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A Delightful Menagerie of Materials, Part 1
In Depth

Peeking into the UTokyo Humanities Archives:
A Delightful Menagerie of Materials, Part 1

Here we present a selection of the vast archives kept by the Faculties, Graduate Schools and Institutes in the humanities fields at the University of Tokyo. Many of these collections are also available for viewing online. Please take a look and enjoy!  (View Part 2 here)

Center for Modern Japanese Legal and Political Documents, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics

Meiji Shinbun Zasshi Bunko

Horse (Ba) + Deer (Ka) = Baka (Stupid)?
Miyatake Gaikotsu established this library upon receiving a donation from Seki Hironao, the founder of the Hakuhodo publishing company. Gaikotsu’s mass-produced publications, including the satirical magazine “Kokkei Shinbun,” are all filled with his spirit of defiance and ready wit. After the 1923 Kanto Earthquake, Gaikotsu became acutely aware of the need to collect and preserve such materials. He thus devoted himself to collecting a vast number of papers and magazines by traveling around the country on foot, leaving as a result an unparalleled collection for the library.

MEITAN (searchable online database for materials at the Meiji Shinbun Zasshi Bunko): www.meitan.j.u-tokyo.ac.jp

Sotaigo hyo (List of Relative Terms), a series of postcard booklets by Miyatake Gaikotsu
Gaikotsu compiled 340,000 postcards into 305 booklets by arranging the postcards according to different themes. The combination of postcards and the unique titles given to them turned these ordinary items into an extraordinary and extremely delightful masterwork. Here we can see the pinnacle of Gaikotsu’s eccentric editing skills.


Cooperation: JuGeMu Co., Ltd. www.keiyou.jp
  • A “doggone” surprise at the well

    Shokoku Nichinichi Shinbun-shu Osaka (Osaka Daily National News), No. 274
    Inu ga Hito no Ude wo Kuwaete Kuru (A Dog Came Carrying a Human Arm in Its Mouth) ”

    The left arm of an unknown man or woman, who is said to have been dead for 60 days, was found at the side of a well. This kind of bizarre story is the nishiki-e shinbun’s forte.

  • Mr. Saigo’s star is born
    Tokyo E-iri Shinbun (Tokyo Illustrated News), No. 677
    Saigo-boshi no Uwasa (Rumors about the Saigo Star) ”
    During the Satsuma Rebellion, Mars was at its closest approach to Earth. This nishiki-e (brocade picture) illustrates the rumors people believed that inside the planet was the late Rebellion leader Saigo Takamori.

  • Do whatever floats your boat
    Nishiki-ga Hyakuji Shinbun (Brocade Picture News on Everything), No. 11
    Karada ni Ho wo Kakete Taiseiyo Odan (Sailing across the Atlantic)”
    This nishiki-e shinbun tells the story of an American man who came up with an invention to make the human body into a boat that can easily sail to France. Don’t try this at home, kids!

Resources and Historical Collections Office, the Library of Economics

Historical Coins Collection

Complete collection of the 6 different types of Oban

The library houses a complete collection of all six different types of impressive Oban, which measure approximately 15 cm in length. The Oban feature engraved seals in the Gosan no Kiri (five and three paulownia pattern) style; the characters and the Kao (seal signature) written in ink are of the Goto family, which had been in charge of minting the coins at the time.
This library houses one of the foremost collections of old Asian coins in Japan, comprising 12,473 pieces, mainly from Japan, China, Korea and Vietnam. Most of this huge collection was contributed to the library by entrepreneur Eizaburo Fujii. Along with the approximately 25,000 Hansatsu bills (paper money issued by the feudal domains in Japan) donated to the library by Zenjiro Yasuda (son of the first Zenjiro Yasuda), this collection holds tremendous academic value.

Engel (Database of Historical Coins and Historical Bills Collection): www.i-repository.net/il/meta_pub/G0000381kahei
Bestowed by Hideyoshi Toyotomi as a reward for the Shimazu conquest

Eiraku Tsuho Gomon Kinsen (coin with Hideyoshi’s crest)

While Eiraku Tsuho are usually made of copper, this coin is made of gold. Hideyoshi is said to have given these as rewards to the daimyo who demonstrated distinguished service during his subjugation of Kyushu.
Only a few remain

Tajima ichi ryo ginban (silver coin)

This small, oval-shaped coin is believed to have been minted at the Ikuno Silver Mine in the Tajima area (Hyogo Prefecture). There are only a few of these precious coins still in existence today.

The Historiographical Institute

Tokaido Emaki-mono (Painted Handscrolls of the Tokaido Road)

A signboard for Uiro, a famous brand of medicine and cake from the Odawara area, can be seen on this emaki. The original scrolls were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake, so this reproduction is all that remains to remind us of those bygone days.
The Historiographical Institute is a mecca of Japan’s historical documents, from ancient times up until the Meiji Restoration of 1868. While possessing valuable original documents, the Institute has also collected a vast number of reproductions, based on its proud tradition of leaving the originals in the hands of their owners. In addition to photography, hand-traced copying techniques are still used by specialists to reproduce the original materials.
Lineup of the kao of five famous daimyo

Letter with monograms of the Go-tairo (Five Elders) of the Toyotomi government

This is a letter addressed to Shimazu Yoshihiro during Hideyoshi's attempt to invade Korea. The kao (written seal signatures) that appear on the paper belong to Mori Terumoto, Uesugi Kagekatsu, Ukita Hideie, Maeda Toshiie, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. (Note that the characters below the kao are upside-down because the letter was originally folded.)
Copy of an original lost picture

Portrait of Fukushima Masanori

Portrait of the daimyo known for being one of the “Seven Spears of Shizugatake.” Although the original picture has been lost, this reproduction made by the Historiographical Institute in 1905 still exists.

Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies (III) Library

Valuable materials and collections

Encouraging citizens to enlist in the army, buy government bonds, and conserve food: American World War I propaganda posters

Support the Red Cross to protect the soldiers fighting for you; buy government bonds if you can’t go to the battlefront; let children eat oatmeal to save the wheat for soldiers; stand with the other women fighting in the War; be self-sufficient by raising vegetables in your school’s garden… all of these messages come with a sense of urgency.
The III Library maintains a large collection of works ranging from kawara-ban (tile block-printed news sheets), nishiki-e shinbun (newspapers with brocade pictures), and newspaper extra editions, to propaganda posters published during wars, including collections of materials inherited from one of the Library’s predecessors, the former Institute of Journalism and Communication Studies. Most impressive are the posters from western countries, which are said to have been collected by the Information Department of the then-Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as those related to Manchukuo issued by the Japanese Army.
Calling for the liberation of East Asia and a Manchurian paradise: Japanese World War II military posters

Manchukuo, moving forward in marking the 2nd anniversary of its foundation; Crush the Americans and build up the new Philippines; Civilian-military unity has created paradise in Manchuria; Japan liberates the Orient from European domination; After the Chinese political party was driven out, Manchukuo has expanded so much, hasn’t it, sis? …the wording on these messages comes with a sense of urgency.
Note: This article was originally printed in Tansei 33 (Japanese language only).

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