I have been conducting research on contemporary religions and religious culture in East Asia over the past thirty years, especially in Thailand, Hong Kong, China and Korea. Collaborating with graduate students and scholars in these countries, I have conducted extensive fieldwork on folk religions, Theravada Buddhism, Christianity, and new religious movements in East Asian countries. Recently I have extended my research to the theme of “cult controversy and public interest” and “religion and well-being.”


I deliver lectures and seminar classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The course titles are “introductory sociology,” “sociological methodology,” “qualitative research methods” such as case study, participant observation, interview, and document survey, “theory of social structure and social change”, and “sociology of religion.” As for the education for graduate students, please refer to Introduction of Sakurai’s research lab, which includes a list of MA thesis titles and summaries of Ph. D thesis.

Research Students

Students with undergraduate degrees interested in the studies of religious culture and society in East Asia and preparing for the exam of MA and Ph. D programs will be accepted according to the regulation of the Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University. Please send an e-mail to Sakurai Yoshihide with a research proposal that includes title, research background and methodology, research objective, and reference to previous studies within 4000 Japanese words or 1000 words in English.

Career Summary

  • 1961 Birth
  • 1984 Graduates from the department of Philosophy, Faculty of Letters, Hokkaido University
  • 1987 Leaves from the department of Sociology, Doctoral Course of Graduate School of Letter, Hokkaido University
  • 1987 Lecturer of sociology at Hokusei Womens’ Junior College
  • 1990-91 Research associate at the Research Institute of Social Science, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  • 1992 Lecturer of sociology at Faculty of Letters, Hokkaido University
  • 1997-98 Research associate at the Research Institute of Northeastern Culture, Mahasarakam University in Thailand
  • 2004 Receives Ph. D from Hokkaido University by thesis DR. (book)
  • 2004 to present Professor of sociology, Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University
  • 2013-14 Visiting Professor at the Department of Japanese Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

1. Thai Studies

Papers and book chapters written in English

  • Yoshihide Sakurai,1999, 'The Role of Buddhist Monks In Rural Development and Their Social Function In Civil Society, Tai Culture vol.・no.2 Southeast Asia Communication Center pp.108-124.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide,2002, The Tasks of NGOs in Rural Development in Northeastern Thailand: the Debate on the Formation of Civil Society, Bulletin of Faculty of Letters. Vol.107 pp.73-112.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide,2003, 'A Comparative Study of Higher Education In Thailand and Japan: Several Issues Regarding the Independent State University Administrative Corporations,' John Renner and Jim Cross ed., Higher Education Without Borders-Sustainable Development in Higher Education EDU-COM 2002, pp.313-321.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide and Somsak Srisontisuk, 2003, Regional Development in Northeast Thailand and Formation of Thai Civil Society, Khon Kaen University Press p.349.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide,2006, ‘The Identity Formation and Life Structure of Workers at a Japanese Pencil Manufacturer in Thailand,’ eds. By Kim-Chuan GOH, SEKSON Yongvanit, Change and Development in Southeast Asia in an Era of Globalization, Pearson Prentica Hall, Singapore pp.144-163.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide, 2006, ‘Multiple Dimensions of Socially Engaged Buddhism: The Case Study of Northeast and Southern Thailand,’ eds. By Ruben L.F. Habito and Keishin Inaba, The Practice of Altruism: Caring and Religion in Global Perspective, Cambridge Scholars Press, London.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai,2008, ‘The Structure of Social Exclusion and Inclusion in Thai Society, eds. By Noriyuki Suzuki and Somsak Srisontisuk, Civil Society: Movement and Development I Northeast Thailand, Khonkaen University Press pp.71-92.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide, 2008, 'Sociology, Thai Studies in Japan,1996-2006:Globalization and Regional Social Change,' The Japanese Society for Thai _Studies, pp.33-52.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide,2012, ‘Chapter 2 Transition and Reformation of Rural-Urban Relations in Thailand: From the Perspective of Social Exclusion and Inclusion,’ eds. by Noriyuki Suzuki & Somsak Srisontisuk, Dynamics of Civil Society Movement in Northeastern Thailand, Khon Kaen University Press, Thailand, pp.35-73.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai and Kazumi Sasaki, 2014,’Chapter 28 Theravada Buddhist Temple Taking Care of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand: A Case Study of Phrabatnampu Temple,’ Pranee Liamputtong eds., Cotemporary Socio-Cultural and Political Perspectives in Thailand, pp.445-463, Springer, NY.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai, 2017, ‘Engaged Buddhism in Thailand: Has the Time of Development Monks finished?’ Noriyuki Suzuki and Somsak Srisontisuk eds. , Civil Society Movement and Development in Thailand and Lao PDR.: Public Sphere, Social Capital and Prachakhom, Khon Kaen University Press. Thailand. pp.112-127.

