Kanbun Database

This database brings together basic bibliographies of Japanese kanbun works and other related texts from Japan and abroad.

- Note -

As of April 2024, approximately 45,100 records have been entered into the database. It is planned to add to the database, users should therefore be aware that the data found when searching the database will be incomplete.

When seeking to actually consult any of the works listed in the database, please contact the institution in question and follow its procedures.

Any questions, comments or requests concerning the database should be sent to: eastasia@nishogakusha-u.ac.jp

Search (in Japanese)

User's Guide

Please enter searches in the manner described below.

List of Data Items

Our aim is to provide as much bibliographic information as possible about old works related to kanbun studies under the headings listed below. However, a number of institutions have not granted permission for their details to be made public, and in such cases the name of the institution and the title of the bibliography have not been given.

When new search methods are added, including other data, the search methods will be updated.

1. Major divisionsJapanese kanbun, Chinese works printed in Japan, quasi-Chinese works, general Japanese books, Western books, and articles
2. Fourfold classificationFor Chinese works printed in Japan, quasi-Chinese works, and some Chinese works
3. Japanese decimal classification (NDC)For Japanese kanbun and general books
4. TitleIndividual titles and detailed lists of contents of series, with kana readings
5. Collective titleOverall titles of series, with kana readings
6. Name of editor and/or authorReal names, literary names, etc., with kana readings
7. Year of publicationDates in either Japanese era names or the Western calendar
8. PublisherLocality, personal name, shop name, etc.
9. Method of publicationMethod of printing, condition, etc.
10. Number of volumesNumber of extant volumes
11. RemarksPresence of preface or colophon by Japanese, notes added at a later date, etc., and items warranting special mention
12. ImagesOpening page, colophon, title page, items warranting special mention, etc.
13. Holding institutionsNames of institutions that have consented to their information being made public
14. Catalogue titlesIncludes page numbers, but only for catalogues of institutions that have consented to their information being made public

About the Kanbun Database

1. Aims

In 2004 "Establishment of World Organization for Kanbun Studies" was selected as the 21st Century COE Program for Nishogakusha University. Not only was this intended to stem the decline of kanbun studies in the modern world and the moulding of erroneous perceptions of Japanese culture that might result from this decline, in particular the loss of a notable cultural phenomenon in the form of kanbun kundoku, which is a distinctive aspect of Japanese culture, but it would also seem to have reflected a positive assessment of our plans to renew appreciation of kanbun studies as a cultural aggregate and an all-inclusive discipline encompassing not just literature, but all manner of works written in kanbun, including works on history, philosophy, religion, art, medicine, mathematics and astronomy.

In this sense, the works on which we need to focus include in a broad sense all works written in Chinese and in Chinese characters. However, works composed in Chinese in China, Korea, Vietnam, and so on do not in a strict sense fall under works related to what we call "kanbun studies." Therefore, such works have been excluded from the direct focus of our investigations. As a result, notwithstanding some duplication, it has been possible to differentiate our database from the National Database of Chinese Works by focusing on Japanese kanbun. Chinese works held by some institutions, however, have not been included in the National Database of Chinese Works, and these have been entered into our database to supplement the National Database of Chinese Works. It is therefore also possible to search for some Chinese works in our database.

The duplication mentioned above refers to Chinese works printed in Japan. Generally when compiling catalogues of Chinese works, these works are invariably felt to fall within the range of such catalogues, and in the case of some regional libraries their Chinese works consist almost entirely of works printed in Japan. But these works possess characteristics that would be inconceivable in works printed in China and can be found only in works printed in Japan, such as reading marks (kunten), marginalia and kana readings added by Japanese authors, as well as prefaces, colophons and explanatory remarks added by Japanese authors. These characteristics cannot possibly be ignored in kanbun studies, and we have therefore recognized them as a focus of our investigations regardless of any duplication with the National Database of Chinese Works. In addition, there are also so-called quasi-Chinese works. These are Chinese works the text of which has been modified by Japanese writers and turned into a form different from the original work. But since the original work is in Chinese, in terms of classification we consider it best to include them under Chinese works. Insofar that they have been modified by Japanese to a greater degree than Chinese works printed in Japan, these quasi-Chinese works could be said to be closer to kanbun works written by Japanese.

For the above reasons, the works that are the direct focus of our research and investigations include not just kanbun works per se, but also Chinese works printed in Japan and quasi-Chinese works, and in content too they are extremely varied, including not only literature and philosophy, but also works relating to religion and natural science.

2. Projects

Taking into account the above circumstances, we have built up a diversiform research system in the course of grappling with this enormous body of material and are in the process of developing several databases to meet different needs.

Currently the following projects are under way or are planned for the future.

The data for these projects are currently being prepared or planned collectively under the single designation of "Kanbun Database," but it is planned to add further projects, and eventually the data for each project will be split off into separate databases.

Many of these projects have only just got under way, and there is no denying that searches for many materials, such as data on bibliographies of articles, to say nothing of the main project, do still not give any hits. It would be best for the time being to use this database in conjunction with data from other catalogues.

It was decided to set about creating a database providing data on the location of bibliographies of old works related to kanbun studies, our main project, on the basis of a recognition that it is our assigned duty to go beyond the confines of various projects of different kinds and assemble comprehensive data about the most basic original texts of works related to kanbun studies and make this information publicly accessible. But since we do not have the resources to gather data by actually checking all works held in various locations, we adopted the method of gathering catalogues of the holdings of different institutions and transcribing the relevant information. Towards this end, we began by sending out a questionnaire to libraries, universities, institutes, etc., asking whether or not they held any relevant materials, on the basis of which we then conducted investigations annually by region and collected catalogues from each district. It is expected that information will gradually increase, and as a certain amount of material accumulates we plan to continue making this information public. As for differences in the methods of entering information employed in different catalogues and improvements in the accuracy of database entries, modifications will continue to be made. It is therefore recommended that for the time being the results of searches made using this database be checked with the holding institutions.

As of March 2006 the database, in spite of some inadequacies, has been made public not only on Nishogakusha University's Web site, but also on the Database Repository page of the Web site of the National Institute of Informatics. In addition, with the permission of the Institute for Research in Humanities at Kyoto University it has also become possible to simultaneously search for Chinese works in the Institute's National Database of Chinese Works.

As of late February 2006, the number of works listed is approximately 43,000. So long as data entry continues, this figure will continue to grow constantly. It is also planned to improve the content of the database by incorporating materials related to kanbun studies that are held not only in Japan but also overseas. We hope that we will be able to continue to receive information and cooperation from researchers, librarians and others in Japan and overseas.

(Takayama Setsuya, Program Leader)

Search (in Japanese)