Hon'yaku Bungaku: Meiji Translations of Western Literature

By Brian Dowdle

This bibliography provides an overview for finding when Western literature was translated into Japanese during the Meiji Period. Many of the sources listed include reprints of the work or provide the information necessary for finding copies of the works using traditional bibliography sources, such as the National Diet Library.

This field of study is often referred to in Japanese as Honyaku Bungaku. This term, however, seems to be limited to only western works; Chinese, Korean, and most other Asian literatures are handled separately.

Although not as frequently researched as other aspects of Bungaku, there are numerous secondary works written on this subject. These works tend to focus on particular authors and their reception and influence on Japan. There are also works on specific time periods.@ Many of the catalogs of Honyaku Bungaku seem to be based on the same library catalogs, but there is, nevertheless, some variation between catalogs.


Honyaku Bungaku published in Newspapers and Magazines

Kawado Michiaki, Sakakibara Takayoshi eds., Meiji hon'yaku bungaku zenshu <shinbun zasshi hen> Tokyo: Ozorasha, 1996-2000 PN6065 .J3 1996

Volumes 1-50 are off site, and 51 & 52 are in Starr Library reference section.

As the title states, this is a collection of reprints of literature translated during the Meiji period published in newspapers and magazines. In addition it has commentaries and essays on translations and other related issues such as reception. The series has 52 volumes.

Volumes 1-50 focus on a particular country or region. Many deal with prominent individual authors from that country or region, such as Shakespeare or Hugo. They contain a selection of reprints from the newspapers or magazines, essays and commentaries. Finally, each book has a separate and comprehensive timeline for those authors whose works are listed (a real plus).@

Volumes 1-16 England, 17-22 America, 23-33 France, 34 & 35 Germany, 36-45 Russia, 46-50 Northern and Southern Europe.

Volume 51 is a general time-line. It provides a good overview by year of what was published.

Vol. 52 has general indexes and the table of contents for the series (use this to find out if the writer you are interested in is covered in the series). These indexes include: index by work title in Japanese, index by translator, index by newspaper or magazine, and a list of commentaries and essays in the series. It also has a brief introduction for each of the 50 content books. Finally it has a works cited guide\that is broken down by author, translator, title in Japanese, and newspaper and journals listed in the series.

This is a good place to begin your search. The timelines, particularly the author specific ones\if available\are a great guide for finding when and in what format works were translated into Japanese. They include information about publisher, as well as, translator. This also seems to be one of the best sources for finding literature that was published in newspapers and magazines, without using journal or newspaper specific resources.



Honyaku bungaku published in books

It is always a good idea to start with the National Diet Libraryfs (NDL) search engine. http://opac.ndl.go.jp/index.html This has several advantages over other systems. First, you can do author searches in English and Japanese. The results often include multiple spellings of names, which are often impossible to find otherwise, e.g. Hugo, ƒqƒ…[ƒS, ƒqƒ…ƒS.@ Second, you can tweak the settings to display results in reverse chronological ordering, and adjust your search in many ways. Finally, this database includes many educational and academic works, which are often excluded from other sources. However, because the results are a computer generated list, care should be taken to review it more thoroughly; particularly as some translations were published over a span of years and thus, may defy a strict chronological ordering

Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan ed., Meiji@ Taisho Showa honyaku bungaku mokuroku: Kokuritu kokkai toshokann hen.
Tokyo : Kazama Shob¯o, Sh¯owa 34 [1959] (Sh¯owa 59 [1984] printing)
Z 3308 .T7 K6 1984

Title in colophon: List of foreign literary works done [sic] into Japanese, comp. & ed. by The National Diet Library.

Part 1 contains entries listed by original author as transliterated into Japanese.Entries include: name of author, years lived, country, name of work, translator, publisher, year published, name of publication, and name in original language. However, this is limited from the 1912 to 1955. Part 2 is a time line. Indexes include two author indexes; one is for Russian the other is for all other western languages.
As far as the Meiji era is concerned, this work is useful only for the timeline\although it does not seem to be better than other sources. However, having this book handy can help with online searches at the NDL. The contents are naturally more limited and outdated then the online database.


Kokuritsu kokkai toshokan Meiji-ki kankô tosho mokuroku. 6 vols. NDL, 1971-76. Call no: REF Z955 .T585 K58 1971 M/S: I-18. IHJ: 1018 (Meiji Microfilm)

There are three main ways to use this database to find literature in translation:

1) First, in the printed catalogs volume 4 (from page 855) there is a section entitled Honyaku bungaku. This list is relatively short (useless?) compared to the other sources, but Columbia has all of the works listed on microfilm.

2) Second is the CD terminal in Starr Library. One relevant search limit in this database is to select bungaku, and then further select honyaku bungaku (be sure to scroll to other windows)

3) Finally, there is the online version of this database. http://kindai.ndl.go.jp/index.html, which however remains incomplete, particularly for holdings of translated Western literature.  The search engine seems superior and many of the works are available online (this link is listed on Starrfs home page under Japanese electronic resources). The online images of the text are clear and can be enlarged.


Fukuda, Naomi Comp., A Biography of Translations: American Works into Japanese, 1868-1967 (Meiji, Taisho, Showa honyaku Amerika bungaku shomoku). Tokyo : Hara Shobo, Showa 43 [1968] Ref Z1231 .T7 F8 (as of Jan 04 it listed as being in the reference section on Clio, but was not really shelved in the reference section).

This work is the same material found in the Meiji@ Taisho Showa honyaku bungaku mokuroku, listed above. The compilers selected only those works listed with an American author, or whose authorship could not be determined.@ It includes magazines and newspapers only for Meiji.@ It excludes translations founded in academic textbooks. It has a good English title dictionary.


Meiji Shinbun Zasshi Bunko. Eds,. Meiji Shinbun Zasshi Bunko shozo tosho shiryorui mokuroku : Showa 53-nen 3-gatsu genzai.@ Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, Showa 58 [1983] REF Z3309 .T645 1983

This is a cataloging of texts in the Meiji Shimbun zasshi bunko shozou(–¾ Ž¡V•·ŽGŽ•¶ŒÉŠ‘ ) as of Showa 56. All entries appear to be in the National Diet Library, so this cumbersome catalog is virtually outdated and obsolete.


Kimura, Ki. Meiji shoki hon'yaku bungaku sen, kaisetsu. Tokyo : Yushodo Shoten, 1978. 903.9 K57

This short pamphlet has a few articles on the study of Honyaku Bungaku in the early Meiji period. It gives some interesting anecdotes about problems faced by early translators. It also has a few essays on Scott, Swift, and Shakespeare.


Kimura, Ki, ed. Meiji honyaku bungaku-shuu vol. 7. Tokyo : Chikuma Shobo, Showa 47 [1972]@ 910.82 M473 v. 7

This is the 7th volume in the Meiji literature collection. It has a few complete texts, including War and Peace. The appendix includes a timeline comparable to the others.  
There are many secondary works, which have more author specific contents. They are not reviewed here but can@ be found using the following search terms in Clio.@

LC Subjects:@@

American literature--Translations into Japanese--Bibliography.

Literature, Modern--Translations into Japanese.

Literature--Translations into Japanese.

Literature--Translations into Japanese--Bibliography.

Literature--Translations into Japanese--History and criticism.

Japanese imprints--Catalogs.

Japanese literature.

Japanese literature--Bibliography.

Japanese periodicals--Bibliography--Catalogs.

Japanese newspapers--Bibliography--Catalogs.

Meiji Shinbun Zasshi Bunko--Catalogs.