List of National Treasures of Japan (writings: Chinese books)

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This article is about Chinese book National Treasures. For a list of Japanese book National Treasures, see List of National Treasures of Japan (writings: Japanese books). For a list of other national treasure writings including Buddhist texts and exemplary calligraphy, see List of National Treasures of Japan (writings: others).
Part of the oldest extant transcription of A New Account of the Tales of the World, a collection of anecdotes about distinguished people of the Later Han Dynasty to the Eastern Jin Dynasty.

The term "National Treasure" has been used in Japan to denote cultural properties since 1897,[1][2] although the definition and the criteria have changed since the introduction of the term. The written materials in the list adhere to the current definition, and have been designated National Treasures according to the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties that came into effect on June 9, 1951. The items are selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology based on their "especially high historical or artistic value".[3][4] The list presents 56 entries from the 7th century Tang Dynasty to the Kamakura period with more than half originating in China. The total number of items is higher, however, since groups of related objects have been joined as single entries. The list contains works that have been originally compiled in China by Chinese authors. A large proportion of these works are Chinese classics.[4]

Written language was introduced to Japan around 400 AD in the form of Chinese books written in Classical Chinese. Japanese interest in Chinese writings and culture gradually increased towards the end of the 6th century when Japanese rulers sent missions to the mainland for cultural studies, and to bring back books. During circa 300 years in the Sui and Tang Dynasties, a large number of Chinese books were brought to Japan. By the 8th century, Chinese works were customarily copied at Japanese libraries to satisfy the demand for education of the male aristocracy. Until the early 17th century, copying in Japan was largely by hand. However, Chinese printed editions of the Song Dynasty were imported following an increased trading activity at the start of the Kamakura period (after 1192). The designated manuscripts are either transcriptions of the original works produced in China or in Japan or are Chinese printed editions. The Chinese manuscripts, both handwritten and printed editions, were imported to Japan at the time. The designated treasures are housed in temples, museums, libraries, shrines, universities and in private collections.[4]

The objects in this list represent about one fourth of the 223 National Treasures in the category "writings". They are complemented by 68 Japanese book National Treasures of the List of National Treasures of Japan (writings: Japanese books) and 99 other written National Treasures of the List of National Treasures of Japan (writings: others).[4]

Statistics[edit]

Most of the National Treasures are found in the Kansai region.
Map showing the location of Chinese book writings National Treasures in Japan
Prefecture City National Treasures
Aichi Nagoya 3
Chiba Sakura 3
Fukuoka Dazaifu 1
Hyōgo Itami 1
Kanagawa Yokohama 1
Kyoto Kyoto 9
Mie Ise 1
Miyagi Sendai 1
Nara Tenri 2
Osaka Osaka 4
Shiga Ōtsu 5
Tochigi Ashikaga 4
Tokyo Tokyo 18
Wakayama Kōya 2
Yamaguchi Hōfu 1
Period[nb 1] National Treasures
Tang Dynasty 21
Nara period 4
Heian period 15
Southern Song Dynasty 14
Kamakura period 2


Usage[edit]

The table's columns (except for Remarks and Image) are sortable by pressing the arrows symbols. The following gives an overview of what is included in the table and how the sorting works.

  • Name: the name as registered in the Database of National Cultural Properties[4]
  • Authors: name of the author(s)
  • Remarks: information about the type of document and its content
  • Date: period and year; The column entries sort by year. If only a period is known, they sort by the start year of that period.
  • Format: principal type, technique and dimensions; The column entries sort by the main type: scroll (includes handscrolls and letters), books (includes albums, ordinary bound books and books bound by fukuro-toji)[nb 2] and other (includes hanging scrolls)
  • Present location: "temple/museum/shrine-name town-name prefecture-name"; The column entries sort as "prefecture-name town-name".
  • Image: picture of the manuscript or of a characteristic document in a group of manuscripts

Treasures[edit]

Chinese manuscripts[edit]

Japan's first experience with books and written language[nb 3] came from books written in Classical Chinese in China, brought to Japan from the Korean kingdoms, at least by the 5th and probably by the end of the 4th century.[5][6] According to legend, the scholar Wani came to Japan in 406 and brought with him the Confucian Analects and Thousand Character Classic.[nb 4][5][6][7][8][9] These were followed, in later years, by the Five Classics (Book of Odes, Book of History, Book of Rites, Book of Changes and the Spring and Autumn Annals), which, by the 6th century, became well-known among the Japanese literary elite.[6][8][10] The Seventeen-article constitution, compiled in 604 by Prince Shōtoku, has quotations that allow the identification of 18 Chinese books known to have existed in Japan at the time:[6] Odes, Rites, Classic of Filial Piety, Analects, Chronicle of Zuo, the Han Chronicles (Book of Han and Book of the Later Han), Wen Xuan anthology, Zhuangzi and other classical Chinese writings.[nb 5][11][12]

