Societies and Institutes
Japanese academic life needed rebuilding after WW2. The jingoistic ends to which Sinology had been turned during the prewar years, and government suppression of independent scholarship during the war, made necessary an ethos replacement and new organizational initiatives. One of the earliest of the new initiatives was the formation of the Tôhô Gakkai (Institute of Eastern Culture) in June 1947.
The new Institute was founded by members of two organizations for the study of China which had been supported by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs: the Tôhô Bunka Gakuin (Tôkyô) and the Tôhô Bunka Kenkyûjo (Kyôto). Though itself loosely under the supervision of the Foreign Ministry, Tôhô Gakkai was established as a non-governmental scholarly organization with the mandate to (1) promote Asian studies in Japan, (2) " contribute to the cultural development of Asian countries through scholarship," and (3) encourage international scholarly communication, and thereby to "render service to cultural interchange among nations." The Institute was interdisciplinary from the beginning, and though it long retained its precursor organizations' emphasis on China, this focus has broadened in recent years. Other activities have diminished or narrowed in proportion, as the Institute has adapted itself to changing conditions over the half-century of its existence.
The Institute sponsored an annual conference, initially called the International Conference of Orientalists in Japan, held in either Kyôto or Tôkyô, beginning in 1956. The series is currently called the International Conference of Eastern Studies (ICES); the 40th anniversary conference drew more than 500 participants from 30 countries. The original two-day sessions were scaled back to a one-day session in Tôkyô in 1999, with emphasis on symposia rather than individual papers.
International scholarship came to Japan in 1983, in form of the 31st meeting of the International Congress of Orientalists (recently renamed the International Congress of Human Sciences in Asia and North Africa). This was held in Tôkyô and Kyôto from 31 August to 7 September 1983, with the Institute as host and organizer. There were a total of 782 papers from 1,863 participants, representing 50 countries.
The institute puts out several notable publications: (1) Tôhôgaku, a biannual Japanese-language journal with English summaries, first issued in 1951, (2) the Transactions of the Institute's International Conference of Eastern Studies, whose first meeting was in 1956, and (3) a biannual English-language journal, Acta Asiatica, first issued in 1961 as an international forum for Japanese Asian scholars. A fourth major effort, the annual review Books and Articles on Oriental Subjects Published In Japan, began in 1954 but was discontinued with issue #43 (covering 1996, published in 1998).
With the cooperation of the Japan Foundation, the Institute has over the years brought international scholars to Japan for a brief stay to establish acquaintance and facilitate communication with Japanese scholars. European, Chinese, South Asian, and recently Korean scholars have been included in this program. Among the first European scholars taking part were Jacques Gernet (Paris), A. F. P. Hulsewé (Leiden), Douglas Mills (Cambridge), Kristof Glamann (Copenhagen), Lionello Lanciotti (IsMEO), and Erik Zürcher (Leiden); also Romila Thapar (Jawaharlal Nehru University) and Rostislav B. Rybakov (Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies).
The Institute's official contact information is:
The Toho Gakkai (Institute of Eastern Culture)
2-4-1 Nishi-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0065, Japan
Phone: (+81) 3-3262-7221
Fax: (+81) 3-3262-7227
- Tôhô Gakkai web site
11 June 2004 / Contact The Project / Exit to Sinology Page