Division of History

Division of History

Japanese History

Japanese history is an academic discipline whose aim is to comprehensively understand the continuously changing society and culture born on the Japanese archipelago. Evolving over this long history, Japanese society and culture have had a definitive influence on the ways Japanese people think and act. Hence, for Japanese students, pondering Japan’s history means nothing other than the endeavor to understand themselves and the external world that has shaped them.

Now that many international students have enrolled in our programs, our interests are, of course, no longer simply studying “Japanese history from the Japanese viewpoint”. Moreover, as Japanese society and culture were born through interactions with other regions of the world, it is also essential to discern those processes. We aspire to attain a balanced understanding of history based on respect for differing viewpoints. To that end, our curriculum is designed to provide students with skills for reading historical documents with accuracy and precision as well as an ability to conceive research projects from broad perspectives.

For students learning Japanese history, the Department of Japanese History, Kyoto University Graduate School of Letters surely offers an ideal environment for study. Our collection of historical resources has been enriched for over a century; now more than 50,000 primary historical resources are available for access by students. Our reading courses sometimes use ancient documents that are one thousand years old. Also, one advantage of studying in Kyoto that should never be forgotten is that students can visit, when necessary, important historical locations and sites while pursuing their studies amidst the cultural tradition of the ancient capital. Tours to different parts of the country, which expose students to a variety of historical sites and cultural assets and which are intended to enhance their knowledge and personal interactions, are organized in spring and autumn each year.

For PDF version, click this icon. PDF File

YOSHIKAWA, Shinji Prof. Political and social history of ancient Japan
UEJIMA, Susumu Prof. History of medieval Japan
TANIGAWA, Yutaka Prof. History of Education and religion in Modern Japan
MIYAKE,Masahiro Assoc. Prof. History of madern Japan
MATSUI Naoto Ass. Prof. Medieval Japanese history
ERICSON Kjell David Program-Secific Lecturer Japanese History

Oriental History

The Department of Oriental History deals with the history of China and other nations and regions of East Asia (e.g. Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea, East Turkestan, Tibet and Southeast Asia). A great variety and number of courses are offered not only by the department faculty, but also those of the Graduate School ofHuman and Environmental Studies and the Institute for Research in Humanities. As developing the skills required for accurate reading of historical materials is essential for a historian, the undergraduate program places particular emphasis on seminars devoted to classical Chinese historiography and reading courses. Preparation for this type of class typically consumes much of a third-year undergraduate’s time. Skills in reading classical Chinese are also essential in studying the histories of Korea, Inner Asia and even Southeast Asia. In addition, knowledge of modern Chinese is essential not only for reading publications by Chinese researchers but for understanding classical sources as well. Prospective students are encouraged to acquire as much knowledge of the language of their studies as possible prior to enrollment. Those students who are interested in studying the history of a region other than China will need to learn the relevant local language, such as Korean, Mongolian, Manchurian, Tibetan or Vietnamese (some of which are taught in undergraduate courses).

With some of the best archives of the literature of oriental history in the libraries of the Graduate School of Letters, the Center for Eurasian Cultural Studies, the Center for Informatics in East Asian Studies, the Institute for Research in the Humanities, Kyoto University offers an ideal learning environment. The research interests of our graduate students, research students and fellows, who join undergraduate students in voluntary study sessions, cover virtually all fields of oriental history. Senior members of the student community such as graduate students serve as mentors for undergraduate students in their day-to-day work. The department also hosts the secretariat of the Society of Oriental Researches (Toyoshi-Kenkyu-kai), a nationwide research society, which holds annual meetings and publishes Toyoshi Kenkyu (The Journal of Oriental Researches) quarterly. The journal boasts an outstanding international reputation as a gateway to the scholarly community for young researchers.

For PDF version, click this icon. PDF File

YOSHIMOTO, Michimasa Prof. History of ancient China
NAKASUNA, Akinori Prof. Chinese cultural history; Chinese historiography

West-Asian History

Although the Japanese name of the department, Sei nan ajia shigaku, derives from the South and Western Asian History Course, founded within the Department of Oriental History in 1957, the department in fact emphasizes the history and culture of Western and Central Asia in education and research. We offer a variety of courses in the three major languages of these regions, namely Arabic, Persian and Turkish. The courses range from elementary grammar to advanced reading using historical materials, which enable students to learn the language in a gradual step-by-step fashion. Students in the department are encouraged to attain proficiency in at least one of these languages, and if possible, several. Our policy, just like those of other departments in the faculty, is first to foster student ability to read historical materials appropriately, then to respect their independence as much as possible in the choice of research orientations and topics. Research interests of past and current students have thus covered almost all regions and ages from which historical materials written in one of those three languages remain, including not only the Middle East and Central Eurasia but also the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, Western Siberia, the Indian subcontinent and Eastern Turkestan. Research and education in ancient Oriental history has also been pursued in the faculty, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain courses in this field. Graduates from our undergraduate programs have been successful in diverse fields including research and education, government, business and the mass media. In recent years, more and more students have found employment in the governmental and business sectors after completing the masters’ program.

