A Guide to Searching Japanese Scholarship

This guide introduces some of the resources that I use most frequently when looking for Japanese language scholarship. The assumed reader is a Sinologist working at a North American university, but the post might also be useful for others with a similar background. The first part describes how to find works on a particular topic; the second part provides tips on locating a particular work after having found the relevant bibliographic information.

Finding Japanese Language Works

1. 東洋学文献類目検索 ( Ver. 7 | Ver. 6 )

A Digitalized version of the Annual Bibliography of Oriental Studies 東洋学文献類目, published by Kyoto University’s Institute for Research in Humanities (人文科学研究所). Also includes non-Japanese language works. There are two “versions” of the database, with slightly different periods of coverage:

Version 7: Contains items covering 1934-1980; 2001 and later. As of the date of this post, I have confirmed the inclusion of items from the year 2012.
Version 6: Contains items covering 1981-2010?

2. 国立国会図書館サーチ

Searches the holdings of the National Diet Library (NDL) as well as several outside databases. The database includes not only books, but also titles of individual journal articles. (I mainly use it for searching the latter.)

Note: Holdings of the NDL include a significant body of PhD dissertations, but they rely on donations from individual universities and are not comprehensive. For more on searching for dissertations, see this page: 国会図書館調べ方案内: 国内博士論文. My understanding is that there is no single database that provides comprehensive coverage of all universities, and it is necessary to check the catalogue of each degree awarding institution. (On the other hand, many dissertations consist of already-published articles, which will show up when searching NDL’s holdings.)

3. CiNii Articles

Searches NDL’s index of journal articles as well as indices of various journals and university repositories. My impression is that most items found on CiNii will also be available on NDL’s database, but it is a good idea to double check on this database because it will occasionally have links to university repositories where you can download free PDF copies of the articles. (There are also articles that are only available by subscription.)

4. 科学研究費助成事業データベース

Provides access to proposals and reports of research projects that have been awarded funding by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (日本学術振興会). Useful for learning about ongoing research projects that may not have been published.

5. Published Books (Important!)

Most books by Japanese scholars consist of revised versions the author’s already-published articles, so if you know the name of the relevant author, it might be best to first check his/her book publications. Not only will you be able to read more updated versions of the original articles, it will also save you a lot of time compared to tracking down the many individual articles that might have been published on minor journals that are hard to locate.

6. 史学雑誌

Every year, the May issue of the journal Shigaku zasshi 史学雑誌 is devoted to reviewing scholarly publications of the previous year. One scholar will be responsible for a chapter covering a particular geographic area and time period (Ming-Qing China, for example). Useful for historians who need to catch up on recent scholarship.

Locating Japanese Language Works

Some articles are available in PDF copies through CiNii, but the great majority are only available through paper copies. The major journals are available in many university libraries, but you might need to make interlibrary requests for the minor journals. Again, if an article is hard to access, check if it has been incorporated into the author’s book publications (refer to #5 above).

If a book is not immediately available at your library and you want to take a quick look at its table of contents, try searching it on Webcat Plus. This database provides the table of contents for some (but not all) books. Sometimes the information is abridged, so the safest way is still to check the physical book itself.

Many online library catalogues do not handle searches in East Asian languages well, so it might be best to search using the Romanized title. Worldcat (as well as Harvard’s Hollis catalogue) is very good with searches in East Asian languages, so if you do not know the correct Romanization of a book title, search it on Worldcat first to find out the Romanization.

Indexing Images of Everyday Life from Medieval Japan

This post is about a very interesting reference book, An Index to Painted Scrolls: Everyday Life in Medieval Japan 絵巻物による日本常民生活絵引 (Kadokawa shoten 1964-68; Heibonsha, 1984). The project was originally conceived and carried out under the editorial supervision of Shibusawa Keizō 澁澤敬三 (1896-1963), a powerful businessman who was once president to the Bank of Japan (1944) and Minister of Finance (1945-46), but was also known as a researcher in folklore studies.

