University College Cork - Study of Religions

Fieldwork in Japan, Spring 2015 

In the spring of 2015 I plan to conduct field work in Japan. Currently I expect to stay for 3 months, most of which I will spend in the Tokyo area. My goal is to research the Japanese Christian group known as the Kirisuto no Makuya (キリストの幕屋), literally meaning 'Tabernacle of Christ', whom I studied for my MA Thesis. In doing so I hope to record any possible changes within the group that may have come about in the last several decades, as they have been understudied within Western academia for almost twenty years. As highlighted in my MA Thesis, I feel that this group is important as they are rather unique within Japanese Christianity. I will demonstrate my position in the following sections. 

Teshima Ikuro and the Makuya

Teshima Ikuro, Founder of the Makuya.

Teshima Ikuro, Founder of the Makuya.

Teshima Ikuro, who founded the Makuya movement following what is known as the 'Makuya Pentecost' in 1948, was an extraordinary figure. Master Teshima (as he was called by those who followed him) was instrumental in developing Japanese Christianity. Fluent in both Greek and Hebrew, Teshima felt that it was important for Christians to understand the New Testament and the Torah in their original languages, thus granting the reader greater understanding of the context under which they were written. 

Some estimates put the total number of Makuya at over 60,000 practioners. However, that estimate is reliant upon an old sociological survey from 1979 conducted by Carlo Caldorala in Christianity: The Japanese Way. Contemporary scholars have researched the Makuya as recently as 1998, but more in depth studies have not been conducted by Western academics since that time. I was unable to locate more recent research while working on my MA Thesis, which led me towards conducting fieldwork in this area. More contemporary research is required to determine how the Makuya movement may have changed in the last twenty years. I will not be able to document all of this information in a three month period. I am hoping to contribute more contemporary research towards this subject area and lay the groundwork for a possible PhD.

Estimated Cost

My total estimated costs for a 3 month stay in Japan are $6000 to pay for housing accommodations, food, public transport as well as travel to and from Japan. The total cost may fluctuate in the coming months, as the conversion rate from US dollars to Yen can vary to some degree.  As a result, the total estimate I am presenting is on the high end. If for any reason the total cost of my research is lower than $6000, any remaining funds will be directed towards further research of the Makuya. 

Clicking here demonstrates how I arrived at the $6000 estimate, as well as my justification for the total cost in each category. Any donation is greatly appreciated. I will also be offering rewards as a thank you for supporting my research. Unfortunately I cannot supply any physical rewards, but I will be able to supply download links to an article or short documentary that may come out of this project. The four reward levels are:

  1. Bronze Level $5 - You will receive an email from me thanking you for supporting my research!

  2. Silver Level $10 - You will receive a personal email from me as a thank you for supporting my research! You will also receive periodical updates of my research from the field.

  3. Gold Level $50 - For those donating $50, you will receive a personal thank you, email updates of my research as well a PDF of journal articles that come from this research. 

  4. Platinum Level $100 - Donate this amount and you will receive all the previously mentioned rewards as well as a the short documentary that may come from this research project. 

Although it says that only those who donate $5 and up will receive a thank you email, that is only because GoFundMe only allows $5 as the minimum amount. Every person who donates will receive an email from me thanking you for the support. 

Additional Fieldwork Equipment

While in Japan I plan on shooting video for interviews as well as the production of a short film. Those who donate $100 or more will receive a digital copy of the finished film. 

I presently own a Canon T3i for shooting video, an audio recorder as well as some video production experience. However, some additional equipment would make the process much more streamlined. To see the equipment that I feel is necessary, please click this link. Though this is not required for fieldwork, it would definitely aid me in recording information.