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East Asia Collection (Wason) / Japan

English Language Resources on Japan

Research Strategy

Research help is always available online. See Research Help in the Library Gateway.

This Webliography includes entries for resources entirely or substantially in English dedicated solely to Japanese topics. Many broader resources are available and also valuable. Some resources cover more than one category, so be sure to look beyond categories.

Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and Handbooks

Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan. New York: Kodansha, 1983-1986. 9 vols.
(Kroch Asia Reference DS 805 .K76; also Uris Reference; for an online version, see also Japan Knowledge)
"The first comprehensive encyclopedia" about Japan in English. Over 9,000 short entries are contained in the eight-volume encyclopedia, supplemented by a one-volume index. Coverage includes philosophy, history, science, politics, economics, literature and the arts, food and clothing from both a historical and a contemporary perspective. Bibliographies are appended to most of the longer articles. Illustrated with black and white photos, charts, and maps. This was the single most useful print source on Japan for the non-Japanese reader when it was published, and is yet to be replaced with a comparably comprehensive source, although some of the articles (and especially bibliographies) are now somewhat dated.
Embree, Ainslee, ed. Encyclopedia of Asian History. New York: Scribner, 1988. 4 vols.
(Kroch Asia Reference DS 31 .E56; also in Uris Reference)
Volume 2 includes a discussion of Japan with a map.
Frederic, Louis. Japan Encyclopedia. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.
(Kroch Asia DS 821 .F73 2002)
Translated from the French. Alphabetical listing, includes a bibliography for each subject and an index.
Handbook of Japanese Popular Culture. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989.
(Uris Reference DS 822.5 .H23; also Kroch Asia Stacks)
Signed essays on major topics in popular culture as of the late '80s with bibliographies.
Hsu, Robert C. The MIT Encyclopedia of the Japanese Economy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999. 2nd edition.
(Kroch Asia Reference HC 462.9 .H73x 1999)
"The MIT Encyclopedia of the Japanese Economy, which covers all major aspects of Japan's post-war economy, is the most comprehensive English-language encyclopedia currently available. Some 180 topical essays covering banks, financial systems, major industries, corporate groups, management practices, labor unions, international trade and investments, government economic policies, and a host of other important topics are included along with some two hundred short definitional entries giving translations and cross-references for important Japanese economic terms. The overall result is a useful reference for all students and scholars of the Japanese economy." -- From a review by Declan Hayes. Full Review.
Hunter, Janet. Concise Dictionary of Modern Japanese History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.
(Kroch Asia Reference DS 881.9 .H94)
A handy and basic guide to Japanese history that is organized alphabetically and includes romaji and Japanese characters and recommended reading for most entries. The appendices list era names, emperors, population statistics, political party information, Japanese cabinets, and a helpful glossary.
Japan: A Country Study. 5th edition. Washington: Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, 1992.
Written by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, this online guide includes a profile of Japan and has chapters on history, society, environment, education, the arts, the character and structure of the economy, international economic relations, the political system, foreign relations, national security, and a lengthy bibliography for each chapter. Also in print, Kroch Asia Reference DS 806 .C43 1991.
Japan Knowledge
An online reference collection of Japanese encyclopedias and dictionaries. The database can be used on any computer with a Cornell IP address. The user interface is Japanese-only, but if you type English words on the search line (Onelook) you will get entries from the Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, one of the reference books included.
Merriam Webster's Geographical Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1997. 3rd edition.
(Kroch Asia Reference G 103 .W38 1997, shelved in dictionary stand by Asia Desk)
Alphabetical listing of place names and geographical features. Page 549 map of Japan, including prefectures, major islands and cities.
Hsu, Robert C. Modern Japanese Writers. New York: Scribner, 2001.
(Kroch Asia stacks +PL 723 .M563x 2001; Uris Reference PL 723 .M563x 2001)
Essays on the major 20th-century Japanese writers. Part of the reliable Scribners Writers series. Bibliographies of works by and about the authors.
Perkins, Dorothy. Encyclopedia of Japan: Japanese History and Culture, from Abacus to Zori. New York: Facts on File, 1991.
(Kroch Asia Reference DS 805 .P44)
An introduction to the history and culture of Japan. An alphabetical listing of major categories, cross references, and a bibliography at the end, with index.
Rimer, J. Thomas. A Reader's Guide to Japanese Literature. New York: Kodansha International, 1988.
(Kroch Library Asia PL 715 .R57 R28, also Uris Reference)
Includes 30 modern works and lists translations.

