Other Resources

Shōsōin monjo kenkyū 正倉院文書研究
Nihon koshakyō genson mokuroku 日本古寫經現存目錄
Nihon shakyō sōkan 日本寫經綜鑒
Shōgozō kyōkan 蔵聖語蔵経卷
Narachō shakyō 奈良朝写経
Koshakyō: sei naru moji no sekai 古写経: 聖なる文字の世界

Shōsōin monjo kenkyū 正倉院文書研究, 12 vols [to date]. Shōsōin monjo kenkyūkai 正倉院文書研究会, eds. Tokyo: Yoshikawa kōbunkan 吉川弘文館, 1993-.

These volumes represent a collection of articles on the Shōsōin archive by Japanese scholars published from 1993 to 2011. This is the central journal for the field of Shōsōin document studies (for the treasures, see Shōsōin kiyō). The articles are geared toward specialists in the Shōsōin materials. The topics range from the contextual discussion of individual documents, the explication of analytic methods, to the consideration of modern-day implications of Shōsōin archival research.

Each volume has a glossy page before the main title page where an image is reproduced in large format. Some images have explanations (kaisetsu 解説). The articles themselves, however, contain very few images. Those that do appear are reproduced in black and white. Many of the articles are aimed at reconstructing (fukugen 復原) the documents into their original order. This is painstaking research and is a truly valuable resource for scholars studying Shōsōin documents.

Perhaps the most notable resource that these volumes provide is Sakaehara Towao’s comprehensive bibliography on Shōsōin research (Shōsōin monjō kankei bunken mokuroku 正倉院文書関係文献目録). In Vols. 1 – 3, there is a three part bibliography of research from 1876-1994.  The bibliography is organized chronologically by publication date and divided into four categories of research on 1) general topic; 2) official documents (tax registers, census records, etc); 3) documents  from the Northern Storehouse (hokusō monjo 北倉文書), documents related to Ishiyama-dera 石山寺, and documents that have exited the Shōsōin (ryūshutsu monjo 流出文書); and 4) documents related to the Office of Sutra Transcription including sutra manuscripts. The main bibliography in each volume is followed by a list of authors and an additional index where each item in the bibliography is listed again by author’s name. Volume 10 contains an additional bibliography through 2004 including items from earlier periods previously unlisted in the first three volumes. In addition, a complete table of contents for each of the previous issues can be found in volume eleven. (Sol Jung)


Nihon koshakyō genson mokuroku 日本古寫經現存目錄. Tanaka Kaidō 田中塊堂. Kyōto: Shibunkaku 思文閣, 1973.
This is a catalogue of extant hand-copied sutras that were transcribed in Japan (hand-copied sutras thought to be imported from the continent are not included). It is organized chronologically and covers materials form the Asuka to Edo periods. It is the most exhaustive catalog of its kind. There is a section with printed images (not photographs) of seals used by various temples that is useful for identifying such markings on manuscripts. There are no images of the sutras themselves, but each entry lists the title of the copied sutra, the number of scrolls, the last known location of the manuscript, codicological data, and transcriptions of the colophons.

This catalogue can be useful for researchers interested in tracking down extant sutra manuscripts and looking into colophons. It also provides a good sense of what sutras were being copied in different periods. It should also be noted that the transcriptions of the colophons are riddled with errors and photographic reproductions should be consulted whenever possible (see the exhibition catalogues from the Nara National Museum and Kyōto National Museum listed on this web page). (Yan Yang)


Nihon shakyō sōkan 日本寫經綜鑒. Tanaka Kaidō 田中塊堂. Ōsaka: Sanmeisha 三明社, 1953.
This is a collection of short essays on sutra manuscripts from the Asuka period to the Edo period. The book is organized by the type of sutra, but a chart in the back cross-references these titles with a chronological table. There are some black and white reproductions of colophons and sections of manuscripts, but this reference volume focuses more on the history of the manuscripts than the content of the sutras. Each entry provides information about the size, paper, ink, date, as well as a longer description regarding the historical backgrounds of the manuscript itself. The volume opens with a one hundred plus page essay overviewing the introduction of Buddhism to Japan and outlining various features of sutra copying. At the end of the volume is a chronological list of extant hand-copied sutras from 606 to 1777. The chart provides Japanese reign years, title of the sutra, the name of the patron or copyist, and information about previous holding institutions and current whereabouts (as of publication year). This book is a useful collection and introduction to manuscript cultures, although some of the information is somewhat dated and needs to be approached with caution. (Yang Yan)


