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Shinji Nishimura: The Father of Waseda History
--An autumn exhibition that traces his life--

Mizuki Hiwada
Research Associate Waseda University Archives

From Monday, September 28th until Sunday, November 8th of this year, the Waseda University Archives is holding an autumn exhibition under the theme of "Shinji Nishimura and Waseda History". The exhibition features a collection of more than 4,000 items that were donated by Asahitaro Nishimura, the son of Shinji Nishimura and a past instructor at Waseda University. Through this collection, the exhibition aims to introduce both the life of Shinji Nishimura and the Waseda history for which he laid the foundation.

Shinji Nishimura

Kekkan, written by Shinji Nishimura.

Shinji Nishimura at the time of his deployment to the Russo-Japanese War (around 1905).

Shinji Nishimura was born in 1879 in Ujiyamada City (currently Ise City) of Mie Prefecture. He was the second son of Kuzo Nishimura and his wife Nobuko. After graduating from Elementary School, he studied at a private secondary school while working in Osaka. During his time in Osaka, many of Nishimura's written contributions were published in Shonen-Bunshu, Chugaku-Sekai and other magazines for boys and young men. Nishimura won fame among the literary youth during this period. Shinji Nishimura also enrolled in the Waseda Lecture Series at this time.
After his discharge from the military, Nishimura wrote novels and released works including Kekkan (Blood & Sweat), a work which was based upon his experience serving in the military. Then, in July of 1907, he entered the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun Company. Next, in 1909, he entered employment at Fuzambo Publishing Company and served as the right-hand man of Keigetsu Omachi while working as an editor for Gakusei (Student) Magazine. Also, Nishimura began to conduct earnest historical research starting from this period.

Shinji Nishimura during his employment at Fuzambo Publishing Company (the early 1910s).

After moving to Tokyo, Nishimura worked as an editor at Shinsei Company (the predecessor of Shinchosha Publishing) and Hakubunkan. In 1903, he entered the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences at Tokyo Senmon Gakko (currently Waseda University). During his time at Waseda, he studied under Shoyo Tsubouchi. However, Nishimura was drafted for the Russo-Japan War in 1905 and was sent to the front lines in China (he graduated in March of the same year).

Shinji Nishimura during research travel (1941).

In 1918, Nishimura was invited to serve as an instructor in the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences at his alma mater Waseda University. He was responsible for lectures on Japanese history and anthropology at Waseda. In later years, Nishimura released over 60 academic works while also supervising lectures in Japanese history at Waseda University Senior High School. These works included "The Azuchi-Momoyama Period" (Volume 8 of "Citizen's Japanese History"; 1922), "Yamato Period" (Volume 8 of "Citizen's Japanese History" ; 1922), "Cultural Anthropology"(1924) , "Ancient Japanese Society," (1928) "Summary of Anthropology" (1929), "Bibliography of Azusa Ono" (1935), "The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" (1942), and "Journal of Southern Ethnic Groups" (1942). In 1932, he was presented with a Doctoral Degree for research in kawabune (skin boats) and his other works.
As the nation drew closer to war, Nishimura's academic work was suppressed by government officials for being "liberal". In 1941, publication was banned for his works "Citizen's Japanese History-Yamato Period", "Ancient Japanese Society" and "Outline of Japanese Cultural History". However, until his death in 1943, Nishimura continued to devote himself to academic research and the education of the young.

Introduction of Materials

The "Shinji Nishimura Collection" consists of more than 4,000 items. From within this collection, material will be introduced that is related to Nishimura's academic studies.

1. Lecture Note

Lecture Note (Shogoro Tsuboi's lecture entitled "Lecture on Custom in Every Country")

We received a donation of 3 lecture notes created by Shinji Nishimura during his time at Tokyo Senmon Gakko. These 3 notes included Shoyo Tsubouchi's "Concerning on Romanticism," Koichi Hoshina's lecture entitled "Science of Language," and Shogoro Tsuboi's lecture entitled "Lecture on Custom in Every Country." Shoyo Tsubouchi was a mentor of Shinji Nishimura during his days as a student, and the two continued their exchange after Nishimura's graduation. Shogoro Tsuboi was the foremost anthropologist in Japan. When considering the formation of Shinji Nishimura's academic interests, his contact with Tsuboi during his days as a student is of great interest.

2. Journals/Survey Records

"Survey Journals" (Sakhalin 1924)

We received a donation of 36 journals and survey records that are valuable for understanding Nishimura's research survey. These materials are concentrated on the periods from 1905 to 1913 and from 1924 to 1942. In particular, the latter half of these journals includes not only daily records but also has postings of business cards from individuals who cooperated in the surveys, as well as pamphlets and letters. These materials offer insight into Nishimura's activities at survey sites and his personal exchanges.

3. Letters

Letter from Kanichi Asakawa (January 15th, 1939)

Approximately 800 letters addressed to Nishimura are included in the Shinji Nishimura Collection. These letters offer a glimpse into not only Shinji Nishimura's friendships, but also into the range and relationship of his academic activities. The letters include exchanges with well-known individuals including Sokichi Tsuda (history, ancient history), a coworker of Nishimura's at Waseda University, Kanichi Asakawa (legal history), a graduate of Tokyo Senmon Gakko who served as a Professor at Yale University, Ryuzo Torii, a pioneer of anthropology in Japan, and Kumagusu Minakata, a freelance who was famous for his work in biology (bacteriology) and ethnic studies.

Letter from Kumakuzu Minakata (April 28th, 1927)

Also included in the donations are letters written by Kunio Yanagita, Kyosuke Kindaichi, Soho Tokutomi, Nobutsuna Sasaki, and Shumei Okawa. All of these materials provide clues for understanding Nishimura's academic exchanges and the range of his activities.


Sketch: An Irongot used by the Inu Fishers inhabiting Poromoshiri, Kurile Islands

In order to conduct research, Shinji Nishimura traveled not only within Japan but also throughout a wide area of East Asia. We have received donations of many sketches that show the results of his research. In particular, the collected material of the center contains many sketches related to research on boats and ships, which was the specialty of Nishimura. It is believed that these sketches were used as research material and as illustrations in published works and academic theses.

Waseda University Archives: Autumn Exhibition-Shinji Nishimura and Waseda History
Okuma Memorial Tower, 10th Floor, Room 125
10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Museum closed on Sundays and holidays.
*Note that the exhibition is closed on October 12th (Mon.), October 18th (Sun.), and November 8th (Sun.).
Also, the exhibition is closed on October 21st (Wed.) and October 22nd (Thur.) due to the entire university being closed.