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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies
East Asian Studies
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I did my BA in Japanese and Korean at Oxford and then did a D.Phil. in 19th-century Japanese literature. I have spent about six years in Japan in total, mostly in Kyoto. I first taught Japanese at the University of Tasmania, in Australia, where I also acquired a taste for Australian wine and bushwalking in the Tasmanian Wilderness. After four years there, from 1978 to 1982, I became associate professor at the Humanities Research Institute of Kyoto University. From the beginning of 1985 I have been based in Cambridge as lecturer, reader and then, from 2001, as professor. In 1992 I was awarded the Japan Foundation Special Prize (with Hayashi Nozomu), in 2002 I was elected a fellow of The British Academy, in 2011 I received the degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Oxford, in 2012 I was elected a member of the Academia Europea and in 2013 I was awarded the Yamagata Bantô prize.


  • 1972 BA Oxford
  • 1975 MSc Oxford
  • 1979 DPhil Oxford
  • 1992 Japan Foundation Special Prize (with Hayashi Nozomu)
  • 1993 Japan Festival Award (with Richard Bowring)
  • 2000 Elected Fellow of the British Academy
  • 2004 Elected Honorary Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford
  • 2011 DLitt Oxford
  • 2012 Member of Academia Europea
  • 2013 Yamagata Banto prize

Research Interests

For much of my career I have been studying the history of the book in Japan, in order to get a better idea of how ideas and literature circulated, how books were read and what factors determined their reception. I have published catalogues of the large collection of early Japanese books in Cambridge University Library and of various other collections in Manchester, Lille and Moscow; in 1989 I launched the Union Catalogue of Early Japanese Books in Europe project. In 1998 I published The book in Japan: a cultural history from the beginnings to the nineteenth century which explores a range of issues from censorship to lending libraries, and in 2010 I published a collection of essays on Japanese women readers in the Edo and Meiji periods, the fruit of collaboration with two former graduate students, Gaye Rowley (now teaching at Waseda University in Japan) and Mara Patessio (now teaching at Manchester University). In 2010 I became managing editor of a new journal which first appeared in 2011, East Asian Publishing and Society.