What is “U-PARL”?
The Uehiro Project for the Asian Research Library (U-PARL) of the University of Tokyo Library System is a research project division that was established through an endowment by the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education in April 2014.
Since April 2019, U-PARL has been proactively promoting efforts to fulfill its mission in the following four directions:
(1) Creating a Hub for Cooperative Research in Asian Studies (→List of projects);
(2) Breaking New Ground in the Study of Research Library Functions;
(3) Cultivating Human Resources and Contributing to Society;
(4) Supporting Development of the Asian Research Library.
A Collaborative Effort of Library Science and Asian Studies
U-PARL is the University of Tokyo’s first research project division attached to the Tokyo University Library System. The University of Tokyo Library System consists of approximately 30 libraries. The largest of them is the General Library. So far, unlike the specialized libraries belonging to various academic departments that have been developing their collections in close connection with the research activities of the respective department, the General Library, having an extremely extensive purpose of supporting academic activities throughout the whole range of studies at the University, has not maintained such close relations with individual researchers. However, with establishment of the Asian Research Library, the formation of stronger and deeper connections between the General Library and the University’s educational and research functions becomes a most pressing task. Thus, one of the initiatives we have been engaged in to implement that task was the establishment of U-PARL.
Currently, U-PARL staff includes concurrent professors from the Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, and the Graduate School of Arts and Science, project associate professors, project assistant professors, project research fellows, and assistant clerks (see the STAFF page for more information). Reflecting the founding principle of the Asian Research Library, U-PARL brings together researchers from diverse disciplines specializing in various geographic areas and historical periods. Being dedicated to the whole Asian continent, the new library will become the first initiative of its kind in Japan among university libraries other than those attached to specialized research institutions. The new library will incorporate materials on an extremely wide variety of geographic regions and historical epochs interlinked by the concept of “Asia” offering a space where different disciplines will intersect and exchange ideas. U-PARL has just taken the first step in the realization of this vision.
The central role in creating and maintaining the library rests, ultimately, in the hands of the library professionals. Even to catalog a single book and make it available for reference requires a tremendous amount of knowledge and work. U-PARL will actively participate in establishing and administering the Asian Research Library together with the librarians with the aim of—through promoting more effective use of the research resources in its collection—integrating and implementing the collaborative effort of library science and Asian studies. U-PARL hopes to create a unique academic hub of a new type that combines the functions of a library and a research facility in Asian studies.
About the U-PARL Logo :
Searching for the “shape” of Asia—The Mango, magatama and Paisley
The idea behind our logo is “the fruits of Asia.” The deeply flavored date; the peach or “fruit of the immortal realm” from Chinese mythology; the pomegranate and melon coming across the silk road—many images of fruit run through the history of Asian cultures. Among these, the mango, beloved throughout Asia, and the paisley design, beloved the world over, come first to our mind.
The paisley design, whose name comes from the Scottish town where it was widely produced, is generally thought to have developed out of a mango design taken from Indian cashmere shawls. However, its origin goes even deeper and wider afield, to the Iranian floral design known as boteh jegheh, and even further west with motifs connected to the Cyprus, the Palm, and to the “tree of life.” Moreover, this shape can be found in common with symbols from the East—the magatama (curved jewel) and tomoe-mon (a swirling traditional Japanese design) as well as the yin-yang or taiji symbol. Truly, this shape has a certain je ne sais quoi—an indescribable but beguiling mystery about it. It is this form and this idea together we thought would make a symbol to match an ever-transforming “Asia”.
At the same time, this shape contains within it our objectives for this project. The sweetness of the mango—one of the elements of our motif—has been made known throughout the world, just as the paisley design has become universal. Following in their tracks, U-PARL hopes to build a library for Asian Studies that connects knowledge from Asia to the world over.