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Reading Pre-Modern Japanese Texts: Fujiwara no Michinaga 藤原道長 (966-1027)’s Mido Kanpakuki 御堂関白記

Reading Pre-Modern Japanese Texts:

Fujiwara no Michinaga 藤原道長 (966-1027)’s Mido Kanpakuki 御堂関白記

Workshop date: September 12-14, 2014

Number of Participants: 8-12

Workshop Venue: Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Voßstraße 2, Bldg. 4400, 69115 Heidelberg

Project director: Anna Andreeva (Ph.D., Cantab.)

Ruprecht-Karls Universität Heidelberg
Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context"
Project MC 3.1 “Economies of the Sacred”


Deadline for applications: July 25, 2014

Download applicaton form here


Workshop Concept

The daily life of Heian aristocracy was pervaded and conditioned by court politics, Buddhist liturgies, literary activities, health concerns, directional taboos and, to some degree, international affairs. In his diary, Midô Kanpakuki 御堂関白記 (c. 998-1021) the leading figure of the Heian society and most powerful man of the day, Fujiwara no Michinaga 藤原道長 (966-1027) described his day-to-day affairs and internal preoccupations and ambitions, providing clues as to how the Heian aristocracy structured their life and conceived of their values. Michinaga’s diary also attests to the hybrid nature of Japan’s pre-modern religiosity, with its syncretic relationships between cultic sites, local deities (kami 神), Buddhist divinities, celestial bodies, and physical bodies of the practitioners.
   Written in classical Sino-Japanese (kanbun 漢文), Michinaga’s diary is the world’s oldest personal record by a pivotal political figure, who handled issues at the centre of power during the Heian period (705-1185). Designated as an important heritage document by UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” project in 2013, Midô Kanpakuki is therefore an invaluable source for the study of Japan and its politics, economics, religion, and culture, as well as global pre-modern history.
   A three-day intensive reading seminar, to be held at the University of Heidelberg during September 12-14, 2014, will focus on the selected entries in Michinaga’s diary, addressing specifically the aspects of transculturality in everyday life, religious and political activities of court aristocracy, communication with Dazaifu, court’s medical regimen, and women’s history. The seminar will be led by the distinguished expert on the Midô Kanpakuki, Professor Kuramoto Kazuhiro 倉本一宏 (International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Nichibunken, Kyoto).
   The seminar is aimed at advanced postgraduate students and early-career researchers. Sufficient grasp of the basics and previous experience of reading kanbun would be very desirable. The organisers cannot provide accommodation for the duration of the workshop, but will be happy to help the successful applicants locate accessible venues in Heidelberg. The workshop registration fee of €50 will apply to cover the preparation of course materials and as part of the overhead costs. A very limited number of small travel grants may be available, especially for overseas students.

About Professor Kazuhiro Kuramoto

Professor Kazuhiro Kuramoto, who has a Master's as well as a Doctoral degree (1985 and 1997 respectively) from the University of Tokyo, has been at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken, Kyoto) since 2009. He specializes in the history of politics, society and culture of ancient (Asuka/Heian) Japan and has written several books focusing on Fujiwara no Michinaga (966-1028), the Jinshin War (672-673) and Ichijô Tennô (980-1011), as well as numerous articles on the history of the Heian period (795-1185). His current research includes the study of Heian aristocratic society and court diaries from the same period. He is a member of several research associations such as the Zoku Nihongi Kenkyûkai and the Nihon Rekishi Gakkai.

(1) Fujiwara no Michinaga's "Midô Kanpakuki"『御堂関白記』, Kankô 1 寛弘元年 (1004). On the right, the manuscript in Michinaga's own hand (jihitsu-bon 自筆本).
Other copies (shahon 写本) include the Yorakuin-bon 予楽院本 preserved at the Yômei Bunko 陽明文庫 in Kyoto. Photograph by Professor Kuramoto Kazuhiro, used with permission.


Essay on the Midô Kanpaku ki by Professor Kazuhiro Kuramoto


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