This is the official webpage of the Graduate Summer School in Japanese Early-modern Palaeography at Emmanuel College, the University of Cambridge.


Holistic wahon literacy  総合的な和本リテラシー

Running every year in the first two weeks of August, this Graduate Summer School is unique in its training in the complex set of skills required for the decoding of early modern (Edo period) Japanese manuscripts, printed texts and archival materials. Our aim is to provide the participants with what we like to refer to as ‘holistic wahon literacy’ (in Japanese 総合的な和本リテラシー) . This means that we teach what is known in jargon as kuzushiji くずし字 but not only. We also train our participants in those linguistic abilities that are necessary to decode a wide range of materials. These includekanbun kundoku 漢文訓読 and sōrōbun 候文 (in sōsho 草書). At the end of these two intensive weeks of tuition, the participants are equipped with the basic palaeographic and linguistic knowledge which are necessary to approach any sort of early-modern material and with strategies to further advance in this field.


Every year we choose a specific theme in Japanese early modern cultural history and organize a list of primary sources around it. Equal exposure is ensured among texts in wabun (in sōsho), kanbun kundoku and sōrōbun (in sōsho). We tend to use texts that are not accessible in transcriptions or modern editions.

Teaching philosophy

Years of experience have allowed us to develop an effective teaching method. Each day the participants have 6 hours of tuition that alternate wabunkanbun and sōrōbun in a mixture of lecture-style and seminar-style sessions. Individual work a well as group work is encouraged and all sessions foster active participation. While the pace is certainly intense, we take care in catering for individual’s learning needs.