Program in Japanese History

Top > Undergraduate Studies > Program in Japanese History

Program in Japanese History

Research on Japanese history begins with reading historical documents, including ancient manuscripts. In recent years, researchers have begun to make use of other materials, pictorial materials and excavated artifacts, but written documents are still our most basic tools. That is why students who select this program begin taking classes about historical documentation in the second year: Reading Japanese Historical Materials and Paleography. The courses in Reading Japanese Historical Materials are set for the second and third years and center on reading and understanding classical Chinese documents and documents written in old-style calligraphy. In the Paleography course, we will classify documents according to form or function and study them systematically. The language used in these documents may seem almost like a foreign language for the students, but we think students will find the experience of hearing the voices of historical figures directly deeply moving.

With this foundation, students will be divided into their respective seminars beginning in the third year and begin researching the era that they have chosen to specialize in. Usually, students study historical documents in the seminars, but the content of the seminars will consist of extremely orthodox topics for each era and the historical documents used as texts will be nothing unusual. However, these seminars will help students acquire the techniques that scholars use in their research, and they will bring the results of their learning together in their graduation theses. In their classes, discussions with faculty members and fellow students will help students discover new facts of their personalities.

At present, the Program in Japanese History is divided into five seminars: Ancient History, Medieval History, History of the Edo Period, Early Modern History, and Contemporary History. At some universities, two or three faculty members are responsible for all of Japanese history, but fortunately, here at Aoyama Gakuin, there are five faculty members who can help the students in their studies. This is a rich and satisfying environment for both students and faculty members.