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Sinology in Würzburg

Donation from Professor Hiraki Shôsuke

Donation from the research library dedicated to Professor Hiraki Shôsuke at Chûô University

During the 1990s, the library of the Institute of East and South Asian Cultural Studies (Sinology) received valuable gifts of books amounting to several thousand volumes from various Japanese institutions and scholars.

Among others, a generous donation was received from Chûô University in Tôkyô, a partner university of the Julius Maximilians University Würzburg. The donation considerably expands the Japanese Studies Library’s archives in the field of Japanese history. The current market value of this donation is difficult to estimate, since a large part of the almost 3.000 books and individual journals published between the 1920s and 1980s already have antiquarian value today.

The idea for this generous donation of books from the Chûô University was initiated by Professor KANEDA Masashi (Director of the University Library at Chûô University) on the occasion of the official opening of Professor Hosoya’s Japanese Studies Library at the University of Würzburg in spring 1997; an event chaired by the President of the University, Prof. Dr. h.c. mult. Theodor Berchem. Professor Kaneda then informed Dr. Ataru SOTOMURA (Lecturer for Japanese at the University of Würzburg) of his intention to donate the library of the Professor emeritus HIRAKI Shôsuke to the University of Würzburg in order to expand the collection of the latter’s Japanese Studies Department. This collection now enriches the institute’s library.

Professor Hiraki wsa born in Wakkanai (Hokkaidô) in 1925, then studied European Medieval History at the Imperial University of Hokkaidô before teaching as a professor at Chûô University from 1971 to 1988. In 1988, he spent a research semester at the Chair of Medieval Social and Economic History, then occupied by Professor Rolf Sprandel. The personal acquaintance between Professor Hiraki and Professor Kuhn of the Sinology department goes back to this research stay.

Thanks to the initiative of Professor Kaneda and Mr. ABE Shinya, administrative director at the Chûô University Library, who was responsible for the cataloguing of the donation in Japan and subsequent transport arrangements, it was even possible to obtain funds for the delivery of the collection to Würzburg. Professor Kaneda and Mr. Abe deserve special thanks for their initiative.

The library in Würzburg selected those works among Professor Hiraki’s research library pertaining to the history of Japanese antiquity (kodaishi) and the Japanese Middle Ages (chûseishi). Special focus was placed on the economic and political history of ancient Japan. Among the approximately 700 monographs, many of which are 10 to 30 volume sets, are major works of leading historians of the Japanese Middle Ages, such as MIURA Hiroyuki (1871 – 1931) and the collected works of FUJITA Gorô (1915 – 1952). The latter is one of the most influential historians in the field of Japanese economic history, in particular the history of Japan’s industrialization. Other complete editions of the donations include the Collected Works of NISHIOKA Toranosuke (1895 – 1970), a specialist in the economic history of Japan’s Middle Ages, and major works of Japan’s leading ancient history scholars, such as NAOKI Kôjirô, KISHI Toshio, UEDA Masa’aki and INOUE Mitusada.

Some literary rarities are also included in the Hiraki collection, for example the standard work ‘Jôdai bukkyô shisô kenkyû [Studies on the Intellectual History of Early Buddhism] from 1942, which is especially valuable, since it was personally annotated by the author IENAGA Saburô (born 1913).

Another focus of the book donation is in the area of Japanese periodicals, especially in the subject areas history and philosophy. The donation comprises a total of almost 2400 individual periodicals. Among them are the near-complete volumes of the following renowned publications:

Shisô (‘Ideas’ or ‘Thoughts’) is the most important Japanese journal on intellectual history. It is published by Iwanami shoten, the most important publishing house of philosophical, literary and intellectual works in Japan. The articles in the journal are dedicated on an equal basis to both East Asian and Western though. The donation comprises 548 volumes from 1924 to 1995.

Articles in the journal Sekai (‘The World’), also published by Iwanami Shoten, discuss contemporary intellectual, political and historical events. The 537 volumes from 1946 to 1994 discuss Japan’s development into a modern state just as comprehensively as Japan#s foreign policy. The authors are among the most important political scientists and historians of contemporary Japanese history.

233 volumes between 1946 and 1978 of the journal Tenbô (‘Outlook’), published by Chikuma shobô, are also included in the donation, as is the journal Shakai Keizai shigaku (‘Historical Studies on Society and Economy’), one of the most important publications in this subject area. The donation includes 242 volumes of the journal from 1942 to 1995.

Other important journals with a focus on historical research are Rekishigakukenkyû (‘Studies on Historical Research’), now available in 175 volumes from 1935 to 1979, and 559 volumes from 1949 to 1995 of the journal Shigaku zasshi (‘Journal on Historical Research’). These journals publish the most important essays by predominantly Japanese authors on history, prehistory and archaeology, as well as contemporary history; not only on East Asian, but also on European historical research. Once a year, a special issue is published with critical reviews of scholarly works, monographs, journal articles and other literature published in the previous year. The importance of these reviews, which give an exact picture of the state of China research in Japan, is reflected in the fact that the American journal ‘Early China’ prints detailed translations of the reviews concerning China.

The donation of the Hiraki library by the Chûô University opens up new possibilities for historical, economic, cultural and historical teaching and research within the framework of Japanese studies at the University of Würzburg. The gift expands the already existing library archives in a meaningful and academically valuable manner.