List of Employees at the Bureau for the Inspection of Barbarian Books


As Japan began to open up, the Edo bakufu (shogunate government) established the Bureau for the Inspection of Barbarian Books in 1856 in order to research Western studies and translate Western books. The bureau employed many Western scholars and covered subjects ranging from medicine and the natural sciences to politics and law. The intention was to broaden education and to facilitate the learning of European languages, such as Dutch, English, and French, which was seen in Japan as increasingly important. The bureau was renamed as the Bureau for the Inspection of Western Books in 1862 and then as Kaiseijo (Institute for Development) in 1863. It became one of the precursors of Tokyo University, which was established in 1877 after the Meiji Reformation. The oblong ledger presented here dates from 1861. The title is written in black ink on the front cover as Goshihai Meisaicho (List of employees), although the full title is Bansho shirabesho shokuin meisaicho (List of employees of the Bureau for the Inspection of Barbarian Books). The pages contain employee names, allowances, ranks, and work histories. In many places, slips of paper have been attached with a seal stamped over a signature of an individual. The ledger contains the names of many people who contributed to the modernization of Japan, such as Mitsukuri Genpo (physician, scientist, and translator), Kawamoto Kōmin, Councilor Terajima Munenori, Katō Hiroyuki (political scientist, administrator, and educator), Tsuda Masamichi (legal scholar, judge, and statesman), and Nishi Amane (philosopher, scholar, and modernizing administrator). The document is from the papers of Katsu Kaishū, statesman, naval officer, and vice president of the Bureau for the Inspection of Barbarian Books from 1860 to 1861.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language


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Physical Description

1 book ; 14 x 20 centimeters


  1. Bansho shirabesho shokuin meisaicho,” in Japan-Netherlands Exchange in the Edo Period, National Diet Library Newsletter.
  2. “Portraits of Modern Japanese Historical Figures,” National Diet Library.

Last updated: May 31, 2016