The distribution of Chinese books to Japan reached its first peak in the Sui and Tang dynasties.[8] During this period books were brought to Japan through two sources: people, who were mostly literate, moving from the continent; and by official missions sent out by the Japanese court.[6] Four envoys to Sui China were dispatched under Prince Shōtoku, but this number quickly increased during the Tang dynasty, which saw 16 envoys of circa 200 to 600 people, each sent to study Chinese culture and to acquire Chinese books.[8] One of the most well-known missions was that by Kibi Makibi who left Japan in 717, spent 17 years in China and returned with books on various subjects.[8][13] Examples of works imported during this period include the first Chinese pharmacopoeia (Xinxiu Bencao), compiled and imported in the same year (713), and Tang poetry by Li Bai, Wang Wei and Bai Juyi.[nb 6][8][14] Towards the end of the Tang Dynasty, at the end of the 9th century, about half of the canon of Chinese literature was present in Japan, including texts of all major Tang poets.[8][14] The Book Catalogue in Japan, compiled between 876 to 884 by Fujiwara Sukeyo, showed entries for 1,568 Chinese books, located in Japan, in classics, history, philosophy and anthologies.[8] Due to the cessation of missions to China in the late 9th century, relatively few Chinese books were imported through the mid and late Heian period.[15]

Some books such as the Yupian or the Meihōki were lost early in China, because of the persecution against Buddhism or for other reasons. The titles survived, however, because of the large volume of books previously imported to Japan, which were then subsequently re-exported to China.[16][17] Today, some of the oldest extant manuscripts of Chinese books dating to the Tang Dynasty are located in Japan.[18] Few of the early imported manuscripts have survived. Some of those that survived are listed as National Treasures below.[16] Twenty Chinese book National Treasures exist that were created in China and subsequently imported to Japan. Of these, 19 date to the Tang Dynasty and one to the Southern Song. The designated items are of various type: six treasures are manuscripts of the Five Classics of Confucianism and associated commentaries, four are poetry and prose anthologies of Chinese poets, calligraphers and Emperor Huizong of Song, four are dictionaries, five are anecdote collections and one is a music score.[4]

