Clarksville, TN – An Austin Peay State University (APSU) professor is one of 13 scholars from around the world – and one of only three in the United States – chosen for an in-depth three-week fellowship in Ise, Japan.
Dr. David Rands, an associate professor in history and the director of Austin Peay State University’s Asian studies program, will attend the Ise and Japan Study Program from February 17th-March 7th at Kogakkan University.
While there, he’ll visit a sacred forest in the Mie Prefecture to study The Ise Grand Shrine, the most important shrine to the Shinto religion in the country.
“The Ise Grand Shrine is the shrine to the sun goddess,” he said. “It’s the most important Shinto shrine in Japan. Traditionally, the emperor is seen as the descendant of the sun goddess. That’s been the imperial line since at least 700. It’s the longest reigning dynasty in the world.
“It’s a really significant shrine because every 20 years they take and move it,” Rands added. “They take it down and rebuild it in a spot next to it.
‘A perspective that only 13 people in the world have’
Rands will join scholars from universities such as the Russian Scientific Academy, Warsaw University and Heidelberg University. The other two Americans are from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of California, Berkeley.
“It is intimidating because all these scholars are really high-end scholars,” Rands said.
The fellowship will offer the participants a deep understanding of Ise and Japanese culture.
Kogakkan University also hopes the scholars spread what they’ve learned through social media and tradition. Rands plans to incorporate it into his classes at Austin Peay State University.
“The number of people who have been behind the scenes of the Ise Grand Shrine is really, really small,” he added.
‘A cool opportunity to learn in such depth’
The class schedule will be intensive. The scholars have classes every day, with only a few days off. But they’ll get intimate access to the famed shrine.
“Obviously, we’re studying the history of the shrine, but then we also have classes on shrine construction,” Rands said. “They don’t use any nails.”
“I think it’s just a cool opportunity to learn in such depth from the leading people in the world on that shrine,” he added.
They’ll also have classes on urban development and tradition, traditional festivals. The students have to deliver presentations about what they learn.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been a student like this,” Rands said. “I’m used to being on the other side of the desk.”