Event: India and Japan: Unearthing lesser-known 16th to early 20th century linkages

Organized by India International Centre & Mombusho Scholars Association of India (MOSAI)
15, 16 and 17 November, 2018
Venue: India International Centre, New Delhi, India
India-Japan historical links go far back to the 8th century A.D. when Bodhisena (704-60), an Indian monk, was invited in the year 736CE by Emperor Shomu (r.724-48) to perform the eye- opening ceremony of the world’s largest bronze statue of the Great Buddha at Tōdai-ji in Nara. Bodhisena remained in Japan until his death in 760CE teaching Buddhism, Sanskrit, Prakrit and related Indian philosophical thoughts. Exchanges through visits of Buddhist monks and scholars from Japan continued. There are documented evidences of visits by Japanese scholars and pupils to Nalanda University. A merchant-adventurer Tokubei (1612–1692) was so obsessive about visiting ‘Tenjiku’ (Heavenly Land) – an ancient Japanese name for India, that he took the name of Tenjiku Tokubei out of pride and reverence for India.

These deep spiritual links are very significant and have certainly been effective in generating awareness and appreciation of Indian civilization in Japan.  These links and their manifestation in images of Japanese gods and goddesses and in Japanese script and folklore have been studied by scholars, and are often referred to in India-Japan dialogues. In addition to these early linkages, Tagore-Okakura artistic and cultural collaborations, and Japanese connections during India’s independence movement through Subhash Chandra Bose, Rash Behari Bose and through the role of Jurist Binod Behari Pal in the war trials of Japan are known worldwide. By the 16th century, with the expansion of Indian Ocean routes to Southeast and East Asia, the scope of links between India and Japan began to diversify.

Discovery of sea-route to India, leading to an exodus of Jesuits and Portuguese on India’s Malabar Coast, made Goa an important port in the Indian Ocean route linking India with Europe and Asia. The transmission of a new culture (namban bunka) brought about a radical shift in the focus of India-Japan relations – from Buddhist-centered Tenjiku to a trade-oriented Indo. New information between India and Japan flowed through Jesuits who went to Japan from Goa, through Portuguese travelling to Japanese coasts accompanied by Indian workers, and through Japanese brought to Goa by the Portuguese.

The emergence of new industrial travel infrastructures in the late-19th century, Nippon Yusen Kaisha and Osaka Shosen Kaisha and the starting of regular services linking Yokohama and Kobe with Calcutta and Bombay, facilitated direct contacts and exchanges. These brought Japan within easier reach of Indian travellers and vice versa thereby facilitating not only direct observations and documentation through travel-writing, but also trade, technological and industrial collaborations; rise of Indian diaspora in Japan and vice versa.

Roots of some technological, economic and social relations can also be traced to links that emerged during this period.  For example, the British Government of India invited experts like Dr Fusakichi Omori, Professor T. Nakamura and Dr T. Koyama of Tokyo Imperial University to advise on post-earthquake reconstruction in Assam. Reports of these experts on the great Indian earthquakes in Assam-Shillong (1897) and Kangra (1905) not only provided inputs to the Earthquake Investigation Committee (Shinsai Yobo Chosakwai), established by the Japanese government in 1882, but also created awareness of India amongst engineers, architects and builders in Japan. Similarly, the Japanese engineers are said to have visited India to study the railway system set-up by the British. India-Japan collaborations in cotton industry, handicrafts and textile dyeing techniques also need to be highlighted.

The inauguration of India-Japan Association by Meiji government in 1903 laid the foundation of social and economic relations between India and Japan. In the context of new emerging Asia, the Association was established to promote strong ties with India ‘forged by spiritual sharing and understanding’ by Shigenobu Okuma, who was also the founder of Waseda University. Later, during Taisho (1912-1925) and early-Showa Era (1925-1940), the Association’s endeavours centred on economic activities. The Japan Commodity House was opened in Calcutta and a train bazaar visited big cities in India to exhibit Japanese commodities. This greatly contributed not only to increasing trade, but also to a gradual increase of Japanese communities in Calcutta and other Indian cities, and similarly Indian communities in Yokohama, Kobe etc., resulting in people to people contacts.

In the field of education, the establishment of Nippon Bhavana at Rabindranath Tagore’s Visva Bharati in Santiniketan is a living testimony to the legacy of Tagore-Okakura dialogue. The Kala Bhavana of Visva Bharati has been a platform for exchanges in arts. In addition, disillusioned with the inadequacies in colonial policies and educational planning, several educated Indians, particularly from Princely India, such as M. Visvesvaraya and Syed Ross Masood turned to Japan in search of a non-Western educational model and sought to replicate the Japanese model in the Princely States of Mysore and Hyderabad respectively. Their reports and travelogues provide valuable insights into Japan’s education system. In addition, travelogues of Sureshchandra Bandopadhyay, Manmathanath Ghosh and Hariprova Takeda (nèe Mullick) from Bengal, who had visited Japan even before Tagore, are also good sources of information exchanges during the early 20thcentury. During the same period, it is reported that several trainees from Bengal were sent to Japan to acquire technical skills. While Japan was an inspiration for vocational education, Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy brought a Japanese-American architect and woodworker George Katsutoshi Nakashima to Pondicherry. Who not only designed ‘Golconde’ at the Ashram, but became so immersed in its way of life that he became a devotee, taking a Sanskrit name Sundarananda – ‘one who delights in beauty.’

The Seminar Objective

The seminar recognises that the canvas of historical linkages is much richer than what has hitherto been studied and highlighted. The roots of India-Japan historical, socio-economic and cultural relations are very deep and diversified, which need to be unearthed through multidisciplinary tools and resources at various levels.

The seminar proposes to bring together scholars and specialists who have traced some of the above lesser-known historical linkages between India and Japan with multiple perspectives. Presentations and deliberations at the seminar are expected to provide a cogent and comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the historical foundations of intellectual and creative exchanges between India and Japan; a foundation on which mutual relations are built, and flourish in changing geo-political and economic environment.

DAY 1: Inauguration & Keynote Address.
3 Sessions – 3 Papers Each (20 Minutes each)
DAY 2: 4 Sessions – 3 Papers Each
DAY 3: Looking Ahead & Valedictory session
STRUCTURE: Keynote, Invited Addresses, Contributed Papers, Reports on research in progress, Exhibition, Poster displays, Films, Performance.
FIRST list of Speakers and topics (More names would be added)
Session: India and Japonisme I & II (Carpets, Textiles, Arts)

  • Yuzuruha OYAMA, Curator, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo : The textile exchange between Japan and India in 16th-19th century.
  • Timothy SCREECH, SOAS, University of London Transmission of Namban bunka via India.
  • Takako ARAI (INOUE), Daito Bunka University, Tokyo. Indian impacts on Japanese performing arts: Indigenization, Extinction, and Reconstruction of Buddhist Music –with emphasis on Gagaku and Shomyo and their changing trends from 16th to 19th centuries.
  • Masumi IGARASHI, Art History, Okayama University, Tokyo. Katsuta Shokin: A Japanese Painter at the Government School of Art, Calcutta, 1906-1907.
  • Rishav Gandhar NARZARY, Art History, Kala Bhavana, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan : Revivalistic interpretations in pictorial language of Bengal School under the light of Pan-Asian concept of Okakura Tenshin.
  • Aarti KAWLRA, Chennai, Fellow at Minpaku, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Sari-Kimono: Metaphors, Affinities and Aesthetics.
  • (retd.) Janak Jhankar NARZARY, Kala Bhavana, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan – Modern Indian sculptors looking to the East.

Session: Diaspora Communities, Social interactions & Community knowledge

  • Claude MARKOVITS, Centre of Indian and South Asian Studies, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris : Indian merchants in Kobe.
  • Daniel BOTSMAN, Yale University, New Haven : Portugal-Goa-Japan linkages.
  • Dr Makiko KIMURA, International and Cultural Studies, Tsuda College, Tokyo: Remembering a Tangkul-Japan Relationship: Folklores about a Local Female Interpreter in the Tangkul Areas of Manipur, Northeast India.

