Prof. Jason Webb, Comparative Literature, USC. “Aerating Antiquity: A Report on the Secretive Processes of Manuscript Care at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Archives”「京都御所東山御文庫の曝涼行事に関する一考察」
In November of 2017, through the good offices of Prof. Isao Tajima of the University of Tokyo Historiographical Institute, the presenter was afforded extraordinary access to materials from the Royal Archives of the Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gosho Higashiyama Gobunko). The visit coincided with the highly ritualized annual event known as bakuryō 曝涼, a method of “airing out” parts of the collection that has been employed for over a millennium for the purposes of document preservation. Every autumn, when the humidity in Kyoto drops to appropriate levels, Imperial Household Agency delegates, Imperial Household Agency Archives scholars, and members of the Kyoto Palace staff combine efforts to execute correctly ancient bakuryō procedures and protocols. At that time a handful of Japanese specialists otherwise unaffiliated with royal authorities are granted limited access to documents that, ultimately, are the property of Japanese sovereign himself. My November 2017 visit marked the first time in Japanese history that a foreigner was allowed to observe the bakuryō being carried out at an Imperial Archive and to participate in the examination of related documents. This presentation will provide a description of the bakuryō process, and, in the course of doing so, offer some introductory remarks about 1) the philological history of the terms bakuryō and bakusho 曝書; 2) the unique features of the Higashiyama Gobunko Royal Archives; and 3) new perspectives and methodologies introduced by the burgeoning field of Japanese Archives Studies.