Yomei Bunko Library (陽明文庫)

Located in Utano Kaminotani-cho of Ukyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City, Yomei Bunko is a particular kind of library.

It stores about twenty thousand items of legacy historical materials of the Konoe family, which was an honorable Kuge (court nobles) family and the head of Sekke (the five regent houses), such as ancient writing, old books, records, diaries, letters, and antique artworks. In 1938, Fumimaro KONOE, the Prime Minister and the head of the Konoe family at that time, built it in this place close to Ninna-ji Temple in the northwest of Kyoto City urban district. It stores historical materials that are over a thousand years old from the "Mido Kanpakuki," diary by FUJIWARA no Michinaga (966 - 1028) in his own handwriting, an ancestor of the Konoe family, to the documents related to Fumimaro KONOE in the twentieth century, and it not only lets researchers read them but also publishes facsimile editions of them. A comparable library to this is the 'Tokado Bunko Library' of the Ichijo family which is the direct line of descent of Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents) of Kujo group.

Yomei Bunko and the Konoe family

The Konoe family is a descendant of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan. After FUJIWARA no Tadamichi (1097 - 1164) who served as Sessho (regent), Kanpaku (chief advisor of the Emperor), and Dajodaijin (chancellor) in the twelfth century, the Fujiwara clan split into two branch families, the Konoe family whose founder was Tadamichi's first son Motozane KONOE (1143 - 1166), and the Kujo Family whose founder was Tadamichi's third son Kanezane KUJO (1149 - 1207), and later, the Takatsukasa family split off from the Konoe family, and the Nijo family and the Ichijo family broke off from the Kujo family. Later, the five families, the Konoe, the Takatsukasa, the Kujo, the Nijo, and the Ichijo, were called 'Go Sekke' (five branches of the Fujiwara family). Motozane KONOE, the first son of FUJIWARA no Tadamichi and the founder of the Konoe family, was born when his father FUJIWARA no Tadamichi was over forty years old, and succeeded Uji Choja (the chief of the clan) and Kanpaku, but died at the age of twenty-four.

Successive heads of the Konoe family have inherited and taken good care of the important documents and records, such as diaries of ancestors, and records of ceremonies of the Imperial Court, including "Mido Kanpakuki," diary of FUJIWARA no Michinaga. It is worthy of special attention to note that the Konoe family has handed down its family treasure of ancient documents for over a thousand years through the Onin War (a civil war from 1467 to 1477 during the Muromachi period) and the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States).

The thirteenth head of the Konoe family, Masaie KONOE (1445 - 1505) who served as Kanpaku, and Dajodaijin during the turbulent era of the Sengoku Period, evacuated the family treasure of ancient documents (they are said to have measured fifty Karabitsu, a container of 50 cm x 33 cm x 40 cm, in volume) to Iwakura in the north of Kyoto. Although the Konoe family's house was destroyed by fire during the Onin War, the ancient documents have survived the turmoil. The sixteenth head of the Konoe family, Sakihisa KONOE (the pseudonym Ozan, 1536 - 1612), who served as Kanpaku over the periods of the demise of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), Honnoji Incident (a battle in which Nobunaga was killed), and the foundation of Tokugawa Shogunate, led a turbulent life serving as Kanpaku to move to Echigo (the Niigata region) to make an alliance with Kenshin UESUGI, also took a good care of the family treasure of documents and evacuated them to Sakamoto at the foot of Mt. Hiei.

Many of the successive Konoe family heads in the early-modern times, who were educated and had a refined taste of poetry, calligraphy, and painting, sorted out the handed down ancient documents, and added book collections as well. The seventeenth head of the Konoe family, Nobutada KONOE (1565 - 1614), the pseudonym Sanmyakuin, was an educated man and a calligrapher, one of the so-called 'Kanei no Sanpitsu' or the Three Prominent Brushes of the Kanei period. Because Nobutada had no child as a successor, he adopted Nobuhiro KONOE (the pseudonym Ozan, 1599 - 1649) who was his nephew and the fourth prince of Emperor Goyozei. Nomuhiro was also an educated man who was well versed in various arts, such as calligraphy, tea ceremony, and renga (a poetic form, poetic dialogue). The twenty-first head of the Konoe family, Iehiro KONOE (the pseudonym Yorakuin, 1667 - 1736) during the middle of the Edo period was also an educated man well versed in poetry, calligraphy, and painting.