Sub-session: Place and Local Knowledge :  Community Mapping as method of engagement

  • Takayoshi KUSAGO, Kansai University, Osaka : Co-learning between Japan and South Asia through Jimotogaku community mapping method.
  • Surajit SARKAR, Ambedkar University, New Delhi : Reclaiming knowledge and memory at the margins – co-learning experiences from Nagasaki peace memorial to justice in Bhopal. 

Session: Education, Travelogues &Related areas

  • Aya IKEGAME, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo : Mysore State and Visvesvaraya: Engineering and technical Education.
  • Sushila NARSIMHAN, Professor (retd.), University of Delhi : In search of a non-Western education model: Syed Ross Masood of Hyderabad turns to Japan.
  • Gita A. KEENI, Nippon Bhavana, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan : ‘Images of Japan in the works of Bengali travellers in early Twentieth century. 

Session: Technology Perspectives I & II

Shipping, Railways, Seismology, Architecture

  • Chih-lung LIN, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan: Japanese shipping lines in India, 1891-1918.
  • Naoko FUKAMI, Waseda University, Tokyo : A comparison between the current and 55-year-old conditions of sultanate heritage in Delhi; Digital archive, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, the University of Tokyo.
  • Prof Anuradha CHATURVEDI, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi : Seismological studies in India by Fusakichi Omori, T. Nakamura and T. Koyama and their implications on the development of earthquake resistant architecture in North East India.



International Conference on

India and Japan: Unearthing Lesser-Known Linkages

Organized by

Mombusho Scholars Association of India (MOSAI) &

India International Centre , New Delhi

15, 16 and 17 November, 2018

Venue: India International Centre, New Delhi, India


India-Japan historical connections through Buddhism and Spiritualism (Tenjiku or heavenly Indo) and their manifestations in images of gods and goddesses in Japan or through Tagore-Okakura, or Subhas Bose and nationalism are well known. However, the canvass of historical linkages between India and Japan is much richer.

Some of the contexts in which linkages are lesser-known, await un-earthling, include modernization efforts in Japan initiated during the Meiji era and its inspirational impact on Indian educationists, engineers, architects, and builders;  emergence of Goa as a port and; transmission of a new culture (namban bunka); shipping routes linking Yokohama and Kobe with Calcutta and Bombay in late 19th century; emergence of Indian diaspora in Japan and vice versa,  interactions through travel-writing.

Conference  Overview

 The Conference  brings  together scholars and specialists who have traced some of the lesser-known historical linkages between India and Japan with multiple perspectives. Presentations and deliberations at the seminar are expected to provide a cogent and comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the historical foundations of intellectual and creative exchanges between India and Japan; a foundation on which mutual relations are built, and flourish in changing geo-political and economic environment.

The International Conference is  organised by Mombusho Scholars Association of India (MOSAI),  a registered society comprising of specialists with first hand intensive experience of years of research and academic assignments at Japanese universities and research institutions. MOSAI works closely with the Embassy of Japan in India, The Japan Foundation and other Indo-Japan related organisations.

In addition to the Keynote Addresses, Invited Papers from renowned experts and Special Evening Lecture Series on India-Japan Linkages, this International Conference provides an opportunity to scholars and specialists to present papers and posters on different aspects of research on lesser known historical and cultural exchanges between India and Japan especially from the 16th to the early 20th centuries.

Thematic sessions include: India and Japonisme (Carpets, Textiles, Arts);

Diaspora Communities;

Social interactions, Place & Community knowledge;

Education, Travelogues and related areas;

Technology Perspectives (Shipping, Railways, Seismology, Architecture)

 Conference Program Schedule: 3 DAYS (SHOULD WE INSERT THE DRAFT PROGRAMME?)

