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Associate Prof. Uchida wins International Award

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Associate Prof. Yukiko Uchida has been awarded the 11th International Award by The Japanese Psychological Association for her remarkable research activity. Also our specially appointed professor, Shinsuke Shimojo has been awarded the special award for his high level achievements. The award ceremony was held in Tokyo on Nov. 5th, 2016.

The Japanese Psychological Association Website

Associate Prof. Kumagai held academic panel in 14th IATS's Conference at the University of Bergen

Associate Prof. Seiji Kumagai held an academic panel: "Buddhism, Culture and Society in Bhutan" on Wednesday 22 June during the 14th IATS's Conference at the University of Bergen.

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Panel7 - Buddhism, culture and society in Bhutan
Wed 22 June (Auditorium Q)
Convener: Seji Kumagai

9.00-9.15: Opening of panel.
9.15-9.45: Seiji Kumagai: A study through biographies and chronicles on Tsangpa Gyare (1161-1211), the founder of the Drukpa Kagyu School.
9.45-10.15: Felicity Shaw: The National Library and Archives of Bhutan: from literary repository to guardian of collective memory.
10.15-10.45: Brian Shaw: Becoming a modern Bhutanese: the continuing development of civil society and social media in a time of change 1972-2015.
10.45-11.15: Tea and coffee break.
11.15-11.45: Johanna Prien: Ritual paraphernalia used by pawo and neyjorma spirit mediums in rural Western Bhutan.

11.45-12.15: Per Sørensen and Hou Haoran: Transnational kinship network: history of the ruling rGya family at the Ra-lung seat between the 15th and 16th centuries.

12.15-12.45: Dagmar Schwerk: Tracing the life and intellectual agenda of a 20th century Bhutanese scholar and yogin, the Sixty-Ninth rJe mKhan-po dGe-'dun-rin-chen (1926-1997).

12.45-13.45: LUNCH

13.45-14.15: Lungtaen Gyatso: Holistic education: redefining the purpose of education in the Royal University of Bhutan.

14.15-14.45: Tashi Tshering: The Tashigomang: portable shrines of Bhutan.

14.45-15.15: Françoise Pommaret: The Bumthang web: migrations, alliances, economy and religion.

15.15-15.45: Tea and Coffee break.

15.45-16.15: Akiko Ueda: Symbolic, monetary and nutritional values of rice: "food security" re-examined in Bhutan's rural context.

16.15-16.45: Akinori Yasuda: Some remarks on the lTa ba klong yangs discovered by Dorje Lingpa.


Associate Prof. Abe won the 2nd prize of "Research Grant 2015 on Brain and Creativity"

 Associate Prof. Nobuhito Abe has been awarded the 2nd prize of " Research Grant 2015 on Brain and Creativity " by Neurocreative Laboratory, NPO in Japan.

Nobuhito Abe

GRANT ANT AWARD | Neurocreative Laboratory, NPO

Assistant Prof. Ueda won two presentation awards

 Assistant Prof. Yoshiyuki Ueda won the presentation award at the annual conference of the Japanese Society for Cognitive Psychology and the Japanese Psychonomic Society.

Yoshiyuki Ueda

JSCP Distinguished Presentation Award | The Japanese Society for Cognitive Psychology
The Japanese Psychonomic Society (Japanese)

"Kyoto University Research Activities" introduces research into psychology and the mind published

 "Kyoto University Research Activities"(Vol. 5 No. 3) has been published by Kyoto University. Many articles written about Kokoro Research Center are in the magazine including the report of symposiums, seminars, and staffs have contributed articles. The magazine is available on Kyoto University's website.

Kyoto University Research Activities

Associate Prof. Uchida's comments on "The Telegraph"

 Associate Prof. Yukiko Uchida commented on "The Telegraph", popular newsmedia in UK. The article discusses modern Young Japanese and enviroment society and Uchida commented from the perspective of cultural and social psychologist.

"Silent cafes attract solo Japanese in search of peace" ー The Telegraph / 10 Sep. 2015

The First Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Symposium "Kokoro and History" was held on Sep.13, 2015

The First Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Symposium "Kokoro and History" was held at Kyoto Hotel Okura on September 13, 2015. As the first symposium of the Kyoto Kokoro Initiative that was launched in April, a focus was placed on the history of kokoro, five lecturers gave lectures in their respective fields of specializaition, and discussions were held. On the day, more than 400 participants attended.


 First, Sakiko Yoshikawa (Director, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University) introduced the background of the launch of the Kyoto Kokoro Initiative, and made the following remarks about its significance and undertakings: "I would like to clarify the richness and invaluableness of kokoro while creating relationships with large frameworks such as history, culture, nature, and the environment, and disseminate, both in Japan and throughout the world, the ideal form of a human society that cultivates abundant kokoro, as the "Kyoto Kokoro Initiative."
 Next, Kazuo Inamori (President, The Inamori Foundation) gave encouraging remarks, saying, "The Inamori Foundation has continued to conduct various undertakings with the idea that stability will first be achieved in humans' future when there is a balance between scientific developments and spiritual evolution. I hope that this project, which reconsiders the importance of people's kokoro and disseminates to the world the practice and suggestions for the senses of ethics and morals that have been conveyed to Japanese people since long ago, will contribute significantly to humans' spiritual evolution from now on."
 Norifumi Ushio (Director, Scientific Research Institutes Division, Research Promotion Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) gave the following congratulatory remarks: "The Kokoro Research Center is promoting interdisciplinary research related to kokoro that surpasses academic fields, and is actively disseminating results to society as well. Beginning this initiative now, at a time when the true abundance of kokoro is being questioned, is wonderful in terms of timing. I pray for even further development."
 After that, Shinichi Nakazawa (Chief and Professor, Institute for Primitive Science, Meiji University) gave a keynote lecture on the theme of "The Structure and History of Kokoro." Professor Nakazawa said that, "Particularly now, it is necessary to bridge the gap between kokoro in natural science and kokoro in the humanities." While comparing the kokoro that has been clarified by modern neuroscience and the kokoro that has been understood by the humanities, he expressed his expectations for the Kyoto Kokoro Initiative by saying that, "In the 21st century, integration of physical objects and kokoro will be an important element. From now on, the processes of the brain and the processes of kokoro will probably move towards each other and an even deeper understanding will become possible."
 Next, Toshio Kawai (Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University) gave a lecture on the theme of "The Historical Internalization of Kokoro and Interface." He compared Japanese people's kokoro, which has been understood as an "open system that is connected to all including nature and other worlds," and Western people's kokoro, which is a "closed system that is shut in each individual" and that connects from Christianity's prayer to psychoanalysis, and he discussed, from clinical psychology perspectives, the flow of changes toward a trend of understanding kokoro as an interface in which Internet society emerged.
 In the afternoon, Yoshinori Hiroi (Professor, Facaluty of Law, Politics and Economics, Chiba University) gave a lecture on the theme of "'Kokoro' and Social Design in Post-Growth Era." While casting light on cultural historical evidence and data, Professor Hiroi, who specializes in public policy and scientific philosophy, discussed how people's kokoro and society should respond to the change in Japan from expansion and growth to maturation and stability and also presented a vision for the ideal state of kokoro and society in the post-growth period.
 After a break, Shinsuke Shimojo (Professor, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology, and Specially Appointed Professor, Kokoro Research Center) gave a lecture on the theme of "The Implicit Process and 'Personal History': Perception, Evolution, Social Brain." Professor Shimojo said about the "personal history of kokoro" concept that developed from his own research that, "personal history is an accumulation of interactions between genetics and experiences, and between the environment and the brain; it is the consequence of personal histories coming together over various time scales. It is analogous to rings of a tree, showing its life history at a glance." He also discussed the fact that reflecting carefully on the personal histories of oneself and others will lead to clues for searching for kokoro of the future.
 Lastly, Juichi Yamagiwa (President, Kyoto University) gave a lecture on the theme of "The Origin of Kokoro: From Empathy to Ethics." Dr. Yamagiwa, who specializes in primatology, brought attention to characteristics of humans, who have a unique system that is the opposite of other primates, in that they hide their sexual acts but eat publicly. Concerning the origins of the kokoro of people behind the complicated human society, he used various videos and data to show the results of research on primates such as gorillas, and he discussed the significance of comparative research for understanding kokoro.
 After that, a general discussion was conducted by the five lecturers, and Toji Kamata (Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University) said the following as summarizing comments: "This has been a productive time for the front runners of knowledge to consider kokoro from various angles." In relation to Japanese people's kokoro and animism, he introduced the lyrics of "Ringo no Uta (The Apple Song)," which was popular after World War II. He said that, "I have expectations for the development of future discussions at the Kyoto Kokoro Initiative concerning the possibilities that lie in Japan's animism, which even found kokoro in apples."
 To close the symposium, Nagahiro Minato (Executive Vice-President, Kyoto University) gave the following closing remarks: "Kyoto University has many, more than 20, laboratories and research centers, and of those the Kokoro Research Center is the smallest center, but it is conducting research on kokoro, which is the biggest thing. We expect that from now on the research surrounding kokoro will develop in a way that will lead to guideposts for individuals and society."
 We plan to publish the content of the lectures that were given at this First Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Symposium as a book. We also plan to hold the Kyoto Kokoro Initiative International Symposium in 2016.

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[Poster about the symposium]
(Japanese version only)

Date and times: September 13, 2015 (Sun.) 9:30 - 18:00 (Reception begins at 9:00.)
Venue: Kyoto Hotel Okura, 3F, Suiun banquet hall (Access) (Kawaharamachi-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto)
9:30 - 9:50
Opening remarks          Sakiko Yoshikawa (Director, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University)
Greeting                       Kazuo Inamori (President, Inamori Foundation)
Congratulatory address  Norifumi Ushio (Director, Scientific Research Institutes Division, Research Promotion Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)
9:50 - 11:00 Lecture 1
"The Sturucture and History of Kokoro"
Shinichi Nakazawa (Chief and Professor, Institute for Primitive Science, Meiji University)
11:00 - 12:00 Lecture 2
"The Historical Internalization of Kokoro and Interface"
Toshio Kawai (Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University)
12:00 - 13:20 Break
13:20 - 14:20 Lecture 3
"'Kokoro' and Social Design in the Post-Growth Era"
Yoshinori Hiroi (Professor, Faculty of Law, Politics and Economics, Chiba University)
14:20 - 15:20 Lecture 4
"The Implicit Process and 'Personal History': Perception, Evolution, Social Brain"
Shinsuke Shimojo (Professor, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology)
15:20 - 15:40 Break
15:40 - 16:40 Lecture 5
"The Origin of Kokoro: From Empathy to Ethics"
Juichi Yamagiwa (President, Kyoto University)
16:40 - 17:40 General discussion
Shinichi Nakazawa, Toshio Kawai, Yoshinori Hiroi, Shinsuke Shimojo, Juichi Yamagiwa
17:40 - 18:00
Summary               Toji Kamata (Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University)
Closing remarks      Nagahiro Minato (Executive Vice-President, Kyoto University)

Host: Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University
Support: The Inamori Foundation

Associate Prof. Kumagai Presented TEDx Talk on Achieving Happiness through Wisdom

Associate Prof. Seiji Kumagai gave a TEDx talk in Kyoto University entitled "Achieving Happiness through Wisdom" on 7th Jun, 2015.

To watch the movie, please click the link below.


The pursuit of happiness has been one of the biggest and most important goals of human beings. In his talk, Dr. Seiji Kumagai applies Buddhist philosophy as a way to achieve happiness, and presents the concept of Gross Global Happiness, based on the Bhutanese policy Gross National Happiness.

Achieving Happiness through Wisdom | Seiji Kumagai | TEDxKyotoUniversity / Youtube

Satellite Symposium of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Japan Neuroscience Society / Japan-China Joint Symposium for Understanding Cortical Cognitive" (Aug.1st, 2015)

Satellite Symposium of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Japan Neuroscience Society / Japan-China Joint Symposium for Understanding Cortical Cognitive"



Date: August 1st, 2015
Place: Inamori Center at Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.

Shintaro Funahashi (Kyoto University, Japan)
Bao-Ming Li (Nanchang University, China)

Jacqueline Gottleib (Columbia University, USA)
Cheng-Yu Li (Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, CAS, China)
Akira Murata (Kinki University, Japan)
Satoshi Tsujimoto (Kyoto University, Japan)
Ken'ichiro Tsutsui (Tohoku University, Japan)
Liping Wang & Yong-Di Zhou (East China Normal University, China)
Tao Zhang (Institute of Psychology, CAS, China)
Yong-Di Zhow (East China Normal University, China)

▽See more info
Satellite Symposium of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Japan Neuroscience Society / Japan-China Joint Symposium for Understanding Cortical Cognitive" | Shintaro Funahashi Laboratory Web Site

The Kyoto Kokoro Initiative launched and a signing ceremony held on Apr.14, 2015

 On this occasion we received support from the Inamori Foundation and started the Kyoto Kokoro Initiative. For the launch of this initiative, on April 14, 2015 a signing ceremony and a press conference were held in the guest reception room of Kyoto University Clock Tower Centennial Hall.
 At the signing ceremony, Sakiko Yoshikawa (Director, Kokoro Research Center) explained the purpose of the Kyoto Kokoro Initiative, Juichi Yamagiwa (President, Kyoto University) and Kazuo Inamori (President, the Inamori Foundation) gave addresses, and a written agreement on donations was signed. During a question and answer session with journalists, Professor Toshio Kawai answered questions from journalists about the specific plans for this initiative. The events of the day were reported on the news of local television station KBS Kyoto, and were also covered by various media outlets such as Mainichi Newspaper, Kyoto Shimbun, and Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun.

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Below is the press release made by the Kokoro Research Center.

Kyoto Kokoro Initiative  
Kokoro Research Center  Toshio Kawai (Clinical Psychology)

1) Purpose of the project

Advances in science and technology, the emergence of a large economic zone by globalization, and recent global environmental change are significantly changing people's daily lives and relationships. These things are naturally affecting the state of people's "kokoro," and sometimes various problems are caused because their "kokoro" can't keep up with the changes.
 Rather than relying on science and technology for these circumstances or trying to resolve them by changing the environment, it may be necessary to focus on the "kokoro" of the people facing such things and carefully follow a path that leads to more essential understanding and resolution of problems.
 We think that it may be necessary for us now to consider the ways that humans faced the world with the roles of "kokoro" thus far and the ways that they understood "kokoro", explore the concept of "kokoro," and also to clarify the roles that will be required of "kokoro" from now on.
 The Kyoto Kokoro Initiative aims to question the future of "kokoro" in light of ancient "kokoro," and to use the broad and deep nuances that are implied in the Japanese word "kokoro" in order to disseminate to the world a new understanding of "kokoro" as the Kokoro Initiative.
 While utilizing the interdisciplinary research and network about "kokoro" that have been accumulated through the Kokoro Research Center's activities since it was established in 2007, we would like to further expand and deepen them.

2) Organization

・Organizing committee: A committee formed by departments throughout Kyoto University, centering on the Kokoro Research Center
・Consultant / advisory board: Kazuo Inamori
・Participants: Kyoto University's researchers, invited researchers from Japan and other countries, artists, entrepreneurs, etc. We will form core members and repeatedly hold research meetings with a central focus on the Kokoro Research Center.

3) Project content

1. The Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Workshop will be held four times a year on a closed basis. We will invite people such as researchers, artists, and religious people in accordance with the theme of the relevant fiscal year.
2. The Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Symposium and the Kyoto Kokoro Initiative International Symposium, which question the concept of "kokoro," will be held on alternating years. We will ask President Kazuo Inamori and President Juichi Yamagiwa to attend them. We will look at and further understanding of the broad nuances and diversity of "kokoro" from various perspectives, such as "kokoro and history" "kokoro and coexistence," and "kokoro and global society."
3. The results of items 1 and 2 are published in Japanese and English respectively. Information about the Japanese Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Symposium is also given in English and disseminated through things such as Kyoto University's website.

4) Project plans

*Fiscal 2015
・The 1st Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Symposium (1 day) "The Concept and History of Kokoro" (tentative title) will be held in Kyoto on September 13 (Sun.). Lecturers will include Shinichi Nakazawa, Juichi Yamagiwa, and Yoshinori Hiroi. It is expected that President Kazuo Inamori will also attend.
・Holding the Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Workshop four times
*Fiscal 2016
・The 1st Kyoto Kokoro Initiative International Symposium (2 days)
・Holding the Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Workshop four times
*Fiscal 2017 - 2020
・Holding the 2nd and 3rd Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Symposium and the Kyoto Kokoro Initiative International Symposium

The book launch ceremony of Associate Professor Seiji KUMAGAI (Uehiro Kokoro Studies) was held in presence of H.E. Lyonpo Damcho Dorji (Home Minister of Bhutan)

The book launch ceremony of Associate Professor Seiji Kumagai's new book "Bhutanese Buddhism and Its Culture" (Kathmandu: Vajra Publications, December 2014) was held by Dasho Karma Ura (President of Centre for Bhutan Studies) in the Centre for Bhutan Studies (Thimphu, BHUTAN) in presence of His Excellency Honorable Home Minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji, 27th February 2015.
First, Dr. Kumagai introduced the contents of the new book and his Bhutanese Buddhism Research Project (BBRP). H.E. Honorable Home Minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji gave congratulatory remarks that the book remarkably contributes to academic Bhutanese Studies. Dasho Karma Ura and Mr. Bidur Dangol (CEO, Vajra Publications) also gave congratulatory remarks.
The Book Launch ceremony was broadcast in the news of BBS (Bhutan Broadcasting Service) from 21:00 on that day.


  BBS News (27th February, 2015)

*BBS NEWS movie

*Article in the website of BBS (Bhutan Broadcasting Service)
Book titled "Bhutanese Buddhism and Its Culture" launched

Director Yoshikawa and Assistant Professor Ueda participated in "The Mind Across Cultures" ( British Academy/York,UK )

Director Sakiko Yoshikawa and Assistant Professor Yoshiyuki Ueda participated in "The Mind Across Cultures" organised by Dr Rob Jenkins (Dept of Psychology, University of York) held on 5-6 Aug, 2014 at British Academy, York,UK. Yoshikawa gave the lecture titled "Mind, Culture, and "Kokoro" " and Ueda joined the poster session.


Associate Prof. Uchida comments on "City Living"

Associate Prof. Yukiko Uchida commented on "City Living", popular free paper among working women in Japan. The article discussed the satisfaction of life and Uchida commented from the perspective of cultural and social psychologist.


Read more ( Japanese article )

Associate Prof. Kumagai featured in Kyoto newspaper

Associate Prof. Seiji Kumagai was featured in "Kyoto newspaper" on 23th Apr, 2014. He look back on his life as a researcher and introduced his current activities.


Read more (Japanese article)

Associate Prof. Abe's new paper featured in many TV news

Associate Prof. Nobuhito Abe's new paper "Response to anticipated reward in the nucleus accumbens predicts behavior in an independent test of honesty" published in "Journal of Neuroscience" has featured in many TV news and newspapers. The TV news and newspapers introduced his paper and discussed the research.


Read more ( Japanese article )

Interview of Dasho Karma Ura (President, Centre for Bhutan Studies)


Kyoto University Bhutan Friendship Program 9th mission > about 9th mission
2012. 8.25-9.2 Timph, Bhutan
Member: Shinya Yamamoto, Program-Specific Assistant Professor, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University
Shirou Ohmi, Associate Professor, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University
Yukiko Uchida, Associate Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University
Shun Nishide, Assistant Professor, The Hakubi Project, Kyoto University
Shintaro Fukushima, Graduate student, Kyoto University
Yusuke Baba, Graduate student, Kyoto University


Interview of Dasho Karma Ura (President, Centre for Bhutan Studies)


Yukiko Uchida, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University
Shinya Yamamoto, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University
Shintaro Fukushima, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University

Dasho Karma Ura

Dasho Karma Ura is President of the Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research (Thimphu, Bhutan). He is a graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford and postgraduate of Edinburgh University. He worked for the Ministry of Planning for 12 years before becoming the Director of the Centre for Bhutan Studies from its founding in 1999 until 2008 when he became its President. He organized the concepts of Gross National Happiness (GNH), formulated the nine regions of GNH, and led the survey conducted in 2010 and 2007. He is also a member drafting the first Constitution of Bhutan (2008 enacted). He has been an active scholar, historian, writer, and even a painter. In 2006, he was awarded the ancient and well-known title of "Dasho" by His Majesty, the 4th Druk Gyalpo and in 2010, the title "Druk Khorlo" by His Majesty the King. He is also a famous painter. His paintings can be seen in the renowned iconic Dochula Temple.

How was your stay in Japan during last winter 2012? What was your impression about Japanese people?

Dasho Karma Ura
Well, I think that the usual observation made by every foreigner is that people are very ordered, highly disciplined, and that we find probably in Japan some of the best infrastructures in the world. But this high standard might also have a human cost: Japanese people seem, at least from an external point of view (like in public transports), to be excessively busy... When you look also at life in university, people seem to have a very busy life and to be much more formal than in other countries like India or Bhutan. Maybe Japanese are sometimes too formal. They could relax a little bit more.

You mentioned the high level of Japanese infrastructures and its possible human cost. Indeed, in terms of mental health, severe problems are occurring in Japan. For example, annually more than 30.000 people do commit suicide.

Dasho Karma Ura
I think the seriousness with which people take life can sometimes become a too heavy burden. You can also see this in the way people dress so perfectly. There is a lot of work and stress in order to appear so perfect.

We are always discussing how to find a balance between economic factors and human factors. Having reached a high economic level, it seems that we still need to find a more peaceful life and improve our human relationships. When we pursue only economic growth, we have then less time for human interactions with family and other people... The severity of the job market for young people in the early stages of their careers is one important cause of a big problem also directly connected to family life: the decrease of birth rate.