Name Authors Remarks Date Format Present location Image
Wang Bo collection (王勃集 Ōbotsu-shū?) vol. 28 unknown Ueno Family collection; part of a 30 volume collection 0618Tang Dynasty One handscroll Tokyo Tokyo Privateprivate, Tokyo Obotsu-shu 28.jpg
Wang Bo collection (王勃集 Ōbotsu-shū?) vol. 29, 30[19] unknown Oldest extant copy of a portion of Wang Bo's 30 scroll collected writings: one verse from the biography section, five of six verses from the prayer section (all vol. 29) and four memorial prayer verses (vol. 30); brought from China during the Nara period and stored at Kōfuku-ji; later owned by the painter Tomioka Tessai 0618Tang Dynasty, 7th–8th century One handscroll, ink on paper, 26.5 cm × 447.7 cm (10.4 in × 176.3 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo Obotsu-shu 29-30.jpg
Spring and Autumn Annals collected commentaries (春秋経伝集解 Shunjū keiden shikkai?) fragments of vol. 2[20] unknown Reverse side contains a 1078 transcription by a Kōyasan monk; manuscript returned to China during the Meiji period, returned to Japan 50 years later 0618Tang Dynasty, 7–8th century One scroll, ink on paper Kyoto Kyoto YurinkanFujii Saiseikai Yurinkan Museum of Art (藤井斉成会有鄰館 Fujii Saiseikai Yūrinkan?), Kyoto Spring and Autumn Annals annoted.JPG
Book of Han, biography of Sima Xiangru (漢書楊雄伝 Kanjo yōyūden?) vol. 57 unknown
0618Tang Dynasty One scroll, ink on paper Tokyo Tokyo Privateprivate, Tokyo
Anthology of Emperor Huizong of Song (徽宗文集序 Kisō bunshūjo?) Emperor Gaozong of Song Written in regular script 1154Southern Song, 1154 One scroll, ink on paper, 27.4 cm × 137.0 cm (10.8 in × 53.9 in) Tokyo Tokyo Agency for Cultural AffairsAgency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo Kiso bunshujo.jpg
Classic of Rites annotated edition (礼記子本疏義 raiki shihonsogi?) vol. 59[21] Tei Shaku (鄭 灼?) Formerly in the possession of Tanaka Mitsuaki 0618Tang Dynasty One scroll, ink on paper, 28.5 cm × 642.5 cm (11.2 in × 253.0 in) Tokyo Tokyo Waseda UniversityWaseda University, Tokyo Annotated Classic of Rites 59.jpg
Poetry anthology of members of the Hanlin Academy (翰林学士詩集 Kanrin gakushi shishū?)[22][23] unknown 60 four and five character verses (shigonshi/gogonshi) by great calligraphers working under Emperor Taizong of Tang: Chu Suiliang, Ouyang Xun, Yu Shinan; reverse side contains a mid Heian period transcription of volume 5 of 正広智三蔵表制集 0618Tang Dynasty One scroll, ink on paper, 28 cm × 643 cm (11 in × 253 in) Aichi Nagoya OsukannonŌsukannon (大須観音?) Hōshō-in (宝生院?), Nagoya, Aichi
Yupian (玉篇 gyokuhen?), fragments of vol. 9[24][25] unknown Part of a 30 volume Chinese character dictionary 0700Tang Dynasty, 8th century One scroll, ink on paper, 26.9 cm × 1,625.9 cm (10.6 in × 640.1 in) Tokyo Tokyo Waseda UniversityWaseda University, Tokyo Yupian Waseda University.jpg
Yupian (玉篇 gyokuhen?), first half of vol. 27[17] unknown Part of a 30 volume Chinese character dictionary; one half of an extant complete volume[nb 7] 0618Tang Dynasty, 7th–8th century One scroll, ink on paper, 27.2 cm × 915.0 cm (10.7 in × 360.2 in) Kyoto Kyoto KozanjiKōzan-ji, Kyoto Yupian Kozanji.jpg
Yupian (玉篇 gyokuhen?), second half of vol. 27[17] unknown Part of a 30 volume Chinese character dictionary; one half of an extant complete volume[nb 8] 0618Tang Dynasty, 7th–8th century One scroll, ink on paper Shiga Otsu Ishiyamadera Ishiyama-dera, Ōtsu, Shiga Yupian Ishiyamadera.jpg
Old-Script Document of Antiquities (Guwen Shangshu) (古文尚書 kobun shōsho?), vol. 6[26][27] unknown "Document of Antiquities" is another name for the Book of History; brought to Japan in Nara period; Japanese annotations from the mid-Heian period in red and black ink; on back of scroll: Genpisho, a document on the research of era names 0618beginning of Tang Dynasty, 7th century One scroll, ink on paper, 26.3 cm × 328.0 cm (10.4 in × 129.1 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo Guwen Shangshu TNM.jpg
Document of Antiquities (Guwen Shangshu) (古文尚書 kobun shōsho?), vol. 3, 5, 12 unknown "Document of Antiquities" is another name for the Book of History; on back of scroll: Genpisho, a document on the research of era names 0618Tang Dynasty One scroll, ink on paper, 26.8 cm × 1,138 cm (10.6 in × 448.0 in) Tokyo Tokyo Toyo BunkoTōyō Bunko, Tokyo
