Haruko Wakabayashi is a cultural historian of 12th-16th century Japan. Her interest lies in the social, cultural, and intellectual development of medieval Japan and the use of visual sources in the study of history. She is currently working on medieval Japanese perceptions of natural disasters and how these views were framed to serve various social and political circumstances in the late twelfth century.  Her recent publications include The Seven Tengu Scrolls: Evil and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy in Medieval Japanese Buddhism (2012, University of Hawai’i Press) and “Disaster in the Making: Taira no Kiyomori’s Move of the Capital to Fukuhara” (2015, Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 70, No. 1). She has taught Japanese history, religion, and art history at Princeton University, the University of Alabama, and at Sophia University, International Christian University, Meiji Gakuin University, and the University of Tokyo in Japan.


  • Ph.D. Princeton University, 1995
  • B.A. Sophia Universty, 1989


The Seven Tengu Scrolls
tools of culture

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Disaster in the Making: Taira no Kiyomori’s Move of the Capital to Fukuhara,” Monumenta Nipponica, 70.1 (2015):. 1-38.

  • “Monks, Sovereigns, and Malign Spirits: Profiles of Tengu in Medieval Japan,” in Religion Compass, 7.7 (2013): 234-242.

  • “The Shikaumi jinja engi and the Making of the Iconography of Empress Jingū’s Legendary Conquest of Korea.” In Tools of Culture: Japan’s Cultural, Intellectual, Medical, and Technological Contacts in East Asia, 1000’s – 1500’s. Edited by Andrew E. Goble, K. Robinson, and H. Wakabayashi, 105-133. Ann Arbor, MI: Association for Asian Studies Press, 2009. 

  • “Officials of the Afterworld:  Ono no Takamura and the Ten Kings of Hell in the Chikurinji engi Illustrated Scrolls,” in Japanese Journal of Religious Studies,     36.2 (2009): 319-349.

  •  “Hell Illustrated: A Visual Image of Ikai that Came from Ikoku.” In Practicing the Afterlife: Perspectives from Japan. Edited by Susanne Formanek and William R. LaFleur,, 285-318. Wien: Verlag der Ősterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2004.

Courses Taught

  • From Text to Image in Japanese Art (01:565:483)
  • Introduction to Japanese Culture (01:565:210)
  • A-Bomb Literature and Film in Japan (01:565:215)
  • The Samurai Tradition in Japanese Literature and Film (01:565:320)
  • Advanced Japanese (01:565:302)
  • Advanced Readings in Japanese (01:565:401/01:565:320)