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


The Eighth Summer School in Early Modern Japanese Palaeography will take place between 2-14 August 2021. Lean more HERE.

We would like to thank our sponsors

Call for applications


Upon careful thinking and wide consultation with all the parties involved, including the senior officers of Emmanuel College, we have decided to conduct the 2021 programme virtually. We do appreciate that the Covid-19 vaccine has been rolled out in a number of countries, but unfortunately there is no guarantee that the vaccine will have been systematically made available worldwide for people of all ages by the beginning of August. We also are not sure how international travel will resume at that stage. Therefore we have decided to go virtual.

The 2021 summer school will focus on early modern sources that are humorous and playful. Last year we explored how early modern popular popular texts dealt with pandemics and we realised that humour played a huge part. After a year that has been trying for us all, we thought that a focus on humour, wit, laughter, and playfulness will be a good ki no kusuri 気の薬!

We are proud to announce that we will continue our collaboration with Prof Hashimoto Yuta (National Museum of History) and his AI platform みんなで翻刻, which has proved immensely successful in the 2020 programme.

The 2021 programme is conceived in two parallel tracks.

1.  Those with no knowledge of kuzushiji and hentaigana or beginners

Those with no knowledge of kuzushiji and hentaigana or beginners will have two sessions of two hours each per day on Zoom with Dr Laura Moretti. The sessions are designed as a mixture of interactive lectures and seminars, with a healthy balance between individual and group work. Homework will be given in addition of the sessions. The timing of the Zoom sessions will be decided once we have received applications and selected candidates, with a clear view of the time zones involved.

2. Intermediate and advanced readers (kuzushiji and hentaigana)

Intermediate and advanced readers will work on a special project, transcribing a number of primary sources in their entirety on Minna de honkoku. The project will be led by Joseph Bills, student at the University of Cambridge, who has great experience of kuzushiji and of the AI platform. Dr Laura Moretti will regularly supervise the project. Intermediate learners are welcome to join the beginners’ sessions if they think that they might benefit from them.

All the sources will focus primarily on wabun. Sōrōbun will be partly covered when working on parodies of letter templates.

Prof Yamabe Susumu is available for 1:1 or small group tuition in  kanbun kundoku for those for whom kanbun kundoku is strictly essential for their specific research interests. Unfortunately we are not able to integrate sessions on kanbun kundoku in the two tracks above.

The programme includes also presentations by Prof Sasaki Takahiro (Keio University), Dr Ellis Tinios (Leeds University), and Dr Alessandro Bianchi (Bodleian Library, Oxford). Ms Helen Magowan, PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, will also give a lecture about her work on nyohitsu 女筆 (you can get a first glimpse by watching this video, made at the very beginning of Helen’s PhD).


Learning outcomes

It is more and more the case that positions at academic institutions, libraries and museums require palaeographic knowledge at some level. Our Graduate Summer School is designed to provide you with the skills necessary to tackle a wide range of early-modern primary sources in their original format by yourself and, therefore, to be competitive in these kind of job opportunities.

With us:

  • You become familiar with the variety of palaeographic challenges that characterize the wide range of Edo-period primary sources.

  • You learn effective techniques to master kuzushiji and hentaigana.

  • You read a wide range of texts and familiarize yourself with different calligraphic styles.

  • You are encouraged to identify research topics in the area of Japanese early-modern palaeography.



Who can apply?

We welcome graduate students (both at the Master and at the PhD level), faculty, librarians and museum curators who work on Edo-period materials, and final-year undergraduate students interested in pursuing the study of early-modern Japan in grad school. Those who have already taken part in the previous Graduate Summer Schools are encouraged to reapply if they wish to do so. The programme changes every year.




We require that you have:

  1. Advanced knowledge of modern Japanese (both written and spoken).

  2. Solid knowledge of classical Japanese (bungo).



Acceptance to the programme

We can only accept a maximum of 30 participants every year. If we receive  applications beyond this number a selection will be made on the basis of the relevance of the Graduate Summer School to the applicant’s research and work. Notification about whether an applicant has been accepted or not will be sent at the end of February.



Tuition fees

The tuition fee for the whole programme is £200.

We ask that a non-refundable deposit of £100 is paid by 1 March 2021. The remaining £100 will need to be paid by the beginning of July 2021 and cannot be returned after that date.

All payments are done online via a secure system administered by the University of Cambridge.



How to apply?

Please apply by filling in this Google Form.

Deadline: 31 January 2021

The call for applications is now closed.



One of the beauties of the “normal” summer school is for the participants to spend time together for two weeks, working, sharing ideas, and having fun. Unfortunately the virtual platform does not allow to replicate this human experience, but we will try our best to liven things up!


Further inquiries

If you have any query, please contact Dr Laura Moretti at: lm571@cam.ac.uk




On our regular Summer School:

The Summer School in Japanese Early Modern Palaeography at the University of Cambridge is a unique programme that teaches how to decode Japanese early modern archival materials. Find out more by watching this video: