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Graduate Summer School in Japanese Early-modern Palaeography

Graduate Summer School in Japanese Early-modern Palaeography

We are delighted to announce that the Fourth Graduate Summer School in Japanese Early-modern Palaeography will run from Monday 7 August to Saturday 19 August 2017 at the University of Cambridge, Emmanuel College (Cambridge, UK). We are now accepting applications. The deadline for submitting an application is 10 February 2017.


Our sustained work in teaching what we call holistic wahon literacy  総合的な和本リテラシー  has resulted in a programme that works very effectively. In the seventy-two hours of tuition that we offer, we devote roughly the same amount of hours to the three linguistic/palaeographic areas of wabun in cursive (kuzushiji and hentaigana), kanbun in non-cursive and sōrōbun in cursive. The programme also includes sessions with the London-based calligraphy master Yukiko Ayres. These sessions, specially designed to enhance your reading abilities by writing cursive kanji and kana, have proved to be very helpful. Lectures from specialists in the areas of textual bibliography and palaeography complement the core tuition. The theme of this year summer school is Daily life in Edo-period Japan  江戸時代の庶民生活.

You can read more about our teaching philosophy in the forthcoming number of the journal Shomotsugaku 書物学 no.9, October 2016.

Learning outcomes

It is more and more the case that positions at academic institutions, libraries and museums require palaeographic knowledge at some level. Our Graduate Summer School is designed to provide you with the skills necessary to tackle a wide range of early-modern primary sources in their original format by yourself and, therefore, to be competitive in this kind of job opportunities.

With us:

  • You become familiar with the variety of palaeographic challenges that characterize the wide range of Edo-period primary sources.
  • You learn effective techniques to master kuzushiji and hentaigana.
  • You gain a firm grasp of how cursive sōrōbun works in archival materials and develop strategies to decode these texts.
  • You are exposed to the importance of kanbun in reading Edo-period sources and learn specific ways to read these sources.
  • You are encouraged to identify research topics in the area of Japanese early-modern palaeography.

Who can apply?

As in the previous years, we welcome graduate students (both at the Master and at the PhD level), faculty, librarians and museum curators who work on Edo-period materials, and final-year undergraduate students interested in pursuing the study of early-modern Japan in grad school. Those who have already taken part in the previous Graduate Summer Schools are encouraged to reapply if they wish to do so. The programme changes every year.


We require that you have:

1. Advanced knowledge of modern Japanese (both written and spoken).

2. Solid knowledge of classical Japanese (bungo).

Acceptance to the programme

We can only accept 20 participants every year. If we receive applications beyond this number a selection will be made on the basis of the relevance of the Graduate Summer School to the applicant’s research and work. Notification about whether an applicant has been accepted or not will be sent at the end of February 2017. If you need a visa or if you are applying for funding in your institution, we are happy to write a letter of invitation. Just let us know with plenty of notice.

Tuition fee

The tuition fee for the whole programme is £200. This covers the seventy-two hours of tuition. We ask that a non-refundable deposit of £50 is paid by 1 June 2017. Information about how to pay will follow in an email sent to those who have been accepted in the programme.


Participants are very welcome (but not obliged, of course!) to stay at Emmanuel College for the duration of the Graduate Summer School. This year we can offer the following rate:

7-10 August, £35 per night, en-suite single room with breakfast

11-19 August, £30 per night, en-suite single room (no breakfast)

Double rooms are also available at a higher price. Please note that children are not admitted in college.

Financial contribution

Modest funds are available to assist students (final-year undergraduate and graduate students) coming from institutions unable to offer support and with no other source of funding available. If you apply for funding, you will be requested to submit your CV and one letter of reference. If we receive applications exceeding the available funding, a process of screening will be put in place.

To apply

To apply please submit the application form that you find online at:

As indicated above, the deadline for submitting your application is 10 February 2017.

Further queries

If you have any query, please contact Dr Laura Moretti at: . Alternatively use the form available at

You can access this information on the official website of the Graduate Summer School at: