He received his Ph.D. from Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut) in the Department of Religious Studies, where he specialized in Buddhist Studies under the direction of Professor Stanley Weinstein. In addition to Yale, he also received graduate training at the Institute of Health and Sport Science (Taiiku Kagaku Kenkyuka), Tsukuba University (Tsukuba, Japan), where he studied the intellectual history of martial arts in Japan under the direction of Professor Watanabe Ichiro, and at the Graduate School of Buddhist Studies, Komazawa University (Tokyo, Japan), where he studied Asian Religions under the direction of Professors Kagamishima Genryu and Ishikawa Rikizan.


His research spans the medieval, early modern, and contemporary periods of Japanese history. Currently he is investigating religion during the Tokugawa period, especially those aspects of Japanese culture associated with manuscripts, printing, secrecy, education, and proselytizing. Although many of his publications focus on Zen Buddhism (especially Soto Zen), he also researches Tendai and Vinaya Buddhist traditions, Shinto, folklore and popular religions, as well as Japanese martial arts and traditional approaches to health and physical culture.


He is a member of the editorial boards of “Cursor Mundi: Viator Studies of the Medieval and Early Modern World”, “Studies in East Asian Buddhism” and “Classics in East Asian Buddhism” (Kuroda Institute).

A few of his publications include:

Zen Studies

  • Soto Zen in Medieval Japan.
  • “Dharma Transmission in Theory and Practice.”
  • “Remembering Dogen: Eiheiji and Dogen Hagiography.”
  • “Zen Buddhism” (in Sources of Japanese Tradition, vol. 1).
  • “A Once-Every-Thirty-Three-Year Kannon Festival.”
  • “The Enlightenment of Kami and Ghosts.”
  • “Zen in the Art of Funerals.”

Buddhist Studies

  • Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Vinaya (editor).
  • Encyclopedia of Buddhism (associate editor).
  • “When Secrecy Ends: The Tokugawa Reformation of Tendai Buddhism.”
  • “The Medieval Period” (in The Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions).
  • “Bodhidharma’s Precepts in Japan.”
  • The UCLA Guide to East Asian Buddhist Studies: Reference Works (editor).

Martial Art Studies

“Zen and Japanese Swordsmanship Reconsidered.”
“Soke: Historical Transformations of a Title and its Entitlements.”
“Religion and Spiritual Development: Japan” (in Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia).
“Written Texts: Japan” (in Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia).


  • “Colloquial Transcriptions as Sources for Understanding Zen in Japan,” by ISHIKAWA Rikizan.
  • Kokan Shiren’s “Zen Precept Procedures.”
  • Keizan’s “Dream History.”
  • Chido’s “Dreams of Buddhism.”
  • Takuan Soho’s “Marvelous Power of Immovable Wisdom.”
  • Kyokai’s “Karma Tales.”
  • Genshin’s “Avoiding Hell, Gaining Heaven.”
  • “Taking the Vinaya Across the Sea.”
  • Eisai’s “Zen for National Defense.”
  • Bassui’s “A Zen Master Interprets the Dharma.”

Unpublished Translations for the Soto Zen Text Project

  • Selections from: True Dharma Eye Collection (Shobogenzo), by Eihei Dogen.
  • Selections from: Conveying Illumination (Denkoroku), by Keizan Jokin.