#HI-04-06 Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books

  • Categories History
  • Duration 16h
  • Total Enrolled 4
  • Last Update September 27, 2021

About Course

Keio University


Why join the course?

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.

What topics will you cover?

  • History of textual culture in East Asia and Japan.
  • Evolution of printing technology in Japan and its relationship with religion.
  • Influence of China and Korea on Japanese book culture.
  • Publishing activity by Zen temples in the medieval Japan.
  • Publishing activity by scholars in pre-modern Japanese society.
  • Publishing activity by local and central governments for education.
  • Variety of types of books in Chinese studies.
  • Brief introduction of well-known Chinese poem collections: Santishi and Tangshi xuan.
  • Analects of Confucius, its reception, transition and influence on Japanese society.

Who will you learn with?

Takashi Horikawa

I specialise in Chinese and Japanese literature at Keio’s Institute of
Oriental Classics and I am the lead educator of the “Sino-Japanese
Interactions Through Rare Books” course.


Tomohiko Sumiyoshi

I am a professor at the Keio Institute of Oriental Classics. I am interested in East Asian book culture and the transmission of Chinese scholarship in Japan.



Satoshi Takahashi

I am a professor at Keio University’s Faculty of Letters. I specialize in Sino-Japanese literature and I am one of the educators of the “Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books” course.



Who developed the course?

Keio University

Keio University is Japan’s first modern institution of higher learning, and since 1858 has established itself as a leader in Japan through its continued commitment to education, research and medicine.

What Will I Learn?

  • Explain the relationship between books and religion in East Asian history.
  • Describe the role of Pre-modern Zen temples in book culture and printing technology.
  • Describe the role of Confucian scholars in book culture and their research activity.
  • Discuss the contribution of China and Korea to Japanese book culture and the development of printing technology.
  • Classify the types of books in Chinese studies.
  • Discuss the impact of Analects of Confucius in pre-modern Japanese society.
  • Explore the value of Analects of Confucius in modern Japanese society.
  • Explain how the books in Chinese studies incorporated and influenced on Japanese culture.

Topics for this course

18 Lessons16h


Understand the outline of the course and look around your house to find evidence of influence from other cultures on your own.
Welcome to the course00:03:35
Do you have any foreign-language books in your house?
East Asian History at a Glance

East Asian Textual Culture and Mahayana Texts?

The transmission of books was given a strong boost by the spread of Indian Buddhism. Texts spread like waves from ancient China, through the Korean peninsula, and eventually to Japan, by the 5th century CE.

Printing as duplicating symbols?

Early printed texts were used during religious rites, and were made for their symbolic and ritual powers rather than to be read.

Printed books as replicas of manuscripts?

Books printed by the Kōfukuji temple during the Heian and Kamakura periods are known as Kasuga-ban (Kasuga editions). The manuscript replicas are so perfect that it is easy to mistake them for handwritten books.

Importing Chinese Culture?

Books printed in Japanese Zen monasteries during the medieval period are known as Gozan-ban ("Five-Mountain books"). Let's explore the role of Zen monks as mediators of Chinese culture in Japan.

Books for practical purposes?

In addition to their temple activities, Gozan monks also served as experts of Chinese-style learning and acted as advisers to warriors and military leaders in non-religious contexts. Publishing played an important role, too.

Student Feedback


Total 4 Ratings

3 ratings
1 rating
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This course has a lot to say about the history of Japanese culture, but also about the evolution of Japanese printing technology and its relationship to religion, which I think is very good. I like the two parts about the influence of China and South Korea on Japanese book culture and the publishing activities of Japanese Medieval Zen temples. I recommend it to you.

I like Chinese books very much. I like the explanation of three Poems and Tang Poetry Mystery in this course. I speak it very well.

I have never known the close relationship between Chinese culture and The development of Japanese culture. In this course, I have seen how these Chinese books were introduced to Japan and how Chinese culture influenced Japanese culture. We will pay special attention to the Analects, and how it was accepted in Japan, from its introduction in the third century to today's view.

I like Chinese culture very much. Through this course, I can learn more about different types of Chinese books, their characteristics and history. I have also read books that have been strongly influenced by China and have examined the cultures of the regions where the Chinese writing system is used. That's great.


Material Includes

  • Official Certificate

Target Audience

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