Historiographical Institute The University of Tokyo



Pursuing our core mission for continued growth

Director YANBE Koki

The Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo handles historical documents that span Japanʼs pre-modern history from ancient times until the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Our goal is to contribute to Japanese historical through the collection and analysis of various historical documents, as well as well as their compilation and publication.

The Historiographical Institute was first founded as the Institute for Japanese Studies(Wagaku Kodansho), established by the Tokugawa government in 1793. After the Restoration, the Meiji government took over its operation, and the Institute for Japanese Studies became the Historiographical Institute in affiliation with the Imperial University, forerunner to the present-day University of Tokyo. After many discussions, the mission of the Institute was changed to focus on the publication of fundamental source materials for Japanese history. As a result, the first volumes of Dai Nihon Shiryo and Dai Nihon Komonjo were published in 1901. In 1950, the Institute took its present form as a research center affiliated with the University of Tokyo, and an array of new documentary compilations were established. Over the past 110 years, we have published more than 1,100 volumes.

We continually work to increase the amount of materials available and to cultivate new methods for conveying the results of our historical research. In 1997, we established the Center for the Study of Visual Sources to complement an increasing academic interest in visual images. We have also been expanding the scope of our engagement with foreign sources related to Japan. In addition to collecting and publishing documents from overseas, in recent years we have been actively promoting collaboration with organizations in China, Korea, Russia, and many other parts of the world.

Since the 1980s, the Historiographical Institute has also enthusiastically embraced digital technology to promote our work, optimizing our compilation process and producing databases in order to make our publications more accessible to the public. Our databases are now recognized as essential tools for Japanese historical research. The International Center for the Digitization of Pre-modern Japanese Sources, established in 2006, oversees the maintenance and development of the Institute’s information processing systems, and works to promote the sharing of research results and encourage the advancement of historical information science.

Over the years, the Historiographical Institute has collected a vast number of reproductions of primary source materials in the form of copies (including hand-traced facsimiles) and photographs for use in historical research, and we also possess valuable original documents, such as the “Shimazu-ke Monjo” (Documents of the Shimazu Family), which is designated as one of Japan’s national treasures. Our collection of original materials includes as many as 300,000 items, many of which are being digitized and made available online. Our library also manages manuscript copies, microfilm reproductions of historical materials, and books and periodicals on secondary scholarship, which are often utilized by wide variety of researchers. Our library staff endeavor to respond to and support the diverse goals of visitors and resident scholars.

In order to preserve our primary source materials and create reproductions available to the public, we employ specialist personnel with extensive technical expertise, putting their skills into practice through the highly innovative work conducted at the Institute’s Conservation Laboratory.

In 2009, the Historiographical Institute was recognized by the Japanese government as a “base of research operations for converting Japanese historical source materials into research resources.” We have thus enhanced our efforts to use Japan-related materials in collaborative activities with domestic and foreign researchers from various universities as well as from museums and other organizations in Japan and overseas. The institute still maintains this esteemed recognition, and we are committed to continuing our mission of facilitating collaborative work and acting as a research center open to the academic world and the public.

It is our desire to continue acting as an essential base of operations for historical work and address the present and future needs of scholars around the world. Thank you for your understanding and support.