Falconry is first documented in the Nihon shoki (Japan’s official chronicle, compiled in 720), where it is said to have been introduced by a Korean courtier in 359 A.D. Falconry appears in many literary works, beginning with the Manyoshu poetry anthology of the 8th century, and was practiced by the ruling elites until the end of the 19th century. Emperors, nobles and members of the Samurai class retained falconers; ceremonial and technical aspects of falconry were developed. Several families established their own schools of falconry around the 14th century, and the teachings of those schools were transmitted through generations.
Harvard-Yenching Library holds eleven Japanese books on Falconry produced before 1800. All but one (published in 1709) are manuscripts. Four of them were once held in the library of Matsudaira Sadanobu (1759-1829), a chief senior councilor of the Tokugawa Shogunate. These four manuscripts were copied from the manuscripts attributed to Jimyoin Motoharu (1453-1535), a renowned calligrapher and a member of Jimyoin falconry school, who made his copies in 1506. One manuscript indicates that it is a copy of a text that had itself been copied in 1328, thus showing how this specialized knowledge was transmitted. All eleven books were once owned by Langdon Warner (1881-1955), an art historian at Harvard.