The Tokugawa Institute for the History of Forestry is the only private organization engaged in study of the history of forestry in Japan. It belongs to the Tokugawa Reimeikai Public Interest Incorporated Foundation that was established by Tokugawa Yoshichika, the 19th head of the Owari Tokugawa family. At this institute, historical materials collected from all over the country concerning forestry systems of the Edo era, as well as other ancient documents/records obtained by the Owari clan and Owari Tokugawa family, have been obtained since Tokugawa Yoshichika aspired to study Kiso-mountain in the Owari domain. The institute has been engaged in cataloging these ancient documents and disclosing their contents, and studying Japanese forestry policy, commencing with Kiso-mountain, along with the histories of the Owari domain and the Edo shogunate. This site introduces surveys/research conducted by the institute as well as summaries of historical materials in its archives.
The Tokugawa Institute for the History of Forestry is the only private organization engaged in the study of the history of forestry in Japan. The institute is under the Tokugawa Reimeikai Public Interest Incorporated Foundation established by Tokugawa Yoshichika, the 19th head of the Owari Tokugawa family.
Tokugawa Yoshichika was born as the 5th son of Matsudaira Yoshinaga (known by the name of Shungaku), the famous lord of Fukui clan in the last Edo period. He was adopted by Tokugawa Yoshiakira, the 18th head of Owari Tokugawa family in 1908 and married to Yoshiakira’s daughter Yoneko. He graduated from the History Department of the College of Letters of Tokyo Imperial University (current the University of Tokyo) in 1911 and then from Botany Department of the same university in 1914. After that, he established Tokugawa Seibutsugaku Kenkyujo (the Tokugawa Research Institute of Biology) and published his graduation thesis of the History Department titled “Kiso-yama” (Kiso mountains). He kept on studying Kiso mountains, which were owned by Owari clan in Edo period. He established Tokugawa Rinseishi-kenkyusitsu (the Tokugawa Laboratory for the History of Forestry) on the grounds in 1923 and started to collect and survey the historical materials on a full scale. This laboratory was the beginning of the Tokugawa Institute for the History of Forestry.
Tokugawa Yoshichika, in December 1931, established Owari Tokugawa Reimeikai Foundation (now Tokugawa Reimeikai Foundation) and became the first president. He donated the entire treasures, arts, and historical documents of Owari Tokugawa family to the foundation. In July 1932 he set up Hosa-bunko (Hosa library) at Takada-cho Zoshiga-ya, Tokyo (current Mejiro 3 chome, Toshima-ku) to preserve and disclose them to the public. A library of as many as 100,000 volumes was transported from Nagoya to Tokyo with the establishment of Hosa-bunko (‘Hosa’ is a classical name for Nagoya). As the Tokugawa Laboratory for the History of Forestry also became a part of the non-profit foundation, the name was changed to Hosa-bunko fuzoku Rekishi-kenkyushitsu (the History Laboratory attached to the Hosa Library). At the same time, Tokugawa Art Museum began to be constructed; it was opened to the public in November, 1935.
Tokugawa Yoshichika, in April 1950, decided to transfer both the name of ‘Hosa-bunko’ and some 64000 classical books as well as historical documents of the collection to Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, in order to maintain the foundation to avoid the social disorders and economic hardships of the post-war period. The transferred documents belong now to the Hosa Library, City of Nagoya, a branch of Nogoya City Museum. The History Laboratory became separated and independent from the Hosa Library and changed its name to Tokugawa Rinseishi Kenkyujo (Tokugawa Institute for the History of Forestry). With the best stored collections, the institute started studies mainly focusing on the history of forestry in Edo period with the purpose of dealing with the serious forestry crisis after the World WarⅡ: the institute tried to make contribution to the nationwide tree planting and the recovery of growing stock of forest.
Tokugawa Institute for the History of Forestry published the first “Research Bulletin” in March 1967 to set up the system to make their research publicly available; and the institute has been conducting studies of the history of forestry and other subjects related to the collected documents such as Owari clan and Tokugawa shogunate. The institute is emphasizing the organization of historical documents and its availability to the public through publishing catalogues. As a part of these efforts, the institute is reorganizing their historical documents in order to meet the current standards of document keeping practice while valuing the traditional method of cataloging since the Hosa Library time. Furthermore, the institute recently takes positive part in educating and informing the general public by co-hosting open lectures in cooperation with Toshima City Education Board.
Here, we present introductions in English to articles and summaries of the Bulletin published by this institute.
One of the unique activities of the Tokugawa Institute of the History of Forestry is the part-time research assistant system. Part-time research assistants are young researchers who are recommended and screened by the director, deputy director, researchers, and specially assigned researchers of the institute.
In the screening of part-time research assistants, the emphasis is on their good personalities with cooperative and good social skills as well as their research capabilities.
The research assistants engage in organizing historical documents of the institute as a volunteer for ten days a year. In return, the institute actively supports these assistants in their research by allowing them to have access to historical documents and the library. The institute, additionally, helps them apply for Special Researcher at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science as well as for Science Research Grants (young researchers.)
The research assistants participate in organizing historical documents during the intensive organization of the historical materials held twice a year, spring and summer. The results were published in the “Research Bulletin” of the institute in the form of “Document Catalogue of Watanabe Hanzo Family,” “Document Catalogue of Daidoji Family,” “Document Catalogue of Ishikawa Family,” and so on.
In addition, thanks to the research assistants’ voluntary works on historical documents, more catalogues such as “Document Catalogue related to Chimura Heiemon,” “Document Catalogue of Owari Tokugawa Family,” and “Document Catalogue of Kinnnoyuin (a group of historical materials regarding Owari clan’s political activities during the last Edo period) were produced to contribute significantly to the institute’s disclosure efforts.
Furthermore, the research assistants, along with researchers, actively participate in document research activities such as the study of historical documents held by National Forest Administration, the study of private forest historical documents, and the study of forestry history achieves. They continue organizing and cataloguing historical documents on forestry not only held by the institute but also held by other organizations throughout Japan. Thus, they are contributing to the society in their efforts to preserve historical documents that otherwise may be lost and discarded.
In appreciation to these research assistants’ contribution, the institute decided in 2008 to promote research assistants to part-time researchers with their fulfilling certain standards.
The institute is going to cultivate competent researchers and adults through positive support to individual researches, historical document studies, and cooperative researches by developing young and able human resources with the use of the research assistant system.