l. History
The establishment of the Central Library of the Tenrikyo Church was planned in April 1925, when Shozen Nakayama was appointed the second Shinbashira, the head of the Tenrikyo Church. The libraries of several schools and offices belonging to Church Headquarters were combined with the Nakayama family's private library, which the second Shinbashira inherited from his father, the first Shinbashira. Thus, in the autumn of 1926, the library was opened on the 3rd floor of the newly established Tenri Foreign Language School, with holdings of 26,000 volumes, 5,000 of which were Western.
Two years later, in the autumn of 1928, the enthronement of the late Emperor Hirohito was held in Kyoto, and in commemoration of that event the construction of a separate library building was begun. The new building was dedicated on October 18, 1930.
At the suggestion of the late Professor Masaharu Anesaki, the second director of Tokyo University Library and teacher of the Shinbashira, who studied at Tokyo University, the building was planned according to a blueprint given to Tokyo University by Minnesota University. This provided for independent research rooms to be built around the central library's book stacks. This style of library construction was fashionable at the time.
The Foreign Language School, to which the library first belonged, was originally a facility for the education of overseas missionaries, and accordingly, its acquisitions covered mainly the fields of religious studies and languages, the latter ranging from English, French, German, Dutch, and Russian to Korean, Chinese, Cantonese, Malay, and Mongolian, corresponding to the various departments of the school.
The library also housed research materials for the use of those who were preparing to conduct missionary activities. This study was carried out in the research rooms by selected faculty members of the school. At the same time, the library was opened to readers in general and served as a public library, housing a collection covering very wide fields. Thus, the library facilities were, from the start, of a four-fold nature: (1)central library of Tenrikyo (2)school library, (3)research library, and(4)public library. This tradition has been preserved to the present, although in 1947, soon after the war, the Tenri Foreign Language School became Tenri University, due to the New Education Act, inevitably causing an enormous change and development in the character of the library.
It may also be said that, after the war, a more international trend became evident in the library. In prewar days, the library was already publishing the English tabloid TENRIKYO, which included German and French articles for the promotion of friendly relations with universities and libraries abroad. Relations were also established with several universities and these were greatly expanded after the war.
In light of this international trend in the library, the second Shinbashira made seven world missionary trips between 1952 and 1963. The books and periodicals which he procured abroad are listed in a special catalogue. His trips naturally resulted in promoting to a great extent the international character of the library. The world trip of the third Chief Librarian Tominaga in 1952 was also especially effective in establishing friendly relations with various universities and libraries in Europe and the United States.
The name of the library has been widely known for a long time in Japan, and the library had the honor of receiving an imperial visit of Emperor Hirohito in 1951. Moreover, international conferences have often been held at the library, the largest of which was the 12th World Conference of the History of Religions, held in 1960.
When the library building was first constructed in 1930 with a capacity of 200,000 volumes, the books on the shelves in the stack rooms seemed rather scanty, to the regret of the library staff who guided guests through the building. The number of acquisitions steadily increased until it finally exceeded the capacity of the stacks. Finally, an extension of the building was completed in June, 1963, providing a floor space of 10,722‡ucapable of accommodating 1,250,000 volumes, making it the second largest singe library in Japan at that time. Seats in the general reading room were also increased from 200 to 400. To avoid mixing plastic desks with the older desks, walnut desks were ordered at a cost of $1,000 apiece. Among the new rooms is the cataloguing room, 40m x 25m, large enough to accommodate four tennis courts. Not only the shelves but the roofs and windows are carefully designed to protect the books against the unusually damp climate of Japan. The rare book repository is lined with panels of Japanese cypress, this being the only counterpart to the newly built Shosoin Repository in Nara, in which our books are safely deposited.
As the central library of the Tenrikyo Church Headquarters, the library, in prewar days, had branch libraries in Tokyo and other cities, and also arranged traveling libraries for the general public. After the war, however, these services were left to the local communities. Affiliated libraries were established at the Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters in Honolulu, Los Angeles, and Bauru, Brazil. The name Hinomoto Library was given to each of these facilities and they provided academic as well as popular publications to encourage Japanese studies in these countries. These three libraries are frequented by Western students and scholars specializing in Japanese studies.
In addition, several local churches have libraries and archives in their own towns. Under the influence of the Shinbashira, Tenrikyo churches as a whole may be said to be deeply concerned with books and library activities.

2. Books
The present number of books, including manuscripts and documents, is about 1,830,000, roughly two-thirds of which are Japanese, Korean and Chinese books, and one-third Western, including Arabic and African books.
As a public library the collection covers almost every field of the arts and sciences, including mathematics and philosophy. As a university library, however, more emphasis is placed upon the fields of religion, language, history, geography, literature, and Chinese and Korean studies, not to mention the collection of old and rare books of the East and West. There is an extensive collection of reference books in a variety of fields, including dictionaries and especially encyclopedias. Also worthy of mention is the department of serials which contains many ethnological and archaeological materials covering the Far and Near East.