Dasho Karma Ura
Yes, I think that we have to preserve and protect about three or four hours everyday when we can be free from formal public life. If work life dominates every hour, either as doing your work or making preparations for it, like going to your office, there is a lack of balance between work life and family life. I think that the search for social status or self-esteem can also become sometimes a burden. When the sense of dignity is too much associated with material achievements (job, income, house and living standards), it becomes very tricky .

Yes, the source of self-esteem is very important. This is what is meant with the psychological concept of "the contingency of self-esteem." If self-esteem is dependent upon contingent elements like job and money, self-esteem will then be contingent too, easily going up and down, and finally this process will be very frustrating and harmful. But there might be "global self-esteems", relying upon moral values, shared values, and the integration within a community. Such "global self-esteems" seem to be more harmonious than an "area-dominated self-esteem."

Dasho Karma Ura
Yes, and sometimes you even need an extreme counter-perspective, saying for example that all mundane things are utterly unimportant: this is the ultimate point that Buddhism makes. Of course, there are some basic physical needs that are important to fulfill. But they consist in what is strictly required for life and health. For example, on the hill above here, there are twenty or thirty people, both young and old people, who are fully dedicating themselves to the spiritual practice of mantra. They live in huts. They receive only food and basic necessities. But they value this lifestyle as the highest. From a mundane perspective, they are almost looking like destitute but, in fact, they see their lives as richer and superior to mine. I am busy, slaving, slaving away my life. They are not. Sometimes that sort of extreme example helps a lot of people to find a balance. I envy them every week when I see them.

Do they seem fulfilled?

Dasho Karma Ura
They are very fulfilled. You can see this on their face. You can see completely a sort of very calm and contented state of being. They enjoy such a lifestyle which makes far more sense than ours. We are very busy trying to become something.

Yes, when we visited a small village in Haa, we met people who looked very wise, very fulfilled and satisfied, even if the infrastructures did not seem very good.

Dasho Karma Ura
Yes, I think as we grow older, we begin to understand. Ultimately, the real infrastructure is psychological. In the sense that if you can access this sort of view and space, freedom of mind, this is the best infrastructure for happiness. Not the road, not the airport. They are infrastructures for generating wealth, but the infrastructure for generating happiness seems to be of different nature.

How is urban development in Bhutan? After coming back from Japan, how do you look at Thimphu's urbanism?

Dasho Karma Ura
I am afraid that Thimphu is not developing well from the point of view of a space that is capable of supporting people's happiness, social capital, well-being and psychological balance. But there is a big problem because we live in a world where cities are seen as necessary organizations for development. Economically, it is seen as a key to growth, to bring people together, to reduce the cost of services. But this extreme process of centralization is very new.

Yes, Japan has the same problem in fact.

Dasho Karma Ura
Viewed from a wider perspective, the city does not seem to be ideal for human happiness as well as for ecological resilience or sustainable development. Of course, organizations like UN Habitat argue completely the other way around, and say that city urbanism is necessary, because per capita energy consumption is smaller, etc. But I don't agree, I think that this is just an ex post facto justification for our current development. Modern cities create a severe fracture between men and nature.
From a religious point of view, for example, if you look at the history of Buddhism, it is quite instructive to know that it developed at a point when huge urbanization was also taking place in India. Buddhism was, in a way, a response to the urbanization which brought a lot of doubts about many things that were taken for granted until then. In a way, you can consider Buddhism as a kind of environmental response to urbanization, even though this is not the usual way of seeing Buddhism.
Life in an urban environment first kills animism in you. The divorce from animism is the first step in the attack against you as being a part of your environment because from that moment you begin to see yourself as outside the environment. Materialism seems to be related to urban life. In big cities, it is difficult to rely on anything super-mundane. People are there only talking about material things and the whole energy seems devoted to getting convenience gadgets. The destruction of the environment also undermines the very conditions of contemplative life like in Buddhism.

In Kyoto, for example, we have many shrines and temples, so we feel very fortunate to experience such kind of "animism" frequently. Moreover, when the big earthquake and tsunami happened in Japan on March 11th 2011, people felt that we cannot control the natural environment but we have to adjust our lives to it.
In the governmental commission on happiness, we try to have such indices on religious ideas. But, it is really difficult because Japanese government policy tries to separate political aspects and religious aspects. But we try to include in our index a sacred respect for nature.

In Japan or in America, some people normally do environmental education, like in zoos, for example. In some way, it's very efficient and very good to know about animals. But from another point of view, it may destroy a kind of religious respect and consideration for other sentient beings because they keep animals in small cages, etc. I heard that Bhutan refused to keep animals captive in zoos. I thought that it was due to the Buddhist mind of Bhutan.

Dasho Karma Ura
It's not a conscious decision. At the present moment, general opinion would be against it. People are also against the slaughter of animals for their meat. Most of the meat eaten in Bhutan is imported from India because of this. Some communities like northern Bhutanese yak herders, used to kill one or two yaks every year in the past. But still, they would atone for what is somewhat considered a sin. In industrial and commercial farming, there is no such feeling at all. People working for such industry simply see that creature as food, without compassion, just greed.
In Bhutan, traditionally, if we hear that there is a yak about to be slaughtered, we collect money and buy it off. Then it is released back to life. It is called the "gift of life," which is considered a practice in the path of a Bodhisattva. We always think that getting is more important than giving but we are mistaken. In the action of giving or generosity, the gift of life is the most important, even if it is only for one day.
Living together always means having to concede personal comfort and profit. Socializing means losing something in some areas, but getting overall much more.

Yes, people tend to forget this, especially in cities. In rural areas and traditional agriculture, reciprocity is a fundamental law. But in these days, Bhutanese people told us that many young people come to cities for their own profit.

Dasho Karma Ura
Yes, for job and money. Sure. We also have found that young boys, especially, are not returning always to their villages. The spread of telecommunication facilities, electricity, and feeder roads is supposed to help to reverse that, supposedly. But it is not only because of material infrastructure that people are moving. It is also about power. People like to be where there is influence. That is people's common illusions. Somehow, there is also the attraction for the crowd. We feel safer when there are more people around. Actually, we have discovered in a survey that within the whole country, people in Thimphu feel the least safe. But people are attracted by cities. It is a mistaken path. Education and media are not very right to communicate and cultivate this sort of a feeling.
The content of current education is not promoting agriculture very well. Agriculture is seen as a hard lifestyle with low income. There is actually some exaggeration in such a view because agriculture is a hard work during the peak season, but afterwards, people have more free time. Moreover, in some sense, agriculture builds true character.

Is the government protecting and supporting farmers and agriculture?

Dasho Karma Ura
The public development in agriculture in terms of new seeds, helping irrigation in general is going on, but the investment is not sizable enough.

In Japan, there is an agriculture extension office and civil servants are going to villages in agricultural areas.

Dasho Karma Ura
Yes, these sorts of things are happening here also. Extension service is, in terms of manpower, very important. But in my opinion, this is not what people need. Local people have sometimes more appropriate knowledge than some of the extension services. What they really need is investment in irrigation channels. Such equipment is a bit lacking. Farmers cannot easily buy them. To get the necessary amount of money, it is necessary to sell many crops. Everybody in Bhutan can obtain land granted for free by His Majesty the King. But they don't have big farms, maybe only five acres or so. Production and income are not big enough to buy these expensive agricultural machines.

Bhutan has the great objective of GNH. However, individual people tend, like everywhere, to struggle for private profit, like in the GDP model. So how do you promote GNH in Bhutanese society?

Dasho Karma Ura
There are many aspects. Some depend on the government's budget or policy. Some others, however, depend on local communities and villages. At this level, there are things that only depend on you: personal behavior, motivation, discipline and self-transformation. Without these personal qualities, nothing can be realized.
As citizens, we can try to change government policy, institutional laws, agencies' principles, but it is a long-term process. For people to come together, express their views, articulate a common project politically, overcome conflicts, it takes a long time.
But, you can also start from the individual. Every day we have twenty-four hours. Within this, we need to work maybe eight or nine hours. Then, there is the sleeping time necessary for health, depending on each people and environment. But then, I think that it is very important to use some of the remaining time to take care of your own body and mind. Physical exercise is generally emphasized but mental exercise should be also better considered. Mental exercise is very important to get a positive outlook for the whole day. There are various ways. Meditation is a good one. Practicing meditation every morning allows you some time when you are not besieged by thinking about habitual things, food, rent, house, arrangement, clothes, etc.

We can transcend them?

Dasho Karma Ura
Yes, we have to really transcend them, because otherwise we will go mad after sometime. There are specific techniques in this purpose. Thirty minutes a day is not too much. I think that it is the minimum to do. This can be the most valuable part of your life, when we can feel free from normal emotions or pressures. We can create a lot of space at that moment.
The most fundamental meditation, beyond analysis or objective, just consists in remaining in an open space or emptiness. We realize that everything is empty. In this "meditation without object", we just cultivate a state of pure awareness, pure presence, empty of any attachment or object.
Then, there is also the "meditation with an object" in order to generate positive emotions like compassion, equanimity, love and joy. We are generally too obsessed with ourselves and it becomes difficult to think about others' problems and feelings. In this meditation, we consider the difficulties and sufferings of others, including finally all sentient beings, and we generate a strong feeling of compassion.
Another aspect of such meditation is the feeling of gratitude. This fundamental feeling tends to be completely neglected in modern societies. People are forgetting to be grateful to their ancestors, parents, teachers, etc. This problem lies at the heart of the market's operations. All are commercial transactions with no feeling of gratefulness. People feel that they deserve what they have paid for. Or they even try to cheat, etc. You can also feel gratefulness for every day, appreciative to be alive and healthy, this is very precious. Gratefulness can also be felt for anything we are doing or consuming. I think that this is the essence of Zen in Japan, the essence of Japanese aesthetic. We can draw our eyes' attention to the aesthetic part.
Moreover, I think that it is important to make an endeavor to be in touch with nature, through a conscious practice of thirty minutes or so. Communion with nature is very much underrated. Although we talk a lot about environment, communion with nature, the daily experience of seeing the sunshine, leaves, or just noticing some insect, is underrated. We talk about preservation in general, but in our daily life, we always prefer a good carpet to a good piece of wood. I think that we have to emphasize communion with nature. It is also very sensuous because nature is very sensuous: colors, light, smells, sounds, contact... There is a deep value in simply walking in nature, in the forest, like you have done here in Bhutan. It is not only a physical exercise. All your senses are being aroused. This is why there is a tremendous difference, I think, between walking on a jogging machine, for example, and walking in nature.

Yes, in Japan, there are a lot of gym machines for fitness or body-building.

Dasho Karma Ura
The muscular aspect is only one aspect. There are many other aspects to be considered for a harmonious development of personality. I think that the main principle for physical activities is regularity, everyday exercise. Japanese are mostly healthy. But for example, I am myself a cancer patient. So I realized such a concept late in my life. It has an aesthetic and also a therapeutic value.
Then, socializing every day is important. Most of the communication is immaterial. It is just for the sake of communication, the content is not so important. The most important thing between a mother and her child is not what they are talking about, it is just the fact that they are communicating and bonding with each other. The bonding process is taking place at a deeper level than the simply verbal communication.
Socialization implies not only close friends but also the ability to connect with strangers. If not every day, I would recommend to try to talk to strangers on a regular basis. To make such an effort in socialization is important because it represents an expansion of one's being. In this regard, from a personal point of view, Japanese people might be very stiff, like in public transports...

