The Japanese Ōbaku Canon 黃檗藏 and Modern Buddhist Canon Compilations in East Asia

In-person and virtual

Jiang Wu Early Books Lecture 2023 (5206)


4 to 6 p.m., April 18, 2023


The Early Books Lecture Series was established at the University of Arizona by Dr. Albrecht Classen, University Distinguished Professor of German Studies, nearly 20 years ago. 

The Japanese Ōbaku Canon 黃檗藏 and Modern Buddhist Canon Compilations in East Asia is the third and final lecture in this year's Early Books Lecture Series XVIII.

Registration is closed.

Although the creation of various modern Buddhist canons, such as the Taishō canon, is well-known in East Asia, little is known about the fact that the Ōbaku Canon, originated in early modern China but carved in Japan by the Japanese Ōbaku monk Tetsugen Dōkō 鐵眼道光 (1630-1682), a disciple of the Chinese monk Yinyuan Longqi 隱元隆琦 (1592-1673) and the founder of the Japanese Ōbaku Zen tradition.

This canon, however, was the first Chinese canon brought to Europe through the Japanese Iwakura mission in 1875.  Both Samuel Beal (1825-1889) and Max Müller’s Japanese student Nanjō Bunyū 南條文雄 (1849-1927) translated its entire catalogue into English in 1876 and 1883 respectively. These catalogues, which predated all the modern canon compilations, introduced modern techniques of textual criticism which greatly influenced scholarly communities in Japan.

This lecture investigates the history of the Ōbaku Canon in China and Japan and evaluates its role in reinventing the Buddhist textual tradition in the modern era.  

About the presenter

Dr. Jiang Wu (Ph.D., Harvard University, 2002) is director of the Center for Buddhist Studies and professor in the Department of East Asian Studies in the College of Humanities at the University of Arizona.

His research interests include seventeenth-century Chinese Buddhism, Chinese Buddhist canons, spatial analysis of religion, and the historical exchanges between Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. Dr. Wu is the author of numerous books and articles such as Enlightenment in Dispute (Oxford, 2008), Leaving for the Rising Sun (Oxford, 2015), and editor of Spreading Buddha’s Word in East Asia (Columbia, 2016), Reinventing the Tripitaka (Lexington, 2017), The Formation of Regional Religious Systems in Greater China (Routledge, 2022). 

Dr. Wu awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

University of Arizona Department of East Asian Studies Professor and Center for Buddhist Studies Director Jiang Wu is one of 171 scientists, writers, scholars and artists awarded a 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship. Wu said he was thrilled to be named a fellow and called the honor a "gratifying moment that comes after so many years of hard work and research." Read full story.



Dr. Jiang Wu, Director, Center of Buddhist Studies; Professor, Department of East Asian Studies, College of Humanities