Language Dictionaries (J-E, E-J)

Makino, Seiichi and Michio Tsutsui. A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar. Tokyo: Japan Times, 1986.
(Kroch Asia PL 679 .M23
About 200 words and phrases arranged in alphabetical order. Entries include meaning, related expressions, sample sentences, and grammatical notes
O'Neill, P. G. Japanese Names: A Comprehensive Index by Characters and Readings. New York: Weatherhill, 1972.
(Kroch Asia Reference CS 1301 .O58)
A guide to reading names in Japanese characters. 3,600 characters with readings in part one and 5,000 readings of personal and family names in part two.
Spahn, Mark and Wolfgang Hadamitzky with Kimiko Fujie-Winter. Japanese Character Dictionary with Compound Lookup via any Kanji = Kan-Ei jukugo ribasu jiten. Tokyo: Nichigai Associates, 1989.
(Kroch Asia Reference PL 679 .S73)
Takebayashi, Shigeru, ed. Kenkyusha Nichi-Ei jiten = The Kenkyusha Japanese-English Learner's Dictionary. Tokyo: Kenkyusha, 1992.
(Kroch Asia Reference PL 679 .K382x 1992)
Designed for students of modern Japanese. Japanese words are listed by romanized word (romaji), followed by the meaning and usage.

The Cornell Library Catalog

The Cornell University library catalog now comes in two distinct versions, "Worldcat Local" and "Classic Catalog." The default search on "Worldcat Local" is by keyword, and it searches the complete holdings of the thousands of libraries participating in Worldcat, organizing results by relevance with Cornell holdings first. Click on the subcategories on the left to limit search results by language, year and many other criteria. This catalog is best for getting a broad indication of the publications available on a particular subject, and searches even down to the article level (although far from fully comprehensive at this level). Call number and subject heading searches are not possible with this catalog, nor will you find Cornell's unique Rare and Manuscript holdings here.

Cornell's "Classic Catalog" is best for searching known items, especially those that you believe are held by Cornell and for which you wish to find the call number. Searches are done according to set categories (title, author, subject, call number etc.) Use the "long view" option on a record to see clickable subject headings, and click on a heading to see all of the books held by Cornell and classified under this subject designation. E-books and Rare and Manuscript holdings are best accessed through this catalog.

Connect to Cornell University Library's "Worldcat Local"

Connect to Cornell University Library's "Classic Catalog"

Other Catalogs and Bibliographies


NDL (National Diet Library of Japan) OPAC.
The National Diet Library online catalog now has an English user interface. Search for books in the holdings of the National Diet Library. From this screen, you can also search the Zasshi kiji sakuin (Japanese Periodical Index). We have interlibrary loan access to the titles held by the National Diet Library of Japan.
CiNii. National Institute of Informatics, NII.
A union catalog of books and serials that cover participating university libraries throughout Japan. English-language search interface is available.
Webcat Plus. National Institute of Informatics, NII.
A second-generation Webcat. Since 1998, NII has been operating the Webcat service, which can search for bibliographic and library-related information on books and journals based on a "catalog information database." The service has proved popular both in Japan and abroad. NII developed Webcat Plus as a "second-generation Webcat" by significantly enhancing its search functions and performance and by improving usability. NII has postponed the integration of Webcat service into the Webcat Plus during the fiscal year 2005 (until March 31, 2006), [the date] which had been announced before.
Waseda University WINE OPAC. Waseda University Library.
The online catalog of the holdings of Waseda University Library. English-language and Japanese-language search interfaces are available. The catalog is easily searchable using romaji, kana, or kanji. It is the best site for checking the romanization of catalog records. Waseda lends internationally.


Dower, John W. with Timothy S. George. Japanese History and Culture from Ancient to Modern Times: Seven Basic Bibliographies. Princeton: Markus Wiener, 1995.
(Kroch Library Asia Z 3306 .D74 1995)
These bibliographies are multidisciplinary in their content and cover materials from ancient Japan through the Occupation period after World War II, with materials as late as the 1990s. The primary materials in English on the crisis in Asia from 1931-45 are especially useful to non-native speakers of Japanese. The bibliographies are arranged by period, then subject.
Huber, Kristina Ruth. Women in Japanese Society: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected English Language Materials. Westport: Greenwood, 1992.
(Kroch Library Asia Z 7964.J3 H82x 1992)
About 2,300 items are annotated and organized by topics, including education, legal status, health, fashion, and more. Includes biographical information of authors, and has an index.
Japanese Publications in Foreign Languages, 1945-1990. Tokyo: Japan Book Publishers Association, 1990.
(Kroch Library Asia Z 3308 .L5 J353x 1990 +)
Includes Japanese books, articles, and dissertations originally published in Japan and translated into Western languages from 1945-1990. Arranged by subject. It does not include translations into Asian languages (a future project), arranged alphabetically by author name, romanized form with Japanese characters, general index. The revised edition of this work covers 1990-1995, but limits the content to works of Japanese literature and not works about Japanese literature. Call number +PL 726.55 .J37 1997z
Makino, Yasuko and Mihoko Miki. Japan and the Japanese: A Bibliographic Guide to Reference Sources. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1996.
(Kroch Library Asia Z 3306 .M33x 1996)
This annotated bibliography covers a broad range of subjects in Japanese Studies. Covers mostly titles in English.