Essentially, this is an index to scenes in medieval Japanese paintings that concern daily lives of the common people, with an amazingly attentive eye to details. The book was not published until after Shibusawa’s death, but his short essay dated 1954 explains that he had initially conceived of the project more than ten years ago, when he noticed that scenes from medieval paintings could offer excellent sources for studying the lives of the common people, if only they could be “indexed” properly.1 Starting in 1955, he gathered a group of collaborators who made sketches of scenes from the scrolls, numbered individual components within these scenes, and labeled them using carefully-defined categories. In all, the group indexed 26 works (most of which are painted scrolls) from around the late Heian to the Muromachi period [date to be confirmed].

A scene with eighteen components labled.

日本常民生活絵引 総索引
A section of the index.

What makes this book especially interesting and useful is that it indexes not just objects but also actions of people — from sitting, sleeping, fighting, to doing laundries, just to name a few. In this way, the book not only makes it easier to find images of particular topics, but also makes it possible to trace chronological changes in the depiction of the mundane objects and acts of everyday life. (A few months ago, I used this index to look for images related to medieval Japanese transportaiton, and was able to locate many images of roads, bridges and boats.) It is also noteworthy that all of this was undertaken at a time when material culture as an area of investigation did not receive as much attention as it does today.

More recently, there has been a project on Systemizing Non-Textual Sources for Humanities Researh (人類文化研究のための非文字資料の体系化) based in Kanagawa University, where a group of researchers published the first two volumes of the Index in English translation under the title Multilingual Version of Pictopedia of Everyday Life in Medieval Japan. This project also created several additional indices to East Asian paintings, including three on early modern Japan, one on Qing China (姑蘇繁華図), and one on Chosŏn Korea. Most of these publications are available for download on the project website.

  1. Shibusawa Keizō 澁澤敬三, “Can Image-Indices Be Made?” 絵引は作れぬものか, in Emakimono ni yoru Nihon jōmin seikatsu ebiki 絵巻物による日本常民生活絵引 (Heibonsha, 1984), vol. 1, viii.

A Quicker Way to Filter Google Search Results by Language

Many people must have the experience of searching a word on Google and receiving results in languages different from the one originally intended. This is especially so for students of certain fields of East Asian Studies such as premodern Japan and Korea, where one might look up a proper name in Chinese characters, only to find a long list of Chinese-language pages in the results page.

One would expect that there is a simple operator that specifies the desired language of the results, but this does not seem to be the case. Of course, you could go into Advanced Search and choose the language from a drop-down menu, but this requires at least three clicks and a lot of scrolling. When working with multiple search terms and constantly shifting from one language to another, you would want a more efficient method.

As it turns out, there is a small trick that allows you to filter the results by language without using the Advanced Search page. A more detailed explanation is available on this page, but essentially this involves adding a text string at the end of the address generated by Google:

Filtering Google by Language Screenshot

The codes for languages that I use most frequently are as follows:

  • Japanese: &lr=lang_ja (Sample)
  • Korean: &lr=lang_ko (Sample)
  • English: &lr=lang_en (Sample)
  • Chinese: &lr=lang_zh (Sample)
  • Simplified Chinese: &lr=lang_zh-CN (Sample)
  • Traditional Chinese: &lr=lang_zh-TW (Sample)
  • Other languages: For a list of codes for all available languages, see this chart.

It would be very frustrating to type these strings every time I need to specify a language, so I use TextExpander to help ease this process. TextExapander is a Mac application that automatically produces a longer string of texts when you type a short trigger. (You can also find less expensive alternatives for both Mac and PC.) For example, I have configured TextExpander in a way so that I can type “;gjp” to have it automatically convert into “&lr=lang_ja,” and the trigger “;gkr” converts into “&lr=lang_ko” and so on. In this way, all I need to do is to type the short trigger at the end of the address bar, and I can easily narrow down the search results by language.

This is the quickest method that I have been able to figure out so far. If anyone knows of a better way, I would appreciate the information very much.

Happy searching!

Bibliography on the Cultural History of Books in Later Imperial China

This is a slightly-revised version of a bibliography that I originally compiled upon the request of friends who wanted an introductory reading list on Ming-Qing book history. The list is not meant to be comprehensive, and contains works that I personally consider interesting or important. (It also includes a few works which I have not read.) I have not included the more traditional and technical areas of edition studies (banben xue 版本學) and bibliography (mulu xue 目錄學), although some leads can be found by tracing the footnotes of works in the Overview section. The list is stronger for the Ming and Qing periods, and contains very few works on periods before the Song.

