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.



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The Seventh Summer School in Japanese Early Modern Palaeography will run between Monday 10 August and Friday 21 August 2020.


We thank the following sponsors for their generous support:



JAW new logo


Emmanuel College


Nishogakusha University




What is new for summer 2020?

We are starting a new, exciting collaboration with prof Hashimoto Yuta of the National Museum of Japanese History (Japan). When reading cursive materials written in wabun and sōrōbun we will be using the platform developped by Minna de honkoku みんなで翻刻. This will allow us to explore how AI can assist us in our learning of Japanese early modern palaeography and enhance our reading skills.





More information



The summer school 2020 will run from 9am Monday 10 August to 5pm Friday 21 August 2020. This year we finish on Friday in order to allow attendance to the EAJS conference.


Core contents of the Summer School

As always our Summer School focuses on Edo-period materials. Our sustained work in teaching what we call holistic palaeographic literacy  総合的な和本リテラシー has resulted in a programme that works very effectively. In the seventy-two hours of tuition that we offer, we devote roughly the same amount of hours to the three linguistic/palaeographic areas of wabun in cursive (kuzushiji and hentaigana), kanbun in non-cursive and sōrōbun in cursive. We also actively encourage participants to explore research questions in the field of Japanese early-modern palaeography.

You can read more about our teaching philosophy in the forthcoming number of the journal Shomotsugaku 書物学 no.9, October 2016.

The theme of this year summer school is Daily life in Edo-period Japan 江戸時代の庶民生活 (III). As every year we cover new materials, so that returning participants can benefit as well.

Additional contents

The programme also includes:

– Sessions with the London-based calligraphy master Yukiko Ayres. These sessions, specially designed to enhance your reading abilities by writing cursive kanji and kana, have proved to be very helpful.

– Lectures from specialists in the areas of textual bibliography and palaeography complement the core tuition.

– A special project that allows participants to transcribe and translate excerpts from primary sources held at the Cambridge University Library or in private collections in the UK. The results are published with the names of the participants on the webpage of the Cambridge University Library.


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 this 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 gain a firm grasp of how cursive sōrōbun works in archival materials and develop strategies to decode these texts.
  • You are exposed to the importance of kanbun in reading Edo-period sources and learn specific ways to read these sources.
  • 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 each year. If you need a visa or if you are applying for funding in your institution, we are happy to write a letter of invitation. Just let us know with plenty of notice.


Tuition fees

The tuition fee for the whole programme is £200.

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

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



Participants are very welcome (but not obliged, of course!) to stay at Emmanuel College for the duration of the Graduate Summer School. Please note that children are not admitted in college.

The prices for 2020 are as follows: Non ensuite single room: £30 per night;  Ensuite single room: £35 per night; Ensuite twin room: £45 per night

Request accommodation


Financial contribution

Modest funds might be available to assist students (final-year undergraduate and graduate students) coming from institutions unable to offer support and with no other source of funding available. If you apply for funding, you will be requested to submit your CV and one letter of reference. If we receive applications exceeding the available funding, a process of screening will be put in place.


To apply

Please CLICK HERE for the application form. Deadline: 1 February 2020.


Further queries

If you have any query, please contact Dr Laura Moretti at: lm571@cam.ac.uk. Alternatively use the form available at https://wakancambridge.com/contact/.