Shuowen Jiezi (説文木部残巻 setsumon mokubu zankan?, "Explaining Simple and Analyzing Compound Characters"), fragment unknown Chinese dictionary; oldest extant manuscript of this work; brought to Japan by Naitō Torajirō; fragment concerns the section header 0800Tang Dynasty, 9th century, presumably 820 One scroll of six pages, ink on paper, 25.4 cm × 243 cm (10.0 in × 95.7 in) Osaka Osaka Takeda Science FoundationTakeda Science Foundation (武田科学振興財団 Takeda Kagaku Shinkōzaidan?), Osaka Shuowen Jiezi Takeda.jpg
A New Account of the Tales of the World (世説新書 sesetsu shinsho?) fragments of vol. 6; parts of the "Admonitions and warnings" and "Quick perception" chapters[28][29] unknown Collection of anecdotes about distinguished people of the Later Han Dynasty to the Eastern Jin Dynasty; backside contains transcription of an esoteric Buddhist manual; oldest extant transcription of this work; handed down in the Kanchi-in subtemple of Tō-ji; split in four parts (all National Treasures) during the Meiji period 0650Tang Dynasty, second half of 7th to first half of 8th century One scroll, ink on linen paper,27.1 cm × 397.0 cm (10.7 in × 156.3 in) Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto National MuseumKyoto National Museum, Kyoto Sessetsu Shingo KNM.jpg
A New Account of the Tales of the World (世説新書 sesetsu shinsho?) fragments of vol. 6; "Virile Vigor" chapter[30][31] unknown Collection of anecdotes about distinguished people of the Later Han Dynasty to the Eastern Jin Dynasty; backside contains transcription of an esoteric Buddhist manual; oldest extant transcription of this work; handed down in the Kanchi-in subtemple of Tō-ji; split in four parts (all National Treasures) during the Meiji period 0650Tang Dynasty, second half of 7th to first half of 8th century One scroll, ink on paper, 26.9 cm × 196.0 cm (10.6 in × 77.2 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo Sesetsu Shingo TNM.jpg
A New Account of the Tales of the World (世説新書 sesetsu shinsho?) fragments of vol. 6[32] unknown Collection of anecdotes about distinguished people of the Later Han Dynasty to the Eastern Jin Dynasty; backside contains transcription of an esoteric Buddhist manual; oldest extant transcription of this work; handed down in the Kanchi-in subtemple of Tō-ji; split in four parts (all National Treasures) during the Meiji period 0650Tang Dynasty, second half of 7th to first half of 8th century One scroll, ink on paper Tokyo Tokyo Agency for Cultural AffairsAgency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo Sesetsu Shingo Bunkacho.jpg
A New Account of the Tales of the World (世説新書 sesetsu shinsho?) fragments of vol. 6 unknown Collection of anecdotes about distinguished people of the Later Han Dynasty to the Eastern Jin Dynasty; backside contains transcription of an esoteric Buddhist manual; oldest extant transcription of this work; handed down in the Kanchi-in subtemple of Tō-ji; split in four parts (all National Treasures) during the Meiji period 0650Tang Dynasty, second half of 7th to first half of 8th century One scroll, ink on paper Hyogo Itami Privateprivate Ninishi Shinemon (小西新右衛門?), Itami, Hyōgo
Mao Shi (毛詩 mōshi?) fragments of vol. 6; Zheng Jian edition[33] unknown Collection of Chinese poems 0618early Tang Dynasty One scroll Tokyo Tokyo Toyo BunkoTōyō Bunko, Tokyo Mao Shin Toyo Bunko.jpg
Meihōki (冥報記?)[17] unknown Collection of Buddhist karmic tales; oldest extant manuscript of this work; thought to have been brought to Japan by Engyō (円行?), a pupil of Kūkai, in 838; one of two Chinese collections that the Nihon Ryōiki was modelled on[34] 838late Tang Dynasty Three scrolls, ink on paper, height: 28.2 cm (11.1 in), lengths: 339.3 cm (133.6 in), 557.7 cm (219.6 in) and 672.7 cm (264.8 in) for scrolls 1, 2 and 3 Kyoto Kyoto KozanjiKōzan-ji, Kyoto Meihoki.jpg
"Elegant Orchid" in the Jieshi Tuning (Jieshidiao Youlan) (碣石調幽蘭 kessekichōyūran?) vol. 5[35][36] unknown Abridged copy of "Score for the seven-stringed zither" (guqin); transcription of the original by the zither player Qiugong (also known as Ming) from Huiji province; in text explanation of the finger movements to perform the piece "Elegant Orchid" and titles of 59 pieces at the end; original lost in China 0700Tang Dynasty, 7th–8th century One handscroll, ink on paper, 27.4 cm × 423.1 cm (10.8 in × 166.6 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo Elegant Orchid.jpg

