OGURA Makiko


OGURA Makiko Associate Professor
Research Subject

I specialize in Japanese ancient history, particularly the Nara and Heian periods. By focusing my research on the national system of land under the ritsuryo codes, I am aiming to clarify its function as a financial resource for maintaining the government.
I also have a strong interest in the bibliography of Japanese historical literature.

Research Fields
Japanese Ancient History (Nara and Heian periods)
Faculty - Division / Research Group / Laboratory
Division of Humanities / Research Group of History / Laboratory of Japanese History
Graduate School - Division / Department / Laboratory
Division of Humanities / Department of History / Laboratory of Japanese History
School - Course / Laboratory
Division of Humanities and Human Sciences / Course of History and Anthropology / Laboratory of Japanese History

Office/Lab: 306
Email: m-ogura(at)let.hokudai.ac.jp
Replace “(at)” with “@” when sending email.

Foreign exchange students who want to be research students (including Japanese residents) should apply for the designated period in accordance with the “Research Student Application Guidelines”. Even if you send an email directly to the staff, there is no reply.
Related Links


Laboratory of Japanese HistoryOGURA Makiko Associate Professor

Human activities that persist beyond centuries:
Living on land that generates wealth

When I was a university student, I encountered an account of a land tax that was called denso in an article I was addressing in a seminar on ancient history. Since then, I’ve taken an interest in research on land. The danger of presentism—interpreting ancient events from a modern viewpoint—is often pointed out, but with regard to the agrarian system and financial administration, ancient people are essentially identical to modern people in that making a living depends on land. I regard this theme as an old subject and as a new one that even modern people can address. I’m currently focusing my research on the following theme: the place of wealth-generating land in the finances of ancient Japan.

Ryo-no-gige (A Commentary on Administrative Codes) a printed book published in 1800, which is in the collection of the Hokkaido University Library. Associate Professor Makiko Ogura says, “This book is interesting in having been in the Nanki Bunko (Collection of books assembled by the Kii (Wakayama) branch of the Tokugawa family) and possessed by Tokyo Imperial University.”
Gangoji Temple in Nara, visited by Associate Professor Makiko Ogura in the fall of 2010. She never fails to pay an annual visit to Nara, including a visit to Shosoin Exhibition held at Nara National Museum. (Both photos were taken by Ms. Ogura.)

Peruse as many historical documents as possible,
and strive to foster professional intuition.

The starting point of historical research is the perusal of historical documents. Students who study Japanese history are strongly recommended to scrutinize as many historical materials as possible to increase their number of “mental drawers.” The knowledge that comes from literature can be acquired later, but the habit of consciously asking oneself the question of what one can interpret from historical documents should be formed from a younger age. Continuing the habit invariably helps one to exercise one’s intuition as a research professional when one reads new historical documents. Researchers in the Department of Japanese history of this university actively engage with one-another, creating an atmosphere of affability. The system of moderately small groups is conducive to the fostering of closer relationships between teaching staff and students. Under such optimal circumstances, I’d like to support your growth by devoting my careful attention to you.


Historical research begins with historical materials: Rikkokushi (six national histories of Japan), Ritsuryo and Kyakushiki (laws of codes and conduct), administrative documents in the Nara period (710–794), and a diary of an aristocrat in which FUJIWARA no Michinaga’s waka poem revealing his prosperity were recorded. There are still many unknowns even when it comes to such noted literature, which you have seen in textbooks at least once in history classes during elementary, junior high and high school. In addition, even what we assume to be undeniable historical fact often turns out, under scrutiny, to be no more than speculations envisioned by people in subsequent times without any solid evidence.

The basic research procedures we follow daily are to:
– Find cases similar to those seen in past history;
– Closely examine historical materials left by forerunners;
– Accumulate findings one by one; and
– Confirm or correct the historical recognition we currently embrace.
In research on ancient Japanese history, we sometimes encounter cases where only a single document related to research remains and a number of researchers have not been able to understand it. Though it is not easy to unravel such historical documents, it is all the more exciting to successfully unlock them myself. Let’s peruse historical materials and experience what people in the past felt!