Capt. Charles Pfoundes

In recent years a number of researchers including Brian Bocking, Yoshinaga Shin’ichi, Okazaki Hideki, Laurence Cox, Toshio Akai and Chris Heinhold have been researching the strange life of Captain Charles Pfoundes, a lifelong mediator between Japan and the west, pioneer Japanologist and organiser of the first Buddhist mission to the west (London, 1889 – 1892) on behalf of the Nishi Honganji (Jodo Shinshu) “Buddhist Propagation Society”. Below are details of some research on Pfoundes.

Figure 5-2

Publicly available work

Brian Bocking, Laurence Cox and Yoshinaga Shin’ichi, “The first Buddhist mission to the West: Charles Pfoundes and the London Buddhist mission of 1889 – 1892”. DISKUS 16 (3), 2014: 1 – 33. Open-access, available here.

Brian Bocking, “Charles Pfoundes and Annie Besant: a clash of Irish esoteric Buddhisms in Victorian London“. Working Group on Intercultural Performance, Adaptation and Translation / Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, UCC, February 2014.

Brian Bocking, “Flagging up Buddhism: Charles Pfoundes (Omoie Tetzunostzuke) among the International Congresses and Expositions, 1893-1905″. Contemporary Buddhism 14 (1), 2013: 17 – 37. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Pfoundes is the subject of a section in chapter 5 of Laurence Cox’s Buddhism and Ireland (Equinox, 2013).

Yoshinaga Shin’ichi, “Theosophy and Buddhist reformers in the middle of the Meiji period: an introduction“. Japanese Religions 34 (2), 2009: 119 – 131.

Toshio Akai, “Theosophical accounts in Japanese Buddhist publications of the late nineteenth century: an introduction and select bibliography“. Japanese Religions 34 (2), 2009: 187 – 208

Conference papers, not otherwise published

Brian Bocking, “The Buddhist Spokesman at the Hub of Empire: Charles Pfoundes in London, 1878-1892”. Paper to Asian Buddhism: plural colonialisms and plural modernities conference, Kyoto University / Ryukoku University, 2014.

Brian Bocking, “The forgotten first London Buddhist mission, 1889 – 1892: Charles JW Pfoundes and the Kaigai Senkyôkai”. Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions, SOAS, December 2013; other details here.

Brian Bocking, “Charles Pfoundes, Ireland’s First and Lost Japanologist”. Paper to 5th A.S.I.A. conference, Conflict and Communication: a Changing Asia in a Globalizing World, Dublin City University, November 2013.

Brian Bocking, “Mirrors in a reflection? Asian Buddhists from colonial Ireland, 1863-1913”. Plenary Lecture to Bordering the Borderless: Faces of Modern Buddhism in East Asia conference, Duke University, North Carolina, October 2013.

Brian Bocking, “Forgotten but not gone: recognising Ireland’s Buddhist heritage in colonial Asia”. Lecture to launch Laurence Cox, Buddhism in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, September 2013.

Brian Bocking, “Early Migrant Buddhism? The first London Buddhist Mission, 1889”. Paper to EASR / BASR conference Religion, Migration, Mutation, Liverpool Hope University, September 2013.

Brian Bocking and Laurence Cox, “Rewriting the history of UK Buddhism: the first London Buddhist Mission of 1890”. 2nd conference of ISASR (Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions), UCD, May 2013.

Brian Bocking, “A difficult character to remember? The Irish Japanologist Charles J. W. Pfoundes (1840-1907) in Meiji Japan”. Ireland-Japan Association public lecture, Royal Hibernia Institute, Dublin, 2012.

Brian Bocking, “The First Irish Buddhist Missionary? Charles Pfoundes in Meiji Japan”. Paper to 1st Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions annual conference, University College Cork, 2012.

Brian Bocking, “Pioneer Irish Buddhists in Meiji Japan: Condor Pfoundes and U Dhammaloka”. Launch of the Irish Institute for Japanese Studies, UCC, September 2011.


Patsy McGarry, “Charles Pfoundes first to bring Buddhism to the west“, Irish Times 15 December 2014.

Brian Bocking on the Moncrieff Show, 30 December 2014 (starts about 8 minutes in).

Yoshinaga-san for website

Okazaki, Brian, Laurence for website

Prof. Yoshinaga Shin’ichi; Dr Laurence Cox, Mr Okazaki Hideki, Prof. Brian Bocking


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