Historiographical Institute The University of Tokyo



Pursuing our core mission for continued growth

Director Toru Hoya

The Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo is a research institution for the study of historical documents that span Japan’s pre-modern history from ancient times through to the Meiji Restoration of 1868. We survey, collect and analyze various historical documents from holdings both in Japan and overseas and compile and disseminate these as key historical documents of Japanese history.

Our institute has a long history, and its origins stretch back to the Institute for Japanese Studies (Wagaku Kōdansho) in the Edo period. The Meiji Government took over the operation of this institute in the second year of the Meiji Era (1869) and embarked on historiographical undertakings. Counting from this time gives our institute a history of approximately 150 years. Our forerunner was under the jurisdiction of the Imperial University, which instituted the current style of compiling and studying Japanese historical materials. Since the end of World War II, we have been a research institute attached to the University of Tokyo. Since 1901 we have published a total of more than 1,100 volumes, including the collections of Japanese historical materials and archives Dai Nihon Shiryō and Dai Nihon Komonjo.

The scope of surveys by the Historiographical Institute takes in both Japan and overseas. Surveys of materials relating to Japanese history outside Japan began before World War II and these have been conducted with international support since the war, in particular that of the Japan Academy. In 1997, we established the Center for the Study of Visual Sources to complement an increasing academic interest in visual images such as illustrations, maps, and old photographs. Last year the center celebrated the 20th anniversary of its establishment. In addition, we have since the 1980s worked to introduce computerization. Along with creating and disseminating all kinds of databases, we have made available our holdings of historical images on the web. The International Center for the Digitization of Premodern Japanese Sources was established in 2006. It aims to discover new sources of Japanese historical materials both in Japan and abroad and convert these into research resources, thus spurring the advancement of historical information science.

Collection by means of reproduction is fundamental to the collection of historical materials by the Historiographical Institute. To date we have accumulated a vast repository of reproductions using methods such as tracing, copying and photography. With the digitalization of photography of recent years, we have established a new framework for visits to collect historical materials based on digital photography. We share vast amounts of our digital archive of historical images (Hi-CAT Plus), which have been collected and accumulated to date, from our library reading room on the web. At the same time, we have archived holdings of many historical source materials at our institute over our long history. We are endeavoring to roll out the dissemination of historical images from our 200,000 precious historical source materials on our website along with taking the necessary measures for their conservation, particularly a national treasure, the Shimazu-ke Monjo (Documents of the Shimazu Family).

In this way, along with galvanizing the foundation for the research of premodern Japanese historical materials through the compilation and publication of key historical volumes of Japanese history, our institute have made extensive efforts to provide and disseminate information on historical materials and the outcomes we have built up through this throughout academia and to the general public. Researchers from our institute are engaged in diverse undertakings such as joint research on an individual and project basis. In addition, they participate in the educational planning at faculties and graduate schools of universities and contribute to the development of Japanese historical materials researchers who can hold their own on the international stage through hosting of post doctoral fellows, and novice and overseas researchers. There are increasing opportunities for our staff in the conservation laboratory to participate in joint research projects using their specialist knowledge. In this way they are bolstering the research systems to integrate conservation laboratory with libraries and administrative offices.

Since 2009 we have been certified as the “base of research operations for converting Japanese historical materials into research resources.” We have moved to enhance our collaborative surveys and research activities for holdings of Japanese historical materials both in Japan and overseas and have benefitted from the participation of many museums and regional authorities throughout Japan. As a result, we have made these into research resources for joint use. Surveys and research of our institute have expanded over a broad international scope, and we have deepened our research exchanges and ties with diverse countries, including not only those in Europe, the United States, and Russia but also China and Korea. In recent years we have led the way in the international field of historiographical research as the secretariat organization for the East Asian Association of the Organizations for Historical Materials Research and Documents Compilation.

Along with methodically and systematically collecting and stockpiling Japanese historical materials from both Japan and overseas over a long time scale, the Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo has aimed for early adoption of the latest historical information systems and digital technologies and their use in research undertakings. We are an institute of Japanese history at the forefront of historiographical research using ever-evolving traditions and the latest techniques. We request your renewed understanding and support for all such efforts.