Do Bhutanese tend to talk with people they don't know, people they meet for the first time?

Dasho Karma Ura
Not so much, but this is how we can make friends anyway. We all begin our relations as strangers. We have to attempt to extend our being and invite others to do so. From the point of view of well-being and happiness, talking to the other person next to you is better than reading nonsense news. Knowing things that we can never influence, somewhere in the world, is very disappointing. I totally object to this and I don't watch television for this reason. It is important to be informed about difficulties and struggles in different parts of the world. But if we cannot do anything for them, then it is better to devote our time for what we can really change and improve around us. So in terms of socialization, it is important to be aware of our direct environment and how we can influence it positively with its people.

In Japanese big cities, there are too many strangers. In such a situation, isn't it difficult to connect with each other? How about people in Thimphu?

Dasho Karma Ura
No, Thimphu cannot become completely similar to Japan because behavioral patterns and social norms are still very different. But, there are also some new disturbing tendencies, like the emphasis on materiality, judging people completely on the basis of their possessions. Such ways of thinking are clearly anti-Buddhist. We need to go beyond physical appearance and understand also perceptions and feelings. People get more obsessed with clothes and cars. Their minds are restless and frustrated. These are such new phenomena. For example we even begin to see young people taking some tablets of cheap drug. It has paracetamol and chemical opiate mixed. Paracetamol will make you painless while opiate will make you dependent. Last year, there were 350 young people using this. In terms of numbers, it is limited but still, it tells us what kind of society is coming up. It is impossible for a young boy from a village to ever do that because he is engaged all the time in a physically exhausting and mentally fulfilling life. Such small groups of drug users appear in cities where there is even no more intermediate space between buildings...

Yes, to get together...

Dasho Karma Ura
Yes, you need to give space for life and plants. But if there are just buildings and buildings, it is the beginning of a very different type of settlement which will ultimately affect human psychology and community relationship.

Yes, such kind of city forms a typically materialistic world. Its worldview is always based on comparing oneself to others in terms of possessions or social status...

Dasho Karma Ura
Yes, that is why we need to have access to nature every day. Of course, living standards are important too, and to a certain degree, indispensable for health. But the structure itself of urban landscapes can also strongly affect health and psychology.

Have you compared happiness in urban areas and rural areas?

Dasho Karma Ura
Yes, we have compared using the methodology of the GNH index, and urban areas showed a higher value in happiness. However, we load so many variables. For example education and income are higher in Thimphu. But concerning aspects of culture, community and psychology, they are worse in urban areas. It is the net effect, so the urban areas come on the top because the influence of other aspects is higher. Initially in cities, you get a positive effect. But then it becomes dense, competitive and all sorts of new problems arise. The whole thing becomes swamped, and then you will get worse urban performance. This is a non-linear process. True happiness emerges from a set of various conditions.

In your works, you often emphasize the importance of national happiness, at the community level. But how does the collective level match with individual aspirations to happiness?

Dasho Karma Ura
I think that we have to realize happiness individually. But our road may be connected, it might be communal. That is one way of understanding. Another way is to think about dance. In this example, the individual feels happiness when he or she, is actually lost in the common act of celebration of a group. Actually, some level beyond the self, or of "non-self," seems necessary to realize happiness.
Unless we are highly realized practitioners of Buddhist meditation, both physically and mentally detached, for most of us, human relationship (family, friends, etc.) is of great importance. How we build a neighborhood and a social network around us is very important. This is totally neglected in modern urban planning. We must live in a place where the neighborhood has some social support. In all life passages, including sickness, we need social support and emotional support. Urban planning only includes government officials, engineers and architects but it need psychologists and cultural anthropologists in order to take care of this fundamental dimension of human relations. At the relative level, the sense of belonging to a place is very important for identity, balance and well-being.
Also, we can know the strength of a community by studying how much time of work people are giving to each other, in a reciprocal way, as well as money or goods. In Bhutan, the average time worked that people are giving to their neighbors is eleven days a year. This number varies according to the topography. It is less in some districts, and in Thimphu, people give very few labor and social support.
Then, in a village, we can ask each individual if they feel victimized by some powerful people, including sexual abuses, crimes, lack of safety. We can also ask people about the intensity and nature of their relationships within the family. We created a normal family index. According to this, we can rank the different places of Bhutan. A good place from the point of view of community is not only depending upon money, health, or governance, but from several perspectives.

Contrary to an extreme individualist view, can we say that the very conditions of individual happiness depend upon collective happiness?

Dasho Karma Ura
Yes, eventually the unit of feeling is here, I mean in that sense, it is individual. But, it is always coproduced. For a place like Bhutan, community is presently an important and vital concept. A large amount of the generation of wealth cannot be explained without the participation of the community. For example, in Bhutan, when a villager builds a house, others will come and work to help him out. The house gets bigger than what the householder could have built by himself. This very basic space for life, a house, as the setting for family, upbringing of children, place for storage and even worship, cannot be explained without the solidarity of the community. Also, a lot of properties belong to the community. Land, especially the grazing land, is owned by the community. Schools are also sometimes built by the community. Government just provides materials.
Even if there are a lot issues that can be discussed, man needs community to find happiness. But the hyper-regulation of a group, like in industrial companies may not be very helpful in terms of human needs. There are more fundamental, spontaneous ways to share and bond, even if it is a bit mysterious... Ancient dance dramas and spontaneous theater are giving us some elements to understand how living together with one consciousness can arise.
I have personally noticed in rural communities how they work together, how they joke, etc. A significant part of happiness comes from being together. For example, food eaten together seems to be far more enjoyable than food eaten alone. But the community life is strongly disrupted in the modern world.

Yes, and family sizes break down.

Dasho Karma Ura
Family size and the lack of togetherness in the family... I think this is an under-evaluated part of modernization.

Japan's global community is getting bigger but the familial unit is getting smaller...

Dasho Karma Ura
Yes, yes.

We learned a lot from your talk. Thank you so much for taking your time.

Edited: Deroche Marc-Henri
Yukiko Uchida
Kimberly Bowen

This interview was supported by Kyoto University Bhutan Friendship Program

"Reflections from my stay at Kyoto University Kokoro Research Center, Summer 2013" by Kimberly Bowen (visiting student)

IMG_1684_1.jpg My name is Kimberly Bowen, a graduate student from the University Of Utah Department Of Psychology. At my home institution in Salt Lake City, Utah, I work with Dr. Bert Uchino in the social psychology and health psychology program. Over the last several months, I had the remarkable privilege to spend my summer in Kyoto, Japan to conduct research related to my doctoral studies. I visited Kyoto University and the Kokoro Research Center under the mentorship of Dr. Yukiko Uchida. The three-month Summer Program, sponsored by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the United States National Science Foundation, gives graduate students an opportunity to form new international collaborations, conduct research in Japan, and learn about culture and scientific infrastructure in Japan.

Now, if you ask your typical graduate student in the United States to list the absolute essential ingredients required for successful training and adequate preparation for their postdoctoral career, many of them would give you a similar list: productive publishing, collaborative networks, a coherent program of research, and independence from your graduate mentor's program of research. However, missing from this list is "to complete an international research exchange."

While it may sound unconventional and - at first glance - it may not seem essential, I humbly propose that after my experiences as part of the Kokoro Family this summer, participating in such an exchange not only contributes to the other ingredients described above, but it also offers something special, which cannot easily be conveyed in words, that goes above and beyond these conventional items on the list.

Back at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, I am now beginning my fourth year in the doctoral course with Dr. Bert Uchino. My program emphasizes training in social psychology and health psychology. Humans are social animals, and social support is a universal aspect of relationships. I am not only interested in how people's close relationships and the social support they perceive and receive from these relationships may impact psychological processes, such as stress and well-being, but also how such factors affect physiological processes and physical health. I am especially interested in understanding the pathways and mechanisms by which such a social psychological variable like support is able to influence hard physiological processes, such as cardiovascular reactivity, ambulatory blood pressure, or inflammation, and long-term health outcomes, such as mortality.

Within social psychology, social support generally refers to the degree to which an individual perceives that he or she has access to resources from his or her social network should they become needed, as well as the actual assistance a person receives. One approach to studying such pathways is to categorize social support into its functions - or types - and subsequently examining how these unique types differently affect health. Typically, these functions of social support are conceptualized as being emotional (providing affirmations of self-esteem and worth), informational (providing advice, coping ideas, or shared experience), instrumental (providing financial or other tangible assistance), or belonging (providing opportunities for social inclusion through leisure or recreation) support.

Importantly, much of the research examining functional social support and its impact on physical health has been conducted within a European-American cultural context. For example, in the United States, data suggest that receiving emotional social support is more consistently and more strongly associated with health benefits, such as reduced ambulatory blood pressure, as this type of support is more likely to convey psychological benefits, such as increased self-esteem, increased personal control, and decreased stress, which in turn down regulates physiological stress responses. However, social support can result in either benefits or costs to health, depending on contextual factors. Prior research has demonstrated that these effects are in part determined by the cultural context in which support occurs and depending on whether support bolsters or threatens culturally salient concepts of self and relationships (e.g. self-esteem or social harmony). Furthermore, emerging research suggests that the specific pathways by which social support has benefits and costs for health are different depending on the cultural context. For example, while unsolicited support can be costly in independent cultures, the reverse pattern is found within interdependent cultures, where solicited support is more costly.

Thus, to expand upon what we know thus far both about the cultural differences in the impact of support functions, this summer we conducted a study in both Salt Lake City, Utah and Kyoto, Japan. The study proposed that these costs and benefits of social support may be tied to whether or not social support activates a threat to a culturally-valued self-concept, such as an independent, accomplished self or a connected, socially harmonious self. At Kyoto University, we examined whether belonging social support is a type of social support more strongly associated with well-being benefits within interdependent cultures as opposed to other types of support, which have deleterious effects in interdependent cultures, but not in independent cultures. We also examined whether giving social support to another is associated with similar health benefits in interdependent cultures as in independent cultures.

These aims were examined through a study in which participants reported on social support, self-esteem, social connectedness, and well-being over two weeks using online, daily diary surveys and an in-person baseline visit. Thus, it was hypothesized that receiving belonging social support will be associated with fewer costs than previously researched types of support in an interdependent culture, as it provides opportunities for social inclusion without increasing relational inequity. Second, giving social support is linked to similar benefits as received social support in U.S. samples. However, it is not yet known whether giving social support has health effects in different cultural contexts. Thus, giving social support was hypothesized to be beneficial in both independent an interdependent cultures to the extent that it increases culturally-valued self-concepts. The study followed 38 American and 38 Japanese participants across two weeks of daily diary surveys measuring social support, self-esteem, social connectedness, mental well-being, and physical symptoms.

