The International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) was founded in 1987.
Devoted to interdisciplinary and comprehensive research on Japanese culture from an
international perspective, it is an inter-university research institute supported by
Until now, the study of Japanese culture has for the most part been pursued within Japan,
and has largely been led by scholars born and bred in Japan. In this sense, we might
regard Japan as the home of research on Japanese culture. This is not to say that there
are no scholars of Japan active overseas. On the contrary, overseas scholars have
contributed a not insignificant volume of research. The study of Japan overseas has
frequently served, moreover, as a stimulus to research here in Japan. It has at times
served to reposition research, which has a tendency to become insular and introverted.
This is precisely why we aim for the internationalization of research. The diverse forms
of research conducted overseas have the latent potential to invigorate research in this
country. We have always sought to expand opportunities for international exchange with
this expectation in mind.
Every year, we at Nichibunken invite ten or more scholars from overseas to join us. The
team research projects we undertake at Nichibunken, too, have a quota for overseas
participants. We also have numerous opportunities to host international research
symposiums here, and our faculty have regularly travelled abroad to participate in
meetings on Japanese cultural studies. We work with foreign research institutes to
organize venues for joint discussion.
At Nichibunken, we refer to these endeavors as "research support activities." But it is
not that we are simply supporting the endeavors of overseas scholars. Rather, we believe
that such activities have the potential to enrich the research on Japanese culture being
pursued within Japan. This is precisely why we have devoted ourselves to the creation of
a place for international research. I myself have benefitted greatly from participation
in such opportunities.
The study of Japanese culture carried out in the nineteenth century in Europe and America
was often called "Japanology." It no doubt acquired that name because it was not bounded
by disciplines. Research today, when it pertains to Japan, tends to be pursued in
separate fields, and present-day scholarship, whether in Japan or overseas, has moved
beyond the realm of Japanology.
But the Japanologists of the past had virtues that today's researchers have lost sight
of. They had a vision that is lacking in research that is constrained by disciplinary
frameworks. They had a breadth that is missing when research is divided by fields of
specialization, as is the case today. We have long treasured the legacy of Japanology.
That is why, since its founding, Nichibunken has advocated a "new Japanology," and
emphasized interdisciplinary and comprehensive research.
INOUE Shōichi, Director-General