Tokyo Archives and Research Tips


1. Get a copy of
Tokyo Book Map to find new and used bookstores, libraries, and archives; you should find it near the checkout of any major bookstore.
2. The best source for used books online is
Nihon no Furuhonya, but you may find some gems at Super Genji or on auction sites like Yahoo Auctions.
3. Shop
Kinokuniya (Shinjuku), Yaesu Book Center (east side of Tokyo Station), and Junkudo (Ikebukuro); they often have out-of-print books and back issues of journals.
4. Use
NASCIS Webcat, a consolidated catalog of university library holdings for books and periodicals, similar to Eureka.
Tokyo Metropolitan Library in Hiroo is a great alternative to the waits at the Diet Libe and has a comparable collection, books come in five minutes.
6. At the
National Diet Library you can request 3 books at the same time between 9:30 and 10:30 each morning; afterwards, it's only 2 books at a time. Get there early: less people there, and less time-consuming. Also, the user system is in flux now as they implement new request procedures: you can save time by taking request slips and filling them out at home after searching online.
The Japan Foundation Library has a good collection of English and European-language materials including academic journals.


An excellent guide is International House of Japan, ed.,
A Guide to Reference Books for Japanese Studies, Revised Edition (Tokyo: The International House of Japan Library, 1997), now available online. The book divides materials by subject matter, such as "history," and then subdivides each field (for example, general works, prehistory, ancient, medieval, Edo, Meiji Restoration and Modern Japan, World War II and after, local history).
Another helpful guidebook is Theodor Bestor, Patricia Steinhoff, and Victoria Bestor, eds,
Doing Fieldwork in Japan (Honolulu: UH Press, 2003), an anthology of essays and tips by social scientists.
See online guides by
Henry Smith, Kristina Troost, and Sharon Domier.
Trouble reading an author's name? Use Waseda's online catalog (
WINE) to figure out tricky readings (the catalog includes kana and romaji for each entry). Be sure to leave a space between the family and given names. Waseda has a good collection of rare Meiji materials, so its library search engine is helpful for names that are no longer in use. Also helpful for double-checking the pronunciation of publishers. For periodicals, if you know the year and month but need to check volume and number (or vice-versa), WINE also includes that information for each magazine in the Waseda collection.


Oya Soichi Library
This is the most comprehensive collection of periodicals in Tokyo, and it is particularly well known for weekly magazines and bibliographies. See the
Oya Soichi Bunko zasshi kiji sakuin somokuroku, 13 volumes, which should be in most research libraries. Copies at Oya Soichi Bunko are very expensive at 130 yen per copy, so use their bibliographies to find things but copy them elsewhere if possible.

Nichigai Associates
Nichigai publishes an extensive series of bibliographies of printed books and journal articles. The amount of material that they compile is staggering: type Nichigai into the author field of an online catalog to get an idea. Your home institution may have a subscription to their online services such as Magazine Plus (good back to 1975) and Book Plus (with its valuable content summaries).

The prewar
Yomiuri is available on CD-ROM (keyword searchable) at the Tokyo Metropolitan Library.
The Asahi is being released on CD-ROM and may be in your library.

Transcripts of postwar
Diet proceedings are available and searchable online.

Professor Tanaka Akihiko of the Institute of Oriental Culture at Tokyo University has compiled several online databases of official documents relating to foreign policy, international relations, and diplomatic history. See his
The World and Japan Database Project for descriptions of each in English.
Be sure to see Sadao Asada,
Japan and the World, 1853-1952: A Bibliographic Guide to Japanese Scholarship in Foreign Relations, (Columbia University Press, 1989). It devotes one chapter to archival sources, which is indispensable for students and specialists of Japanese diplomatic/military history.


