Shchepkin, Vasilii
Russian Academy of Sciences. Institute of Oriental Manuscripts

Private collections of Japanese old books at IOM RAS: how can they contribute to Japanese studies?

Over a period of three years Japanese resources specialists of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences have conducted a research project on identifying private collections of Japanese manuscripts and woodblock-printed books among those preserved at the institute. In our previous presentation at EAJRS conference in Bucharest we attempted to view some early collections of Japanese books and manuscripts and their pathways to Russia as a part of the history of early Russia-Japan relations. This time we are going to try to show how a closer examination of the contents of these collections can contribute not only to the study of early Russia-Japan relations, but to the history of early modern Japan as well. For this purpose, we have selected three private collections: of Daikokuya Kodayu, a Japanese castaway drifted to Russia in late 18th century; of Johan Arnold Stützer, a surgeon of Dutch trading post at Nagasaki in 1787-1788; and of Murakami Sakingo, a central government official at Ainu lands in early 19th century. The contents of their collections and marginal notes on some books can shed new light on the book culture, the information policy and geographical knowledge of early modern Japan.