Local and International Background
In recent years, interest throughout Japan in the cultural and historical significance of the Kumamoto Region has risen dramatically due to the glowing appraisals of the Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art's Eisei Bunko Permanent Exhibition, and an increase in the amount of newspaper articles, television spots, and other media coverage of Kumamoto's Eisei Bunko collection.
In addition, the damage caused by the Kumamoto Earthquake to its cultural landmarks, including the iconic Kumamoto castle, has further driven a nationwide increase in interest in the region's history and culture. At the same time, efforts to restore these cultural landmarks have created a great need to reference a variety of historical documents (ancient texts, etc.).
In light of these circumstances, Kumamoto University, which manages the majority of the materials remaining from the era of the Hosokawa Clan and the Kumamoto Domain, has been strongly urged by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Kumamoto Prefecture Cultural Administration Office, and various regional cultural organizations, to participate in regional cultural creation projects (including the effort to finalize the Eisei Bunko Hosokawa Clan documents' designation as a cultural property) as well as regional cultural revitalization projects.
The university has an organizational responsibility to respond to these needs and requests of our region.
Elsewhere, on the international stage, as of the 2015 academic year, Kumamoto University has entered an inter-university international exchange agreement with China's Anhui University (Anhui represents a key area for state-led research in the humanities and social sciences), and in May 2016 the president of Kumamoto University participated in an international symposium held at Anhui. The results of our research of Eisei Bunko were reported, and a comparative analysis of them against social research of Chinese history was conducted, and such meetings are expected to continue in the future.
Naturally, there is strong interest in the historical documents of the Kumamoto Domain within our own borders as well, and researchers from all over Japan participate in Kumamoto Domain symposia held by this center and contribute to collections of papers published by it.
For all of these reasons, it has become the mandate of this university to properly equip and expand this center as an organization that will remain continually active in satisfying the expectations of our local community while simultaneously engaging in international research to transmit our research findings throughout the nation and the world.
Necessity and Urgency
The Kumamoto Domain document collection, which includes the Kumamoto University Entrusted Eisei Bunko Document Collection and the Kumamoto University Library Matsui Clan Document Collection, is a collection of approximately 58,000 documents which cover practically every element of life from that era of history, including politics, economics, administration, the legal system, education, social activities, philosophy, architecture, and art. These documents are crucial elements in outfitting this center as a focal point for research in the humanities and social sciences, and therefore their analysis and utilization is of clear necessity and urgency for this center to achieve full functionality.
Moreover, in the wake of the Kumamoto Earthquake, work involving this collection is of particular importance for contributing to society. The local community and various organizations within it earnestly hope for this center to provide the historical information necessary for the restoration and preservation of cultural landmarks damaged by the Kumamoto Earthquake, including Kumamoto Castle; to help promote deeper understanding of this restoration and preservation project among the residents of the city; and to cooperate with local municipalities and companies to hold exhibitions and seminars to share the results of its research as a means of giving back to these localities. Fulfilling these expectations in a proactive and ongoing manner is a pressing concern for this center.
Overview and Distinguishing Features of the Center
- (1) Center Functions
- This center performs the following functions:
- Comprehensive research of Kumamoto Domain historical documents, including the Eisei Bunko collection.
- Regional cultural research using Kumamoto Domain historical documents, including the Eisei Bunko collection.
- Implementation of cultural creation projects using Kumamoto Domain historical documents, including the Eisei Bunko collection.
- Cooperate with and assist cultural administration organizations related to research of Kumamoto Domain documents, including the Eisei Bunko collection.
- All other functional items necessary for the center to fulfill its objectives.
- (2) Expected Results of Center Activities
- As a center of humanities and social science research using the Eisei Bunko collection, this center will increase the appeal of Kumamoto University in Japan and abroad, attract outstanding individuals to it, and enable it to further develop its distinctive approach to education foundational research.
- Advance joint research in the university and establish its position in the international research community, thereby constructing a foundation for the university as a leading international research organization in the humanities and social sciences.
- Enable more proactive contribution to cultural appreciation in the local community by cooperating with various cultural administration organizations to share the results of the university's research into the culture of the latter period Kumamoto Domain, and advance fundamental research on Eisei Bunko required for designation of the Eisei Bunko document collection as a cultural property.
- Education and fostering of competent young researchers and cultural administrators with a strong foundation in document studies through engaging undergraduate and graduate students in hands-on work involving the analysis of historical documents.
- (3) Collaborations with Other Departments, Organizations, etc.
- This center advances its efforts through close collaboration with the University Library which owns and manages the Eisei Bunko and Matsui Clan collections; the Memorial Museum of the Fifth High School and Buried Cultural Properties Research Center as organizations with similar objectives and potential sites for exhibitions; the Faculty of Letters; and many others.
We collaborate particularly closely with the Kumamoto Prefectural Board of Education Cultural Section, the Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art, and the Kumamoto Prefecture Cultural Association in expansion of our cultural projects.
- （4）Research Results
- The following are the results of the research efforts of this center as well as its forerunner, the Faculty of Letters Eisei Bunko Research Center.
- Major Research Results
- Faculty of Letters Eisei Bunko Research Center - "Eisei Bunko Medieval Hosokawa Clan Literature" (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 2010)
- Faculty of Letters Eisei Bunko Research Center - "Eisei Bunko Hosokawa Clan Diagrams, Maps, and Written Orders Vol. 1" (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 2011)
- Faculty of Letters Eisei Bunko Research Center - "Eisei Bunko Early Modern Period Hosokawa Clan Literature" (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 2012)
- Faculty of Letters Eisei Bunko Research Center - "Eisei Bunko Hosokawa Clan Diagrams, Map, and Written Orders Vol. 2" (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 2013)
- Faculty of Letters Eisei Bunko Research Center - "Eisei Bunko Hosokawa Clan Customs and Military Records" (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 2014)
- Tsuguharu Inaba, Naoki Imamura "Regional Feudal Society in Modern Japanese History - Establishment, Reformation, and Evolution of Administration of the Kumamoto Domain" (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 2015)
- Faculty of Letters Eisei Bunko Research Center - "Catalogue of the Kumamoto University Entrusted Eisei Bunko Document Collection" Four volumes (2015)
- Major Culture Project Results
- Designation of the 266 documents of the Eisei Bunko Hosokawa Clan as an Important Cultural Property (June 2013)
- The Kumamoto University Library Important Materials Exhibition (a simultaneous Eisei Bunko seminar and exhibition held jointly every November with the Kumamoto University Library)
- Joint Exhibition with the Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art and Eisei Bunko Hosokawa Collection Exhibition 'Letters from Nobunaga' (2014)
A single exhibition was held that displayed 59 Eisei Bunko letters written by Oda Nobunaga and summarized the Eisei Bunko Research Center's research into these letters and reflected these findings on the research into the body of Eisei Bunko works by Nobunaga. This exhibition was held again at the Tokyo Eisei Bunko Museum from January to March 2015
- "Cream Stew's New Historical Discoveries: Crack the Code of Nobunaga's 59 Letters" (February 2015, nation-wide broadcast on Nippon TV): A television program containing dramatic reenactments of the findings of the Eisei Bunko Research Center's findings and explanations provided at the exhibition site.
This center cooperated in every aspect of this program's production.