Research/Areas of Interest:

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


  • PhD, University of Chicago, USA, 1996
  • MA, University of Chicago, USA, 1989
  • MA, Universite de Dijon, France, 1986
  • BA, University of Chicago, United States, 1984


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 upaya (skillful means), a didactic method of helping others to enlightenment. In her book, Explaining Pictures: Buddhist Propaganda and ETOKI Storytelling in Japan (The University of Hawai'i Press, 2006), 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-shu soshi eden (Legends of the Kegon Buddhist school founders) and the Kusozu (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.