Periodical Indexes

Bibliography of Asian Studies. 1971 to date. (Indexes)
Contains more than 545,000 records on all subjects (especially humanities and social sciences) pertaining to East, Southeast and South Asia published worldwide from 1971 to the present. Through the 1991 printed version, the BAS included citations to western-language periodical articles, individually authored monographs, chapters in edited volumes, conference proceedings, anthologies, and Festschriften, etc. Since 1992, newly published individual monographs are no longer being added to the database, and users seeking monographs are urged to consult other general resources and databases (such as RLIN Eureka and OCLC WorldCat).
Project Muse (Indexes/Full Text)
Access to the full text of Asian Studies journals is available in this searchable database published by Johns Hopkins University Press and other university presses in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics. Choose Advanced Search. Change "By Journal" to "All Muse Titles by Subject" and highlight Asian Studies in the list below it.
JSTOR: The Scholarly Journal Archive. (Indexes/Full Text)
JSTOR is a fully-searchable, full-text database containing the back issues of several hundred scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics, music, ecology and botany, business, and other fields. Choose Search. click on the Advanced Search link, and limit your searching to the fifteen Asian Studies journals in JSTOR by clicking the checkbox in the "These Discipline(s) and/or Journal(s)" section. Note that the most recent three to five years of each title is not available in JSTOR.

See also NDL (National Diet Library of Japan) OPAC. From this screen, you can search the Zasshi kiji sakuin (Japanese Periodical Index).

Web Portal/Aggregator Sites

Japan Studies Resources. Duke University East Asian Collection.
One of the most useful sites for finding scholarly Japanese resources. Organized by topic and quite comprehensive.
Web Japan. Japan Information Network, Sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
This site is useful for current information on Japanese politics, society, economy and culture. It includes statistical information, atlases, and information for visiting Japan.


Collcutt, Martin, et al. Cultural Atlas of Japan. New York: Facts on File, 1988.
(Kroch Asia DS 821 .C68+; also in Uris)
This is a very useful resource that contains maps of origins (geography and archaeology), historical periods, Modern Japan, and special features (such as Ainu, samurai, gardens, castles, ceramics and more). There is a list of maps and a bibliography for each subject, a list of rulers, glossary, and index.
Kokusai Kyoiku Joho Senta. Atlas of Japan: Physical, Economic, and Social. Tokyo: International Society for Educational Information, 1974.
(Kroch Asia Reference G 2355 .K79 1974++)
Data based on work in the early 1970s of the physical features, economic, social, and cultural aspects of Japan. This revised version contains maps of prefectures, regions, geology, temperature, precipitation, cities, and more. Explanatory notes on maps in English, French, and Spanish.
The National Atlas of Japan. Geographical Survey Institute. Revised ed. Tokyo: Japan Map Center, 1990.
(Olin Maps G 2355 .K79 1990 +++)
Contents: Map of Japan -- Physical features -- Climate -- Land development and conservation -- Population -- Agriculture, forestry and fisheries -- Mining, manufacturing and construction -- Transport and communications -- Foreign trade -- Commerce, banking and insurance -- Politics and finance -- Social conditions -- Education and culture -- Administrative areas.

Biographical Sources

Biographical Dictionary of Japanese History. Tokyo : Kodansha International in collaboration with the International Society for Educational Information, 1978.
(Kroch Asia Reference DS 834 .B55; also Uris Reference)
Lewell, John. Modern Japanese Novelists: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Kodansha International, 1993.
(Kroch Asia PL 747.55 .L67 1993; also Uris Reference)
Covers 57 modern novelists, arranged alphabetically by author's last name. Includes a portrait, biography, and a critique of the author's works, along with a recommended reading list.

Statistical Sources

Somucho Tokeikyoku, ed. Japan Statistical Yearbook = Nihon tokei nenkan. Tokyo: Nihon Tokei Kyokai, 1950- . Annual.
(Kroch Asia HA 1832 .J35+ Latest volume in Reference; also Management Library and online)
In Japanese and English. This is an important source of statistics that is easy to use. It is the official summary of statistics in all fields. The latest edition is available online athttp://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/nenkan/.

Primary Sources and Special Collections

Cooper, Michael, ed. They Came to Japan: An Anthology of European Reports on Japan, 1543-1640. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965.
(Kroch Asia DS 808 .C77; also in Uris)
A collection of translations of firsthand descriptions of Japan by European travelers, many of them Christian missionaries. Organized by subject, each chapter contains notes and references.
de Bary, Wm. Theodore, ed. Sources of Japanese Tradition. 2nd edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. 2 vols.
(Kroch Asia DS821 .S68x 2001; earlier editions in two vols. edited by Tsunoda Ryusaku in Uris DS 821 .T88 1964)
The newest edition in the Sources of Japanese Civilization series contains readings on Japanese religion, philosophy, politics, society, and literature since the earliest times. It includes a chronological table and brief background information on the translated excerpts. Originally compiled in the 1950s, this newer edition revises and supplements Tsunoda's compilation.
Treasures of the Asia Collections: Japan. Ithaca: Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
An online sample of images from Japanese culture and history with accompanying explanatory text.