For PDF version, click this icon. PDF File


ISOGAI Kenichi Prof.  History of Central Asia
IWAMOTO Keiko Assoc. Prof. West-Asian history, Ottoman Empire, Nomadic peiple

European History

Japan has learnt many things from the West in the political, economic and cultural spheres since the Meiji period, but it was not until after World War II that the academic pursuit of research and education in European history in Japan started afresh. To build peaceful and friendly relations with other countries, it is essential to understand the history of those countries and regions; that is a lesson learned thorough the experience of the Second World War. This is the role European hiatory studies have come to play in Japan; there is still much that Japanese people can learn from Europe and its history.

Many elements of politics, economics and other systems that envelop us as well as much of the art and culture with which we are familiar originated in Europe. These elements originate from historical phenomena peculiar to Europe such as the ancient Greek polis, the Roman Empire, medieval feudalism, Christian culture, communes, Universities, the Renaissance, the Reformation and conflicts between religious sects, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, civil society, constitutions, parliaments or the nation-state.

As long as we keep on studying these multifaceted areas of history and pondering what the reception ofWestern culture has meant for Japan, a country with a different historical background, we will never lose sight of the knowledge required for building mutual understanding between Japan and Europe in this fast-changing globalized world.

The Kyoto University European history course offers introductory courses, special lectures on specific topics, reading courses in relevant languages, and seminar courses in which participants learn how to read and analyze academic articles or historical material, and how to construct their own arguments from these sources. These courses are taught by four full-time faculty members specializing respectively in antiquity, the Middle Ages, the early modern period and the modern age, as well as by part-time lecturers from other Universities. Students are expected to develop an understanding of various issues in different regions of Europe in diverse periods, and finally, to choose a research topic to work on for the completion of a graduation thesis that will demonstrate their own original findings.

For PDF version, click this icon. PDF File

KOYAMA, Satoshi Prof. History of early modern Poland
KANAZAWA, Shusaku Prof. Modern British history
FUJII Takashi Assoc. Prof. Hellenistic History,Roman History,Greek Epigraphy
YASUHIRA Genji Lecturer Early Modern European History


Archaeology is a discipline that pursues a historical vision through material evidence (archeological artifacts) obtained primarily through excavations. In 1916, Kōsaku Hamada was appointed to the first university professorship devoted to archaeology in Japan; an appointment that laid the foundation for the present department. Ever since, an emphasis on detailed observation and analysis of artifacts has characterized its work. The object of archaeological study can be any period or location as long as there remains something made by people who lived in the past or vestiges of their lives. Archaeologists obtain material evidence containing various kinds of historical data through excavation, recognize a material culture based on this evidence, and decipher the spiritual culture behind it. Interpreting archaeological artifacts, about which no testimony from the creators or the users is available, requires a level of concentration that would never overlook the subtlest detail, as well as a broad knowledge of other human and social sciences such as cultural anthropology. Furthermore, in modern archaeology, micro-scientific analysis of, for example, genetic material from animal and plant remains also contributes to the restoration of a historical vision. Even though students themselves are not required to perform such analysis, they need to be aware of the kinds of data that analytical technologies from the natural sciences can provide and to maintain serious interest in them. Progress in our research also relies on results of excavations conducted by other universities, research institutions, prefectures and municipalities and their collections. Thus, we must pay great respect in cooperating with these institutions.

Believing that a museum was essential for the study of archaeology, the first professor of Archaeology Kōsaku Hamada opened an exhibition room for archaeological materials in what is now the Faculty of Letters Exhibition Hall.

Part of the Exhibition Hall has been registered as an Important Cultural Asset by the national government and continues to be utilized as a site of faculty research and education activities.

For PDF version, click this icon. PDF File

YOSHII, Hideo Prof. Korean Archaeology
SHIMOGAKI, Hitoshi Prof. Japanese Archaeology

(Cooperative Professors)

IWAI, Shigeki Prof. History of Chinese Institutions
OKAMURA, Hidenori Prof. Archaeological Study of Ancient China
FUNAYAMA, Toru Prof. Scholastic Tradition and Practice in Indian and Chinese Buddhism
IKEDA, Takumi Assoc. Prof. Sino-Tibetan Dialectology
TAKAGI, Hiroshi Assoc. Prof. Modern Japanese Cultural History
IWAKI, Takuji Assoc. Prof. History of modern Japan

(The Office of Information and Network Services)

XU Qin Ass. Prof.