Christal Whelan, Ph.D. — anthropologigist, author, filmmaker — specialises in Japanese religion and culture. She is author of The Beginning of Heaven and Earth: The Sacred Book of Japan’s Hidden Christians (University of Hawaii Press, 1996), director/producer of the film Otaiya: Japan’s Hidden Christians (DER, 1997). As a Fulbright recipient, Whelan researched Japanese new religious movements for her Ph.D. dissertation while affiliated with the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) in Kyoto. She was also a research fellow at the Institute on Culture Religion and World Affairs at Boston University for the duration of her doctoral studies. Her recent collection of essays Kansai Cool: A Journey into The Cultural Heartland of Japan (Tuttle, 2014) reflects her work as a columnist for the Yomiuri newspaper, and her many years living in Japan and steeped in its traditions. She is currently in her home state of Hawaii working on the book Native Features: Indigenous Cinema Worldwide (Bloomsbury, 2016), a study of the trends and issues in fictional filmmaking among indigenous populations worldwide and some of the key personalities involved.