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Kobun Workshop for Japan Scholars, December 2020

Learn to Read Premodern Japanese Texts

On December 15 & 16, The Japan Foundation, Sydney will host a free two-day online workshop to help Japan scholars build literacy in kobun (古文), or classical Japanese.

The workshop is organised in partnership with the Japanese Studies Association of Australia (JSAA), and will be led by Dr Matthew Shores of The University of Sydney.

The workshop is open to scholars who meet the following criteria:

1) University-affiliated researcher (Honours, MA(Res), PhD candidate or above)
2) Japanese language proficiency is intermediate level or higher
3) Research specialisation is in an area that requires, or would benefit from, the applicant’s ability to read classical Japanese
4) Based at a university in Australia, or a member of the Japanese Studies Association of Australia (JSAA)

About the Workshop

Over the course of two days, the workshop will cover a range of premodern materials, with a special focus on Edo-period texts. The workshop will provide participants with basic skills for reading and interpreting classical Japanese, and will also introduce a variety of online resources to assist with this. No prior experience with classical Japanese is necessary, although at least intermediate-level proficiency in Japanese is required. Participants will be asked to prepare an electronic dictionary and/or a classical Japanese dictionary (古語辞典) if possible.

For further details, see the Kobun Workshop program.

Workshop Materials

Workshop materials (copies of classical texts) will be sent to participants electronically in the week prior to the workshop. Participants are recommended to ensure that they have access to hard copies of these materials during the workshop. Upon request, The Japan Foundation, Sydney will post hard copies of workshop materials to Australia-based participants who register by the November 18 deadline.

About the Facilitator

Dr Matthew Shores is a scholar of early modern and modern Japanese literary arts and entertainment. Much of his work to date has focused on modern comic storytelling (rakugo) and its early modern precursors, literary and otherwise. Shores began his career in the UK, where he was a Governing Body Fellow and Director of East Asian Studies at Peterhouse, the oldest of the Cambridge colleges. He joined The University of Sydney as a Lecturer in Japanese in 2019.

He has supervised students of all levels, undergraduate to PhD, and taught units on modern/contemporary Japanese literature, East Asian cinema, Japanese theatre and cultural history, Edo-period literature and culture, classical Japanese, modern Japanese language, translation, and academic writing. He has a PhD in Japanese literature from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His Master’s degrees are from Tezukayama University and Portland State University.

Each summer he directs an intensive three-week summer programme in Kyoto called Traditional Theatre Training (T.T.T.), which, with the help of professional practitioners, trains participants from around the globe in the arts of nō, kyōgen, and Nihon buyō. He also serves as associate editor for the Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia and Japan area editor for Asian Theatre Journal.

For more, see

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Workshop Details

December 15 (Tue) & 16 (Wed), 2020
10am – 5:30pm / 10am – 4:30pm (AEDT)

Free. Registration essential.
Limited capacity (max. 20 persons)


Registration for this event is now closed.


For further information, contact the Japanese Studies Department on (02) 8239 0055 or via

Image: “A Smash Hit for the Local Book Trade” (Atariyashita Jihon Doiya), painted by Jippensha Ikku 1802 (Kyōwa 2). Tokyo Metropolitan Library Collection.

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