The Kyōto Komonjo Scrolls

Over the past several years an informal study group consisting of graduate students, post-docs, librarians and faculty has begun slowly re-examining a set of documents called the “Kyōto Komonjo” (lit. “Old Documents from Kyōto”), which Kan’ichi Asakawa purchased for the Yale University library more than a century ago.  Emulating the practices of scholars in Japan, who often convene study groups of this kind, our goal is to use this remarkable collection of materials to build our skills and confidence in reading handwritten documents from the Edo period (1600-1868), while also deepening our understanding of Kyōto’s urban social history.  Our efforts to date have focused on two large scrolls which are the centerpieces of the “Kyōto komonjo” collection.   One of the scrolls depicts a triumphal procession of commoners through the streets of Kyoto in 1818. You can examine an annotated version of the scroll, read a short essay about its contents, and see what the procession route looked like 200 years later, in 2018, by clicking on the buttons to the right.