Centennial of the Founding of the ISJFC
In 2021, the Institute for the Study of Japanese Folk Culture at Kanagawa University celebrates 100 years since its establishment.
When the Institute first started, it was a small museum located in the garden-shed attic of the home of Keizo Shibusawa (1896–1963), who was still a student at the Tokyo Imperial University at the time, where he and his friends displayed biological specimens and folk toys. In May 1921, when he was preparing to graduate from university, Shibusawa founded the “Attic Museum Society” with his friends as a club-like association for academic research.
During his spare time from work, Shibusawa took a personal interest in passionately pursuing genuine academic study from his home attic that would contribute to humankind around the world. While working at a bank, Shibusawa used the attic museum as a base to conduct research into history and folk studies with regard to the everyday culture of “jomin” or common people. Finally, the Attic Museum left the attic and was relocated to a dedicated building on the Shibusawa premises. Young university graduates were employed as researchers who conducted studies and gathered and published documents.
The Attic Museum was renamed the Institute for the Study of Japanese Folk Culture in 1942. After the death of Shibusawa in 1963, the Institute for the Study of Japanese Folk Culture continued its activities as a private research facility; in 1981, it was invited to become part of Kanagawa University. With the Institute as its nucleus, the Graduate School of History and Folklore Studies was established in 1993 to provide postgraduate education. The students who studied at the graduate school are conducting research at universities and museums in Japan and internationally. In 2020, the Department of History and Folklore Studies of the Faculty of Cross-Cultural and Japanese Studies was established to provide undergraduate education. Beginning in an attic, the Institute has grown from a base for domestic Japanese researchers to a research and educational facility that conducts collaborations with international researchers where not only Japanese students but also overseas students come to study.
For a 5-year period between 2021 and 2025, the Centennial Years, the Institute for the Study of Japanese Folk Culture at Kanagawa University will be holding a course of lectures commemorating its 100-year history and issuing publications such as a Centennial Commemorative Collection of Essays, with the aim of looking back at the history of the Institute as it grew and forward to the next 100 years.