NOTE: For a more complete listing of electronic resources in Japanese studies,
please consult "Electronic Resources for Japanese Studies" on the Starr Library homepage.


These links cover the basic bibliographical databases for research in Japanese history, and you should take time to become familiar with all of them.

Fundamental databases:


Request It: ILL Columbia Library (for online interlibrary loan requests
Request It: Borrow Direct Columbia Library (for Borrow Direct)
English-Language Bibliography and Reference Materials at Columbia

Eureka (RLG)
WorldCat (OCLC)
Bibliography of Asian Studies
Ingenta (formerly UnCover) 
Project Muse

The following two databases are primarily in Japanese but will accept Romaji input:
[NOTE that for WebCat, long vowels must be entered correctly with long o as "ou" and long u as "uu"; Wine like non-Japanese library OPACs uses Hepburn romanization with no indication of vowel length.]

Waseda University Library catalog (WINE)
WebCat (NACSIS database of many Japanese academic and research libraries, both public and private)

The following four databases require a computer with Japanese-language input capability.

National Diet Library catalog (including the Zasshi kiji sakuin
Magazineplus (including the Zasshi kiji sakuin, "plus" various popular journals)
CiNII ("Sainii"):  Citation Information by NII (National Institute for Informatics)
Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library catalog



1) You must first select a research topic that is specific and concrete, and then decide on the most basic keywords for your searching. Remember that effective keyword searching involves words that are fairly specific and not too common, so that they are likely to bring up a manageable number of titles.

2) For subject searching, you must find out which LC (Library of Congress) categories are the most relevant. The easiest way to do this is to select the book titles that are closest to your research topic, and search them in CLIO. You can then check which subject categories are listed for each, and click on them to go directly to those subject listings.

3) The single most important source for finding important works on your topic will be the bibliographies of the most recent secondary works in the area in which you are interested. Once you have located two or three such works, stop and go through the bibliographies very carefully to see what might be of use to you.

4) For specialized bibliographies of English-language materials on Japan, please check out the chapter on "English Language Reference Works" in the guide Japanese Bibliography--Columbia University. There are a large number of such works, particularly in the area of education, economics, women's studies, international relations, the American Occupation of Japan, and so forth. Pay attention to the date of compilation of any bibliography you use, since all of them will be out-of-date to a greater or lesser degree--but they can still be very useful.


1)  The obvious starting point is CLIO, to see what is available in the Columbia libraries. 

2) CLIO will tell you if a book is checked out; if it is a title that seems worth consulting, immediately either order the book from another library via Borrow Direct OR recall the book (using the "Recalls Holds" tab at the top of the CLIO page). In general Borrow Direct will get you the book sooner than a recall, and there is less chance that you will be depriving a classmate of the use of the book. But either way, remember that it will likely take a few days days to get the book, so if you really want to use it, you should move quickly. Similarly, if a book that you want is not on the shelf and not recorded in CLIO as checked out, ask for a search immediately at the circulation desk . And if the search does not produce the book, apply for an interlibrary loan immediately.

3)  Do not stop with CLIO. To begin with, remember that there are several important libraries within the Columbia community that are not covered by CLIO, namely: Columbia Law Library (Pegasus), Teachers College (Educat), and Jewish Theological Seminary (Aleph) .

4)  In addition, remember that the Columbia libraries will probably not have everything that you need or want, and that you may well need to turn to the two separate bibliographical databases that include the books in most American university libraries, Eureka (for the RLG group that includes Columbia) and WorldCat (for the OCLC group). This should be your immediate move if you are looking for a particular title (which you may have found, for example, in the bibliography of a secondary work) but it does not appear in CLIO. You may also want to turn to these broader databases simply to search more widely in the relevant LC subject categories that you have located. There is a great deal of overlap between the two databases, with the greatest difference being for older and rarer titles; this means that if you are looking for a particularly hard-to-find book, you may need to check both. Once you have ascertained that any such books are in an American library, apply for an interlibrary loan immediately.


1) Remember that articles in periodicals are likely to be your most important source of secondary scholarship, and that you will not find these in CLIO . Hence it is particularly important to know how to search for and locate journal articles.

