When this website was first published in 2010, Dr. Michael K. Roemer was in his third year as an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Ball State University. Before that, Roemer received an M.A. in Asian Cultures and Languages and a Ph.D. in Sociology from The University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in Japanese and Asian Studies from Connecticut College. Beginning July 2011, he will start a new career as the Director of Global Initiatives at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, TX. Roemer's interest in Japan began when he lived in Matsue (Shimane Prefecture) for one year when he was 8 years old. Since then he has returned 8 times, including one year as a foreign student at Kyoto's Doshisha University, one year as a Coordinator for International Relations with the Japan Exchange Teaching Programme (JET), several graduate research trips, and this trip with the students of Ball State.
For Roemer, the main purpose of these classes is to create an immersive learning environment for students that encourages them to take charge of their education and to create multiple media products that can be used to teach other students about Japan and Japanese religions. To that end, in the summer of 2010 six students traveled with Roemer to Tokyo, Kyoto, Ise, Nara, and Osaka, and the students created this website and they have designed a Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple in the virtual world of Second Life.
Academic publications on Japanese religiousness by Dr. Roemer can be found in our References, and they include book chapters in the Sociology of Religion's Religion and the Social Order series (2006 and 2011) and in Atheism and Secularity, v. 2 (2010, Praeger Press) and articles in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (2007), the Review of Religious Research (2009 and 2010), Social Forces (2010), and Japan Forum (2010). He also recently completed a chapter for The Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions (Brill, forthcoming 2011) entitled "Japanese Survey Data on Religious Practices and Beliefs in the 21st Century."