Do you think that history is that which is determined by the world as written about in textbooks? Drop your preconceptions and with a fresh eye carefully study old manuscripts page by page. You may lead to a great many new discoveries. Indeed, established theories actually change over time, and history, as we know it now, differs from that known only a decade ago. This field trains students in how to read and interpret historical documents. Through an examination of the events of the past and how people lived and thought in earlier times, students consider how we should live today. Field trips for hands-on experience, such as trips to survey the inscriptions on stone monuments at Yamagata’s famous Yamadera mountain temples, study at the historical site of Hiraizumi in Iwate prefecture, or the study of documents excavated at historical sites, are just some of the cultural property surveys conducted by this department.
The field of archaeology seeks an understanding of the history of mankind on the basis of the excavation and survey of ruins and historical sites or the reconstruction of a certain period or region’s culture. The study of archaeology deepens an awareness of how people lived in the past and leads to the discovery of the roots of social and human issues facing us today. Students will study a variety of approaches as they come to understand the culture of the Tohoku region, and develop an appreciation of the mutual relationship between humankind, nature and society, and the evaluation of their own thinking. Class work will consist of ample lecture time supplemented by a rich array of actual fieldwork surveys. The practice of excavation will give students the fundamental skills in the field, while opportunities will also arise for students to participate in archaeological, cultural anthropological and ethnographic surveys conducted both in and outside Japan.
Folklore and Anthropology
In today’s society we are confronted with major issues such as environmental damage and the collapse of regional society. The field of folklore studies the actual conditions of the lives of those people living in the coastal or mountain regions of Tohoku and their harsh natural conditions. This study explores both the “objects” of such a society, such as folk crafts, tools and other inventions created for use in everyday life, as well as its “spirit,” whether expressed through their festivals and religious beliefs or their tales and legends. Students also explore how folk culture has played a role in regional society, and how it can deepen our understanding of the future of our own lifestyles. Through seminars, students will work with the Tohoku Cultural Research Center as they conduct studies in various regions within Tohoku, deepening the interchange with local people and developing an understanding of local folk life and culture. Oral surveys with local people, an experience of the lifestyles and customs of the four seasons, and other aspects of this course will allow students to discover the fascinating culture of this region. In addition, experiments will also employ the use of photography and moving imagery to illustrate the modern history of regional society.