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Kristina Buhrman

Assistant Professor of Religion


Departmental Area: History and Ethnography of Religions
Research Areas: Japanese Religions; Textual Culture; History of Religion and Science
Address: Department of Religion
641 University Way / P.O. Box 3061520
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1520
Office: 107B Dodd Hall
Email: kbuhrman@fsu.edu
Office Hours:



Kristina Buhrman (PhD, University of Southern California) is a historian of Japanese religions, specializing in the pre-modern period (before 1600). Her current research focuses on Onmyōdō, a collection of ritual and divinatory techniques that became popular in Japan during the Heian Period (794 - 1192). She also works on astrology and math in esoteric Buddhism, and maintains an interest in the intersection of religion and disaster and memory. Her teaching interests include the representation of religion and the supernatural in Japanese popular culture.

Reserch Interests

  • Religion and science in East Asia
  • Manuscript and book cultures and intellectual exchange
  • Fate and divination
  • Esoteric Buddhisms
  • Shinto

Recent Courses

Fall 2016

REL3351        Japanese Religions 
Many7 aspects of Japanese culture or character are credited to (or blamed on) Japanese religions.  This course investigates the influence of Japanese religious traditions on Japanese life, culture, and history; as well as the influence of history and politics on modern Japanese religiosity.  The goal of the course is to address the paradox of highly influential religious traditions among a population that claims no religion.  In so doing, students will address the definition of religion and of religiosity, and be prepared to talk about such definitions with relation to the specific example of Japan.  Meets Liberal Studies: Cultural Practice (LS-CUL) and Diversity: Cross Cultural Studies (DIV-XCC).

REL 4359-1  / RLG5354-1   SP Topics Asian Rel: Japanese Ghosts & Monsters 
Japanese folklore and culture is famous for an abundance of monsters and ghosts (sometimes known as youkai), some of which have become known to American audiences through video games and children's tv shows. This seminar will look at the history of the study of ghosts and monsters in Japan, and introduce students to some of the deeper history of and influence of Buddhist doctrine on the received image of these creatures. We will also look at depictions of traditional youkai in modern film, and how these might relate to changes in human-animal relations and environmental consciousness in Japan.

Spring 2016

REL3340        Buddhist Tradition           
A historical and thematic survey of the Buddhist tradition in Asia from its beginnings through the modern period. Topics covered will include origins and history, doctrine, ethical beliefs, meditation, ritual, and monastic and popular traditions. Some attention will also be given to contemporary forms of Buddhism outside of Asia, in Europe and America.   Meets  Liberal Studies, Humanities and Multicultural X requirement.

REL4304-01   SEM: HIS of Religions:  History of Japanese Religion
An introduction to scholarship on Japanese religion, covering history from the classical through the modern period, with a focus on debates and recent developments in the field.

RLG5305-01  HIST of REL: History of Japan  

Fall 2015

REL3351              Japanese Religions 
This course investigates the influence of Japanese religious traditions on Japanese life, culture, and history; as well as the influence of history on modern Japanese religiosity and perceptions of religion. Many aspects of Japanese culture or national character are credited to (or blamed on) Japanese religions. Despite this, on national surveys the majority of the Japanese regularly claim to have no religion. This course introduces major aspects of Japanese religious traditions and examines this paradox in light of the history of religion in Japan, and Japanese definitions of religion, practice, and belief.  Meets the Liberal Studies- Cultural Practice and Cross-cultural (x) requirements.

REL3936           Special Topics in Religion:  The Way of the Samurai
The samurai has become the symbol of Japanese masculinity, and the "way of the samurai" (bushid?) singled out as a primary ethical guide for Japanese business, sports, politics, and (before the war) military culture. But what was the historical "way of the samurai"? How did this ethos change over time? Who were the samurai, and where did they come from? This course looks at the historical factors and religious (chiefly Buddhist and Confucian) influences that went into defining the samurai and models that served for their behavior using historical studies and primary texts. 

REL4359/ RLG5354          Readings in Classical Japanese
An introduction to the grammar of Classical Japanese and instruction in how to do research in primary historical sources. Proficiency in modern Japanese language is required.