Welcome to the
Summer School in Early Modern Japanese Palaeography at the University of Cambridge.


Conceived as a contribution to the field of Japanese studies globally, our summer school trains the new generations in decoding, transcribing, and translating early modern manuscripts and woodblock-printed texts. With us you acquire and hone the complex set of skills required to work with early modern Japanese texts.

The first summer school was held in 2014 and in 2022 we will be hosting the ninth summer school. Over the course of these years we have trained more than 250 young researchers and we are ready to welcome many more.


This is absolutely the best course in the world to study pre-modern Japanese palaeography. (John, 2021)

This is possibly the most effective course out there to learn as much to read and transcribe early modern Japanese palaeography as possible within a short period of time. (Xiangming, 2022)

This one of a kind course is a great way to rapidly increase your ability at reading early modern cursive Japanese, meet new people in the field of Japanese studies and related areas, and interact with a range of fascinating primary sources. I hope I am lucky enough to be able to participate again! (James, 2022)

The Cambridge summer school offers excellent instruction in a very challenging discipline. The focus on unlocking meaning, mixture of group and individual work, and support for those at different levels makes it of great value both for development of skills and networking. (Mary, 2022)

The summer school has a lot to offer. You get to learn specialised skills from highly skilled teachers, meet fellow researchers and enthusiasts, learn about the historical context of Japanese books and society, and as a bonus: visit the city of Cambridge. (Elias, 2022)

It’s very intense and effective course. The instructors will guide you on how to read and give you some useful tips. Also, you’ll have wonderful friends and a pleasing environment for studying. (Saranya, 2022)

The program offers the opportunity to learn this seemingly obscure script from the best and most generous teacher who will make it fun, accessible, and interesting in a beautiful and historic setting at one of the best universities in the world. You will also make many new friends and contacts from all over the world in your field. (Maya, 2022)

That it’s the best place to challenge yourself, learn an incredible skill, meet amazing and kindhearted people and have a load of fun! All of that squeezed into two weeks in the amazing heart of Cambridge. (Anonymous, 2022)

If you are a complete beginner to kuzushiji, this is the place to be! What better way to learn than surrounded by such a diverse cohort of rare book sellers, professors, students, curators of different levels but with the same vigorous love for premodern Japanese studies. I felt intimidated at first as a beginner, but quickly realized that everyone around me is learning something new and is extremely supportive of others’ progress. Everyone’s excitement about the texts was contagious, and each little moment of discovery made the many hours of scratching our heads worth every second. (Kassandra, 2022)

The summer school is intensive but worth every bit of the hard work and effort. It brings people from all over the world to engage with and transcribe a wide variety of texts. Through the expertise and encouragement of the Instructor and course participants with varying backgrounds and experience, you gain the palaeographic skills to start decoding early-modern texts by yourself, no matter what your level. Combining inter-active lectures, talks from scholars outside the university, and Japan-related activities, there is something for everyone on this course and it is a fantastic opportunity to delve into the world of early-modern Japanese texts. (Anonymous, 2022)

It is one of the best opportunities to learn how to decode, transcribe, and translate early modern texts in a friendly, and productive environment! It is also a unique opportunity to connect to peers and colleagues from all over the world.

If you want a highly charged, challenging, and fun experience for learning kuzushiji, look no further. This program is so thoughtfully planned and expertly run, while also just being thoroughly enjoyable – high energy, fun, efficient, not a moment wasted. It’s go-go-go, in the best way (Nancy, 2021).

Participating in the Summer School in Early Modern Japanese Palaeography is really helped me to expand my knowledge of how to read old Japanese texts. Anyone working with Edo period Japanese language sources would benefit from participating in the course! (James, 2021)

One of the best parts of the summer school is that it not only teaching you how to read early modern texts, but also introduces you to a community of scholars, researchers, and hobbyists from all over the world who you will encounter time and again. (Victoria, 2021)

The Summer School not only provides tactics for kuzushiji recognition but also offers information on kobun, sōrōbun, Japanese book history, cultural history, and many other fascinating topics. I met so many kind and knowledgeable people in my field and can’t wait for next year’s course! (Rose, 2021)

It was so much fun that you hardly noticed how much you learned in each session! The focused yet lighthearted atmosphere created the perfect study environment. It is an experience not to be missed! (Sabine, 2021)

We would like to thank the sponsors who have supported us during the past years. A particular thanks go to the sponsors below.