1. A Collection of Dictionaries for English Studies from the Bakumatsu (late Edo) and the Meiji Periods
The time from the Bakumatsu period (the late Edo period, 1853–1867) through the Meiji period (1868–1912) in Japan was the heyday of “English studies,” or learning about the English-speaking world and the English language, as the Western world in turn learned about Japan and the Japanese language. Official interpreters, called
tsuuji, translated dictionaries brought from overseas and created English–Japanese dictionaries. Meanwhile, Western missionaries studied and collected Japanese words, using the techniques of Western linguistics to create Japanese–English dictionaries.
These dictionaries started as
weapons for military affairs and negotiations, and then became a
tool for trade, and ultimately a resource for
cultural exchange and acceptance. From the opening of Japan to the outside world in 1853 until around the twentieth year of Meiji (1887), when Japan was modernizing rapidly, the Japanese language was also being reformed into its modern form. This involved the production not only of Japanese–English dictionaries but also of monolingual Japanese-language dictionaries.
The collection of works under discussion here, hosted at Meiji Gakuin University, is one of Japan’s premier collections of dictionaries for English studies. While the collection is centered around
Waei Gorin Shusei (A Japanese and English Dictionary, with an English and Japanese Index, 1867), which was compiled by the first president of Meiji Gakuin, J.C. Hepburn, it includes nearly all the dictionaries for English studies produced in Japan from the end of the Edo period onward. It also includes American versions of the dictionaries, which, in preparation for the occupation of Japan, were duplicated in large numbers at Harvard University and other places in the United States during the Pacific War in 1941.
The collection comprises dictionaries collected for over 150 years at Meiji Gakuin University and those donated by the late Yukihiro Iwahori, who graduated from Meiji Gakuin and studied the history of dictionaries. All the dictionaries are shown in a chronological table in the digital archives of
Waei Gorin Shusei, and digital images of the covers and inner pages (approximately 50 pages) of some well-known dictionaries are provided.
2. A Collection of English Conversation Books from the Late Edo (Bakumatsu) and Meiji Periods
The most excellent among these English conversation books is
Colloquial Japaneseby S.R. Brown, which was published in 1863. The conversation book was written based on his brilliant studies of Japanese language, and lists two styles of Japanese phrases (a courteous style and an ordinary style) for each English phrase. The book was widely used at Yokohama Eigakujo (Yokohama Academy) run by Bakufu (shogunate or feudal government), Shoho Koshujo (Commercial Law Institute), and other places. Back then, the analysis of Japanese grammar and explanations attached to this book were at the forefront of the age. A book on English teaching methods by Brown,
Prendergast’s Mastery System, Adapted to the Study of Japanese or English, teaches classical teaching methods with a focus on oral training, when other books focused on reading and writing. (Both are included in the digital archives “Eigaku no Hikari” of the university.)
The first English conversation book by a Japanese author is John Manjiro’s
Eibei taiwa shokeiwritten in 1859, and the first English conversation book by a foreigner is
Waei showawritten in 1862 by Van Reed, both of which are short books. English conversation books are enlightening in the sense that we can see the Japanese language used in those days. This is an enjoyable collection that well reflects the times, with descriptions of English pronunciation, descriptions of Dutch accent pronunciation, and so on.
3. A Collection of Studies on Modern Japanese Language through English Studies
The opening of the country to the rest of the world after conclusion of the treaty radically increased the necessity for Japanese people to learn English for negotiations and commerce. At the same time, foreigners were also urged to learn Japanese. This collection includes the fruits of the grammatical analyses and studies of modern Japanese language conducted by missionaries and directors of trading houses using Western linguistics, and has had a significant impact on contemporary Japanese grammar. Studies by the professors of this university are included in the digital archives “Eigaku no Hikari.”
4. A Collection of Bibles translated into Japanese (Attachment: A collection of hymns)
Today, Bibles are translated into various local languages and distributed across the world.
There are many versions of Bibles that have been translated into Japanese. Those jointly translated by multiple sects are
Meiji genyaku (Meiji original translation)(New Testament and Old Testament),
Taisho kaiyaku (Taisho revised version)(New Testament), post-war
Kogoyaku (Colloquial version)(New Testament and Old Testament), and
Shin kyoudou yaku (New interconfessional translation)(New Testament and Old Testament). Teachers at Meiji Gakuin assumed leadership especially with
The collection includes not only translations that convey the struggles and passions of the missionaries who were working toward the completion of
Meiji genyakuand various attempts seen in the New Testament of
Meiji genyaku, but also relevant Bibles written in Chinese texts.
The website for this collection is a comprehensive site of Bibles with source materials, which archives the Bible translated by Naoji Nagai―a graduate of the university’s Department of Theology, and the first Japanese person to translate the Bible from Greek―various translation attempts by persons related to Meiji Gakuin, such as Shuichiro Watase and Tomio Muto (former president of Meiji Gakuin) under the supervision of Toyohiko Kagawa, and various topics. The website also features a function for searching and comparing phrases and passages of
Taisho kaiyaku, and
Kogoyakuwith those of
Shin kyodo yaku. The Japanese used in the Bibles has greatly impacted the thoughts, language, and literature of Japanese people. As such, the collection can be used from this perspective.
Hymns are a must at church services. A catalog of the hymn collection has been created, and more hymns will still be collected.
5. A Collection of Christian Books from the Meiji Period
The Hepburn Academy and the Brown Academy in Yokohama headed toward organizational development with the “Tokyo Itchi Shin-Gakko” (Tokyo Union Theological Seminary), which was established in the new “Tsukiji” foreign enclave in Tokyo by the Tokyo Union Church, which comprises various denominations. The collection primarily consists of Christian books from this period. Many of the books from this collection are also included in the “Collection of Books by the Professors of Meiji Gakuin in its Early Days.”
6. A Collection of Books by Professors of Meiji Gakuin in its Early Days
J.C. Hepburn: First President of Meiji Gakuin, Hepburn Academy, compiled
Waei Gorin Shusei, translated New and Old Testaments into Japanese, Physician
S.R. Brown: Founder of the Brown Academy, Tokyo Itchi Shin-Gakko, translated New Testament into Japanese, English conversation book, English teaching methods
G.F. Verbeck: Professor of Meiji Gakuin, head teacher of Daigaku Nanko (the Southern College of the University), translated the Bible, law studies
J.L.Amerman, T.T.Alexander, James.H.Ballagh, Carrothers, Mrs J.D.Carrothers, Henry Faulds, William Imbrie, G.W.Knox, Willis.C.Lamott, J.M.McCauley, S.G.McLaren, T.M.McNair, A.K.Reishauer, M.N.Wykoff,
Kajinosuke Ibuka, Sanjuro Ishimoto, Masahisa Uemura, Sen Segawa, Naoomi Tamura, Hideteru Yamamoto, etc.
7. A Collection of Materials by Meiji Gakuin Graduates (pre-WWⅡ period)
This collection includes books authored by Tadasu Hayashi, Toson Shimazaki, Kocho Baba, Shukotsu Togawa, Iwasaburo Okino, Toyohiko Kagawa, and so on, as well as their handwritten manuscripts.