UNESCO register adds Japan mission to archive

Kyodo

A collection of materials related to a 17th century mission sent by a Japanese feudal lord to Europe and the world’s oldest diary in the author’s own handwriting left 10 centuries ago by a Japanese regent have been selected for the UNESCO Memory of the World registry, the education ministry said Wednesday.

The two assets — both designated national treasures in Japan — were among the roughly 80 sets of documents and materials nominated this year for inscription into the United Nations agency’s program for preserving rare or ancient records and documents around the world.

At a meeting Tuesday in the South Korean city of Gwangju, the UNESCO International Advisory Committee proposed the two for inscription, the ministry was told. UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova gave the final say for the selections.

The materials about the Keicho Mission to the Vatican and Spain were recommended jointly by the Japanese and Spanish governments for UNESCO listing. They are preserved at Sendai City Museum.

Under the order of Sendai feudal lord Date Masamune, the group left Japan in 1613 to negotiate trade with Spanish possessions in Mexico. They brought back a certificate according delegation leader Hasekura Tsunenaga Roman citizenship as well as portraits.

The diary “Midokanpakuki,” written by Fujiwara no Michinaga (966-1027), a powerful medieval regent, was proposed by the Japanese government. Scrolls — a valuable source of information on Japan’s Imperial court culture — are preserved by Yomei Bunko, a library in the city of Kyoto.

In 2011, UNESCO inscribed the collection of annotated coal mine paintings and diaries of artist Sakubei Yamamoto (1892-1984).

  • zer0_0zor0

    I’m not at all a fan of the Fujiwara regents (read the book by Robert Borgen on Sugawara no Michiane for some insights), but a valuable source of information it would seem to be. I will have to get a copy of that in a modern translation…

    The mission sponsored by Date Masamune was progressive for its time, and all the way to Mexico sounds like a pretty far flung adventure.