Japanese manuscripts[edit]

In Japan, until the Heian period, the language of government and ritual was Classical Chinese in which was composed decrees, codes, commands, communications and certificates.[37][38][39] Consequently Chinese books were essential for the education of the (male) aristocracy, and beginning readers studied books such as the Mencius or the Thousand Character Classic.[40][41] Towards the end of the 7th century, to prepare selected sons of the nobility for a government career, Emperor Tenji established the Daigaku-ryō ("Academy").[42][43] At first the curriculum consisted mainly of Confucian Classics and Chinese history.[nb 9][42][43] Chinese learning thrived in the 9th century, and the Academy's curriculum saw a rise in literary composition based on the Chinese books Wen Xuan, Records of the Grand Historian and the Books of Han and Later Han.[37][39][44][45] Unlike in China at the time, Classical Confucian studies, especially the historical and political side of Confucianism, were still held in high esteem in the Heian period with commentaries used for study dating to the Han Dynasty.[46] In fact, one of the Japanese emperor's prescribed activities was listening to lectures on the Chinese classics, histories, and poetic anthologies.[47]

Chinese books had reached Japan since circa 400 AD and had been imported in large quantities through a number of missions during the Sui and Tang Dynasties. Official missions ended after 894, but books continued to reach Japan in the mid to late Heian period through commercial exchange or via priests travelling to China.[48] Imported Chinese books were copied at Japanese libraries, but unlike sutra copying little is known about the actual copying process of Chinese secular works in Japan.[49] The Japanese aristocracy and clergy sponsored the transcription of religious and government texts on a large scale by the Nara period.[50]

The first state library was the Zusho-ryō ("Bureau of Archives") established by the Taihō Code from 701.[nb 10][51] Attached to the Daigaku-ryō, it oversaw the custody (collection and preservation) and transmission of Buddhist and Confucian books from the Nara period, until its destruction by fire in the mid-Heian period (11th century).[8][42][51][52] Collection depended largely on the copying of texts held elsewhere.[49][51] In addition to the Zusho-ryō, books were also copied at imperial palace libraries, private libraries of aristocrats, temple libraries and at libraries of organs of the state.[42][51][53] In the Heian period, the majority of works held in libraries (both those produced in China and those copied in Japan) consisted of Chinese works and scholarly collections were dominated by Chinese secular works.[54] At the end of the Heian period, the great fire of Kyoto in 1177, and the burning of temples by the Taira in 1180, destroyed a large part of the literary heritage.[55][56] During the Kamakura period, the warrior class founded new libraries such as the Kanazawa Bunko.[56]

There are 23 Chinese book National Treasures that are transcriptions produced in Japan. Of these four date to the Nara period, 17 to the Heian period and two to the Kamakura period. The designated items are of various type: four are historical chronicles, four are poetry collections, three are dictionaries or reference books, two are medical or botanical books and one is a book on politics.[4]

