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Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books

Keio University via FutureLearn


[What’s new]The Educators/Hosts will facilitate this course. Our next facilitation period is 30 Jan - 26 Feb, 2023. We look forward to your active participation!

Books have played a major role in the formation of Japan’s culture, particularly those brought from China. On this course we’ll examine how big an impact these books have had, as well as looking at how books and religion are connected in Japan and East Asia, and the history of publishing in Japan.

Understand more about Chinese books, language and culture

Through the course you’ll discover more about the different types of Chinese books, their characteristics and their history. We’ll also look at books with strong Chinese influences and examine the culture of the area of the world that use the Chinese writing system.

Learn about the development of Japanese culture

We’ll then look at how these books made their way to Japan and how Chinese culture influenced Japanese culture. In particular we’ll focus on the Analects of Confucius and how the book has been received in Japan - from its introduction in the 3rd Century to how it’s considered today.

In addition we’ll look at books on Chinese studies from medieval to early modern Japan, how books from China and Korea were studied and disseminated and how the process created new types of book like commentaries and revised editions.

Explore the connection between books and religion in East Asia

You’ll also learn about the connections between publishing and religion - examining the influence of Zen Buddhism on Japanese culture.

The Japanese version of this course is available.

There are no special requirements for this course, but an interest in East Asian culture or history might be useful.



  • Early History of Printing and Book Culture in Japan
    • Introduction
    • East Asian Textual Culture and Mahayana Texts
    • Printing as duplicating symbols
    • Printed books as replicas of manuscripts
    • Importing Chinese Culture
    • Books for practical purposes
    • The road to commercial publishing
  • The Analects of Confucius
    • Introduction to the Analects of Confucius
    • The Analects and Japan
    • The Analects in Medieval Japan
    • The Analects in the early modern period
    • The Analects' influence on politics and economic policy
  • Books on Chinese Studies - Recomposition and creation in medieval Zen temples
    • Introduction to Week 3
    • Chinese books by Zen Temples
    • Original Works by Japanese Zen monks
    • A journey around the "Santishi"
    • Books in Chinese studies
  • Books in Chinese Studies - from medieval to early modern Japan
    • Welcome to Week 4
    • Hayashi family of scholars (Rinke) - bridging Medieval Period to Early Modern Period -
    • "Tangshi xuan" sensation
    • Publishing Activity by Shōheizaka Gakumonjo
    • Summary of the course



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