Currently, we are wrapping up the last few participants' daily diary collection for the United States sample. After this, the data collection phase of the project will be complete and we will commence with data analysis. Analyses will include multi-level modeling of within- and between-culture differences as well as overall individual variability and time effects across cultures. This summer was also my first time conducting research in a lab that focuses on culture as a primary level of analysis. Thus, I was able to observe and participate in the process of translation, back translation, and human ethics considerations in a multi-lingual and international research study. I eagerly look forward to analyzing the data, as based on these results, I hope to extend this line of research by examining hard physiological dependent outcomes, such as ambulatory blood pressure, and related research questions.

Daily Life
Beyond the laboratory, my daily life experiences in Japan also proved to be an energizing experience for my development as a graduate student. While many family members back in America expressed great interest in Kyoto's weather because I visited during the rainy season followed by the hot summer season, and frequently asked why I would not also be in Kyoto during the beautiful, celebrated momiji or sakura seasons, I am very happy that I was able to live in Kyoto specifically during the summer months. With Kyoto's history, beautiful heritage, and lively summer spirit, my educational experience in Japan was not limited to the laboratory. Even in my day-to-day life experience, I owe my deepest gratitude and appreciation to Kokoro Research Center, as the kind and helpful staff assisted me in arranging my housing and a bicycle. From coasting down the path along Kamogawa, to hearing the cicada's cries pass by from tree after tree, to passing by hotaru's glow in early summer, Kyoto is truly a city that should be experienced by bicycle.

IMG_2772_1.jpg I wanted to do my best to fully experience the true face of summer in Japan. While the summer is hot, fortunately, the many festivals and sights in Kyoto during this time of year also seemed to take place during the evening hours when it was a little cooler and when the lanterns, fireworks, and illuminations could best shine. I remember braving the heavy, pouring rain to see my first Hanabi Taikai. I was amazed to find that this which had been on and off all day stopped completely just 20 minutes before the Biwako Hanabi Taikai. The rain did not start again for the rest of the night, as if even the rain knew not to interrupt what was truly the most spectacular firework display I have seen in my life.

Kyoto also beautifully blends history and modernity. For example, the colorful light display on Nijojo and the illuminations for Kyo no Tanabata at Horikawa and Kamogawa were nothing short of magical. During Gion Matsuri yoiyama, I was able to try many delicious street foods, including the cool, refreshing kakigouri, and I could experience firsthand how cool yukata are when worn on warm summer evenings.

My thanks again must be paid to Kokoro Research Center, for arranging my housing with Kyoto International Student House, as I met many Japanese and International graduate students. Truly, one benefit of living at the Kyoto International Student House was having peers who could share information about the remarkable things happening in Kyoto every day. For example, one resident - a long time native of Kyoto - organized a group to visit the Firewalking Festival at Tanukidanisan-fudoin. It was a lesser known but no less impressive and unique festival, as we watched the monks prepare the sacred ashes to be walked across.

During my stay, I also traveled northward to Hokkaido University to meet with social psychologist Dr. Masaki Yuki and his Culture, Social Ecology, and Psychology Laboratory. Dr. Yuki was kind enough to allow me to present my research to his laboratory, which consisted of postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate students. I greatly enjoyed this opportunity, as presenting to researchers outside of your home institution generates great discussion as well as the exploration and challenging of assumptions often taken for granted. Not only did I enjoy exploring Sapporo as a reprieve from the summer heat in Kyoto, but I also enjoyed Sapporo for the delicious, fresh seafood and lamb for which it is known!

My summer stay ended during the end of Obon, so saying good-bye seemed especially powerful as I watched Daimonji's "Dai" kanji come alive in fire, because this was the same sight I'd seen every morning from my bedroom window. As the souls departed at the end of Obon, using the fire of the mountains as their guide, I felt a little sadness knowing it was also my time to say good-bye and return to my homeland.

It seems fitting that to conclude, I look back on my Orientation at the very beginning of my visit in which the Summer 2013 JSPS fellows were told "year after year, JSPS fellows say that this summer research opportunity changed ... transformed ... their lives." It has a nice sound it, doesn't it? To be entirely honest, maybe as graduate school teaches us to think rationally and critically, I was somewhat skeptical of this grand claim. Could three months really transform lives? Could research in a foreign country be so different from conducting research in your home country? Could I really still change so much as an adult? But, by the end of the program, I was entirely convinced of this grand claim and humbly corrected by my life-changing experience in Kyoto and at Kokoro Research Center. The summer was one of the greatest educational experiences of my life. This is entirely due to the many organizations and individuals who I met this summer and they have my deepest gratitude.

Truly, I am indebted and grateful to Dr. Yukiko Uchida for opening her lab to me and for her academic mentorship. I also thank Dr. Uchida's collaborating colleagues during Summer 2013, including Dr. Kosuke Takemura, Dr. Satoko Suzuki, and JSPS visiting professors Dr. Takahiko Masuda and Dr. Steven Heine, for their mentorship, helpful discussions and feedback, and support during my stay. The opportunity to exchange research and ideas with professors outside of your direct field of study fosters interdisciplinary thinking and innovative questions, so please accept my thanks for your time this summer. I also could not have completed my research without the great assistance of the graduate students, Shintaro Fukushima-san and Kenshiro Ichimura-san, at Kokoro Research Center, who although busy with their own projects, selflessly helped me conduct this study. My thanks also go to Yuji Ogihara-san, Hitoshi Tominaga-san, and Igor Almeida-san, for their constant assistance this summer.

My special thanks go out to Miki Nakaji-san, Atsuko Tominaga-san, and all the supportive staff at Kokoro Research Center. Moving to a new country for the first time can be a daunting task, but thanks to your kind support, patience, and helpfulness, I was able to settle smoothly into my Kyoto life. It quickly became home, and I know this is due to your support. I would also like to thank the agencies, my host institution, and their incredible staff, including the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Summer Program, the United States National Science Foundation East Asian and Pacific Summer Institute, and Kyoto University Kokoro Research Center. I hope these excellent programs will continue for many future generations of graduate students. Finally, I also thank my advisor in Utah, Dr. Bert Uchino, for allowing me to freely pursue such a life-changing experience.

In conclusion, though my stay has ended, I see this ending as more of a beginning. Since my return, I continue to study Japanese as much as I can each day in between my graduate studies in psychology so that I can someday return to continue my research and experiences in Japan. Again, to everyone, thank you for your warm hospitality and for looking after me during my stay. Truly, you all changed my life and I will not forget these memories.

Michael Boiger (former visiting researcher) received the Harry and Pola Triandis Dissertation Award 2014 (IACCP)

Michael Boiger, former visiting researcher (2011/9/16-12/8 & 2014/4/1-5/31) received the Harry and Pola Triandis Dissertation Award for the best PhD thesis in 2013/2014, awarded by the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. The awarded research has been partially conducted at the Kokoro Research Center in 2011 in collaboration with Prof. Yukiko Uchida.

See his profile

- Related information -
You can watch his interview videos talking about his research "shame" on SBS website (appears around 46:00 )

Article of Prof. Kawai published in "Mainichi Shinbun"

The article of Prof. Toshio Kawai published in Japanese newspaper"Mainichi Shinbun" on 7th July, 2014.


Read More (Japanese article)

Webcast of the International Colloquium: Mapping the Mind is available now.

As reported before, International Colloquium: Mapping the Mind (A Dialogue between Scientists and Contemplative Scholars-Practitioners) was held in Kyoto Hotel Okura in April 11th and 12th 2014. We gratefully announce that the webcast of the colloquium is available.
This Colloquium was co-organized by the Kokoro Research Center (Kyoto University) and Mind & Life Institute (USA) and convened in the presence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Twelve speakers gave presentations connecting their own specialties with the colloquium's theme of "Kokoro" (mind), in addition to participating in discussions with His Holiness. The audience consisted of three hundred invited academic researchers and business leaders from all over the world. The video consists of four sessions, and each can be viewed from links below. We appreciate all contributors and presenters who kindly helped and allowed the webcast.

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 1
Keynote speech by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Yoshiro Imaeda (Former Research Director at the French CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) "Buddhism through History and Culture"
Thupten Jinpa (Adjunct Professor, McGill University) "Buddhist Abhidharma as a Source for Mapping the Mind"
Richard Davidson (Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison) "Change Your Brain by Transforming Your Mind: Neuroscientific Studies of Meditation"
Moderator: Arthur Zajonc (President, Mind & Life Institute)

Session 2
Jay Garfield (Professor of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore, Yale University, the University of Melbourne and the Central University of Tibetan Studies) "Cognitive Illusions: A Yogācāra Perspective"
Arthur Zajonc (President of Mind & Life Institute)
Shigefumi Mori (Professor, Research Institute for Mathematical Science, Kyoto University)
Moderator: Atsushi Iriki (Senior Team Leader, RIKEN Brain Science Institute)

Session 3
Shinobu Kitayama (Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan) "Cultural Neuroscience: Connecting Culture, Brain, and Genes"
Joan Halifax (Founder and Abbot, Upaya Institute and Zen Center) "A Process-based Map of Compassion and its Implications on Compassion Training"
Shinsuke Shimojo (Gertrude Baltimore Professor of Experimental Psychology, California Institute of Technology) "Implicit Mind, Sympathy, and Shared Reality"
Moderator: Atsushi Iriki (Senior Team Leader, RIKEN Brain Science Institute)

Session 4
Barry Kerzin (President, Human Value Institute) "Emotional Plasticity: A Healthy Society"
Junko Tanaka-Matsumi (Dean/Professor, School of Humanities, Kwansei Gakuin University) "Mapping the Mind of Children and Creating a Positive School Environment: Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology"
Makoto Nagao (Former President/Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University) "How Close Can Computers Get to Human Beings?"
Moderator: Joan Halifax (Founder and Abbot, Upaya Institute and Zen Center)

Seiji Kumagai (Associate Professor, Uehiro Kokoro Studies, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University)
Marc-Henri Deroche (Assistant Professor, Hakubi Center for Advanced Studies, Kyoto University)

Two Researchers joined Kokoro Research Center

Michael Boiger | Researcher | Max Planck Institute for Human Development   
Term : Apr. 1, 2014-Jun.7, 2014
Research: Emotion co-regulation in German, Japanese, and American cultural contexts.

Lena Buchinger | Student | Humboldt-Universität
Term : Apr.10, 2014-Jun.8, 2014
Research: Culture and emotion regulation

Associate Prof. Kumagai 's new book published.

Associate Prof. Seiji Kumagai 's new book "Current Issues and Progress in Tibetan Studies" (co-edited with Tsuguhito Takeuchi, Kazushi Iwao, Ai Nishida, and Meishi Yamamoto) was published by Kobe City University of Foreign Studies.

ISYT proceedings.jpg
Tsuguhito Takeuchi, Kazushi Iwao, Ai Nishida, Seiji Kumagai and Meishi Yamamoto (eds.): Current Issues and Progress in Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the Third International Seminar of Young Tibetologists, Kobe 2012 (Journal of Research Institute, vol. 51), Kobe: Kobe City University of Foreign Studies. 2014.

