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Ikumi Kaminishi
Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Contact Info:
Tufts University
Dept. of Art & Art History
11 Talbot Avenue
Medford, MA 02155

Office: 617-627-2424
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Buddhist art and etoki (preaching with paintings); Buddhism and women; Japanese illustrated narrative hand-scrolls (emakimono); East Asian cultures


Ph.D. The University of Chicago, 1996
M.A. The University of Chicago, 1989
B.A. The University of Chicago, 1984

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Ikumi Kaminishi specializes in Japanese art and culture with particular focuses on Buddhist art and medieval illustrated hand-scrolls (emakimono). She explores visual art as paradigms of Buddhist upāya (skillful means), a didactic method of helping others to enlightenment. In her book, Explaining Pictures: Buddhist Propaganda and ETOKI Storytelling in Japan, she examined the roles of prophetic didactic paintings used for Buddhist proselytization (etoki). Her current book project focuses on Japan's pre-modern visual culture with interests in political intrigues behind illustrated hand-scrolls, including the Kitano Tenjin scrolls and other major works. Her articles on the scrolls of Kegon-shū soshi eden (Legends of the Kegon Buddhist school founders) and the Kusōzu (Decaying corpse in nine Stages) focused on the issues of Buddhism and women. She teaches a variety of courses, including Japanese architecture, Buddhist Art, Arts of China, Zen and Tea Aesthetics, and History of Japanese anime.

Explaining Pictures: Buddhist Propaganda And Etoki Storytelling in Japan. Honolulu: The University of Hawai'i Press, March 2006.

Journal Articles and Essays:

  • "Women Who Crossed the Cordon," in Women, Gender and Art in Asia, c. 1500-1900, ed. by Melia Belli Bose (London and New York: Routledge, 2016): 321-342.
  • "Zenmyo's True Colors: Demonstrating Non-Duality of Form and Emptiness in the Kegon Scroll," in Color in Ancient and Medieval Asia (Kansas: University of Kansas and Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas, 2015): 209-222.
  • "The Political Culture of a Scroll: Jien's Appropriation of Kitano Tenjin," Ars Orientalis, Vol. 44 (2014): 111-133.
  • "Animated Rhythms of The Illustrated Scroll of Major Counselor Ban," in Looking at Asian Art, eds. by Katherine R. Tsiang and Martin J. Powers (Chicago: The Center for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago, 2012): 76-93.
  • "Dead Beautiful: Visualizing the Decaying Corpse in Nine Stages as Skillful Means of Buddhism," in A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture: Blackwell Companions to Art History, ed. by Rebecca Brown and Deborah Hutton (MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011): 513-536.
  • "ETOKI, or deciphering pictures, of Buddhist propaganda," Word & Image, volume 18, number 3 (July-September 2002): 191-209.

    Looking at Asian Art Explaining Pictures Women, Gender and Art in Asia Color in Ancient and Medival East Asia A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture