The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

A History of Anthropological Research in Japan

Joint Research Coordinator YAMAJI Katsuhiko

Reserch Theme List


The goal of this research is to consider the history of anthropological research in Japan. Anthropological studies in Japan have a long history dating back to the establishment of the “Anthropological Society of Nippon” (Jinrui Gakkai) (Anthropological Society of Tokyo, Tokyo Jinrui Gakkai) by Shogoro Tsuboi during the Meiji era. Prior to the Second World War most anthropological research focused on colonial possessions within Japan’s empire. For that reason, we need to question the degree to which anthropology in Japan was tied up with colonialism. Since the war, anthropology has enjoyed civil rights at universities, and this anthropology has built on the fruits of prewar anthropology, while researching in line with new methods and theories and expanding the geographical loci of study. Elucidating the continuity and non-continuity between the prewar and postwar anthropology studies is an important consideration when looking at the history of anthropological research in Japan. Anthropology in this country has recorded research on other cultures while at the same time having an aspect of cooperation with ethnography to research its own native culture. We also need to ask about the significance of this simultaneous research by Japanese into alien cultures while they also research their own culture as cultural anthropologists. In this manner, our research aims to adopt a multifaceted perspective in considering the history of anthropological research in Japan.

Research Results

This research group met 13 times over a two and a half year period, plus two more times during an additional year. The results have been published. The book and its contributors are as follows.

Chapter 1 The History of Anthropology in Japan Yamaji Katsuhiko
Part I Colonial anthropology
Chapter 2 Research on the native peoples of Taiwan Miyaoka Maoko
Chapter 3 Japanese researchers in colonial Korea: Imamura Moto, Akamatsu Chijo, Akiba Takashi, Murayama Chijun, and Oosaki Yoshio Asakura Toshio
Chapter 4 The Governor-General of Korea's Surveys and Ethnological Research: Maruyama Chijun and Akiba Takashi Choe Kilsung
Chapter 5 The South Sea Mandate and Ethnological Research: Primarily Research on Native Peoples by affiliated ethnographers and the activities of the South Pacific Islands Cultural Association Iitaka Shingo
Part II Descriptions and Approaches to Alien Cultures
Chapter 6 Modern Japanese Anthropology and Images of the Ainu and Koro-pok guru: The Racial Theories of Imasa Goro Sekiguchi Yuki
Chapter 7 Hijikata Hisakatsu, What Did He See as the Fruits of Culture? Mita Maki
Chapter 8 Mabuchi Toichi and Social Anthropology Yamaji Katsuhiko
Chapter 9 The Influence of Marxism on Japanese Anthropology Nakao Katsumi
Chapter 10 Mapping: The History of Japanese Anthropology and Japan's Colonies from the Perspective of Cartography and Education in Cartography Sunami Soichiro
Part III The Postwar Reconstruction and Development of Anthropology
Chapter 11 From Ethnology to Anthropology: Restructuring the Field and University Education Mio Yuko
Chapter 12 The Influence of Japanese Researchers on American Anthropologists from the 1930s to the 1960s Taniguchi Yoko
Chapter 13 The University of Tokyo Cultural Anthropology Department and Archeological Research in the Andes: Izumi Yasukazu Seki Yuji
Chapter 14 Expeditions and Joint Research: Anthropology's History from the Perspective of Kyoto University Tanaka Masakazu
Chapter 15 Japanese Anthropology and Visual Mass Media: Mass Academicism in Ethnological Periodicals Iida Taku
Chapter 16 The "Yasukuni Question" and the Possible Contributions of Cultural Anthropology Namihira Emiko
Special Contribution The Legacy of Sugiura Kenichi: Lectures and Theses Horie Toshikazu and Horie Chikako