Prof. Kamata's column published in "Tokushima Shinbun".

Prof. Toji Kamata's column was published in local newspaper "Tokushima Shinbun" on 1st Apr, 2014. In the article, Prof. Kamata reported what has been determined by the council for local revitalization of Japan.


Read more ( Japanese article )

Associate Prof. Uchida featured in web magazine "greenz.jp".

Associate Prof. Yukiko Uchida was featured in web magazine, "greenz.jp" on 26th Mar, 2014. She look back on her life as a researcher and introduced her current activities.


Read more (Japanese article)

Assistant Prof. Seike gave a lecture in Tokoname, Aichi Pref.

Assistant Prof. Aya Seike gave a lecture at the workshop for the elderly on 16th, Nov, 2013 and 11th Jan, 2014 in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture.


Read more (Japanese article)

The International Colloquium: Mapping the Mind was co-organized by the Kokoro Research Center (Kyoto University) and the Mind & Life Institute (USA) and convened in the presence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

The International Colloquium: Mapping the Mind was co-organized by the Kokoro Research Center (Kyoto University) and the Mind & Life Institute (USA) and convened in the presence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Center participants included Director/Professor Sakiko Yoshikawa, Professor Shinsuke Shimojo, Professor Shinobu Kitayama, Professor Atsushi Iriki, and Associate Professor Seiji Kumagai.

The International Colloquium: Mapping the Mind (A Dialogue between Scientists and Contemplative Scholars-Practitioners) was co-organized by the Kokoro Research Center (Kyoto University) and Mind & Life Institute (USA) and convened in the presence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Twelve speakers gave presentations connecting their own specialties with the colloquium's theme of "Kokoro (mind)," in addition to participating in discussions with His Holiness. The audience consisted of three hundred invited academic researchers and business leaders from all over the world.
A webcast of the international colloquium and a report about the event will be made available on the internet in the near future. Here is an overview of the colloquium:


International Colloquium: Mapping the Mind (A Dialogue between Scientists and Contemplative Scholars-Practitioners)


11th April 2014 (Fri.) 8:30-15:30
12th April 2014 (Sat.) 9:00-15:00


Kyoto Hotel Okura (4th floor) Gyôun-no-ma

11th April 2014 (Friday)

Opening Session

Opening Remarks 1: Arthur Zajonc (President, Mind & Life Institute, USA)

Opening Remarks 2: Sakiko Yoshikawa (Director, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University)

Session 1

Keynote Speech by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Yoshiro Imaeda (Former Research Director at the French CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) "Mind in Early Buddhism"

Thupten Jinpa (Adjunct Professor, McGill University) "Taking Buddhist Psychology and Contemplative Perspectives Seriously"

Richard Davidson (Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison) "Change Your Brain by Transforming Your Mind: Neuroscientific Studies of Meditation"

Moderator: Arthur Zajonc (President, Mind & Life Institute)

Session 2

Jay Garfield (Professor of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore, Yale University, the University of Melbourne and the Central University of Tibetan Studies) "Cognitive Illusions: A Yogācāra Perspective"

Arthur Zajonc (President of Mind & Life Institute) "The Role of Mind in Quantum Physics"
Shigefumi Mori (Professor, Research Institute for Mathematical Science, Kyoto University) "Mathematics in Comparison with Art: Looking for Applications, Truth or Beauty?"

Moderator: Atsushi Iriki (Senior Team Leader, RIKEN Brain Science Institute)

12th April 2014 (Saturday)

Session 3

Shinobu Kitayama (Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan) "Cultural Neuroscience: Connecting Culture, Brain, and Genes"

Joan Halifax (Founder and Abbot, Upaya Institute and Zen Center) "A Process-based Map of Compassion and its Implications on Compassion Training"

Shinsuke Shimojo (Gertrude Baltimore Professor of Experimental Psychology, California Institute of Technology) "Implicit Mind, Sympathy, and Shared Reality"

Moderator: Atsushi Iriki (Senior Team Leader, RIKEN Brain Science Institute)

Session 4

Barry Kerzin (President, Human Value Institute) "Emotional Plasticity: A Healthy Society"

Junko Tanaka-Matsumi (Dean/Professor, School of Humanities, Kwansei Gakuin University) "Mapping the Mind of Children and Creating a Positive School Environment: Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology"

Makoto Nagao (Former President/Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University) "How Close Can Computers Get to Human Beings?"

Moderator: Joan Halifax (Founder and Abbot, Upaya Institute and Zen Center)

Closing Session

Closing Remarks 1: Arthur Zajonc (President, Mind & Life Institute, USA)

Closing Remarks 2: Juichi Yamagiwa (Professor, Faculty of Science, Kyoto University)

*Emcees: Seiji Kumagai (Associate Professor, Uehiro Kokoro Studies, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University)

Marc-Henri Deroche (Assistant Professor, Hakubi Center for Advanced Studies, Kyoto University)


Detailed reports on the colloquium are uploarded in the following website:
Mapping the Mind - Day 1
Mapping the Mind - Day 2

We are grateful to the sponsors and those who contributed to this colloquium.

This report was prepared by Seiji Kumagai (Associate Professor, Uehiro Kokoro Studies, KRC, Kyoto University)

New paper of Associate Prof. Nobuhito Abe and Ayahito Ito (JSPS Research Fellow/PD) published in "Brain Research"

140326abe.pngThe paper "Dissociable neural systems for moral judgment of anti- and pro-social lying" authored by Associate Prof. Nobuhito Abe and Ayahito Ito (JSPS Research Fellow/PD) has been published in "Brain Research" in Mar 2014.

Hayashi A, Abe N, Fujii T, Ito A, Ueno A, Koseki Y, Mugikura S, Takahashi S, Mori E (2014)
Dissociable neural systems for moral judgment of anti- and pro-social lying
Brain Research 1556: 46-56

Pro-social lying, which serves to benefit listeners, is considered more socially and morally acceptable than anti-social lying, which serves to harm listeners. However, it is still unclear whether the neural mechanisms underlying the moral judgment of pro-social lying differ from those underlying the moral judgment of anti-social lying. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural activities associated with moral judgment in anti- and pro-social lying. During fMRI scanning, subjects were provided with scenarios describing a protagonist׳s anti- and pro-social lying and were then asked to judge whether the protagonist׳s act was morally appropriate. The behavioral data showed that anti-social lying was mostly judged to be morally inappropriate and that pro-social lying was mainly judged to be morally appropriate. The functional imaging data revealed dissociable neural systems for moral judgment in anti- and pro-social lying. The anti-social lying, which was judged to be morally inappropriate, was associated with increased activity in the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex, right middle frontal gyrus, right precuneus/posterior cingulate gyrus, left posterior cingulate gyrus, and bilateral temporoparietal junction when compared with the control condition. The pro-social lying, which was judged to be morally appropriate, was associated with increased activity in the right middle temporal gyrus, right supramarginal gyrus, and the left middle cingulate gyrus when compared with the control condition. No overlapping activity was observed during the moral judgment of anti- and pro-social lying. Our data suggest that cognitive and neural processes for the moral judgment of lying are modulated by whether the lie serves to harm or benefit listeners.

See More Information ( "Science Direct" website )

Associate Prof. Uchida's paper overview published in Kyoto University website

140325uchida_kyodaihp.pngAssociate Prof. Yukiko Uchida's paper (co-authored with Yuji Ogihara) overview with the author comments and related information ( written in Japanese ) was published in official website of Kyoto University.

Read overview ( Japanese article )

Prof. Funahashi's paper overview published in Kyoto University website

140303funahashi_kyodaihp.pngProf. Shintaro Funahashi's paper overview with the author comments and related information ( written in Japanese ) was published in official website of Kyoto University.

Read overview ( Japanese article )

Kokoro science lecture held on March 4-6th.

Kokoro science lectures were held on Mar 4th, 5th and 6th 2014 at Inamori Center Large Conference Hall, Kyoto University. 50 people participated, had lectures by Prof.Kitayama (University of Michigan), Prof.Hideki Ohira (Nagoya University) and Associate Prof. Takahiko Masuda (University of Alberta) in 3 days and had discussion and question-and-answer session in each lecture.


Read More ( Japanese Article )

4th Lecture of Bhutanese Culture held on Feb. 24th.

4th Lecture of Bhutanese Culture: "Current GNH and Bhutan. 〜 Does the world seek a GNH society? 〜" was held on Feb 24th, 2014 at Inamori Center Large Conference Hall, Kyoto University. Prof. Takayoshi Kusago (Kansai university Social System Design Faculty of Sociology) lectured about current status of GNH in Bhutan and its culture.


Read more (Japanese article )

fMRI seminar held on 12, 13 Feb

fMRI seminar for beginners was held in MRI facility, Kokoro research center on 12, 13 Feb 2014. 12 people participated, had basic lecture and experienced experiments using fMRI.


Read More ( Japanese Article )

The 2nd Tamesue & Shimojo Talk Seminar held on Feb 1st

140201tameshimo_poster.pngThe 2nd Mr. Dai Tamesue (former athlete, won the bronze medals in the men's 400m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships ) & Prof. Shinsuke Shimojo ( California Institute of Technology ) Talk Seminar was held on Feb 1st, 2014 at Inamori Center Large Conference Hall, Kyoto University.

Read more (Japanese article ).

Prof. Kamata featured in "Yomiuri Shinbun"

140206kamata_yomiuri.pngProf. Toji Kamatawas featured in Japanese newspaper, "Yomiuri Shinbun" in 6th Feb, 2014. He commented about sacred sites and the history of spirituality in Kyoto.

For more introduction ( in Japanese )

Associate Prof. Uchida featured in "Kyoto University Research Activities Vol.3 No.3" article

140212uchida.pngAssociate Prof. Yukiko Uchida's work was featured in a "Kyoto University Research Activities Vol.3 No.3" article, entitled "Culture and Happiness Balance-Oriented Happiness in Japan" in the corner named "Research Frontiers". The article introduces Uchida's work.

For the full article, see the website of The Kyoto University Research Administration Office: http://www.kura.kyoto-u.ac.jp/etc/60

Researcher (Uehiro Kokoro Studies) Shintaro Fukushima was awarded the "Outstanding Abstract Award" for young researchers at the international conference on social stratification and health 2013.

140207Fukushima.PNG Researcher (Uehiro Kokoro Studies) Shintaro Fukushima was awarded the "Outstanding Abstract Award" for young researchers at the international conference on social stratification and health 2013 on August 31 & September 1, 2013 at Tokyo University.

The synergy effect of economic and social capital on health: A multilevel analysis in rural areas of northern Kyoto prefecture.

Shintaro Fukushima1, Yukiko Uchida1, Izuru Saizen2
1 Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University
2 Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University

Economic capital and social capital can serve to improve health both at individual level and collective level. These capitals, however, are not always associated positively with health in every person and every social context. The purpose of this study is to determine not only compo-sitional and contextual effects but also the interaction effects of economic capital and social capital on health.