For an introductory overview, I recommend first reading either of the two reviews by Brokaw (2005 and 2007) listed in the Overview section, followed by McDermott’s A Social History of the Chinese Book (2006) and introductory chapters in Chia’s Printing for Profit (2002). For readers of Japanese, Inoue (2002) is also very useful.

Last updated 2013.02.21


  • Inoue Susumu 井上進. Chūgoku shuppan bunkashi: shomotsu sekai to chi no fūkei 中国出版文化史—書物世界と知の風景. Nagoya: Nagoya daigaku shuppankai, 2002.

  • Cynthia J. Brokaw, “On the History of the Book in China,” in Printing and Book Culture in Late Imperial China, ed. Cynthia Joanne Brokaw and Kai-wing Chow, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).

  • Joseph P. McDermott, A Social History of the Chinese Book: Books and Literati Culture in Late Imperial China (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2006).

  • Cynthia J. Brokaw, “Book History in Premodern China: The State of the Discipline I,” Book History 10 (2007): 253–90.

  • Tobie Meyer-Fong, “The Printed World: Books, Publishing Culture, and Society in Late Imperial China,” Journal of Asian Studies 66.3 (2007): 787–817.

  • Tu Feng-en 涂豐恩, “Ming Qing shuji shi de yanjiu huigu” 明清書籍史的研究回顧, Xin shixue 20.10 (2009): 181–215.

Edited Volumes

  • Judith T. Zeitlin et al. eds., Writing and Materiality in China: Essays in Honor of Patrick Hanan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2003).

  • Cynthia J. Brokaw and Kai-wing Chow eds., Printing and Book Culture in Late Imperial China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).

  • Lucille Chia and W. L. Idema eds., Books in Numbers: Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Harvard-Yenching Library: Conference Papers (Cambridge and Hong Kong: Harvard-Yenching Library, 2007).

  • Lucille Chia and Hilde De Weerdt eds., Knowledge and Text Production in an Age of Print: China, 900–1400 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2011).

Commercial Publishing

  • Ōki Yasushi 大木康, “Minmatsu Kōnan ni okeru shuppan bunka no kenkyū” 明末江南における出版文化の研究, Hiroshima daigaku bungaku kiyō 50.1 (1991).

  • Lucille Chia, Printing for Profit: The Commercial Publishers of Jianyang, Fujian (11th–17th Centuries) (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2002).

  • Kai-wing Chow, Publishing, Culture, and Power in Early Modern China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004).

  • Cynthia J. Brokaw, Commerce in Culture: The Sibao Book Trade in the Qing and Republican Periods (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2007).

  • Shen Junping 沈俊平, Juye jinliang: Ming zhongye yihou fangke zhiju yongshu de shengchan yu liutong 舉業津梁:明中葉以後坊刻制舉用書的生產與流通 (Taipei: Taiwan xuesheng shuju, 2009).

Illustrations and Pictorial Publications

  • Robert E. Hegel, Reading Illustrated Fiction in Late Imperial China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988).

  • Sören Edgren, “Chinese Rare Books and Color Printing,” East Asian Library Journal 10.1 (2001): 24–52.

  • Francesca Bray et al. eds., Graphics and Text in the Production of Technical Knowledge in China: The Warp and the Weft (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2007).

  • Li-ling Xiao, The Eternal Present of the Past: Illustration, Theatre, and Reading in the Wanli Period, 1573–1619 (Leiden: Brill, 2007).

  • Alexander Van Zandt Akin, “Printed Maps in Late Ming Publishing Culture: A Trans-Regional Perspective” (PhD diss., Harvard University, 2009).

  • J. P. Park, Art By the Book: Painting Manuals and the Leisure Life in Late Ming China (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012).


  • Anne E. McLaren, “Investigating Readerships in Late-Imperial China: A Reflection on Methodologies,” East Asian Library Journal 10.2 (2001): 104–59.

