Janine Sawada's early work dealt with the popularization of Zen Buddhist and Neo-Confucian ideas and practices among the working classes of Japan during the eighteenth century. More recently she researched groups that advocated diverse forms of personal cultivation in the early nineteenth century and eventually developed into conservative political coalitions in the early Meiji period. Her work has encompassed the development in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of Shinto-type new religions, Confucian-inspired revival movements, divination practices, and Rinzai Zen communities. Professor Sawada is currently studying the early modern development of religious practices centered on Mt. Fuji.