Numata Visiting Professors

Thanks to the generous support from the Numata Foundation (also known as Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai or Society for the Promotion of Buddhism) the Department of Religion regularly invites scholars to teach and conduct research at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for a semester. Visiting Professors include the following scholars (most recent first, since 2003 only):


Dr. Jeff Wilson

Numata Visiting Professor January–June 2018
Ph.D, University of North Carolina

Jeff Wilson serves as Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies at Renison University College, an affiliated institution of the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. He is the author of “Mourning the Unborn Dead: A Buddhist Ritual Comes to America” (Oxford University Press 2009), “Dixie Dharma: Inside a Buddhist Temple in the American South” (University of North Carolina Press 2012), “Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture,” and “Selected Works of D.T. Suzuki, Volume III: Comparative Religion” (University of California Press 2016, co-edited with Tomoe Moriya). He is also the founder of the Buddhism in the West program unit of the American Academy of Religion. His research in Hawai’i examines temple economics, fundraising strategies, and the effects of shifting doctrine and belief.




Dr. Elisabetta Porcu

Numata Visiting Professor January–June 2013
Ph.D, Marburg University, Germany, 2006

Dr. Elisabetta Porcu

In Germany, Elisabetta Porcu is affiliated with the Centre for Area Studies at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Before moving to Leipzig, from 2004 to 2010 she worked at Ryūkoku University, Ōtani University, and Kyoto University of Foreign Studies while conducting extensive fieldwork in Japan. She is currently writing a book on Japanese Religions, Popular Culture, and the Media. Her recent publications include: Pure Land Buddhism in Modern Japanese Culture (Brill 2008); “Speaking through the Media: Shin Buddhism, Popular Culture, and the Internet” (in U. Dessì, ed., The Social Dimension of Shin Buddhism, Brill 2010); “On- and Off-line Representations of Japanese Buddhism: Reflections on a Multifaceted Religious Tradition” (Pacific World 32/1, 2010); and “Observations on the Blurring of the Religious and the Secular in a Japanese Urban Setting” (Journal of Religion in Japan 1/1, 2012). Her research interests include: Japanese religions; Japanese Buddhism; Pure Land Buddhism; Japanese religions, culture, media and consumerism; and the religious and the secular at the community level. She is the editor, together with Paul Watt, and founding editor of the Journal of Religion in Japan (Brill).

Further information on Dr. Porcu’s work can be found in her CV.


Dr. David E. Riggs

Numata Visiting Professor January–June 2010
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Dpt. of Asian Languages and Cultures, 2002

Before beginning Buddhist Studies, David Riggs worked as a systems analyst on NASA satellites at Goddard Space Flight Center and ran large computer centers for NASA, the US Air Force, and the Iranian government. He had his first taste of Buddhist Studies while taking a class on Ibn ‘Arabi and Zen at the Imperial Academy of Iranian Philosophy. After leaving Iran, he spent a year in Japan, including a practice period at Hōsshinji, a Sōtō Zen monastic training temple. After fifteen years in the computer business, he switched lives and entered the University of Michigan’s graduate program in Buddhist Studies, where he received his MA. He finished his Ph.D. at UCLA in 2002 with a dissertation on “The Rekindling of a Tradition: Menzan Zuihō and the Reform of Japanese Sōtō Zen in the Tokugawa Era.” He has taught at the University of Illinois, UC Santa Barbara, Oberlin College, and the University of Hawai’i. His articles on Zen practice and ritual and the life of Menzan have appeared in several scholarly journals and in the Oxford University Press Zen Buddhism series. His current research focuses on Zen ordinations in Japan and America.


Dr. Yoshiko Kurata Dykstra

Numata Visiting Professor Fall 2006
Ph.D., University of Berkeley


Dr. Brian Victoria

Numata Visiting Professor Spring 2004


Dr. John McRae

Numata Visiting Professor Fall 2003