Reports on Educational Activities by Year

February 14-15, 2014

The 4th Reading Komonjo Workshop at Ruhr-Universität Bochum: "Reading Documents from Nagasaki"

Conducted by National Museum of Japanese History (Kurushima, "General Coordinating Team")

Host institution: Department of East Asian Studies, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Organizer: National Museum of Japanese History (Kurushima, "General Coordinating Team")

Instructor: Yoko Matsui (Historiographical Institute, The University of Tokyo)

Participants: Ruhr-Universität Bochum Department of Japanese students and faculty (14 participants)

Workshop description:

Day 1, "Nagasaki and the Dutch." After an introduction to the beginning of Nagasaki shichu meisaicho 長崎市中明細帳 (Detailed records on the city of Nagasaki) and an explanation of Dejima-machi, Maruyama-machi, and Yoriai-machi, participants learned how to use dictionaries and read documents by reading the text of a signboard originally placed in front of Dejima and recorded in Nagasaki shoji oboegaki 長崎諸事覚書 (Notes on events in Nagasaki). The diverse group of participants, from undergraduates who had never before seen a Japanese historical document to graduate students already able to read quite well on their own, was extremely enthusiastic -- so much so, they they even demanded homework be assigned for the following day.

Day 2, "The Dutch and Maruyama Courtesans: Siebold and Sonogi." Once everyone's transcription homework was done, participants read entries from the Yoriai-machi record Yoriai-machi shoji kakiage hikae cho 寄合町諸事書上控帳 (Written records of events in Yoriai-machi) for the years 1827-1829, which included Sonogi's pregnancy notification, a daughter of Siebold, Oine's birth notification, the request for a wet nurse to care for her on Dejima, and the summons of Sonogi for questioning in connection with the Siebold Incident.

Despite the fact the workshop took place immediately after the symposium during students' exam period, the participants were extremely enthusiastic and their various questions, including how to continue studying in the future, inspired even their instructor. In all, it was a very meaningful exchange. Activities such as this are an important means of heightening interest in Japan studies and should be continued in the future.

(Text: Matsui)


Prof. Matsui, Prof. Osterkamp, and students