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Digitized Scrolls from the Japanese Manuscript Collection, 1158-1591

Japanese Scroll

Osame-dono azukari bō Toyoi no shō ōoka nengu uketorijō, 1179

The Japanese Manuscript Digital Collection is comprised of a set of twenty-two medieval legal manuscripts and annotated facsimiles in scroll form called komonjo. Komonjo—literally "old documents"—are remnants of day-to-day legal transactions. These documents frequently focus on land and property issues, though they can also represent edicts and judicial rulings. Part of a large donation presented to the Harvard Law Library in 1936, around the time of the University’s 300th anniversary, these komonjo represent one of the finest collections of their type outside Japan.

Hosaka Junji (1875-1963), an affluent collector and land owner who was a member of the House of Peers in the pre-war Imperial Diet, donated these komonjo to the Harvard Law School Library through the influence of Takano Tatsuyuki (1876-1947), a composer and teacher of music at the Tokyo Music Academy. In 1936, Takano had these manuscripts mounted on scrolls and copied, adding annotations in red to the facsimile copies.

Spanning a nearly 450 year period, from 1150 to 1591, these documents provide a rare window into legal transactions in the Heian (794–1185), Kamakura (1185–1333), Moromachi (1333–1568), and Momoyama (1568–1600) periods.

For further information about the scrolls and their importance to the study of Japanese legal history, see the essay "Laws of the Land in Medieval Japan: Komonjo at Harvard University," linked here by permission of its author Professor Mikael S. Adolphson. This essay comes from a larger work Treasures of the Yenching: seventy-fifth anniversary of the Harvard-Yenching Library, published in 2003.

To view the individual scrolls that make up this remarkable collection click on the links to their HOLLIS records listed below.

Kanjin’in shoshi-ra ge, 1158

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 1

HOLLIS 10063922

Osame-dono azukari bō Toyoi no shō ōoka nengu uketorijō, 1179

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 2

HOLLIS 009135218

Kuraryō kou fūshō sōbun, 1238

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 3

HOLLIS 009163451

Sō Fukujō baiken, 1226

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 4

HOLLIS 009139526

Ama Gan amidabutsa hatachi shobunjō, 1250

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 5

HOLLIS 009158031

Ariwara no Aneko shobunjō, 1253

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 6

HOLLIS 009148621

Ama Kakumyō baiken, 1257

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 7

HOLLIS 009160239

Tokuishimaru sōhakujō, 1260

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 8

HOLLIS 009161288

Sō Eijitsu baiken, 1265

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 9

HOLLIS 009160758

Saeki no Aneko shobunjō, 1297

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 10

HOLLIS 009160810

Tamon Ishimaru baiken, 1299

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 11

HOLLIS 009160836

Rukuhara migyōsho, 1299

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 12

HOLLIS 010063889

Sō kōhen hōsho, 13th century

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 13

HOLLIS 010063864

Tanabe no Kasugame baiken, 1306

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 14

HOLLIS 009161111

Sumiyoshi kannushi Kunifuyu ukebumian, 1311

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 15

HOLLIS 009165468

Kenkyō shimyō dendaīa ando jō, 1326

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 16

HOLLIS 009139592

Yo-kōyon tennō rinji an, 1359

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 17

HOLLIS 010063779

Tōdaiji ryū Mino no kuni Ōi no shō sanshiki ukebumi, 1368

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 18

HOLLIS 010063875

Tōdaiji gikō kensai ra rensho, 1370

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 19

HOLLIS 010063940 

Uemon Tarō kishinjō, 1388

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 20

HOLLIS 010063970 

Muromachi bakufu bugyōnin, 1439

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 21

HOLLIS 010063998 

Jōsuke kishinjō, 1591

MSS Japanese Collection, Scroll 22

HOLLIS 009171119 

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