The questionnaire survey in rural areas of three cities in northern Kyoto prefecture was conducted. The question-naires were distributed to every 9,913 households which are composed of 441 communities. We employed the items of subjective economic affluence, trust in commu-nity members (community trust), and self-rated health (SRH) as the indicators of economic capital, social capital, and health, respectively. Collective level (community level) variables were generated by aggregating individual level variables. Multilevel logistic regression analysis was conducted on 8,615 samples with no missing value in every answer item including five control demographic variables.

It was shown that 1) collective level economic affluence and individual level community trust were positively related to SRH, and 2) while individual level economic affluence and collective level community trust were not independently related to SRH, they were synergistically associated with SRH at cross level.

This study revealed that 1) economic capital was col-lectively and social capital was individually associated with the improvement of health, and 2) collective level social capital function as a necessary social context for personal economic capital to improve health.

Multilevel analysis, economic capital, social capital, synergy effect

"THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SOCIAL STRATIFICATION AND HEALTH 2013 - Interdisciplinary Research and Action for Equity" August 31 & September 1, 2013 Tokyo University
Conference Abstracts (PDF file)

New Researchers joined Kokoro Research Center

Laura Specker Sullivan | Graduate student | Philosophy Term : Aug.28, 2013-Mar.31, 2015 Research : Informed consent in Japanese medical services Host Researcher : Professor Carl Becker


Jason Allen Danely | Assistant Professor | Anthropology
Term : Sep.13, 2013-Jul.12, 2014
Research : Making Care Meaningful: Worldview, Coherence and Burnout among Family Caregivers in Japan
Host Researcher : Professor Carl Becker


Dr. Rob Jenkins (reader/the university of York) spoke about his research - "Variability in photos of the same face"

Dr. Rob Jenkins, who is the visiting researcher of Kokoro Research Center, spoke about his research.


  His research interest is "facial perception" and his recent research revealed the importance of variability in photos of the same face. He spoke not only about his research, but also the city of York, and coincidental matches between Kyoto (Kokoro Research Center) and York (Dr. Jenkins).
  Dr. Jenkins will stay at Kokoro Research Center until the end of August, and will conduct cross-cultural research with Prof. Yoshikawa during his stay in Japan.

Date : 15:00-16:30, 11th July (Thu) 2013
Place : Large conference room, Inamori Memorial Foundation Building (third floor), Kyoto University
Host : Professor Sakiko Yoshikawa (Director - Kokoro Research Center)
Abstruct : Psychological studies of face recognition have typically ignored within-person variation in appearance, instead emphasizing differences between individuals. Studies typically assume that a photograph adequately captures a person's appearance, and for that reason most studies use just one, or a small number of photos per person. I will describe a number of studies to highlight that photographs are not reliable indicators of facial appearance because they are blind to within-person variability. Crucially, this within-person variability is often very large compared to the differences between people. This observation is critical to our understanding of face processing, because it suggests that a key component of face processing has been ignored. As well as its theoretical significance, this scale of variability has important practical implications. For example, our findings suggest that face photographs are unsuitable as proof of identity.


Assoc. prof. Abe received Young Investigator Award at the 15th Congress of Japan Human Brain Mapping Society

P7131126.JPG Assoc. prof. Nobuhito Abe received Young Investigator Award at the 15th Congress of Japan Human Brain Mapping Society held on 5th and 6th Jul, 2013.

 His achievement that won the award was "Neural correlates of encoding and retrieval of false memory" .

Website of the 15th Congress of Japan Human Brain Mapping Society

New Researchers joined Kokoro Research Center

Rob_ページ_2.pngRob Jenkins | | Reader, University of York

Term : Jun.1, 2013-Aug.31, 2013
Research : Cross-cultural Research on the variability in photos of the same face
Host Researcher : Director/Professor Sakiko Yoshikawa

Kimberly_ページ_2.pngKimberly Bowen | | Social Psychology doctoral program, University of Utah

Term : May.31, 2013-Aug.21, 2013
Research : Social support and health: Examining cultural pathways of belonging and giving support
Host Researcher : Associate Professor Yukiko Uchida

Director Yoshikawa visited Bhutan as a member of the 11th mission to Bhutan

130509bhutan1.png Director Sakiko Yoshikawa visited Bhutan as a member of the 11th mission to Bhutan from May 3 to May 7, 2013.

Kyoto University Bhutan Friendship Program Web Site

Prof. Toshio Kawai to present Zurich Lecture Series on Oct 4 & Oct 5, 2013, Zurich, Switzerland

 Prof. Toshio Kawai will present The 2013 Zurich Lecture Series in Analytical Psychology at Zurich, Switzerland on Oct 4 & Oct 5, 2013. The title of talk is "Haruki Murakami and Japanese Medieval Stories: Between Pre-Modern and Postmodern Worlds".

 Click the image below for more information.


Information & Registration:

Dr. Takahiro Masuda(University of Alberta)joined Kokoro Research Center

130411masuda.pngName: Takahiko Masuda, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Alberta, Canada
Term: Apr.1,2013-Jul.31,2013
Research: Cultural and Developmental Research on the Effect of Context in the
Judgment of Facial Expressions

 For over a decade now, my cross-cultural research program has focused on cultural variations in perceptual and cognitive processes between North Americans (European Canadians and European Americans) and Japanese. Through this research, we have demonstrated that while North Americans tend to show an analytic pattern of attention, selectively allocating their attention to central pieces of information in visual scenes, Japanese show a more holistic pattern of attention, spreading their attention between central and background visual information. Some findings in this line of research have also indicated that such cultural differences are present in our artistic expression and design. Our research team assumes that the source of these culturally divergent patterns of attention is attributable to culturally unique ways of understanding the world (i.e. our worldviews). While these findings have been well established through our line of research, little research has been done on the developmental trajectories of such culturally unique patterns. During my stay at the Kokoro Research Center, I will investigate 7- to 10-year old children's patterns of conversation with their caregivers, attempting to answer to the following questions: "At which point of life course do children start to show culturally unique response patterns?" and "How are such culturally unique patterns of attention transmitted from caregivers to their children?"  ――Takahiko Masuda, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Alberta

For more information

New staffs have been appointed.

Nobuhito Abe, Program-specific Associate Professor(Uehiro Kokoro Studies)

Seiji Kumagai, Program-specific Associate Professor(Uehiro Kokoro Studies)
Aya Seike, Program-specific Researcher, Program-specific Assistant Professor(Uehiro Kokoro Studies)
Shintaro Fukushima, Part-time Researcher(Uehiro Kokoro Studies)
Ayahito Ito, JSPS Research Fellow(PD)
Kuniaki Yanagisawa, JSPS Research Fellow(PD)
Yuka Ogiso, JSPS Research Fellow(PD)
Yuta Kawamura, Research Support Staff
Yoshiaki Maeno, Administrative Staff
Teruo Takeuchi, Administrative Staff

Leaving office
Chika Nagaoka, Program-specific Assistant Professor
Tetsuya Yamamoto, Program-specific Researcher
Chiho Kyono, Part-time Researcher
Koji Kimura, Administrative Staff

Dr. Steven J. Heine(University of British Columbia)joined Kokoro Research Center

heine.pngName: Dr. Steven J. Heine (Professor of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Canada)
Term: Jan.7,2013-Jul.26,2013
Research: Cultural bases in mental health and decision-making: Comparisons between Japan and North America

My research touches upon three distinct topics. I'm interested in how basic psychological processes are affected by cultural learning and while at Kokoro Research Center I will conduct some experiments that investigate how Japanese and Canadians differ in terms of processes related to well-being and responses to anomalies. I am also interested in the ways that people's encounters with genetic concepts leads them to think in more fatalistic and deterministic ways. A third line of research explores the ways that people strive to maintain meaning in the face of meaninglessness.

For more information

Dr. Seiji Kumagai has been appointed as a specially appointed associate professor.

Dr. Seiji Kumagai (Full-time Lecturer, Kyoto Women's University | Buddhist Studies and Tibetan Studies) has been appointed as a specially appointed associate professor.

Dr. Yukiko Uchida's Research Featured in Wall Street Journal Article

2012-06-20.pngDr.Yukiko Uchida, associate professor of Kokoro Research Center, was featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal for her research 2010-2011. The article introduces Dr.Uchida's research and her comments and examine how the Great East Japan Earthquake has affected the happiness of people in Japan.

Did the 2011 Disaster Make Japanese Happier?

In December 2010, Ms. Uchida and her colleagues surveyed 10,744 Japanese ages 20-29 about their well-being, asking them to rate their happiness from 0 to 10. Two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami killed over 15,000 people on March 2011, she asked the same participants to take the survey again and included some new questions.....


Essay by Dr. Beth Morling (University of Delaware) "The memories of Kokoro Research Center"

Beth Morling, Associate Professor of psychology at the University of Delaware stayed in Kyoto as a Fulbright scholar 2010-2011. In her essay "The memories of Kokoro Research Center", she wrote about her days of researching, teaching, and family life in Kyoto.


beth1.jpgAs I am writing this essay, we are experiencing typical midsummer days of Kyoto: hot and humid weather and cicadas singing all around. It was the same weather when my family and I arrived last August, 2010 to spend 11 months in Kyoto. I am a social cultural psychologist, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Delaware in the United States. For my sabbatical year, I was fortunate to receive the financial support of Fulbright Japan and the U.S. Center for the International Exchange of Scholars. My stay in Kyoto was also made possible by the sponsorship and collaboration of Kokoro Research Center.

This past year has been rich with experiences, in research, teaching, and family life. My Fulbright position has been a "lecturing/research" award, in which I conducted a research project and also taught two courses. In both activities, I worked with Dr. Yukiko Uchida, associate professor at Kokoro Research Center.
(photo: Workshop on Culture, Self, and Social Relationships Jun. 28, 2011)

My research

Our target research project was a continuing study of how people perceive social support from others. Previous research, conducted by Asian-American researcher Heejung Kim and her colleagues, has suggested to psychologists that North Americans tend to cope with stressful events by asking close others for support. Relatively speaking, Asians and Asian-Americans are more reluctant to request social support. In addition, even when Asian students do ask for support (for example, if they are required to ask for social support in a research study), they benefit less from it. Why? One answer is that Asian cultural contexts are guided by feelings of duty and obligation, so asking for help from others puts a burden on others. In contrast, in North American cultural contexts, people are expected to act from free will, not obligation. So a request for support may be considered a suggestion, not an obligation.

Inspired by this past research, Dr. Uchida and I began working on a study of social support about two years ago. First we asked people in Japan and the U.S. (both students and working adults) to describe examples of support they received from others. People told us about times when friends helped them to extract their bike from a tangled pile. They told us about times when their parents gave them advice about their jobs or academic options. They told us about times when friends helped them cope with a romantic breakup or some other loss. We collected several hundred situations.

