Higashiyama Gobunko (the imperial library) (東山御文庫)

Higashiyama Go-bunko refers to the imperial family library located in northeast corner of Kyoto Imperial Palace. It is also called Kinri Gobunko and Higashiyama bunko. The past emperors' shinkan (imperial letter) or the collections, the favorite calligraphic works and paintings and tools, which are about 60,000 items, are stored.


At present it is treated as chokufu (imperial seal) same as Todai-ji Temple Shosoin and so on, and jiju (a chamberlain) of the Imperial Household Agency manages it. Except for the special examination by experts in the occasion of bakuryo (airing) in autumn (the 'airing' for stored items is regularly done), it is not opened to the public. However, the items are being microfilmed by the Imperial Household Archives and are being copied by Historiographical Institute of The University of Tokyo ('Kyoto Imperial Palace Higashiyama Gobunko Record'), and a part of the contents comes to be opened to the public.

The name 'Higashiyama' originates from the fact that dozo (warehouse made of soil) in the Konoe family, called 'Higashiyama no goko,' was presented and transferred by Tadahiro KONOE in 1881 and was used for a facility of the library. Thus, it is not directly related with Higashimaya-dono of Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA or the Emperor Higashiyama (the one hundred thirteenth Emperor) and so on.


In the Imperial family, various books and so on had been inherited from ancient times, but through the economic decline in the Onin War or the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States) (Japan), many of them were lost. After that, the Emperor Goyozei and the Emperor Gomizunoo did their best to collect the books with the stabilization of the society, but the fire on July 17, 1653 burned almost all the dairi (Imperial Palace) and all the libraries were burnt down except for one. Disturbed by this, the Emperor Gosai and the Emperor Reigen asked court nobles or temples and shrines in Kyoto to accurately copy waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables), stories, diaries, records, Yusoku kojitsu (court and samurai rules of ceremony and etiquette), documents on kuji (public duties) and shrines and temples and so on, and furthermore, made the precious books and documents copied to be the duplicates and stored them in the other places in order to prevent the loss. On February 14, 1661, again the fire in dairi burned the remained books and documents, but the duplicates in the other places remained safe. Successive emperors took this chance to do their best to collect precious books and make the duplicate books and maintain the storehouses for the duplicate books. This was the beginning of Hiagashiyama bunko. Emperors themselves were deeply involved with the collection of the precious books and production of copies, and many of the contents and titles were written by the Shinpitsu (emperor's own handwriting), as for book collection seals, the era names on the throne such as the Emperor Gosai ('Meireki era'), the Emperor Higashiyama ('Genroku era'), the Emperor Gosakuramachi ('Meiwa Era') and so on were used, or unified seal called 'imperial line bunko' was used (for example, the Gosai Emperor, the Sakuramachi Emperor and the Emperor Komei), and some emperors made unique book collection seals such as 'Osahito,' 'Konohana,' 'Tenen' and so on, like the Emperor Komei.
After the transfer of the capital to Tokyo, a part of the stored books in dairi was transferred to new Imperial Palace and furthermore, in the establishment of miyake (families allowed to have the status of Imperial family), some of them were allocated to them (However, all the miyake which received the allocation were discontinued later and the stored books were transferred to Imperial Household Archives or National Museum of Japanese History.)
Later, the original houses were decided to be demolished when the Konoe family moved to Tokyo, but the okura (a rice storehouse of the Edo bakufu) of Higashiyama was presented and used for storing the remained books and thus the name became a name of the library.

[Original Japanese]