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Center for Japanese Studies pres.

CJS Noon Lecture Series | History of Furigana

Shinji Konno, Professor of Japanese Language and Literature, Seisen University, Tokyo

speaker speaker
Furigana has its origins in Chinese documents and started to be used in Japan around the 10th century. Furigana was used to indicate the pronunciations of various Kanji (Chinese characters).

When Japanese people began to use Kanji to express both Chinese and Japanese characters, they began to adopt Kanji even when they express Japanese words.

Although Furigana, as phonetic characters, could express Japanese words, Chinese characters continued to be used because a significant amount of Chinese words had already become enrooted within the Japanese lexicon. Both Chinese characters, which are ideographic characters, and Furigana, which are phonetic characters, were used in the Japanese language. This lecture covers the development and the influence of Furigana as “linguistic phenomenon" in Japanese literary history.

The lecture also includes the contents about the pictorial aspects of Japanese language, especially of Hiragana. An aesthetic element of Japanese characters and their application in entertainment culture, art, and decoration would be covered as one of the most important characteristics of Japanese language.

Professor Konno’s specialty covers the history of the Japanese language from the 7th century to medieval to early modern period (Muromachi to Meiji period). His methodology is to find the common practice within the Japanese language during different periods of history and the language usage in art and everyday culture. His lecture is planning to focus on the development of KANA and the usage of FURIGANA and its influence on the literary expression found in various publications and art. His lecture should be of interest for both academic and layman audiences who are interested not only in Japanese Studies but also in Museum Studies and Art and Design Studies. His lecturer at Michigan should be informative for community members interested in Japanese culture.

If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend this event, please reach out to us at least 2 weeks in advance of this event. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
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