubc.ca if you have any questions about the conference.




The organizing committee welcomes paper proposals related to any aspect(s) of the multidisciplinary, inter-cultural, and cross-regional study of these research areas. We will reserve priority to proposals from scholars who are students or colleagues of Prof. Shinohara, but in line with the mission of Frogbear, we also welcome the participation of emerging scholars who are influenced by or respond to Prof. Shinohara’s research. The conference organizers will collect all the papers in English, plus the English translations of major papers written in non-English languages to produce a festschrift in two volumes (one English and the other Chinese) in honour of Prof. Shinohara. Only scholars who are confident that they can complete draft papers by mid-September, 2021 and submit publishable papers by the end of 2021 are encouraged to apply.

Please email proposals and CVs to frogbear.project@ubc.ca by June 15, 2021.