Showakan Reading Room
The reading room is located in the Showakan Museum at the foot of the slope leading up to Yasukuni Shrine (Tozai Line, Kudanshita-eki). Excellent collection of hard-to-find wartime- and early Showa Period-related materials, most of which were donated by private individuals (hence, many odd materials not available elsewhere). A great feature of the collection is that it's all listed on the Showakan's in-house card catalogue system, which searches not only titles of books but their tables of contents as well. No fees to use the library. No lending. Only drawback is that copies are 30 yen per page. (Use the computer to find materials but then make copies somewhere else: the comprehensive nature of the search engine makes it very helpful for searching through the contents of books.) Open 10:00-5:30 except Mondays and holidays.

Defense Ministry Archive
Located near JR Ebisu-eki. Good collection of military-related materials, although can be difficult to sort through its holdings. The staff there is helpful. Some materials held at the archive are still classified so you can't see them, even though they are listed in their card catalogue. Expensive copy service that takes a good bit of time (there is no photocopier in the archive, they send material elsewhere to be copied.) Must sign in at front gate of Boeicho to use the reading room. Open 9:00 to 4:30, closed weekends and holidays.

The largest collection in Tokyo is the
Tosho Bunko, about a ten-minute walk from JR Oji Station. Photocopying there is virtually impossible, however, particularly with pre-1950 textbooks.
Far easier to use is the amply-stocked library at the
National Institute for Educational Policy, about a twenty-minute walk from JR Meguro Station. Photocopying is possible and relatively affordable. As of Febraury 2004 the library was in the midst of a major microfilming project involving a large part of its pre-1948 textbook collection, so it is wise to call ahead regarding the availability of sources.


College of Social Work
Take the bus from Platform 2 at the south exit of Seibu Ikebukuro Line's Kiyose-eki. A bit out of the way, but they have impressive holdings in social science materials, especially social work periodicals (many of which aren't found elsewhere in the Tokyo region). You can sign up for a lending card for non-university borrowing. The staff there is very helpful. Open 9:30-8:00 most weekdays.


Keio University Medical School Media Center
Located behind Keio University Hospital (JR Shinanomachi-eki, located between Yotsuya and Yoyogi stations). Good collection of medical journals, both prewar and postwar. Many of the earlier materials are located offsite, but they will order them for you (available after 3-4 days). Requires a letter of introduction to use the collection; Keio or Waseda affiliation will let you make copies at an in-house rate, but other affiliates have to pay more for copies. Weekday hours are 9:00-8:00.


The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum at Waseda University
Fantastic collection of original plays (just looked at a handwritten script from 1934), as well as all the main reference materials and a helpful staff. This is where the professional theatre critics in Tokyo do their research. Everyone calls it "Enpaku" for short. It's just as strong in film as it is in theatre, and has a nearly complete set of
Kinema Junpo. See Waseda's online catalog to search the collection. Open to the public 10:00-5:00 daily and until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The National Film Center (Kyobashi)
Complete collection of
Kinema Junpo and the other major film serials, as well as an eclectic set of books and ephemera you won't find other places. The online catalog is excellent and the staff is kind and helpful. See their online catalog. Open 10:30-6:00 Tuesday-Friday.

The ubiquitous video store also sells DVDs and videos online. Their Ebisu branch is rumored to be the biggest one in Tokyo, but the one in Shinjuku (across from Kinokuniya) will remain the favorite of cinephiles for its huge collection of old videos.

Japanese Movie Database
Get accurate credits for almost any Japanese film, or filmographies by director, actor, or producer. And no pop-ups!


The Contemporary Manga Library, Naiki Collection
It's an expensive private collection, but when you need to see 1960s
Shonen Magajin, this is where to go. Costs 300 yen to enter and 100 yen per book or magazine you want to look at, and copies are so much I blocked them from my memory. To see anything printed before 1970 you have to become a member, which is 6000 yen per year. Located between Waseda and Edogawabashi and open from 12:00-7:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and weekends. You're better off in one of the "Manga Kissa" if you don't need particularly rare materials, or else buy from specialty shops like Mandarake in Nakano or Shibuya, which often sells complete used sets for around half the cover price.
A great online resource for all things manga (was)
A Guide to Books on Japanese Manga, an annotated bibliography with full-page reviews of 67 books about manga, each of which appears in both English and Japanese.


