This article focuses on the life of two individuals who were actively promoting universalism in the Meiji era, becoming silent during World War II, and then resurfacing after the war, pursuing similar ideas and agendas. These two individuals were Imaoka Shin’ichirō (1881–1988), the former secretary of the Japanese Unitarian Association who died in 1988 at age 106, and Nishida Tenkō (1872–1968), the founder of the Ittōen movement. The author scrutinizes their role in formulating ideas and forming alliances between groups that still claim to promote transnational and transreligious ideas in the twenty-first century. Although Imaoka and Nishida contributed to bridge the gap between the Meiji era and today, whatever remains of their legacy may be related to the current standstill in attempts to deal with transnational and transdenominational divisions. In reviewing avenues for future transreligious conversations, this article discusses the extent to which the present Japanese religious traditions could contribute to such nonsectarian endeavors. It also indicates some of the philosophical strategies that could be adopted, highlighting the limits of common attempts based on an ethical approach, suggesting instead that empirical and epistemological approaches avoiding the pitfall of language may be more conducive to overcoming the current inertia in transreligious conversations.
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