Last year, we asked a new sample of American students to read and respond to a randomly drawn sample of these situations. And this past fall, soon after I arrived at Kokoro research center, we asked a sample of Japanese students to do the same thing. We spent the spring entering, organizing and analyzing the data. Throughout this process, I have been grateful for the support of Kokoro Research Center. They allowed me to use the time of their paid research assistants and helped pay for statistical software we needed. Most importantly, I benefitted tremendously from daily conversations with my Kokoro colleagues. The psychologists at Kokoro helped me think clearly about our data and our research questions.

The data from our study tell two interesting stories. One of the stories is about Japanese social support. We found that Japanese social support is more positive if it is emotional--that is, if it reinforces the relationships between people and makes a person feel cared for. Emotional support is experienced much more positively than problem-based support, in which someone offers tangible help or advice. Although problem based support is more common than emotional support in our Japanese samples, emotional support made people feel more competent, positive, and connected. Even Americans who read about Japanese situations agreed: Even they rated Japanese examples of emotional support quite positively.

The other interesting story is about North American social support. In American support situations, the type of support (emotional vs. problem-based) mattered much less than whether the situations were requested or not. In our data, we found that when Americans described support that they did not request, they felt more competent, and positive about it. It may be that for Americans, getting unasked-for support goes along with American cultural ideals for choice. It may mean more to Americans when their friends or family support them out of choice, not obligation.

Teaching in Japan

IMG_7474.JPGIn addition to working on this research project together, Dr. Uchida and I also collaborated in teaching two courses. We taught an undergraduate lecture course, Cultural Psychology, both in the fall and spring semesters. And we taught a graduate course called Academic English to graduate students in the School of Education.
(photo: with students of Academic English to graduate students in the School of Education. Third from the right in front row is Morling and next left to her is Yukiko Uchida, Associate Professor Kokoro Research Center)

Teaching in Japan felt both familiar and new. The content of our Cultural Psychology course was familiar, as I have taught it before, but Dr. Uchida and I merged our lecture notes and developed new lesson plans. Teaching in a Japanese university was unfamiliar, too. Classes met less frequently than I am used to (once, rather than 2 or 3 times per week). Students in the classes have many other courses to keep up with (up to 10 or 12 other courses, rather than only 3 or 4). And students in my Japanese Cultural Psychology classroom rarely spoke in class. I could tell they were thinking and learning, but the evidence came in the form of their written comments, not their raised hands.

The graduate course in Academic English was completely new, as I have not been an English teacher before. However, even in this class I found a surprising degree of familiarity. For the course was not about teaching English--it was about teaching graduate students the speaking, writing, and discussion skills they will need to be successful international academics. These students should be proud of their progress--most of them went from being reserved and careful to being confident and assertive English speakers and writers. In contrast to the quiet undergraduate class, this graduate classroom often rang with laughter as we found common ground.

Life in Kyoto with my family

My description of this year would not be complete without mentioning the fascinating experiences my family and I shared while we lived in Kyoto. The Fulbright program is a program with the U.S. State Department, and we took our duties as cultural ambassadors quite seriously, doing what we could to experience Japanese customs and life.

Our three sons, Max (age 10), Alek (age 7) and Hugo (age 7), attended international school. Their classes were in English, but most of their schoolmates are Japanese, so they learned bits and pieces of the language while they were here (imagine the kinds of words boys like to exchange!). Our boys learned to take off their shoes and place them neatly, pointed outward. They learned to love manga, sumo, and Japanese TV. They developed new favorite foods, including ramen, taiyaki, yakisoba, yakiniku, sushi, and the wonderful Kyoto tofu. They have learned to tolerate doting Japanese obaachans who pat their blond heads and compliment their management of chopsticks. And they have learned that Kyoto is a large, busy city, but one where boys their age can ride subways alone quite safely, and where they can safely run errands to the store. I recall many small kindnesses that have been bestowed on us this year. For example, the time Alek came home from buying milk, where the cashier had carefully tied up his change (and the receipt, of course) in a small bag. Or the time Hugo's bike chain fell off on the way home from school, and a man passing by calmly kneeled down and retrained the chain in a few seconds, while we stood by helplessly. Or the times our neighborhood uncle would remind the boys to slow down on their bikes and look for cars. It goes on and on.

We travelled around Honshu doing almost every family friendly activity, many of which were recommended by our Kokoro friends. We enjoyed Arashiyama, Hikone Castle, Fukui, Shiagaraki, Amanohashidate, playing in the Kamo River, and the Omiya Kotsu Koen. We visited dozens of temples and tried out matsuri large and small. In between we experienced almost everything about modern life in Kyoto, from public transportation to sorting our trash. It has been a wonderful year.

One hope of the Fulbright program is that its scholars will form friendships and collaborations that enhance the personal and professional lives of the people it connects. In that sense, I think the program has succeeded: We are heartbroken to say farewell to the wonderful friends we have met this year, but we have developed several new ties between your country and ours. The success of our year is, in large part, thanks to Kokoro Research Center for its personal and professional support.


Beth Morling
Associate Professor, University of Delaware / Cultural and social psychology
Lectured and conducted research as member of Kokoro Research Center 2010-2011
Website: Beth Morling Department of Psychology University of Delaware

Essay by Dr. Vinai Norasakkunkit (Minnesota State University) "My Kokoro Research Center Experience: A Journey of Gratefulness"

Vinai Norasakkunkit, Associate Professor, Minnesota State University stayed in Kyoto as JSPS Research Fellow of this center 2009-2011. His essay "My Kokoro Research Center Experience: A Journey of Gratefulness" is written about his memories and impressions of his research activities in Kyoto.


JSPS_science_dialogue.jpegMy first exposure to the Kokoro Research Center was when I was invited by Dr. Yukiko Uchida, currently an associate professor at the Kokoro Research Center, to give a presentation on Japanese youth mental health in December of 2007. It was at this point that I learned about the interdisciplinary and unique vision of the Kokoro Research Center. What was so appealing to me about the mission of Kokoro Research Center was the idea of bringing together different disciplinary perspectives to conduct research on psychosocial problems with a view towards expanding research on mind and consciousness vis-à-vis what is currently happening in the real world.
(photo: lectured for high school students in JSPS's Science Dialogue Program)

It was just around that December that I was beginning to feel the limits of the dominant modes of investigation in my own field of expertise, cultural psychology, in making sense of rapid changes that were happening in the world as a result of globalization. My colleague and collaborator at the Kokoro Research Center, Dr. Yukiko Uchida, as well as the director of the Kokoro Research Center, Dr. Yoshikawa, were very sympathetic to my pursuing a new line of inquiry in cultural psychology that involved investigating the psychological consequences of globalization on Japanese youth. Given the timely mission and vision of the Kokoro Research Center, I felt that the Kokoro Research Center was the perfect venue to pursue this line of research.

After the 2007 workshop, I immediately sought to apply for a summer fellowship through JSPS to spend my next summer at the Kokoro Resarch Center. I also received the research grants as a research affiliate at the Kokoro Research Center as well. As fortune would have it and with the support of the Kokoro Research Center fully behind me, I had the privilege of obtaining the fellowship which allowed me to spend the summer of 2008 at the Kokoro Research Center to conduct research with Dr. Uchida on the motivational processes of marginalized youth in Japan. Since our work turned out to be fruitful that summer, I was further given the opportunity to apply for a longer-term fellowship for the following year to continue our investigation. Again, with the full support of the Kokoro Research Center behind me, I was able to take a leave of absence from my university in Minnesota for two years to focus on research at the Kokoro Research Center from the September of 2009.

For the next two years, my time at the Kokoro Research Center can best be described as enriching, exciting, inspiring, humbling, educational, and extremely stimulating. It was not only that my research with Dr. Uchida gained the kind of momentum that led to multiple related studies, which led to multiple papers, lectures, and presentations, it was the sheer awe of being around and interacting with the great minds like Dr. Uchida, Dr. Yoshikawa, and all of the members of scholars that make up the Kokoro Research Center (and the integrity of character they all share), many of whom I am proud to say are my friends now.
(photo: riding bicycle along Kamo River near Kokoro Research center)

The support, warmth, and generosity I received from the people at the Kokoro Research Center are beyond anything I can express my gratitude for. I also loved how people were constantly discussing ideas and providing constructive feedback to one another. They were all top scholars in their field, so I should not have been surprised by how insightful they were, but nevertheless, it was always inspiring and impressive to watch everyone discussing ideas so passionately. The administrative staff members were also unbelievably hard-working and pleasant to deal with. It always felt like it was an environment that brought out the best in people and the best in academic scholarship.

Furthermore, the numerous conferences and invited lectures given by world class scholars and organized by the Kokoro Research Center were some of the highlights. It literally felt like all the scholars I have read about and admired would gather up at the Kokoro Resarch Center events and present their work. I even got to converse with them. This made being at the Kokoro Research Center feel like I was at the "center of action." The level of excitement these moments would bring to me was indescribable.

In addition to the stimulating experiences I have described above, some of the "bonuses" of being at the Kokoro Research Center was to get to travel to various conferences and workshops, including international venues like when I was invited to join the Kokoro Research Center team for field observation in Bali. It was such an exotic and educational experience that I will continue to process what I observed and learned there for years to come. I also thoroughly enjoyed getting to know other visiting scholars at the Kokoro Research Center. I got to not only become friends with some of them but even got to collaborate with researchers I would have otherwise never met!

When time came to leave the Kokoro Research Center, I did feel some sadness, but what I felt more intensely, and the feeling that I have and will always carry with me, is one of gratefulness. Grateful for the opportunities that opened up to me because of the Kokoro Research Center; grateful for the scholar I became because of the Kokoro Research Center; grateful for the friendships and network of collaborators established; grateful for all the eye-opening and learning experiences; grateful for the faith and trust that the Kokoro Research Center put in me; grateful for the opportunity to have been able to live in the magical city of Kyoto for two plus years, and finally, grateful for having been a member of a community of scholars that has brought me much pride and joy.


Vinai Norasakkunkit
Associate Professor, Minnesota State University / Cultural Psychology Clinical Psychology
JSPS Research Fellow, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University 2009-201
Website: Vinai Norasakkunkit Minnesota State University

Prof. Sakiko Yoshikawa gave a lecture at seminar series of Kyoto University Institutes and Centers (KUIC)

place: Kyoto University Tokyo office
date: July 1st, 2011 5:30pm-7:30pm
title: Listening slowly: Cognitive science about clinical dialogue

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Web site of Kyoto University Institutes and Centers (KUIC) (in Japanese)

Collaborative Research Projects "the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake - For the regeneration of KOKORO"

We promote this project for the regeneration of "KOKORO" after the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake through religious studies, ethnology, social psychology, and cultural psychology approach.

Web page of this project (in Japanese)

Professor Yoshikawa was reelected as Kokoro Research Center Director.

Professor Yoshikawa (Sakiko Yoshikawa) was reelected as next Kokoro Research Center Director for two years from April 1st 2011.

New article was posted in the Blog "Kokoro-Gaku"(Japanese).

New article "Joy and Sadness in Noh Mask" written by Dr. Hiraishi was posted in "Kokoro-Gaku" Blog (Japanese).