2. Religious Diversity and Cult problems

Papers and book chapters written in English

  • Sakurai Yoshihide, 2000, Cult Controversy and Anti-Cult Movement In Japan since 1995: Case Study of a New Religious Cult, the Tenchi-Seikyo, Affiliated with the Unification Church,  Bulletin of Faculty of Letters vol. 101 pp.193-226.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai, 2004, ‘A Cult Controversy and Freedom of Religion: The Case of an Illegal Missionary Work Lawsuit and Exit Counseling for Unification Church Members,’ Cultic Studies Review vol.3-3 pp.183-201.
  • Yoshihide,Sakurai,2006,’The Risk of Religious Freedom: Asking the Meaning of Terrorism by Aum Shinrikyo,’ Journal of the Graduate School of Letters, vol.1 pp.31-43.
  • Yoshihide,Sakurai,2007,’The Structure of Abuse in a Religious Group: The Case of the Holy God Central Church,’ Journal of the Graduate School of Letters, vol.2 pp.17-29.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide,2008,’The Cult Problem in Present-Day Japan,’ Journal of the Graduate School of Letters, vol.3 pp.29-38.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai,2009, ‘The Social Perceptions of New Religious Movements in the Post-Aum Japan: The Popular Use of "Cult" and "Mind Control" and its Context,’ Eds., by Darwis Khudori, The Rise of Religion-Based Political Movements: A Threat or a Chance for Peace, Security and Development among the Nation? Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace, pp.253-264.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai, 2009, Conflict Between Aum Critics and Human-Rights Advocates in Japan,’ Cultic Studies Review, vol.7, No.3, pp.254-278.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide,2010, ‘Geopolitical Mission Strategy: The Case of the Unification Church in Japan and Korea,’ Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 37-2:317-334,Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide,2011, ‘Social Disparity and the Pop Spiritualism in Recent Japan, Journal of the Graduate School of Letters, vol.6 pp.27-38.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai, 2018, “Sexual Abuse in a Korean Evangelical Church in Japan,” Journal of Religion in Japan 6-3: 208-240, Brill.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai, 2018, ‘A management Perspective on the Mission Strategies and Global Organizational Structure of the Unification Church,’ Smith,Wendy, Hirochika Nakamaki, Louella Matsunaga, and Tamasin Ramsay (eds,) Globalizing Asian Religions: Management and Marketing, Amsterdam University Press, 2018.

3. Religious Culture and Society in East Asia

Papers and book chapters written in English

  • Sakurai Yoshihide, 2010, “Religious Institution and Their Management in Japan,” eds. by Michaela Moravcikova and Eleonora Valova, FINANCING OF CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS SOCIETIES IN THE 21st CENTURY, Institute of State-Church Relations, Brastislava pp. 296-307.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide, 2011,‘New Religions-Economic Aspects,’Birgit Staemmler and Ulrich Dehn(Eds.), Establishing the Revolutionary: An Introduction to New Religions in Japan, Lit Verlag GmbH & Co.KG. Wien, Zurich, pp.89-118.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai and Shigenori Terazawa, 2012, ‘Is Religion Social Capital in Japan,’ Journal of the Graduate School of Letters, vol.7 pp.21-29.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai, 2014,’Missionary Trans-Border Religions and Defensive Civil Society in Contemporary Japan: Toward a Comparative Institutional Approach to Religious Pluralism,’ G. Giordan and E. Pace (eds.), Religious Pluralism, Springer, Switzerland, 157-170.
  • Fenggang Yang, Francis Jae-ryong Song, and Sakurai Yoshihide eds.,2019, Religiosity, Secularity and Pluralism in the Global East, MDPI, Basel Switzerland. P.1-145.

4. Japanese Culture and Society

Papers and book chapters written in English

  • Sakurai Yoshihide, 2002, Mixed Marriage in Japan: the Feminist Critical Perspective and Regional Counterargument, Bulletin of Faculty of Letters. Vol.106 pp.127-148.
  • Sakurai Yoshihide, 2005, ‘Contribution to Cultural Bases of Community: How Do University Academics Collaborate with Professionals and Citizens? ‘John Renner and Jim Cross eds., New Challenges for Sustainability & Growth in Higher Education EDU-COM 2004, pp.351-361.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai, 2011,‘Ainu Religious Consciousness and Challenges of Cultural Preservation,’ edited by Toru Onai, Living Conditions and Consciousness of Present-day Ainu, Center for Ainu & Indigenous Studies, Hokkaido University, pp.107-115.
  • Yoshihide Sakurai, 2016, ‘Intensive secularization of engaged Buddhism to heal isolated people in East Asia: active listening by monks in liberalized societies of Eastern Asia,’ edited by Gilles Campagnolo, Liberalism and Chinese Economic Development: Perspective from Europe and Asia, Routledge, NY. pp.167-186