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William M. Bodiford (born December 3, 1955[1]) is an American professor and author. He teaches Buddhist Studies and the religion of Japan and East Asia at the University of California, Los Angeles.[2]

William M. Bodiford
Born (1955-12-03) December 3, 1955 (age 63)
United States
Alma mater
Notable worksSōtō Zen in Medieval Japan


Education and early careerEdit

In his section "Acknowledgments" in his book Sōtō Zen in Medieval Japan, Bodiford thanks the monks of the Eihei-ji temple in Japan who "kindly broke the rules" to teach him, before his university education began, about Sōtō Zen and Japanese beer.[3]

Bodiford earned his PhD in Buddhist Studies at Yale University and did additional graduate training at the University of Tsukuba and Komazawa University.[4]

Before moving to UCLA, he taught at Davidson College, the University of Iowa, and Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan.[4]

Sōtō Zen in Medieval JapanEdit

Bodiford's book Sōtō Zen in Medieval Japan (1993 and 2008) began as his dissertation written at Yale under Stanley Weinstein.[3] Fabio Rambelli, who reviewed the book in 1994 for The Journal of Asian Studies, writes that the author delivers an alternative to the "traditional dichotomy between 'pure' Zen and 'popular' religion".[5] Christopher Ives writes in the Journal of Japanese Studies that the book is the "most important English work on Sōtō Zen to date".[6]

Other activities and researchEdit

He presented his paper on the birth of Ise Shinto at the 2008 annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) in a session organized by Rambelli.[7] In 2009, Bodiford participated with Shoji Yamada of International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Japan and William R. Lafleur of the University of Pennsylvania in a panel at the AAS annual meeting.[8] In 2011, he sat on a panel with Steven Heine, Taigen Dan Leighton, Shohaku Okumura and others for a conference on Dogen Zenji organized by Heine's school, Florida International University.[9]

Bodiford researches Japanese history from medieval times to the present.[4] He has published works on the Tendai and Vinaya Buddhist traditions, on Shinto, and other subjects. He is an associate editor of Macmillan Reference USA's Encyclopedia of Buddhism.



  • Bodiford, William M. (2008) [1993]. Sōtō Zen in Medieval Japan. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0824833031.
  • Bodiford, William M. (2005). Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Vinaya. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0824827872.
  • Buswell, Robert E. Jr., ed. (2003). Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Bodiford, William (associate editor). Macmillan. ISBN 0028657187.



  1. ^ "William M. Bodiford". Library of Congress Authorities. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
  2. ^ Lattin, Don (October 29, 2010). "50 years of work brings age-old wisdom to West". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Bodiford, William M. (2008) [1993]. Sōtō Zen in Medieval Japan. University of Hawaii Press. p. xvii. ISBN 0824833031.
  4. ^ a b c "William M. Bodiford". Asian Languages and Cultures Department, UCLA. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
  5. ^ Rambelli, Fabio (1994). "Review of Sōtō Zen in Medieval Japan". The Journal of Asian Studies. The Association for Asian Studies. 53 (01): 191–193. doi:10.2307/2059570.
  6. ^ Blurb reproduced at: "Soto Zen in Medieval Japan (Studies in East Asian Buddhism)". Source of blurb is: Ives, Christopher (Summer 1995). "Review of Sōtō Zen in Medieval Japan". Journal of Japanese Studies. The Society for Japanese Studies via JSTOR. 21 (2): 521–525. doi:10.2307/133038. JSTOR 133038.
  7. ^ "Shrine Estates and the Birth of Ise Shinto in Medieval Japan". Association for Asian Studies. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  8. ^ "Interarea Session 102". Association for Asian Studies. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  9. ^ "Conference on Zen Master Dogen". Florida International University. Retrieved April 6, 2012.

External linksEdit