Documents of the So clan

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  • Japanese: 宗家文書 (Sôke monjo)

The Documents of the Sô clan, or Sôke monjo, is the aggregate name for a number of collections of documents related to the Sô clan, samurai lords of Tsushima Island. Documents originally created and/or held at the Tsushima han government offices on Tsushima, the Sô clan's family temple Banshô-in (also on Tsushima), the domain's mansions in Edo and other cities, and the "Japan Hall" (J: Wakan/ K: Waegwan) in Pusan, are today held in seven locations (museums, university archives, etc.) in Seoul, Tsushima, Kyushu (Dazaifu), and Tokyo.

History of the Collections

Calls for efforts to organize and preserve these documents grew in the aftermath of World War II, and in 1975 the Izuhara Town Board of Education (Izuhara-chô kyôiku iinkai) began formal surveys of the materials. Over the course of the next 35 years, the group surveyed more than 80,000 items and produced twelve volumes of catalogs and research proceedings.

In the early Shôwa period (1920s-40s), documents held at the former Sô clan mansions at Sashikihara and Neo (both within Izuhara-chô, the former Tsushima Fuchû castle-town) were moved into the storehouse at Banshô-in. These materials remaining on Tsushima came to be known as the Sôke bunko shiryô 宗家文庫史料, or "Sô family collections documents." After the Nagasaki Prefectural Tsushima History and Culture Museum (Nagasaki kenritsu Tsushima rekishi minzoku shiryôkan) was established in 1997, it took possession of roughly 80,000 items, including materials from this grouping and from Pusan and Edo (Tokyo). In 2019, the museum's research arm was reorganized into the Nagasaki Prefectural Research Center for the History of Tsushima (Nagasaki ken Tsushima rekishi kenkyû sentaa), housed within the Tsushima Museum; the Museum opened to the public in 2022, and the Center now holds these collections.

Meanwhile, another roughly 14,000 items were transferred in 1997 to the Bunkachô, the Japanese national government's Agency for Cultural Affairs. Since 2005, these are now held at the Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu (Fukuoka prefecture) on the mainland of Kyushu.

Roughly 28,000 items previously held on Tsushima or in Edo (Tokyo) were transferred to the possession of the Chôsen sôtokufu, the Empire of Japan's chief colonial government office in Seoul, in a pair of transfers in 1926 and 1938. Following the defeat of Japan in World War II and the establishment of an independent Republic of Korea, the Korean government retained these materials. They are today held by the National Institute of Korean History (韓国国史編纂委員会, Hanguk guksa pyeonchan wiwonhoe).

Documents from the Waegwan ("Japan House") in Pusan, as well as from Tsushima and Edo, were transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Gaimushô) in 1873. This collection, along with additional materials from Yôgyoku-in temple in Tokyo, were then transferred to the Imperial Library (Teikoku toshokan) in 1897, and then to the National Diet Library (Kokuritsu kokkai toshokan) in 1949, remaining there today. These number around 1,600 items.

Finally, documents from the domain's Edo mansions were largely transferred to Yôgyoku-in temple in Tokyo at some point in the late 19th or early 20th century. Some of these were then transferred to the Colonial Office in Seoul or the Imperial Library in Tokyo. Of what remained, roughly 3,000 items were transferred to Tokyo Imperial University's library in 1924 and are today held at the University of Tokyo Historiographical Institute (Shiryôhensanjo), roughly 1,000 were given to the Keio University library in 1912 and remain there, and roughly 160 items were transferred to the Hitotsubashi clan and then in 1943 to the Tokyo National Museum, where they now remain.


  • Gallery labels, Tsushima Museum.[1]