Assistant Professor Sachiko Kawai

My research on how medieval Japanese royal women strategized to overcome disparity is relevant in a time when COVID-19 has exposed ongoing problems tied to the vulnerability of (Japanese) women and gender stereotypes (e.g. recent remarks by Tokyo Olympics chief Mori).


  • Project Researcher (Liberal Arts Communicator) at the Center for Information and Public Relations, National Institutes for the Humanities
  • Assistant Professor at the Research Department, National Museum of Japanese History

Brief career history

She received a Ph.D. in History and a Graduate Certificate in Gender Studies at University of Southern California (USC) in May 2015. From 2015 to 2016, she taught at the East Asian Languages and Civilization Department at Harvard University. In the following academic year, she was also at Harvard as the Postdoctoral Fellow at the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies.

She continued to accumulate her research and teaching experience at USC from 2017-2019, and then she took her position at the National Institutes for the Humanities/ the National Museum of Japanese History.

Areas of expertise: medieval Japanese history (Heian and Kamakura periods (794-1333)), women’s and gender history

Selected media coverage

[Interview] #53 Rethinking women’s history

[Interview] Gender Issues Today—Exploring Them through Nyoin History, National Institutes for the Humanities, March 26, 2020

Selected publications

Improving the Database Content of the Historiographical Institute On-Line Glossary of Japanese Historical Terms: From a Women's and Gender History Perspective 

Research Annual of the Historiographical Institute the University of Tokyo 29 1 - 13 Mar, 2019  Peer-reviewed

Talking to a Deity: The Royal Lady Hachijō-in at Prayer 
Sachiko Kawai
The Medieval History Journal 18(2) 278 - 304 Oct, 2015  Peer-reviewed

The Land-Based Power of Nyoin in Early Medieval Japan: A Case Study of an Unmarried Royal Daughter, Sen'yomon-in (1181-1252) 
Sachiko Kawai
Comparative Japanese Studies Annual Bulletin 10 151 - 157 Mar 10, 2014  Invited


Uncertain Powers: Sen'yōmon-in and Landownership by Royal Women in Early Medieval Japan 
Sachiko Kawai (Role: Author)
Harvard University Aisa Center  Oct, 2021 (ISBN: 0674260163)

Land, Power, and the Sacred: The Estate System in Medieval Japan 
Sachiko Kawai (Role: Contributor, Nyoin Power, Estates, and the Taira Influence: Trading Networks within and beyond the Archipelago)
University of Hawai‘i Press  Jul, 2018 (ISBN: 9780824872939) 

Routledge Handbook for Premodern Japanese History 
Sachiko Kawai, Ijūin Yōko (Role: Contributor, Gender and Family in the Ancient and Classical Ages)
Routledge  Jun, 2017 (ISBN: 0415707021) 

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Assistant Professor
Research Department
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