Heading out from Tokyo to Nagoya on a shinkansen to visit James Heisig — a leading author of works on Japanese philosophy — I vaguely imagine what the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, where Heisig is a fellow, will look like.

I've a mental image of a gleaming white building with deep carpets, probably funded by some ultrawealthy religious foundation, where I will enjoy a coffee in a cafe with a garden view and floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

Yet when I arrive at Nanzan University, I discover that no one has heard of the institute and finally find it to be a ramshackle, forgotten building located (Heisig later tells me) at the "Devil's Gate" (Kimon) corner of the campus.