These ancient documents that had been cherished by the successive heads of the Konoe family were donated in a few batches to Kyoto University Library following 1900 in the modern era. Later, Fumimaro KONOE, who was the family head during the Showa period and served as the Prime Minister in the turbulent era up to the outbreak of the Second World War, decided to establish the Yomei Bunko Foundation in 1938 to permanently store the family treasure of historical materials. The name 'Yomei' came from the fact that the house of the Konoe family used to be on the street that began at Yomeimon Gate which was one of the fourteen gates of Daidairi Palace.

The Yomei Bunko Library is close to Ninna-ji Temple in the Rakusei area (the western part of Kyoto). In its compound of about 10,000 square meters, there stand two storerooms of books that were built when this library was founded, its access office, and Kozanso villa of Sukiya-zukuri style (built in the style of a tea-ceremony house) was built in 1944. These are valued architecture from the Showa period and are designated as National Registered Cultural Properties.

Stored at the same place are the "Mido Kanpakuki," diary written by FUJIWARA no Michinaga himself, and other court noble's diaries, that are all first grade historical materials. It also stores many autograph letters by emperors and historical prominent figures, documents related to the ceremonies in the Imperial Court, and a number of items of ancient copies of old tales and anthologies of Waka poems, many of which are not only valued as historical materials but also artifacts of the history of calligraphy. Although many cultural properties inherited by former court nobles and daimyo (domain lords) families were lost at the end of the Second World War, the Konoe family's collections are very important because they have been protected at one place by the foundation that was established early. It has a display room above the storeroom, but it is not open to the public and requires a letter of introduction to read the materials. It is publishing with photograph of major valued books as "Yomei Sosho" (Yomei Collection of Books). Incidentally, although its copy is said to exist somewhere, the 'Tokado Bunko Library' of the Ichijo family is now lost.

National Treasures

26 volumes Mido Kanpakuki (14 volumes of autograph and 12 volumes of transcription), attached Midogyokisho Excerpts, Catalogue of Mido Goryakuki: Diaries of FUJIWARA no Michinaga, the remaining 14 volumes in his own handwriting cover from 998 (his age of thirty-three) to 1021 (his age of fifty-five) with interruptions.

30 volumes Gonijo Moromichiki Diary (one volume of autograph, and 29 volumes of old transcription): Diary of Fujiwara no Moromichi, Kanpaku Naidaijin (Inner Minister); the transcriptions are from the Ichijo family.
2 scroll Wakan-sho, volume two (also called Wakan Roeishu; Anthology of Japanese and Chinese Verses for Recitation)
1 volume Kagura Wagon Hifu Score (lyrics for the court music and Japanese harp)
1 volume Utaawase (Record of a poetry contest) (ten volumes in total), volume six
19 volumes Ruiju Utaawase (Record of a poetry contest)
3 Kumano Kaishi Poems (fragments of sheets of poems): Written by Emperor Gotoda, FUJIWARA no Ietaka, and Jakuren
2 Otekagami (a collection of calligraphy, imperial correspondence, and other works dating from the Heian through the Muromachi periods)

