Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University

English | Japanese

Purpose of Establishing the IJCC

(Note. The following is a translation; the original text is in Japanese.)

The purpose of establishing this Institute is to conduct high quality research on Japanese culture; to compare the results with many other cultures of the world; and to grasp the fundamental quality and variety of our national tradition.

In the Second World War, which stemmed from tragic rivalries among human beings, we received a defeat that is unparalleled in our national history. The Japanese people, who were confronted by complete collapse of social organization and national life, nearly sank into cultural despondence and moral apathy. As a result, in the path to rebuilding the country there is a noticeable trend towards being satisfied with transplanting foreign culture and customs. Our characteristically rich tangible and intangible national cultural assets have not been properly understood, nor has our traditional life-style been sufficiently reevaluated.

Humans are the product of history, society, and culture. The character of contemporary Japanese has been constructed within a long and particular historical tradition that has been refined through a process of adaptation and expansion of the natural conditions of the climate and land, and of the cultures of neighboring peoples which were brought to Japan beginning long ago. No one can ignore this fact in discussing Japan. In modern times, in contrast, many countries of Europe and the Americas have had an extraordinary interest in the arts and life style of our country. Even though the superficial imitation of foreign culture buys a frown from conscientious and well-bred foreigners and Japanese, to the contrary, it has to be thought that Japan, which began as a cultured nation, should seek out its traditional self-reflective and fostering roots as the means to earn support in the world. This means that in order to advance their level of living Japanese people must accept the necessity for having an interest in and for reflection upon tried and tested Japanese cultural patterns and life-style by virtue of knowing the true Japan and of their own subjective judgment. Again along these lines, a Japanese adaptation of the strong points of foreign cultures will be required.

This was already a concern of our predecessors in the earlier years of Meiji when foreign civilization was being transplanted wholesale. The rationale for creating Kokugakuin University also lies here. However, compared to that time, the present state of affairs is quite a lot more serious. We must be extremely anxious about the future of Japanese culture.

As a rule, the study of a country's special characteristics are never sufficiently made clear when that country's culture alone is studied unilaterally. Commonality and contrasts are initially identified in comparative research with the history and traditions of another culture and thereby a culture's special characteristics become clear. With regard to Japanese culture also, a researcher must study Japanese culture deeply in order to elucidate its essence while at the same time keeping an eye on the cultures of foreign countries, and from the standpoint of modern thought become cognizant again of traditional Japanese morals and values. It is from research that is conducted from this kind of wide perspective that we can for the first time reasonably expect wholesome growth and development of Japanese culture. In this we depend on the efforts of sympathetic individuals. I anticipate that the newly established Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics at Kokugakuin University will become a center of scholarship as it expands and deepens existing research.

The principle research of the Institute will be:

  • basic studies of Japanese culture
  • studies of various questions related to the Japanese people's faith and morals.

And the content of the activities will be:

  • scholarly investigations and research and the promotion of such investigations and research
  • the accumulation and preservation of domestic and foreign books and documents
  • the publication and presentation of research; holding public lectures
  • maintaining contacts with other domestic and foreign research organizations and exchanging materials with them
  • any activities necessary for achieving other objectives.

The Institute will also try to accommodate foreign researchers, to have presentations for the mutual exchange of research results, and to assist in promoting international good will.

As an important research organization for Japanese spiritual culture in post-war Japan, we will proceed with these activities. If we can realize their results, then, I believe, it will be an enormous service to domestic and international cultural progress. I sincerely hope for the cooperation of informed people.

April 1955

Ishikawa Iwakichi
Executive Director, Kokugakuin University
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