Name Authors Remarks Date Format Present location Image
Records of the Grand Historian (史記 shiki?, Chin. Shiji) vol. 10 of the Imperial Biographies (本紀?, Chin. Benji): Chronicle of Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty[57] Ōe no Iekuni (大江家国?) Transcription; oldest manuscript of the shiki; handed down in the Ōe family 1073Heian period, 1073 One scroll, ink on paper, 28.5 cm × 972.7 cm (11.2 in × 383.0 in) Miyagi Sendai Tohoku University Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi Shiki Tohoku.jpg
Records of the Grand Historian (史記 shiki?, Chin. Shiji), Kōzan-ji edition, vol. 2 and 5 of the Imperial Biographies (本紀?, Chin. Benji): Chronicle of the Xia Dynasty and Chronicle of the Qin Dynasty unknown Transcription 1145Heian period, 1145 Two scrolls, ink on paper Tokyo Tokyo Toyo BunkoTōyō Bunko, Tokyo
Records of the Grand Historian (史記 shiki?, Chin. Shiji), vol. 11 of the Imperial Biographies (本紀?, Chin. Benji): Chronicle of the Emperor Jing of Han Dynasty Ōe no Iekuni (大江家国?) Transcription; oldest manuscript of the shiki; handed down in the Ōe family 1073Heian period, 1073 One scroll, ink on paper Tokyo Tokyo Daitokyu Memorial LibraryDaitōkyū Memorial Library (大東急記念文庫 daitōkyū kinen bunko?), Tokyo
Records of the Grand Historian (史記 shiki?, Chin. Shiji), vol. 9 of the Imperial Biographies (本紀?, Chin. Benji): Chronicle of the Empress Lü Zhi Dynasty[58][59] Ōe no Iekuni (大江家国?) Transcription; oldest manuscript of the shiki; handed down in the Ōe family 1073Heian period, 1073 One scroll, ink on paper Yamaguchi Hofu Mori MuseumMōri Museum (毛利博物館?), Hōfu, Yamaguchi Shiki Mori.jpg
Records of the Grand Historian (史記 shiki?, Chin. Shiji), vol. 96 and fragments of vol. 97 unknown Transcription; oldest extant manuscripts of the shiki 0710Nara period, 8th century One scroll, ink on paper Shiga Otsu IshiyamaderaIshiyama-dera, Ōtsu, Shiga
Spring and Autumn Annals collected commentaries (春秋経伝集解 Shunjū keiden shikkai?), vol. 10 unknown Part of a 30 volume work; backside contains considerations on the Diamond Realm 0794Heian period One scroll, ink on paper Tokyo Tokyo Toyo BunkoTōyō Bunko, Tokyo
Spring and Autumn Annals collected commentaries (春秋経伝集解 Shunjū keiden shikkai?), fragments of vol. 26[60] unknown Part of a 30 volume work 0990mid Heian period One scroll, ink on paper Shiga Otsu IshiyamaderaIshiyama-dera, Ōtsu, Shiga
Spring and Autumn Annals collected commentaries (春秋経伝集解 Shunjū keiden shikkai?), fragments of vol. 29[60] unknown Part of a 30 volume work 0990mid Heian period One scroll, ink on paper Shiga Otsu IshiyamaderaIshiyama-dera, Ōtsu, Shiga
Book of Han (漢書 kanjo?), Annals of Han Gaozu No. 2 and fragments of No.4 from the section Biographies[61] unknown Transcription; red annotations from the mid 10th century 0710Nara period Two scrolls, ink on paper Shiga Otsu IshiyamaderaIshiyama-dera, Ōtsu, Shiga
Book of Han (漢書 kanjo?), No. 4 from Treatise on food and merchandise[62] unknown Transcription; end sheet with red ink marks of ministries of ceremonies 0794NaraHeian period One scroll, ink on jute paper, 20 sheets, 27 cm × 1,311 cm (11 in × 516 in) Aichi Nagoya OsukannonŌsukannon (大須観音?) Hōshō-in (宝生院?), Nagoya, Aichi
Huangdi Neijing (黄帝内経 kōteidaikei?): Myōdō (明堂?) vol. 1 and Taiso (太素?) unknown, member(s) of Tanba family Annotated editions of the Chinese medical text Huangdi Neijing; transcribed and handed down in the Tanba family 1167Heian period 1167–1168 (Taiso) and 1296 and 1383 (Myōdō) Myōdō: Two scrolls; Taiso: 23 scrolls Kyoto Kyoto NinnajiNinna-ji, Kyoto Koteidaikei Myodo.jpg
Wenguan cilin (文館詞林 Bunkan shirin?, lit. "Forest of officials' poems and prose") fragments unknown Tang Dynasty imperial poetry collection; other manuscripts of work had been lost in China as early as 9th century 0677Tang Dynasty, and Heian period, 677–823 Twelve scrolls Wakayama Koya ShochiinShōchi-in (正智院?) Kōya, Wakayama Wenguan cilin Shochiin.jpg
Wenguan cilin (文館詞林 Bunkan shirin?, lit. "Forest of officials' poems and prose") fragments unknown Tang Dynasty imperial poetry collection; work had been lost in China as early as 9th century 0618Tang Dynasty, Heian period One scroll Wakayama Koya HojuinHōju-in (宝寿院?) Kōya, Wakayama
Yupian (玉篇 gyokuhen?) vol. 22 unknown Part of a 30 volume Chinese character dictionary; one of two extant complete volumes of the work[nb 11] 0904Heian period, 904 One scroll, ink on paper Mie Ise Ise ShrineIse Shrine Ise, Mie
Book of Odes commentary fragment (毛詩鄭箋残巻 mōshi teisen zankan?)[63] unknown Commentary on the Book of Odes by Zheng Xuan 0794Heian period One scroll, ink on paper Osaka Osaka DainembutsujiDainembutsu-ji (大念仏寺?), Osaka Book of Odes Dainembutsuji.jpg
Kan'en (翰苑?) vol. 30[64] unknown Description of people and geography of ancient Japan, the Three Kingdoms of Korea and China; only extant old manuscript of this work 0900Heian period, 10th century One scroll, ink on paper, 28 sheets of 22–23 lines each with 16–17 characters per line 27.6 cm × 1,585.2 cm (10.9 in × 624.1 in) Fukuoka Dazaifu Dazaifu TenmanguDazaifu Tenman-gū, Dazaifu, Fukuoka Kanen.jpg
Anthology of Tang Dynasty Poems (新撰類林抄 shinsen ruirin-shō?) fragment of vol. 4[65] presumably transcribed by Kūkai Part of an anthology of Chinese poems by Tang Dynasty poets containing 40 poems (282 lines); only extant part of this work 0800Heian period, 9th century One scroll, ink on paper, 27.0 cm × 558.0 cm (10.6 in × 219.7 in) Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto National MuseumKyoto National Museum, Kyoto Shinsen ruirin-shoh1.JPG
New book of the two capitals (両京新記 Ryōkyō shinki?, Chin. Liangling xinji) vol. 3, Kanazawa Bunko edition[66] unknown Account of the life[nb 12] in the capitals Luoyang and Chang'an; other manuscripts of this work had been lost in China; formerly stored at the Kanazawa Bunko library 1185Kamakura period One scroll Tokyo Tokyo Maeda IkutokukaiMaeda Ikutokukai, Tokyo Ryokyoshinki.jpg
Annotated edition of Wen Xuan (文選集注 monsen shicchū?) unknown Chinese poetry collection 1000mid Heian period Seven scrolls, ink on paper Tokyo Tokyo Toyo BunkoTōyō Bunko, Tokyo Annotated edition of Wen Xuan.jpg
Annotated edition of Wen Xuan (文選集注 monsen shicchū?) unknown Chinese poetry collection 0794Heian period 19 scrolls, ink on paper Kanagawa Yokohama ShomyojiShōmyō-ji (称名寺 ?), Yokohama, Kanagawa; custody of Kanazawa Bunko
Book of politics (群書治要 gunsho chiyō?)[67][68] various unknown Summary of good governing skill from various materials; transcription of a Tang Dynasty manuscript; oldest extant copies of the text; paper made of sheets dyed in purple, pale blue, and brown, as well as sheets decorated with flying-clouds; with annotations and grammatical notes; handed down in the Kujō family 1000mid Heian period, 11th century 13 scrolls, ink on colored and decorated paper, 27.0 × (721.2 – 1,472.7) cm (10.6 × (283.9 – 579.8) in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo Gunsho Chiyo2.jpg
Chōgyokushū (琱玉集?), vol. 12 and 14[69] unknown Collection of various topics concerning the Six Dynasties 0747Nara period, 747 Two scrolls, ink on paper, 21 sheets (vol. 12) and 17 sheets (vol. 14), height: 28 cm (11 in), lengths: 1,037 cm (408 in) (vol. 12), 874 cm (344 in) (vol. 14) Aichi Nagoya OsukannonŌsukannon (大須観音?) Hōshō-in (宝生院?), Nagoya, Aichi
Newly Revised Pharmacopoeia (新修本草 Shinshū honzō?) (Xinxiu bencao), vol. 4, 5, 12, 17, 19[70] unknown Transcription of the Tang Dynasty, worldwide first pharmacopoeia; also called Tang bencao (Materia Medica of the Tang Dynasty) 1200Kamakura period, 13th century Five scrolls, ink on Japanese tissue Kyoto Kyoto NinnajiNinna-ji, Kyoto Shinshu honzo.jpg

