Sumida Maritime Materials Collection

They are materials about the history of marine transport and marine affair which Mr.Shoichi Sumida, known as a scholer of marine transport, worked hard to collect for a long time. They consist of about 6500 data from Keicho to early of Meiji. They were presented in Taisho 15 to Kobe High Commercial School, which is the predecessor of Kobe University.

The following is an extract from an article appeared in a student newspaper in Taisho 15.
“Experience is more important than theory in usual commerce of our country. Our commercial organization is quite simple. For instance, when we have a good outlook for commerce, we take measures. Taking measures is the simplest business method. But after influx of Western academic discipline, we swallowed Western theory, and left experience until later. To study more deeply than such a situation, we need the original anyhow.”

*The description above is mainly based on the article in a student newspaper “Kyujin” Vol.21 (Kobe Commercial High School, 1926.12.15). As a correction to the description above, “Sumida Maritime Materials Collection” includes materials published during Meiji and Taisho era, not limited until early of Meiji, as clarified by later bibliographic surveys. (June 2022)

About Sumida Maritime Materials Collection

“Sumida Maritime Materials Collection” is a library of 6500 old Chinese books translated into Japanese about marine transport and topography, which Mr.Shoichi Sumida(1892-1968), known as researcher into “Kaisenshikimoku” or editor of “Kaijishiryosousho”, collected by about Taisho 14, and presented at Taisho 15 to Government Kobe High Commercial School, the predecessor of Kobe University, and it includes block printing books, manuscripts, old documents, old records, and old maps etc. of the Edo era.

Mr.Sumida began to collect old books while at Tokyo University of department of law, and at Taisho 7, after graduation, he joined Suzuki company of Kobe ,which was the best general trading company in Japan at that time. But, while he was in Kobe, he seemed to collect materials specially about marine transport actively, in cooperation with Mr.Momoki, who established the Momoki Shoin library, the first library in Kobe, and contributed to establishment of the Kobe Municipal Library in later years.

After that, Mr.Sumida left Suzuki company, and continued to research the history of Japanese marine transport, while working mainly an officer of company about marine transport and shipbuilding etc. Although he was given the academic degree of Doctor of Law for “Research of Kaisenshikimoku” at Showa 31, in the meantime, acting as assistant Governor of Tokyo for 3 years from Showa 22 etc., he accomplished many achievements in various fields.

However, the greatest achievement should be a editing of “Kaijishiryosousho”, published from Showa 4 to 6 in 20 volumes, by his own efforts.

By the way, what we notice from the contents of “Kaijishiryosousho” is that they include many materials from “Sumida Maritime Materials Collection”, so that they seemed to be mainly edited based on marine transport books of it.

Finally, among local materials formed in the modern period of “Sumida Maritime Materials Collection”, I introduce typical ones at least in the following.

“Historical material of marine transport about Kobe village, Hutatsuchaya village, and Hyogo-tsu” in 76 volumes(49 books of account and 29 documents) [Notes] They consist of traffic bills of ships, notes of revised ships and notes of shipping charges from Enpo 7(1679) to Keio 2(1866), and the largest number of materials is about Kobe village (Kobe-ura).

“The domain of Himeji’s notes of Ura” in 13 volumes [Notes] They are manuscripts of formal report(notes, deeds, and bills of Ura) to sea, in which Mr.Hanzawa, an ship officer in the domain of Himeji, recorded breakage of a ship, personal safety and loads carried away, when he dealed with shipwrecks in the offing of the domain of Himeji.

Except the above examples, there are not a few local matrials that are seemed to be formed in the modern period, but owing to limited space, I leave it at that.
[Notes] About details of the contents of materials, please see “Catalogue of Sumida Maritime Materials Collection”, Rokkodai branch library published at Showa 43.
(from “The Kobe University Library Bulletin Vol .4 No.4”, written by Hiromitsu Terawaki.)