The collection of rare books comprises 17,000 items, about 90 of which are designated as national treasures or important cultural properties by the Ministry of Education. The most important are the Jesuit Mission printings of Japan, Kirishitan-ban, including Contemptus Mundi of 1610, an important cultural property. Thirty-one titles from these printings are known in various libraries throughout the world, nine of which are in Tenri. They constitute not only rare monuments of early eventful years of Japanese Christianity, but also afford the earliest examples of Japanese printing. Fifty-five incunabula including a fine edition of Aesop's Vita et Fabulae are also remarkable examples or early printing. Rare Chinese items include such editions from the Sung period as Liu-men-te Wen-chi i—ซ–ฒ“พ•ถWj, a national treasure and Mao-shi Yao-i i–ัŽ—v‹`j, an important cultural property.
The collection or rare Japanese books is exceptional. Most of them are manuscripts, including the 14th century manuscript Wamyo-shoi˜a–ผดj, a dictionary of Japanese common and proper names, originally compiled by Minamoto no Shitagau in the 10th century. The best example may be the original manuscript of the Meigetsu-kii–พŒŽ‹Lj, the diary of Fujiwara no
Teika, famed courtier poet and politician of the 12-13th century. Both are designated as important cultural properties. Among the literature of the Edo period, there is the original edition of Basho's Kai-ooiiŠL‚จ‚ู‚ะj, dated 1782, and Bakin Nikkii”n‹ี“๚‹Lj, Bakin's diary, and Saikaku's Jichu-Hyaku-in Emaki iŽฉ’•S‰CŠGŠชj, "Pictorial Scroll of One Hundred Haiku Poems, Illustrated and Annotated by the Author Himself."
Also of interest are autographed letters and drafts by European and Japanese literati from the last century, including those of Goethe, Siebold, and Hearn.
Besides these written and printed items, there are many wood blocks of joruri libretto, amounting to 15,000 plates of about 350 titles, Motoori Norinaga's Teisei Kokun Kojikii’๙ณŒรŒPŒรŽ–‹Lj, "Ancient Meaning of the Kojiki, Revised," 170 plates, and about 2,000 plates from the 17th century used for the works of the Kogido SchooliŒร‹`“ฐj of Ito Jinsai iˆษ“กmึj and his family. There are also about 50,000 pieces of movable wooden type from the middle Edo period and some movable copper types from Korea.
Last but not least, there is a very rare collection of 41 European celestial and terrestrial globes, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.

3. Special Libraries
Since its foundation, almost three hundred private libraries (bunko) have been acquired by the library. Some of them have been kept in their original forms.
(A) Wataya Collection i–ศ‰ฎ•ถŒษj:
This is a collection of renga and haikai books. Originally a private library of the Nakayama household, it was presented to the library by the second Shinbashira in January 1939. Later the following private libraries of a similar kind were acquired: Katsumine Shinpu Collection iŸ•๕W•—•ถŒษj, Kawanishi Waro Collection i์ผ˜a˜I•ถŒษj, Kitada Shisui Collection i–k“cŽ‡…•ถŒษj, and also those of the late Drs. Fujii Shiei i“กˆไŽ‡‰ej and Ishida Motosue iฮ“cŒณ‹Gj. Now they amount to over 30,000 volumes. (cf. Wataya Bunko Renga Haikai-sho Mokuroku i–ศ‰ฎ•ถŒษ˜A‰ฬ”oๆ~‘–ฺ˜^j 2 vols., Tenri, 1953, 1986)
(B) Kogido Collection iŒร‹`“ฐj:
All items herein, including printed and hand-written books in both Chinese and Japanese, drafts and letters, various documents and such objets d'art as pictures and calligraphy, totaling about 7,000 items, were formerly possessed by the family school known as Kogido, founded by Ito Jinsai and inherited by his family in Horikawa, Kyoto. (cf. Kogido Bunko MokurokuiŒร‹`“ฐ•ถŒษ–ฺ˜^j, Tenri, l955)
(C) Yoshida Collection i‹g“c•ถŒษj:
Most of these books were formerly possessed by the Yoshida household, head of a leading sect of Shinto in Kyoto, in the Tokugawa era. ca. 7,000 titles. (cf. Yoshida Bunko Shinto-sho Mokurokui‹g“c•ถŒษ_“น‘–ฺ˜^j, Tenri, 1965)
(D) Kinsei Monjo Collection i‹฿ข•ถ‘j:
This library was collected by the late Yasui Yoshitaro and consists mainly of modern documents and records pertaining to the regional history and local geography of Yamato Province, presently Nara Prefecture, totaling over 200,000 items. (cf. Kinsei Monjo Mokurokui‹฿ข•ถ‘–ฺ˜^j, 3 vols., Tenri, 1972-1995)