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Prof. Richard Bowring

Prof. Richard Bowring

Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies


I studied Japanese here at Cambridge from 1965–68, when the number of students interested in the subject was very small indeed. I then left to work in airline management for two years, but returned to work on Mori Ogai, obtaining my PhD in 1973. After three years in Japan, I obtained my first teaching post at Monash University in Melbourne (1976–78), moved to Columbia University (1978–79) and then to Princeton University (1979–84). I returned to Cambridge in 1984. Since that time I have worked to build a strong group of scholars and teachers in Japanese studies. My interests have shifted over the years from Meiji all the way back to Heian. I am now retired from my University post, which will enable me to concentrate on my research. See more here (link to PDF of CV).



BA Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge (Japanese, 1st class)

1973 PhD Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge (Japanese)
1973-75 Leverhulme Studentship
1975-76 Japan Foundation Fellowship, Tōkyō University
1980-81 Japan Foundation Professional Fellowship, Kyōto University
1985 Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge
1987 Japan Foundation Professional Fellowship, Keiō University
1995-97 British Academy Research Readership
1997 Litt.D, University of Cambridge
2000 Master, Selwyn College, Cambridge
2000 Honorary Fellow, Downing College, Cambridge


Subject groups/Research projects

Japanese Studies:

Research Interests

Classical Japanese Language and Literature
Japanese Grammar
Japanese Religion and Thought: Buddhism, Shinto, Neo-Confucianism, Kokugaku

Other Professional Activities

I am engaged in editing Volume II of the Brill Encyclopaedia of Buddhism.


Key Publications


‘Fujiwara Seika and the Great Learning’, Monumenta Nipponica 61.4: 437–57, 2006.

The Religious Traditions of Japan 500–1600, Cambridge University Press, 2005.

ed. Fifty years of Japanese at Cambridge 1948–98 (Privately published), 1998.

(with P. Kornicki) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Japan, Cambridge University Press, 1993.

See more here (link PDF of publications)