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Japanese Studies

Resources useful for Japanese-studies researchers

Search Tips for Japanese Materials

In order to improve your search results, you might try the following tactics:  

  • Enter only a portion of the title in the search box

A Japanese book/article title can be very long, consisting of several compound nouns of Chinese characters or a mixture of Chinese characters and kana. When you know the title, and want to search for it in our Library Catalog, WorldCat, or various databases, rather than typing (or copying and pasting) the entire title, select only one or two compound nouns, or only the beginning, middle, or end of it. This way, you may avoid encountering the "no hits" phenomenon due to typos, special characters that you may not have noticed, etc.; and you may even be lucky enough to come across additional related items that could be useful in your research.  

  • Remove articles, hyphens, colons, and subtitles

For the same reason as above, you want to eliminate whatever is unnecessary for the search to pinpoint what you need.

  • Some Chinese characters used in non-Japanese catalogs are not configurable in Japanese databases and websites. 

For example, in WorldCat and in our university's Library Catalog, Edo hanjōki is written "戶繁昌記" (with the Chinese version of the character "戶," rather than the Japanese "戸"). Similarly, Daizōky zen kaisetsu daijiten 大蔵経全解說大事典 is written with the Chinese version of "說," rather than the Japanese "説." When you copy and paste titles from WorldCat or the Library Catalog, be mindful of these minor differences that can affect your search results!                                                                                            

  • Older publications may employ antiquated characters (Kyūjitai 旧字体) instead of newer characters (Shinjitai 新字体).

For example, "をどり" instead of "おどり" [dance] or "圖書館" instead of "図書館" [library]. Some catalogs, databases, and websites may not read the antiquated characters. Understanding the difference when searching for titles may be critical. Here are some helpful websites: Table for Old and New Forms of Characters; Converter of Old and New Forms of Characters.   

How to Find Japanese Books That Include Visual Aids

Here are some keywords to enter in the Library Catalog search box in order to locate books that are especially rich in visual material.
Type these phrases in rōmaji rather than in Japanese, because some titles are in hiragana while others are in kanji
  • shashin de yomu 写真で読む [reading through photos]
  • shashin de miru 写真で見る [seeing through photos]
  • e de yomu 絵で読む [reading through illustrations]
  • e de miru 絵で見る [seeing through illustrations]
  • zusetsu 図説 [explained through illustrations]
  • zukai 図解 [revealed through illustrations]
  • gahō 画報 [reported through illustrations]