Song printed editions[edit]

Printing had been known in Japan from at least the 8th century, when a large number of dharani known as Hyakumantō Darani[nb 13] were printed from 764 to 770 and placed in miniature wooden pagodas. These count among the oldest extant printed texts in East Asia and were likely made by woodblock printing.[71][72] The Hyakumantō Darani were ritual Buddhist printings, neither meant for distribution nor for reading.[71][72][73] This practice of devotional printing continued into the Heian period. The first practical printing in Japan can be dated to the 11th century and is associated with sutra commentaries and doctrinal works for which handcopying did not entail religious merit.[73][74][75] Despite the increasing popularity of printing, many texts, particularly Japanese literature, continued to be copied by hand on manuscript scrolls. Commercial printing did not become common until the early 17th century.[74][76]

Printing in China initially had a similar development, starting with the printing of religious scriptures, prayers and popularly useful texts such as almanacs or calendars which were produced for local use by temples. By the Five Dynasties, the government realized the opportunities of printing political and ideological texts such as the Classics.[77] The ensuing Song Dynasty saw great advancements in art, religion and philosophy with scholarly activity greatly facilitated by printed books.[78][79] Consequently, the Chinese publishing industry took off during the Song Dynasty, several hundred years before the same happened in Japan.[77] Enhanced by the Song interest of foreign trade and the maritime activity of the Taira, the book exchange between China and Japan saw a second peak after the Sui and Tang Dynasties starting in 1192.[8][76][78][80] Japanese visitors to Song China returned with a large number of printed books, on a variety of subjects such as history, philosophy, Buddhism, Confucianism, literature, medicine and geography, causing a revival of pure scholarship, which had been sidelined during the earlier obsession with poetry in the Heian period courtier society.[78][79][80][81]

The supply of imported printed editions of Chinese texts was insufficient to meet the demand and by the time of the Taira supremacy collections of Chinese books had become status symbols among the upper class of Japan.[79][82] Books were collected and formed the nuclei of many new libraries, in particular those associated with Zen temples of Kyoto and Kamakura or those founded by samurai families of the Kantō region.[55][79] These libraries became centers of learning and to a great extent stimulated the varied and energetic scholarly activities of the coming medieval age.[79][83] The most important of these new libraries in the Kamakura period was the Kanazawa Bunko, established in 1275 by Hōjō Sanetoki.[84][85][86] Eclectic in scope, it had a huge collection of books embracing the literary culture of all of East Asia, including a great number of Song editions of Chinese works.[83][85][87] The collection was dispersed at the end of the 16th century and partially transferred to Edo by Tokugawa Ieyasu.[85][87] Librarians of Kanazawa Bunko used an ownership seal, making it possible to trace existing copies back to that library.[87] During the Muromachi period Uesugi Norizane revived in 1432 the Ashikaga Gakko library that came to house a bulk of mainly Confucian texts and exegetical works.[83][88][89][90]

Thirteen sets of Song printed books have been designated as National Treasures. Many of them have been handed down in feudal era Japanese clans and were stored at libraries such as Kanazawa Bunko, Ashikaga Gakko or at monasteries such as the one of Tōfuku-ji. They cover mainly Chinese Classics such as books and commentaries on Records of the Grand Historian, the Book of Han, the Book of Later Han, Classic of History, Book of Rites, Book of Songs or the Book of Changes. Two are encyclopedias.[4]