DAY 1: Inauguration of Conference & Special Exhibition

Inaugural Address & Keynote Address. (Ambassador Hirabayashi)

3 Thematic Sessions – 3 Invited Papers  in each session

Special Lecture:

DAY 2: 4 Thematic Sessions – 3 Invited Papers in each session

Special Lecture/Demonstration: Nissar & Amal Allana on Noh & Takako Inoue

DAY 3: Looking Ahead & Valedictory session

(NOTE: Duration of each paper 20 minutes followed by discussion)

Important Links

Online Application Form: Click Here

Registration and Payment: Click Here

Invited Speakers: Click Here

Guidelines for Abstract Submission & Portal:

Guidelines for Final Paper Submission & Portal:

Location & Venue:


Important Dates:

Abstracts deadline;

Date for Registration;

Submission of full papers.

Confirmation of registration;

Submission of Abstracts DEADLINE: March 20, 2018.

Early Bird Registration DEADLINE: April 16, 2018:

Submission of Accepted Full Papers/Posters:

Final Registration for Accepted Speakers:

Final Registration for Research Scholars, Students-Observers:15th November, 2018

Conference Registration  Fees:

Registration Fee for Foreign Scholars: $150/-

Registration Fee for Indian Scholars: Rs 3000/-

Research Scholars/Student-Observers: Rs 500/-

Registration Fee for Paper presenters also includes Conference publication,  kit and  Conference Dinner plus  Lunch and Tea on all days.

Important Contacts:

For abstracts, full papers and posters:

Registration matters:

Conference Conveners:

Publication: Only English language, full-length, original papers will be considered for publication.

Published Articles: The articles which are already published in some other journal/ book chapter/ conference may also be submitted for the conference presentation.

Conference Updates: Please see the Conference /MOSAI website for updates <mosai website>

Contact Us: Our hosts in New Delhi: Names with phone numbers and email ID.

Conference participants should plan to arrive in New Delhi by 14th November 2018, one  day prior to the initial conference date for check-in in the IIC, New Delhi.


General Guidelines for Abstracts/Papers

Title and Authorship InformationThe following information should be included:

Paper title

Full author names

Institute Name, Name of Department

Country Name

E-mail addresses/Phone numbers

Abstract Guidelines

  • Abstracts should be self-contained, citation-free and should not exceed 225-300 words.
  • Abstract (Font-12, Italic, Times New Roman).
  • It should be submitted via e-mail as an attachment in Word format. ???
  • Name or save your abstract indicating your name: e.g. De Silva_Ajith_abstract.doc
  • Send your biography (no more than 50 words) with your abstract

 Paper submission guidelines

  • TITLE (Font-14, Bold, Times New Roman)
  • Author name without Title like Dr., Prof. Etc. (Font-12, Bold, Times New Roman)
  • Affiliation with Institute Name, University, City, Country, Email ID (Font-12, Italic, Times New Roman, spacing 1.0)
  • Headings (Font-12, Bold, Times New Roman)
  • Sub Heading (Font-12, bold, Times New Roman)
  • If there are any points to explain then bullet should be used, Style should be Document bullets – Times New Roman, font size-12
  • Figure/Table no. and title should be above the diagram. (Times New Roman, 12, Italic, Centre Align)

Name or save your abstract indicating your name: e.g. De Silva_Ajith_paper.doAny tables or figures must be numbered and have captions at the bottom.

Referencing style

  • Harvard-style referencing should be used throughout the paper.
  • The Harvard referencing system includes the author, the date of the work and the page number in brackets in the body of the text, immediately following the quote or reference. For example:

Depending on a company’s goals, there are a variety of reasons top management may decide to undertake cost controls; it could be for proven cost reduction (Corbridge, 1998, p.27) or to “improve corporate image in the environmental area” (Bozena, et al, 2003, p.45).

  • In the Harvard style, a bibliography of the all references is included as a separate section at the end of the document giving full details of author(s) last name, First name(s) and year of publication, followed by the source and the publisher and place of publication.
  • References should be listed in alphabetical order and all lines other than the first line should be indented.