Interdisciplinary International Research on the Origin and Development of Antiquarianism and Evidence-based Scholarship in the Late Tokugawa Period

Project members

Maki Nakai (Principal Investigator; Specially Appointed Associate Professor, Meiji University)

Fumiko Kobayashi (Co-Investigator; Professor, Faculty of Letters, Hosei University)

Bettina Gramlich-Oka (Co-Investigator; Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Graduate School of Global Studies, Sophia University)

Margarita Winkel (Research Collaborator; Leiden University)


The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw a boom in empirical research and antiquarianism among Japanese intellectuals. Figures from a wide range of social strata energetically observed and sketched multiple types of objects and exchanged sketches and annotations.

The vogue in antiquarianism and evidence-based scholarship has recently attracted the attention of researchers, who have seen in it the seeds of modern humanistic studies or a mentality typical of the era, but many questions remain to be pursued. These include the influence of the traditional study of customs and practices (kojitsu) on the one hand and Dutch studies on the other, the gender characteristics of activities conducted almost exclusively by men, and a global comparison with antiquarianism in the West and China in the same period.

This project will explore the intersection between these elements, making use of the Japan Biographical Database (JBDB) to focus on networks of intellectuals as well as individual case studies, and emphasizing interdisciplinary joint research with domestic and international collaborators.

This research plan is funded by the JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C), research project no. 22K00863, 2022-2024.