Department of Japanese Kanbun Instruction and Research Program, Nishogakusha University

An International Research Project Based on Kanbun Sources to Reconstruct a View of Japanese Culture

Program Introduction Overseas Activities Education Program Others Kanbun Database

Program Introduction

Nishogakusha University
Program Title
An International Research Project Based on Kanbun Sources to Reconstruct a View of Japanese Culture
The core course to form the program
Chinese Studies, Graduate School of Literature
Program Leader
Susumu Sato


Outline of the Program

Having established a World Organization for Kanbun Studies with the 21st Century COE Program, we conducted nationwide surveys of kanbun materials, and as a result we gained a fresh understanding of the fact that there are unexpectedly rich reserves of kanbun works and sources helpful to Japanese studies that are waiting to be utilized. Meanwhile, in journalistic circles, past images of Japan, developed primarily on the basis of native Japanese-language materials, are tending to become increasingly subjective and emotive, and they are raising a fundamental question as to whether an accurate picture of Japan has been delineated up until now. During our development of the 21st Century COE, the contours of the roots of the problem have gradually become clearer.

Accordingly, in order to construct a fresh picture of Japan, hitherto overlooked, the Global COE for "An International Research Project Based on Kanbun Sources to Reconstruct a View of Japanese Culture" will first of all, with the use of kanbun sources, not just deal with kanbun studies in a narrow sense of the term, but will make a wide range of kanbun sources from history, thought, science and other fields the subject of its teaching and research, and it will also provide an environment conducive to their utilization. Secondly, in order to eliminate the possibility of being shackled by past preconceptions, we will call not only on Japanese researchers, but also on overseas researchers to make use of kanbun sources and, so as to nurture basic skills for this purpose, we will develop their kundoku capabilities.

To implement these plans, an International kanbun Education and Research Centre will be set up within the University, and Global COE program members will undertake research activities and be in charge of its management. In addition, the overseas leaders of the 21st Century COE will become "overseas coordinators" and will be asked to participate in various projects.

Actual research and teaching plans will be carried out with a focus on the following four items.

I. Training of Researchers and Leaders

(1) For the benefit of people living overseas, overseas intensive courses and Internet-based classes will be conducted. (2) Practical training for foreign kanbun researchers residing in Japan, including foreign research students, will provided. (This will include training visits to Japan by foreign graduate students on the recommendation of overseas coordinators.) (3) For the benefit of people in Japan, a kanbun research course will be established in the graduate school, followed some time later by a specialist course in Chinese Learning in Japan, with a view to linking up with graduate courses and training young kanbun researchers in the fields of literature and arts, history and thought, history of science, bibliology, kundoku studies, and so on.

II. Research and Practice of kanbun Education as a Form of Social Education

In addition to (1) above, kanbun workshops for Japanese teachers at schools in Japan and extension courses for working people will be conducted.

III. Study of kanbun Sources

The Literature and Arts Section, taking into consideration the fact that source materials for Japanese literature and the related fields of art and the performing arts, starting with official histories, are generally written in kanbun, will lay the foundations for research and teaching around the basic tasks of collecting and annotating these materials. When doing so, the analysis and study of the nature of classical Chinese works, which underpinned the formation of Japanese sources pertaining to literature and the arts, will be indispensable for interpreting and cataloguing the source materials. The role of kanbun in modern Japanese literature has also finally come to be recognized in recent times, and it is hoped to enrich the content of research in this area too. The History and Thought Section will be charged with examining the role of the Chinese script and Chinese writing in all aspects of history and the formation of thought not just in Japan, but throughout the Sinographic cultural sphere. In particular, with regard to the role of kanbun in modern society and the formation of modern culture, which has been attracting much attention in recent years, we hope to undertake a comprehensive examination from many different angles. For instance, it will be possible to develop a method of teaching that goes beyond the hitherto state of affairs, in which anthologies of literary works have been used as textbooks. The Science History Section will promote the classification and study of mainly medical works in particular and respond to a situation in which there is a need to establish a teaching system helpful for deciphering old medical works. The Bibliology Section will prepare bibliographical introductions to the kanbun sources accumulated by the 21st Century COE, and as well as preparing a suitable environment for the study and teaching of these materials, which have until now remained unsorted, it will endeavour to catalogue undiscovered sources. The Kundoku Research Section will break free from a system of teaching and research that emphasizes experience and will instead establish a new method of learning kundoku on the basis of detailed investigations of kundoku from the Heian through to the Edo periods. The Data Processing Section will be responsible for data-processing to make available basic kanbun sources and disseminate research results.

These teaching and research activities will be made more productive through symposiums and especially through participatory workshops for students and researchers.

It is also intended to continue publishing the 21st Century COE's newsletter Sosho Tsujin and its academic journal Nihon kanbungaku Kenkyu.

IV. Creation and Public Accessibility of a kanbun Database

As well as continuing to update and maintain the kanbun Database created by the 21st Century COE, text data will be made publicly accessible and information will be made available to academic circles.

Department of Japanese Kanbun Instruction and Research Program, Nishogakusha University