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Accepted Paper:

How Did People of the Edo Period (1603-1868) Learn Japanese History?  

Author:

Takatoshi Kiba (Kyoto University of Advanced Science)

Paper short abstract:

This report will discuss how did the people of the Edo period learn their own history through publications. From the standpoints of the transmitter and producer as well as the reader and consumer of history text, this report considers the acquisition of historical knowledge meant for people.

Paper long abstract:

How did the people—especially ordinary people—of the Edo period (1603-1868) learn about the history of their own country? There are two possibilities: One was through oral accounts, and the other is through publications. The latter is the focus of this report.

Chronological tables and chronicles are examples of publications compiled to present the history of Japan. Appendices to setsuyōshū (Japanese-language dictionaries) and other dictionaries and encyclopedias feature similar apparatus, and illustrations were added to them as supplementary visual aids to present historical incidents that might be difficult for readers to comprehend solely from the texts.

Also significant is the design of the editors and publishers in selecting which items will be illustrated from among the array of historical incidents. In other words, what they chose is likely to have been based on what would help the book to sell well as a commodity and what kind of articles consumers enjoy. By looking at illustrated history books, this report seeks to examine the nature of interest in history among people of those times.

Another point for consideration is how readers (consumers) applied the historical knowledge they obtained. Writers, for instance, incorporated such knowledge into their works. Kawachiya Kashō, a wealthy farmer of Kawachi province (now eastern part of Osaka prefecture), recorded his lineage alongside the history of Japan in an attempt to demonstrate the prestige of his lineage.

This report aims to consider—from the standpoints of the transmitter and producer as well as the reader and consumer of history text—what the acquisition of historical knowledge meant for people in the Edo era.

Panel LitPre01
Illustration as the Intersection of Culture and Information