Publication of Kiyoshi Yabuuti and Keiji Yamada’s Major Works

Volume 15, Issue 4

As an East Asia-based journal, EASTS always treasures the intellectual traditions on science, technology and society in Asia, many of which merged into the conceptual foundation of STS studies in and about this region, and become the backbone of the first set of scholarship we chose to introduce to our colleges in the world via this journal. In the case of Japan, in previous issues EASTS has reported the publication of the complete work of the late Shigeru Nakayama (中山茂), an advisory editor of EASTS and the Japanese translator of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolution (News and Events, vol. 11, no. 1). It also covered, in the mini-symposium on Joseph Needham and his impacts on East Asia (vol. 14, no. 2), Professor Nakayama’s interactions with the famous “Yabuuti School” at Kyoto University led by Kiyoshi Yabuuti (藪内清), a leading authority in the history of Chinese science and technology and the Japanese translator of early volumes of Science and Civilization in China. Following this tradition, we are delighted to have our Associate editor Akihisa Setoguchi, who also works at the Kyoto University Research Center for the Cultural Sciences (京都大学人文科学研究所), to introduce the publication of the leaders of Yabuuti School, Professor Yabuuti and his successor Keiji Yamada (山田慶児). As Setoguchi nicely states, we hope “their academic legacy will be shared by many more people than ever before, and that it will help us to understand our own past and provide insights for future prospects.”

— EASTS Editorial Office

Kiyoshi Yabuuti (1906–2000) was a pioneer in the field of the history of Chinese science. After he was educated as an astronomer, he began his career as a historian of science in the 1940s. His primary research topic was calendrical astronomy in ancient China, and he published many pioneering works. From around 1948, Yabuuti organized his research group at the Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University. Their first topic was the seventeenth-century Tiangong Kaiwu (天工開物), an encyclopedia of technology. Many historians of Chinese science appeared from his research group, which became known as the Yabuuti School. He received the George Sarton Medal from the History of Science Society in 1972. Recently, the eight-volume Major Works of Kiyoshi Yabuuti (藪内清著作集), edited by his protégés, has begun to be published by Rinsen Shoten. The detailed content of each volume can be found at the publisher’s webpage: Volumes 1 to 6 have already been published (as of September 2021). The titles of all eight volumes are as follows:

  1. Astronomy and Calendrical Science in China — the standard edition (定本 中国の天文暦法)
  2. Research on the Hanshu Lülizhi/Research on the History of Calendrical Science in the Sui and Tang Dynasties (漢書律暦志の研究/隋唐暦法史の研究)
  3. History of Astronomy I (天文学史I)
  4. History of Astronomy II (天文学史II)
  5. History of Science/History of Technology (科学史/技術史)
  6. History of Natural Science/History of Mathematics/History of Medicine (自然科学史/数学史/医学史)
  7. Papers in European Languages (欧文)
  8. Supplements/General Indexes (補遺/総索引)

Keiji Yamada (1932–) was a successor of Yabuuti at Kyoto University. He has made progress not only in the history of Chinese calendrical astronomy but also broadened his interest in natural philosophy and traditional medicine in East Asia. The Major Works of Keiji Yamada (山田慶児著作集) is also now under publication from Rinsen Shoten ( Volumes 1 and 3 have already been published (as of September 2021). The titles of all eight volumes are as follows:

  1. Natural Philosophy I (自然哲学I)
  2. Natural Philosophy II (自然哲学II)
  3. Astronomy and Calendrical Science, Cosmology (天文暦学・宇宙論)
  4. Medical Thought in China I (中国医学思想I)
  5. Medical Thought in China II (中国医学思想II)
  6. Science Studies (Early Modern Period) (科学論 (近世篇))
  7. Science Studies (Modern Period)/Papers in European languages (科学論 (近代篇) /欧文)
  8. Supplements/Lecture transcript (補遺・講演録)

As one of the leading academic organizers of his time, Yamada launched a number of research projects at Kyoto University and later at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, in Japan, and published the results in the form of books and research reports. The essays included in the present Major Works are a useful guide to the overall picture of his wide-ranging activities, which cover not only astronomical and calendrical sciences but also medicine, natural history, East-West scientific exchange, scientists and society, and the place and role of science in civilization. While Yabuuti established a framework for the history of Chinese science, which had just been emerging as an academic discipline, promoting empirically solid research on Chinese exact science, Yamada has pursued studies on the social and cultural status of science and technology from a broader perspective, further deepening and developing the framework set out by Yabuuti. It is for this reason that they are rightly hailed as pioneers in the study of the history of science in East Asia.

Both of these Major Works will provide a unique opportunity for all those who study science and technology in East Asia to learn how the disciplines on which we depend were formed. It is our hope that their academic legacy will be shared by many more people than ever before, and that it will help us to understand our own past and provide insights for future prospects. Published volumes can be obtained through and other online bookstores in Japan, and overseas orders can be made by e-mailing the publisher at

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