2019 Conference of International Association of Japanese Studies

YONAOSHI: Remaking the World

November 23, 24, Toyo University, Tokyo


Imagination, spontaneous fancy, humor, creativity, art and hope are powerful antidotes to the despair of extreme inequality, profound alienation, the stress of endless competition, marginalization and, dare we say, the growing awareness of the planetary devastation threatened by runaway neoliberal capitalism.  It is worth recalling in times such as these that, across time and space, the people of Japan time and time again have remade their worlds, reimagining reality, dreaming of things unlike anything before and bringing them to fruition. In this year’s conference, we welcome papers that take up issues connected with transformation in Japan, personal and societal, past or present. We welcome scholars from an array of fields who are interested in exploring the power of creative thought- from quiet contemplation to extravagant fantasy, from doodles to film, from ancient poetry to tweets.


For this year’s keynote speaker, we are excited to welcome Dr. Harumi Osaki, speaking on


Beyond Universalism and Particularism:

Rethinking the Philosophy of the Kyoto School


Harumi Osaki is an independent scholar of Western and Japanese philosophy. Her recently published book  Nothingness in the Heart of Empire: The Moral and Political Philosophy of the Kyoto School in Imperial Japan (2019, SUNY Press) deals with heated debates over the essence of the Japanese nation and its relationship to the West that arose in the early 20th century. Her work has been praised as an exceedingly valuable contribution to English-language scholarship dealing with NISHIDA Kitarō, a towering figure in modern Japanese philosophy. In demonstrating the connections between Japanese wartime philosophers’ attempts to articulate “non-Western forms of rationality” and their engagement with wartime aggression, Osaki has placed herself at the center of discussions on the nature of identity and Japanese nationalism that are  as relevant today as they were during the war. 


Harumi Osaki received her PhD in contemporary French thought from Hitotsubashi University in 2003 and went on to complete a second doctorate in Japanese philosophy from McGill University in 2016.