University of Tokyo Historiographical Institute

Akiko Uemura

The Friends of UTokyo, Inc.-Ito Foundation long-term scholarship most kindly guided my studies at the University of Tokyo Historiographical Institute, as a Foreign Visiting Researcher of early modern Iberian-Japanese interactions. Specifically, this scholarship most generously supported my doctoral investigations, concerning the (re)presentations of Japan and the Japanese, according to texts created and/or edited by members of the Company of Jesus-a prominent Catholic order within early modern evangelization of Japan. Thanks to the FUTI-Ito Scholarship, my research and analytical skills have been developed, during the last quarter of 2022.

For instance, my analyses of the main primary sources for my doctoral dissertation have been augmented by the Historiographical Institute’s vast collections of Jesuit letters, which refer to early modern epistles penned by members of the Company of Jesus, in this case those mainly in Spanish and Portuguese. The volumes of Jesuit letters consulted include those that have been recently edited and published from the Historiographical Institute itself as Jesuit Letters Concerning Japan, as well as volumes of unedited manuscript facsimiles, such as Archivos en España. Jesuitas [Archives in Spain. Jesuits]. These Jesuit texts demonstrate much epistolary representations of specific individuals who also appear within non-epistolary texts, thereby enabling analytical comparisons of distinct portrayals of these same individuals within my research.

My analytical skills have been enhanced, thanks to Professor Oka Mihoko of the Historiographical Institute, via her cordially permitting my participation in her graduate level course-the History of Religions in Japan. Centered upon critical analyses of academic articles concerning diverse religions practiced in Japan, their (re)presentations and contemporary influences, Professor Oka’s course very much encouraged my extending academic interactions with themes beyond my own disciplines. As a particular example, the subject of my class presentation consisted of an academic article of comparative religious studies, amongst diverse expressions of veneration within East and Southeast Asia. Given the strong presence of religions and religious expressions-especially Catholicism-within my own research, the critical analyses of this particular academic article contributed to my acquiring new perspectives upon my own doctoral dissertation theme.

Furthermore, my studies at the Historiographical Institute provided me with an irreplaceable opportunity of interaction with fellow Foreign Visiting Researchers: casual research presentations organized by the Researchers themselves, whose themes range from academic ideas to dissertation chapter demonstrations. During the discussion section of its first occasion, the topic of conversation concerned the challenges of academic translation of specific terminologies. When asked for a particular example from my own discipline, I briefly and spontaneously explicated the academic translation of terminologies from Japanese to Portuguese/Spanish to English, in relation to early modern Jesuits’ interpreting Japanese manners of addressing secular political rulers. As such, I was able to immerse myself in a remarkably interdisciplinary environment.

I would like to express to the Friends of UTokyo, Inc and the Ito Foundation my utmost gratitude, for its wondrous and kind guidance and support of my research.