John Dougill has lived in Kyoto since 1994 and is the author of several books about the country that have received positive reviews in The Japan Times. As well as a cultural history of Kyoto, he has published Japan’s World Heritage Sites, for which he traveled the length of the country, from northern Hokkaido to Okinawa and the Ogasawara Islands.
As an author, he has a particular interest in the intersection of religion and culture. Shinto Shrines, co-written with Joseph Cali, not only details some fifty major shrines, but surveys the main features of the faith. Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto explores the aesthetics of Zen and its influence on Japanese thinking. In Search of Japan’s Hidden Christians considers why Japan is so resistant to the "Western" religion and what this says about Japaneseness.
Currently Dougill is professor emeritus of Ryukoku University in Kyoto, where he taught for over twenty years. He specialized in British film, with a particular focus on cultural comparisons with Japan. Amongst his research papers was a study of Lafcadio Hearn as a flawed genius with a fascinating legacy.
In 2015 he founded Writers in Kyoto, as a forum for the exchange of information between authors. The group started with seven members and now has over seventy. Amongst its activities are a writing competition, a website, Facebook pages, social events, talks and published anthologies. He also maintains the Green Shinto blog, which was the first of its kind to explore the religion as central to Japanese culture.