In this blog, I plan to occasionally introduce (relatively) recent Japanese articles related to Shōsōin documents. I’d like to start this series with a pair of articles on the monk Genbō 玄昉 (d. 746).
Genbō is one of the most famous monks of the Nara period. Amongst his many accomplishments, he imported thousands of scrolls of texts from China to Japan, a fact that is mentioned in his obituary in the Shoku Nihongi 続日本紀. A series of two articles (citation below) by Yamamoto Yukio have recently shed light on the precise nature of the texts imported by Genbō. The first article outlines the standards Genbō used in selecting scripture to import. According to Yamamoto, Genbō was fairly discriminate in choosing texts; he brought back works that corresponded to his particular doctrinal interests.
The second article provides a chart listing over 600 titles imported by Genbō alongside the titles of texts in the Kaiyuan Shijiao lu 開元釋教錄. Since many of Genbō’s manuscripts were used as exemplars for copying the 5/1 canon, it seems that it would be possible to combine the Shōsōin documents used by Yamamoto with 5/1 scrolls in the Shōgozō to look at copies that would have been based on Genbō’s manuscripts. While it is well-known that Nara period manuscripts were copied off recently imported continental exemplars, the connection to Genbō would likely provide scholars with a more precise knowledge of when and where these Chinese texts came from.
Yamamoto Yukio 山本幸男. 2006. “Genbō shōrai kyōten to ‘gogatsu tsuitachi kyō’ no shosha (jō) 玄昉将来経典と「五月一日経」の書写（上）.” Sōai daigaku kenkyū ronshū 相愛大学研究論集 22: 322-291.
———. 2007. “Genbō shōrai kyōten to ‘gogatsu tsuitachi kyō’ no shosha (ge) 玄昉将来経典と「五月一日経」の書写（下）.” Sōai daigaku kenkyū ronshū 相愛大学研究論集22: 226-177.