Thursday, March 10, 2011

Shashi: A Tool for Japanese Business History

A recent post on H-Business led us to investigate a resource perhaps little known among Western business historians and non-specialists. Shashi are Japanese company histories—usually published by the companies themselves and often commemorative. Most shashi publications are not sold; they are therefore unavailable through the usual distribution system in Japan and often are not easily found in libraries. Recognizing the potential value of these items for business history (and other genres as well), the North American Japanese Company Histories (Shashi) Group has been working on efforts to collect and catalog as many shashi as possible. They have established a wiki and a discussion group. Much of the available material is in Japanese, but the group's discussions and library listings are bilingual. A set of introductory links:
Shashi at the University of Hawai'i
Shashi Database at Ohio State University and
Japanese Company Histories at the Ohio State University Libraries
Shashi at the University of Kansas
Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation Resource Center for the History of Entrepreneurship Shashi Project
Both the University of Hawai'i and the Shibusawa Eiichi Foundation sites provide very useful links to other information (informational text and links are in English; sources are usually in Japanese). Another starting point in English is Yuko Matsuzaki's 2007 article, and an article in the Japan Times.