The Broadcast Library
The collection consists of a selection of digitized radio dramas and television programs available for listening or viewing on-site. I found a 1959 radio program not available anywhere else. Open from 10:00-5:00 Tuesday-Sunday and located one block north of Yokohama Stadium near Kannai Station.

NHK Archives
This new project has a selection of over 2000 items digitized from NHK television and radio programming. Save yourself the trek out to Saitama, though, because the entire collection is also available at the
NHK Museum of Broadcasting near Kamiyacho, with an excellent library of television and radio materials just down the hall (which are not available at the new facility).

The best collection of children's literature in Japan is found at the
International Institute for Children's Literature in Osaka, followed by the International Library of Children's Literature in Tokyo (which is part of the Diet library holdings), those collections and three other major archives strong in the area can be searched simultaneously with their consolidated online catalog.

Subscribe to the listserv
H-JAPAN for announcements.
German Institute for Japanese Studies runs several study groups and a non-stop program of forums, workshops, and conferences. Most of their public events are conducted in English.
Modern Japanese History Workshop meets the first Friday of every month in the International Center at Waseda University from 6:00-8:00 pm. See H-JAPAN for announcements or contact the coordinator to be put on the email list.

Jim Breen Dictionary is the best of its kind, it makes vocabulary lists from any length of digitized text, just copy and paste into the box and click Begin Translation. It is particularly powerful when combined with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software which digitizes any text (books, magazines, etc.) scanned or digitally photographed at high resolution (300 dpi is the typical recommendation). ReadIris (Mac) and eTypist (PC) are good OCR programs.

Most major dictionaries are now available on CD-ROM. Try a piece of software called
Jamming if you've got or are planning to build a collection. It lets you search all of them all simultaneously.

Some people are finding it more convenient and cheaper to collect materials by digital-photographing them than by making piles of photocopies. A good digital camera can replace both a scanner and a copying machine.
Digital voice-recorders are replacing tape recorders. The top of the line Olympus DM-20 holds 45 hours of interviews.
Compare prices online with

Check out the National Museum of Japanese History (
Rekihaku) near Narita.
The National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka (
Minpaku) has a fantastic collection.

Seishun 18 Kippu: Allows all day travel on JR (1 day/1 ticket) on most of their trains except the Shinkansen. Tickets are sold in packs of 5 just before the winter and spring break school holidays and there is no age limit. The price works out to about 2,500 yen per ticket.
There are overnight buses running between most major cities, if you can sleep at a 45-degree angle they are a great deal.
Flights: Check
ANA for select specials. Travel during the month of your birthday for 10,000 yen on JAL. Use miles banked with international flights for free domestic travel. Check JTB website for discount specials. HIS and IACE almost always have cheap fares (both domestic and international).


International House (Roppongi): Reasonable hotel rates for members.

Asia Center (Akasaka): No membership required, good rates, and internet access in the rooms. Reserve online.

Weekly Mansion Tokyo or Weekly Mansion Dot Com: The furnished apartment market has been largely consolidated and often rent for around 150,000 yen/month, but some include internet. No guarantor required, no key money, and low deposits. Good choice if you can't commit to a full-year contract or don't want to spend time buying furniture and appliances.

Japan Today Classifieds: Formerly Metropolis (which used to be Tokyo Classifieds), this is the main source for apartment shares, sayonara sales, as well as ads for cheap, dorm-style guesthouses (Sakura House and Apple House are popular) and other foreigner-targeted options.

Japan Reference includes a guide to housing options.
Special thanks to Lee Pennington, Emer O'Dwyer, Kerim Yasar,
Eric Dinmore, Allison Alexy, and Peter Mauch
Compiled by Steve (Clark) Ridgely