Name Remarks Date Format Present location Image
Giso Rokujō, Song edition (宋刊義楚六帖 sōhan giso rokujō?) Encyclopedic account of Buddhism 1127Southern Song, 1127 12 books bound by fukuro-toji[nb 2] Kyoto Kyoto TofukujiTōfuku-ji, Kyoto
Compilation of Ouyang Xiu, Song printed edition (宋刊本欧陽文忠公集 sōkanpon ōyō bunchūkōshū?) Kanazawa Bunko edition (金沢文庫本 kanazawa bunkobon?) Formerly stored at the Kanazawa Bunko library 1196Southern Song, 1196 39 books bound by fukuro-toji,[nb 2] 28 cm × 18.5 cm (11.0 in × 7.3 in) Nara Tenri Tenri Central LibraryTenri Central Library, Tenri, Nara Ouyang Xiu Compilation.jpg
Records of the Grand Historian collected commentaries, Song printed edition (宋刊本史記集解 sōkanpon shiki shikkai?)
1127Southern Song Eleven books bound by fukuro-toji[nb 2] Osaka Osaka Takeda Science FoundationTakeda Science Foundation (武田科学振興財団 Takeda Kagaku Shinkōzaidan?), Osaka
Wen Xuan, Song printed edition (宋刊本文選 sōkanbon monzen?) Kanazawa Bunko edition (金沢文庫本 kanazawa bunkobon?)[91] With contributions by Hōjō Ujimasa and Kyūka Zuiyo (九華瑞璵) from 1560; formerly stored at the Kanazawa Bunko library; from June 1560 in possession of Ashikaga Gakko 1127Southern Song 21 books bound by fukuro-toji,[nb 2] 29.1 cm × 19.1 cm (11.5 in × 7.5 in) Tochigi Ashikaga Ashikaga Gakko Remain LibraryAshikaga Gakko Remain Library (足利学校遺蹟図書館 Ashikaga Gakkō iseki toshōkan?), Ashikaga, Tochigi
Book of Han, Song edition (宋版漢書 sōhan kanjo?), Keigen printed edition (慶元刊本 keigen kanpon?) Handed down in the Kōjōkan (興譲館?), an Edo period clan school of the Yonezawa Domain 1195Southern Song, Keigen era (1195–1200) 61 books bound by fukuro-toji[nb 2] Chiba Sakura National Museum of Japanese HistoryNational Museum of Japanese History, Sakura, Chiba
Book of the Later Han, Song edition (宋版後漢書 sōhan gokanjo?), Keigen printed edition (慶元刊本 keigen kanpon?) Chinese historical work, handed down in the Kōjōkan (興譲館?), an Edo period clan school of the Yonezawa Domain 1127Southern Song 60 books bound by fukuro-toji[nb 2] Chiba Sakura National Museum of Japanese HistoryNational Museum of Japanese History, Sakura, Chiba
Records of the Grand Historian, Song edition (宋版史記 sōhanshiki?) Huang Shanfu printed edition (黄善夫刊本?) Oldest Song edition of this work; formerly in possession of the Kōjōkan (興譲館?), an Edo period clan school of the Yonezawa Domain 1127Southern Song 90 books bound by fukuro-toji[nb 2] Chiba Sakura National Museum of Japanese HistoryNational Museum of Japanese History, Sakura, Chiba
Detailed Commentary to the Changes of Zhou (Zhou Yi), Song edition (宋版周易注疏 Sōban Shūeki Chūso?)[92] Postscript near the end of each volume indicating the year (1234–1236) 1234Southern Song, 1234–1236 13 books bound by fukuro-toji,[nb 2] ink on paper, 27.0 cm × 19.1 cm (10.6 in × 7.5 in) Tochigi Ashikaga Ashikaga Gakko Remain LibraryAshikaga Gakko Remain Library (足利学校遺蹟図書館 Ashikaga Gakkō iseki toshōkan?), Ashikaga, Tochigi
Commentary on the Book of History, Song edition (宋版尚書正義 sōban shōshoseigi?)[93] Each page has 8 lines with 16–21 characters per line with annotation lines consisting of two rows instead of one 1127Southern Song 8 books bound by fukuro-toji,[nb 2] ink on paper, 28.3 cm × 18.2 cm (11.1 in × 7.2 in) Tochigi Ashikaga Ashikaga Gakko Remain LibraryAshikaga Gakko Remain Library (足利学校遺蹟図書館 Ashikaga Gakkō iseki toshōkan?), Ashikaga, Tochigi Book of History Commentary.jpg
Commentary on the Book of Rites, Song edition (宋版礼記正義 sōban raikiseigi?)[94] With red seals and text in India ink indicating the hereditary in the Ashikaga Gakko Library 1127Southern Song 2 books bound by fukuro-toji,[nb 2] ink on paper, 26 cm × 18.7 cm (10.2 in × 7.4 in) Tochigi Ashikaga Ashikaga Gakko Remain LibraryAshikaga Gakko Remain Library (足利学校遺蹟図書館 Ashikaga Gakkō iseki toshōkan?), Ashikaga, Tochigi Book of Rites commentary.jpg
Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era, Song edition (宋版太平御覧 sōban taiheigyoran?) Massive encyclopedia, part of the Four Great Books of Song 1199Southern Song, 1199 103 books bound by fukuro-toji,[nb 2] ink on paper Kyoto Kyoto TofukujiTōfuku-ji, Kyoto
Commentary on the Book of Songs, Song edition (宋版毛詩正義 sōban mōshiseigi?), Kanazawa Bunko edition (金沢文庫本 kanazawa bunkobon?) Formerly stored at the Kanazawa Bunko library 1139Southern Song, 1139 17 books bound by fukuro-toji,[nb 2] ink on paper Osaka Osaka Takeda Science FoundationTakeda Science Foundation (武田科学振興財団 Takeda Kagaku Shinkōzaidan?), Osaka
Anthology of Liu Mengde, Song edition (宋版劉夢得文集 sōhan ryūbōtoku bunshū?) Anthology by Liu Yuxi 1127Southern Song 12 bound books by fukuro-toji,[nb 2] ink on paper Nara Tenri Tenri Central LibraryTenri Central Library, Tenri, Nara Li Mengde Anthology.jpg

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Only the oldest period is counted, if a National Treasure consists of items from more than one period.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n (袋とじ) binding folded uncut pages in a book, so that there are two blank pages between two pages outside.
  3. ^ Inscriptions on imported coins and artefacts are older but were not perceived as language by the Japanese at the time.
  4. ^ The Thousand Character Classic as known today was not compiled at the time of Wani throwing doubt on the accuracy of this legend.
  5. ^ According to another source, the text composed by Prince Shōtoku shows familiarity with fifteen Chinese literary, historical, and philosophical works: the Odes, Book of History, Classic of Filial Piety, Analects, Chronicle of Zuo, Book of Rites, Guanzi, Records of the Grand Historian, Book of Han, Wen Xuan, Mencius, Mozi, Laozi, Zhuangzi and Han Feizi.
  6. ^ Bai Juyi was the most influential Tang Dynasty poet in Japan and his collected works were imported in 836.
  7. ^ The second complementary half at Ishiyama-dera has been designated as a National Treasure. The only other extant complete volume of the Yupian is vol. 22 and survives in a transcription made in Japan located Ise Shrine. It has been designated as a National Treasure.
  8. ^ The first complementary half at Kōzan-ji has been designated as a National Treasure. The only other extant complete volume of the Yupian is vol. 22 and survives in a transcription made in Japan located Ise Shrine. It has been designated as a National Treasure.
  9. ^ In addition medicine, astronomy, mathematics and music were taught.
  10. ^ Promulgated one year later in 702.
  11. ^ The other complete volume is number 27 and exists in two halves located at Kōzan-ji and Ishiyama-dera, both designated as National Treasures.
  12. ^ At the palace, government offices, monks' quarters, temples and residences
  13. ^ There are about 1000 extant, but contemporary sources such as the Shoku Nihongi mention that up to one million dharani were produced.

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]