Anesaki, Masaharu

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Anesaki, Masaharu

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  • 姉崎 正治
  • Chofu

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Masaharu Anesaki (姉崎 正治) was born in Kyoto in 1873, son of a samurai in the service of Prince Kastura. After high school in Kyoto, he enrolled at the University of Tokyo (then Tokyo Imperial University) in 1893 to study philosophy. He wrote a dissertation in German entitled “Die Freiheitslehre Schellings” (Schelling’s doctrine of liberty). He specialised in religious studies and received his PhD in 1898. Two years later, he was appointed university professor at Tokyo.

Between 1900 and 1903 he went on a study trip to Europe, while pursuing religious and historical studies in Germany and Britain. In 1905, a chair of religious studies was especially created for him at the University of Tokyo. Following his visit to Europe, he focused on Buddhism and Christianity, while continuing his works in philosophy. In 1913 he published a Japanese translation of Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation.

Between 1913 and 1915, Anesaki was a visiting professor at Harvard, USA. In 1919 he was invited to lecture at the Collège de France, Paris. His lectures were later published in 1921 as “Quelques pages de l’histoire religieuse du Japon.” The same year he participated as a Japanese delegate at the Pan-Pacific Congress of Education in Honolulu. A powerful earthquake destroyed the library and university of Tokyo in 1923. In response, Anesaki used his international reputation in order to find ways to reconstruct the buildings.

He continued to represent Japan at the Pan-Pacific Congress of Education alongside Nitobe Inazo (新渡戸 稲造), Under-Secretary General of the League of Nations between 1920 and 1928. In March 1933, Japan withdrew from the LN. Anesaki, however, became a member of the ICIC the following year and remained so until 1938. He was director of Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai (the Association for International Cultural Relations), to which the Japanese Committee of Intellectual Cooperation was attached in 1936. In July 1937, Anesaki participated in the interviews organised by the Permanent Committee on Arts and Letters as a member of the Japanese Committee of Intellectual Cooperation. The work was published in the following year under the title: “Le Destin prochain des lettres”. The same year, the IIIC published work by Anesaki entitled Art, life and nature in Japan. The Japanese government decided on 2 October 1939 to withdraw all experts working for the LN, and the Japanese Committee of Intellectual Cooperation stopped its activities on 1 April 1939. He died in 1949.


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Created by Marie Caillot 27/10/2011. Revised by Marie Caillot 17/11/2011. English translation by Jan Stöckmann 11-08-2015.




  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1 : boîte 23. IICI. A. III. 13. "Commission nationale japonaise". (1930-1939).
  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1 : boîte ... IICI. F.XV.6. "Collection japonaise. M. Anesaki - "Art, Life and Nature in Japan". M. Saïkaku". (1936-1939).
  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1 : CICI/461. Organisation de Coopération intellectuelle, "Les Commissions nationales de Coopération intellectuelle", Genève 1937, "Japon", p.87-88.
  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1 : IICI/2/8. IICI, Le Destin prochain des lettres. Paris : IICI, 1938. P. 39-40, 107-108, 143-144, 197.
  • ANESAKI, M. (1938). L’Art, la vie et la nature au Japon. Paris : IICI. 152 pages.
  • ISHIBASHI, T. "Masaharu Anesaki. Ein kurzes Lebensbild" in Monumenta Nipponica, vol. 6, n°1-2, 1943. P. I-X. Retrieved from: Accessed 27 October 2011.
  • "Nitobe Inazō (新渡戸 稲造)". Article Wikipédia. Retrieved from: Accessed 27 October 2011.
  • "Masaharu Anesaki (姉崎 正治"). Article Wikipédia. Retrieved from: Accessed 27 October 2011.
  • Renoliet, J.-J. (1999). L'UNESCO oubliée. La Société des Nations et la coopération intellectuelle (1919-1946). Paris : Publications de la Sorbonne. P. 185.

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