Important Cultural Properties

Kyurekikisho: Diary of FUJIWARA no Morosuke (908 – 960), Udaijin (Minister of the Right)
Eishoki: Diary of FUJIWARA no Tametaka (1070 – 1130)
Daifuki: Diary of FUJIWARA no Tamefusa (1049 – 1115)
Chisokuin Kanpakuki: Diary of FUJIWARA no Tadazane (1078 – 1162), Kanpaku
Heihanki: Diary of TAIRA no Nobunori (1112 - 1187)
Gumaiki: Diary of Sanefusa SANJO (1147 – 1225), Sadaijin (Minister of the Left)
Inokuma Kanpakuki: Diary of Iezane KONOE (1179 - 1242), Sessho, Kanpaku, and Dajodaijin
Okanoya Kanpakuki: Diary of Kanetsune KONOE (1210 - 1259)
Shinjinin Kanpakuki: Diary of Motohira KONOE (1246 - 1268), Kanpaku and Sadaijin
Kikkoki: Diary of Yoshida Tsunetoshi KANJUJI (1214 - 1276), Chunagon (vice-councilor of state)
Gogumaiki: Diary of Kintada SANJO (1324 - 1383)
Goshinjinin Kanpakuki: Diary of Michitsugu KONOE (1333 - 1387)
Chuyuki: Diary of FUJIWARA no Munetada (1062 - 1141), Udaijin
Gohokoinki: Diary of Masaie KONOE (1444 - 1505), Kanpaku and Dajodaijin
Engitenryaku Gyokisho: Diaries of Emperors Daigo and Murakami
Tairaki (Chikanobuki, Yokinobuki, Sadaieki, Tomonobuki, Tokinobuki) attached the new transcriptions of Norikuniki and Tomonobuki: Diaries of the Taira clan
Autographed letter of Emperor Gofukakusa
Autographed letter of Emperor Gokomatsu
Autographed letter of Emperor Gosuzaku
Autographed letter of Emperor Hanazono
Letter of Imperial Prince Sonen
Letter of FUJIWARA no Tadamichi
Letter of Jien
Letter of Myoe Shonin
Letter of TAIRA no Nobunori
Letter of MINAMOTO no Ienaga
Letter of Tamesuke REIZEI and a reply letter of Nobufusa MADENOKOJI
Tales and Anthologies of Waka Poems
Genji Monogatari (the Tale of Genji)
Kokinshu (Collection of Ancient and Modern): Written by Tamesuke REIZEI
Goshui sho (Commentary of Later Collection of Gleanings of Japanese Poetry)
Rokujo Saiin Utaawase (record of a poetry contest by Rokujo Saiin, a woman poet, fragment of the Nijo edition)
Wakan Roeishu (Anthology of Japanese and Chinese Verses for Recitation, fragment of the Taga edition)
Shijo no Miya Utaawase-jo (order of a poetry contest by Shijo no Miya)
Ronshunju Utaawase (the Contest Debating the Merits of Spring and Autumn)
Utaawasejo (order of poetry contest)
Hakushimonju Shingafu (the Collection of Poems by Bo Juyi)
Kindei Eryoshi Bokusho Komei Tenno Shinkan Gyosei (autographed writing of poems and letters in Indian ink on gold painted paper by Emperor Komei)
Documents of Laws and Regulations
Hososhiyo-sho (a legal book compiled by the Sakanoue clan between the end of Heian period and the early Kamakura period)
Saibanshiyo-sho (a lawbook from the Kamakura period)
Music Books
Kinkafu (music for Japanese harp)
Koyoshu (collection of old songs)
Gogenkinbu (music for an old instrument of five strings)
Documents and Records
Iezane KONOE's letter of resignation from Sessho
Zatsujiyoroku (household account book of the Konoe family)
Konoeke Shoryo Mokuroku (list of land property of the Konoe family)
Sekkanke Kyuki Mokuroku (catalog of records of the regency house)
Sekkan Keizu (genealogic chart of the regency house)
Kyujozu (map of the Imperial Palace of Heian-kyo)
Kurumanozu (picture of vehicles of nobles)
Myoe Shonin Yumenoki (dream records by Myoe Shonin)
Yusenkutsu (romantic novel in China of the Tang dynasty)
Yogaku Shinansho (encyclopedia in the Heian period)
Fuku Kensaku Shinju Shinkyo (a sutra of esoteric Buddhism)
Arts and Crafts
Color on silk painting of Kasuga Shika (Deer) Mandala
Tanto dagger: Inscribed 'Yoshimitsu'
Tachi sword: Inscribed 'Hidechika'
Tachi sword: Inscribed 'Nagamitsu'
Tachi sword: Inscribed 'Bizen no Kuni Ukainogo Unsho, Hachiman Daibosatsu' (Hachiman Daibosatsu, Unsho, Ukai-go, Bizen Province)
Kinuta Seiji Hoo Mimi hana-ike (a celadon flower base with handle of hoo (a mythological sacred bird in Chinese lore, a phoenix)): Inscribed 'Sensei' (A thousand voices), Nansong dynasty of China
Location and Availability Information
Letters of introduction by scholars or researchers are required to read the materials.

It accepts visitors to see inside and hold exhibitions only for three months in spring and autumn each (only for groups that make reservations in advance).
Open hours: 10:00 to 16:00; closed on Sundays and National Holidays

Location: 1-2 Utano Kaminotani-cho, Ukyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City
Access: from Kyoto Station, take Kyoto City Bus or JR Bus for Toganoo, get off at 'Fukuoji' bus stop, and it is a few minutes on foot to the library.

[Original Japanese]