GOTO Yasufumi


GOTO Yasufumi Professor
Research Subject

Annotative studies of The Tales of Ise and Tsutsumi Chunagon Monogatari (The Riverside Counselor’s Tales).

Research Fields
Literature in Heian era
Faculty - Division / Research Group / Laboratory
Division of Humanities / Research Group of Cultural Representations / Laboratory of Pre-modern Japanese Literature and Culture
Graduate School - Division / Department / Laboratory
Division of Humanities / Department of Cultural Representations / Laboratory of Pre-modern Japanese Literature and Culture
School - Course / Laboratory
Division of Humanities and Human Sciences / Course of Linguistics and Literature / Laboratory of Pre-modern Japanese Literature and Culture

Office/Lab: 407
TEL: +81-11-706-4015
FAX: +81-11-706-4015
Email: yasusan(at)
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Laboratory of Pre-modern Japanese Literature and CultureGOTO Yasufumi Professor

Inductively draw a conclusion from collateral evidence:
Work to “restore” damaged texts.

I wonder what the authors of Heian literature, two of whose representative works are Ise Monogatari (The Tale of Ise) and Sagoromo Monogatari (The Tale of Sagoromo), intended to express in their individual works. Unless you could somehow read the original text stored in a time capsule or some other such way, you won’t find any clues to the exact answer. In reading existing manuscripts and annotative documents, I’ve encountered some miscopying and misinterpreting that I just can’t overlook, and this has inspired me to pursue research on the “restoration” of Japanese classics. You can see a specific point by inductively interpreting various factors, such as word meanings and usages by which these tales were written in those days, rather than by basing your consideration on your way of thinking. Like a doctor making diagnoses and administering treatments, I’m fascinated by the pleasure of identifying defects and restoring the original form.

Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji), a research topic that a number of graduate students have been involved in. Professor Goto, whose next topic is Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter), strives to identify parts that have remained long unknown.
Hamamatsu Chunagon Monogatari (The Tale of Hamamatsu Chunagon) written in the late Heian period (from about the 1100s to the 1180s). Professor Goto notes that in the process of the original text being transcribed for succeeding generations, various miscopies and misinterpretations were inadvertently created.

Under my policy of non-interference,
interactions with leading researchers will become your assets.

In the same way as I was cultivated in my university days, I basically adopt a policy of non-interference with respect to my graduate students. Spoon-feed instruction—“Interpret this work from this perspective, gather information on this material, build your concept by month XX”—saps the student’s motivation to become a researcher. You can achieve a sense of accomplishment only when you present a paper that you’ve put together on your own and receive high evaluations from others. All I do is assume full responsibility for providing instruction regarding your paper and set the stage to introduce you to leading researchers. The experiences you had with leading researchers will surely constitute properties more precious than any other documentary record.


We usually enjoy literature in the Heian period (794–1185) through printed books (commentaries), which invariably include numerous outrageous errors. This is partly because Heian literature, whose original texts were mostly lost a long time ago, left its writings only in the form of manuscripts handed down after the Edo period (1603–1867), or left a single existing manuscript handed down to the present in most cases. Naturally, those manuscripts include many miscopies or defects accidentally created by the passage of time. It stands to reason that since the original texts contain errors, interpretations based on them are incorrect. My research is focused in large part on restoring such damaged texts to their original form. The mere correction of a single mistaken word may completely transform the traditional interpretation of a work, and the resulting excitement becomes addictive once you experience it.