  • Li Yu, “A History of Reading in Late Imperial China, 1000–1800” (PhD diss., Ohio State University, 2003).

  • Lianbin Dai, “Books, Reading, and Knowledge in Ming China” (DPhil diss., University of Oxford, 2012).

Books and the State

  • R. Kent Guy, The Emperor’s Four Treasuries: Scholars and the State in the Late Ch’ien-lung Era (Cambridge: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1987).

  • Timothy Brook, “Building School Libraries in the Mid-Ming,” in The Chinese State in Ming Society (London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005), 98–113.

  • Timothy Brook, “State Censorship and the Book Trade,” in The Chinese State in Ming Society (London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005), 114–130.

  • Hilde De Weerdt, “What Did Su Che See in the North? Publishing Regulations, State Security, and Political Culture in Song China,” T’oung Pao 92 (2006): 466–94.

  • Hilde De Weerdt, “Byways in the Imperial Chinese Information Order: The Dissemination and Commercial Publication of State Documents,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 66.1 (2006): 145–88.

Books and Literati Pursuits

  • Susan Cherniack, “Book Culture and Textual Transmission in Sung China,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 54.1 (1994): 5–125.

  • Joseph Dennis, “Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Histories in Ming China” (PhD diss., University of Minnesota, 2004).
    See also: Joseph Dennis, “Financial Aspects of Publishing Local Histories in the Ming Dynasty,” East Asian Library Journal 14.1 (2010): 158–244.

  • Hilde De Weerdt, Competition Over Content: Negotiating Standards for the Civil Service Examinations in Imperial China (1127–1279) (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2007).

  • Christopher M. B. Nugent, Manifest in Words, Written on Paper: Producing and Circulating Poetry in Tang Dynasty China (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010).

  • Suyoung Son, “Writing for Print: Zhang Chao and Literati-Publishing in Seventeenth-Century China” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2010).
    See also: Suyoung Son, “Publishing as a Coterie Enterprise: Zhang Chao and the Making of Printed Texts in Early Qing China,” Late Imperial China 31.1 (2010): 98–136.

Reference Works on Literary Collections from Tang to Qing

This is a list of reference works on Chinese literary collections (wenji) that I collected over the past few years, when I was tentatively thinking about writing my dissertation on the publication process of wenji. Although I no longer work on this topic currently, I do hope to come back to it some time in the future. Meanwhile, I hope this list will be of use to others who make use of wenji sources regularly. A PDF file of the same list can be downloaded here.

Some points to note:

  • This bibliography lists reference works on Chinese literary collections (wenji 文集). The focus is on individual anthologies (bieji 別集) that collect the writings of single authors; excluded from the list are works on general anthologies (zongji 總集) that collect writings by multiple individuals.

  • The works collected in here fall into one of the following categories: a) explanations on typical genres found in literary collections; b) bibliographies of extant editions; c) abstracts to known literary collections; and d) indexes to major literary collections, either by the title of each piece or by the topic of its content.

  • In compiling the list, I have been aided by Endymion Wilkinson’s Chinese History, A Manual (2000 edition, Section 30: “Literary Anthologies and Collected Works”).

  • I have tried to be comprehensive, but the list is stronger for the Yuan and Ming dynasties, and particularly weak on the Tang dynasty. I would very much appreciate suggestions on other relevant works.

Part One: Notes on Genres and Literary Forms

  • Edwards, E. D. “A Classified Guide to the Thirteen Classes of Chinese Prose.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 12, no. 3/4 (1948): 770–88.

  • Hartwell, Robert M. “A Guide to Documentary Sources of Middle Period Chinese History: Documentary Forms Contained in the Collected Papers (wen-chi) of Twenty-One T’ang and Sung Writers.” Bulletin of Sung-Yuan Studies 18 (1986): 133–82.

Part Two: Bibliographies, Annotations, and Indexes


  • Wan Man 萬曼. Tang ji xulu 唐集叙錄. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1980.

  • Chen Bohai 陳伯海 and Zhu Yi’an 朱易安. Tang shi shulu 唐詩書錄. Jinan: Qi Lu shushe, 1988.