Kunaichō Shōsoin jimusho shozō shōgozō kyōkan 宮内庁正倉院事務所所蔵聖語蔵経卷. Kunaichō Shōsōin Jimusho 宮内庁正倉院事務所, eds. Tokyo: Maruzen 丸善, 2000-.
Maruzen has begun publishing high resolution images of the Shōgozō scrolls in cd and dvd formats. This collection contains hand copied sutras, printed sutras, and other miscellaneous texts. Most pertinent to the Shōsōin collection are the around 1,500 Nara period manuscripts that have already been digitized. Numerous Shōsōin documents record the activities related to the transcription and collation of these manuscripts. In this way, it is possible to use Shōsōin documents along with these scrolls to precisely date the manuscript, identify the scribe, assess the way it was proofread and collated, and even sometimes discover the provenance of the exemplar text (for example, which monk imported it). There are also over two hundred scrolls from Sui, Tang, and Silla in this collection, as well as Japanese scrolls from later periods.

The scrolls are viewed in a web browser and can be magnified to view fine details of the paper and calligraphy. Software is also included for making various measurements. In addition to the Nara manuscripts, the collection also includes later manuscripts and printed editions. At present, the Sui, Tang, 5/1 canon, Jingo Keiun canon, and two volumes of the first set of miscellaneous (kōshu 甲種) manuscripts. The Chinese manuscripts and the 5/1 canon were digitized onto cds (discs 1-22 and 23-88 respectively). The Jingo Keiun and kōshu manuscripts are on dvds (discs 89-97 and 98-101 respectively). The manuscripts are searchable by sutra title and each physical box has a paper catalog for the titles included in it.

The primary drawback of this collection is the price. The total cost for the discs published to date is 10,605,000 yen (roughly $130,000) and the project is not even halfway complete. For more on the significance and contents of the collection please refer directly to our web page on the Shōgozō. (Bryan Lowe)


Narachō shakyō 奈良朝写経. Nara kokuritsu hakubutsukan 奈良国立博物館. Nara: Nara Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan 奈良国立博物館, 1983.
This is a catalogue from an exhibition on Nara period sutra copying held at the Nara National Museum in 1983. It contains 113 photographic images of various sutras copied during the Nara Period. It also contains images of some Shōsōin documents. The photographs do not reproduce the entire scrolls; most are limited to colophons for reproduced images, but some also show parts of the main text. A helpful article by Kurihara Haruo introduces the Office of Sutra Transcription and the process of manuscript production. Entries provide information about the historical and codicological features of each manuscript pictured. Concise English entries at the end of the volume give the name, size, date, and holding institution for each of the exhibited objects.

This book is a good introduction to the material culture of sutra-copying during the Nara period because the photos show rolled up sutras as well as opened sutras. It is also an invaluable source for its collection of photographic images of colophons, many of which are not available elsewhere. (Yan Yang)


Koshakyō: sei naru moji no sekai 古写経: 聖なる文字の世界. Kyōto: Kyōto Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan 京都国立博物館, 2004.
This catalog features color plates for each of the 162 items that were on rotation for the 2004 exhibition of the Moriya collection. The selected objects span across China (Tang – Yuan Dynasty) and Korea (Koryǒ Dynasty) with a particular emphasis on Japan (Nara to Muromachi Period). The majority of the exhibition consists of sutra manuscripts but also features sutra cases, writing implements, commentaries, as well as records and documents from Nara period sutra copying offices.

Divided into eight sections, the color plates are organized by theme. The high quality of the images allows the reader to see the highlights of each item in considerable detail. Following the color plates is a section that provides brief descriptions for each pictured item with keys that indicate their cultural heritage status and the language in which the sutra is copied. This publication is mainly written in Japanese, but there are English translations for the Preface, List of Color Plates and the introduction for each of the eight sections.

Also included in the catalog is an overview of the history of the Moriya Collection and a brief discussion of the characteristics of early sutra copies from China, Korea and Japan, focusing on their medium, format, and calligraphic style.  Short entries provide valuable information about each item displayed. This book is an excellent resource for those interested in calligraphy and manuscript cultures. It is connected to the Shōsōin documents in the sense that the transcription of some of the sutras in the Moriya collection are referred to in documents of the Shōsōin. It also includes color plates of some Shōsōin documents. (Sol Jung)