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The Documents of Iriki

Welcome to the Iriki-in House Document Collection!
This page gives you access to one of the most famous document collections in the world : the Iriki-in Ke Monjo.
The Iriki-in was located in southern Kyushu, and the collection of documents maintained by its family members spans over 700 years.
The collection was made famous in the twentieth century when it was published and translated by the Yale historian Asakawa Kan'ichi.
To find out more about the documents and how Asakawa made them famous, please continue reading below.

The Shibuya were originally land stewards (jito) on an estate in Sagami Province.
In 1247, the Chiba and Miura houses raised arms against the Kamakura Bakufu, and Shibuya Joshin fought to quell the revolt.
In reward for his faithful service, he was appointed to the position of land steward of Iriki Estate, in Satsuma Province.
Joshin's descendants moved to the estate and took the name Iriki.
Throughout the Kamakura period, the estate was patronized by the Fujiwara family, but in the fourteenth century all connections with outside families were broken and the estate was administered by the warrior families living in southern Kyushu.

The documents in the published collection range from 1135 to 1867.
They include documents concerning disputes, calls to military service, remissions of taxes, statements of trial testimony and judicial pronouncements, and more.
Many of the documents reflect very local concerns, such as inheritance disputes, while others reflect the larger political issues which affected the estate, such as the warfare between the Shimadzu and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (see documents 146 & 147).
They are a fascinating glimpse into life at the Iriki-in and an invaluable resource for students of Japanese history.

The Japanese historian Asakawa Kan'ichi visited southern Kyushu in 1917 and copied many of the documents from the collection for his studies.
In 1929, he published his own English translation of the documents, together with commentary and interpretive essays.
Asakawa was particularly interested in these documents because they were from a region that had been ruled by the same family for the entire feudal period.
In addition, he believed the institutions described by the documents to be reflective of Japan as a whole.
Asakawa's translation made it possible for scholars of European and Japanese feudalism to include Japanese primary sources in their discussions.
After Asakawa's death, The Committee for the Publication of Dr. K. Asakawa's Works was formed to preserve Asakawa's legacy.
The Committee recompiled and republished The Documents of Iriki in 1955.
Their revisions were based on the original Japanese documents, which were brought to the Historiographical Institute of Tokyo University for this purpose.
Today the originals are kept with great care at the Institue.

The Historiographical Institute is proud to make the Documents of Iriki available on the Internet for study by people around the world.
At this site, you can view photographs of the original documents, the printed version of the original documents edited by The Committee for the Publication of Dr. K. Asakawa's Works, and Asakawa's great labor,the English translations with his commentary.

                                                             written by
                                                             Ethan Segal
                                                             Doctoral Candidate,
                                                             Stanford University

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