  • Saeki Tomi 佐伯富. Sōdai bunshū sakuin 宋代文集索引. Kyoto: Kyoto daigaku tōyōshi kenyūkai, 1970.

  • Yoshida Tora 吉田寅 and Tanada Naohiko 棚田直彦. Nihon genson Sōjin bunshū mokuroku 日本現存宋人文集目錄. Tokyo: Kyūko shoin, 1972.

  • Sichuan daxue guji zhengli yanjiusuo 四川大學古籍整理研究所. Xiancun Song ren bieji banben mulu 現存宋人別集版本目錄. Chengdu: Bashu shushe, 1989.

  • Zhu Shangshu 祝尚書. Song ren bieji xulu 宋人別集叙錄. 2 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1999.

  • Wang Lan 王岚. Song ren wenji bianke liuchuan congkao 宋人文集编刻流传丛考. Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe, 2003.


  • Yamane Yukio 山根幸夫 and Ogawa Takashi 小川尚. Nihon genson Genjin bunshū mokuroku 日本現存元人文集目錄. Tokyo: Kyūko shoin, 1970.

  • Lu Junling 陸峻嶺. Yuan ren wenji pianmu fenlei suoyin 元人文集篇目分類索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1979.

  • Zhou Qingshu 周清澍. Yuan ren wenji banben mulu 元人文集版本目录. Nanjing: Nanjing daxue, 1983.

  • Huang Rensheng 黄仁生. Riben xiancang xijian Yuan Ming wenji kaozheng yu tiyao 日本现藏稀见元明文集考证与提要. Changsha: Yuelu shushe, 2004.


  • Wolfgang Franke. An Introduction to the Sources of Ming History. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1968.
    (Provides abstracts to select individual collections that contain significant numbers of memorials.)

  • Yamane Yukio 山根幸夫. Zōtei Nihon genson Minjin bunshū mokuroku 増訂日本現存明人文集目錄. Tokyo: Tōkyo joshi daigaku Tōyōshi Kenkyūshitsu and Kyūko shoin, 1978.

  • Cui Jianying 崔建英. Ming bieji banben zhi 明別集版本志. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2006.

  • Hanxue yanjiu zhongxin 漢學研究中心. Ming ren wenji lianhe mulu ji pianmu suoyin 明人文集聯合目錄及篇目索引. http://ccs.ncl.edu.tw/topic_02.html
    (List of extant editions in Taiwan and full-text search of table of contents.)


  • Zhang Shunhui 張舜徽. Qing ren wenji bielu 清人文集別錄. 2 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1969.

  • Nishimura Genshō 西村元照. Nihon genson Shinjin bunshū mokuroku 日本現存清人文集目錄. Kyoto: Tōyōshi kenkyūkai, 1972.

  • Ke Yuchun 柯愈春. Qing ren shiwenji zongmu tiyao 清人詩文集總目提要. Beijing: Beijing guji chubanshe, 2002.

  • Wang Zhongmin 王重民 and Yang Dianxun 楊殿珣. Qing dai wenji pianmu fenlei suoyin 清代文集篇目分類索引. Beijing: Beijing tushuguan, 2003.


  • Wang Minxin 王民信. Zhongguo lidai shiwen bieji lianhe shumu 中國歷代詩文别集聯合書目. 14 vols. Taipei: Lianhe bao wenhua jijinhui guoxue wenxianguan, 1981.
    (Bibliography of extent editions in major Taiwan libraries.)

  • Luan Guiming 欒貴明. Siku jiben bieji shiyi 四庫輯本别集拾遺. 2 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983.
(Corrects omissions in titles that were originally reconstructed from Yongle dadian 永樂大典.)

  • Zhonghua wenhua fuxing yundong tuixing weiyuanhui 中華文化復興運動推行委員會. Siku quanshu wenji pianmu fenlei suoyin 四庫全書文集篇目分類索引. Taipei: Shangwu shuju, 1989.

  • Chŏn In-ch’o 全寅初. Hanguo suo cang Zhongguo hanji zongmu 韓國所藏中國漢籍總目. 6 vols. Seoul: Xuegu fang, 2005.
    (Look for Vol. 5, Literatures section – jibu 集部.)