2) One good place to start is the online Bibliography of Asian Studies (BAS) .  This database does include books, but only until 1992, and the greatest utility of the database today is for articles, which are covered since 1971 in the online version, and which are kept fairly current for a "fast track" list of the 100+ most important journals in Asian Studies, which are given priority in indexing, and appear in the database within a few months of publication. (To see a list of these periodicals, click on "About BAS" at the bottom of the opening page, and then click on "Fast Track Journal List" in the headings at the top.) Note that a further critical function of the BAS is for its indexing of articles in edited volumes, a crucial category that is not included in most other bibliographies. The greatest limitation of the BAS is its subject categories, which are quite general and not nearly as focused as LC subject listings. But since you can limit the search area to "Japan" by checking that box, you will not be overwhelmed by too many items in any given subject category.  A final warning: for the most part, the BAS indexes journals that are specifically related to or published in Asia, so it will miss a huge range of disciplinary journals that may have important material on Japan.  For more specialized bibliographical databases, spend some time studying the impressive array of "Databases (Reference Works & Indexes)" available through LIBRARYWeb. 

3)  The next step is to turn to the journal databases that include not only the basic author and title data, but also the full text of many important journals. This is an extremely powerful tool, since it will find terms both in the text of the articles, and also in their notes and citations. The most important of these databases, available through Columbia's LIBRARYWeb, is JSTOR , which includes such major periodicals as Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Japanese Studies, Monumenta Nipponica, and Harvard Journal of Asian Studies, although only for back issues more than three to five years old. For more recent issues of many JSTOR publications, as well as a whole variety of journals not found in JSTOR, you should next turn to ProQuest, which indexes more journals but not as far back in time. ProQuest is actually a whole variety of databases, which you can see in the drop-down menu of the "Database" window, but you can simply choose them all with the default "multiple databases"; if you want to be more focused, choose "Interdisciplinary--Research Library," which is the basic journal index. Note also that the default search is for "citation and abstract"; to search the full text as well, you must select "citation and document text."

In addition to JSTOR and ProQuest, there are numerous other journal databases that include both citations and full text, but none are as wide and deep as these two. Still, some important journals are not included in these two, so a really complete search will require some more work. Please CLICK HERE for a table showing the coverage of full-text access for all the major journals in Japanese studies (as of March 2005: be warned that the situation is constantly changing). As you will see, there is overlap between various databases, but some journals are available in full text only on the more specialized databases: in particular, the important journal positions is found only on Project Muse (which also has some leading theoretical journals from Duke University Press), while you must use ATLA (American Theological Library Association) for searching and accessing the full text of such religion journals as The Journal of Japanese Religious Studies and The Eastern Buddhist, and EBSCO for overseas journals like Critical Asian Studies and Japan Forum. Meanwhile, more and more full-text journals are available online every month, so for any particular journal, always be sure to check the Columbia Library's current list of E-Journals to find what services provide what coverage. Do not be surprised to find several different full-text sources for a single journal; just be sure to read the fine print closely, since most cover different year periods, although quite a few also overlap.

4) One other journal database worth mentioning is Ingenta (formerly "UnCover"). Ingenta is a very powerful database of journal articles, now indexing some 18,000 journals and including close to 10 million articles. It has some major limitations, however, to bear in mind. First, like most electronic bibliographical databases (with the crucial exception of JSTOR, which is really more of an archive), it does not index older articles, but only those since Fall 1988 at the earliest, and often after that date for journals added more recently. Secondly, it does not include subject headings, only author and title information. This means that it will be of use only if you are looking for the work of particular authors, or for very specific and limited keywords. Finally, Ingenta does not include many specialized journals in Japanese and East Asian Studies. On the plus side, however, one particular bonus of this database is that if the journal in question is not held by the Columbia library, you can order a PDF copy of it free of charge (as long as the delivery cost to Columbia is under $30). Of course, you can always use ILL, but Ingenta is quicker. 

5) For both books and articles in English (and other European languages) about Japan that were published in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and can thus serve as important primary materials, you should consult the earliest Western-language bibliography of Japan, Friedrich von Wenckstern, A Bibliography of the Japanese Empire (in 2 vols., the first covering publications from 1859-93, and the second from 1893 to mid-1906; it is in the Starr reference section at REF Z3301 .W47 1970. (The sequel is Oskar Nachod, Bibliography of Japan, 1906-1926 (2 vols.), REF Z3301 .W471

6) One final important category of materials worth mentioning is doctoral dissertations, which can be efficiently searched in the online Dissertation Abstracts Online.  You cannot search the full text of dissertations, but you can search the text of the abstracts, which will include all the important keywords for the work, making it an effective search tool. For dissertations since 1997 (and some before that date), it is now possible to download a digital version in PDF format (just check the "Free Download" box, enter your email address, and you will be sent download instructions by email).  Remember that you will need Adobe Acrobat to read the file, and that such files can be very large, requiring a long time to download if you use a modem, and taking up a lot of space on your hard drive. 

NOTE:  Searching in some Japanese-language databases will require a computer with Japanese-language input capability.  Any computer purchased recently (with Windows XP or Mac OS X) have such capability built in, as do the all of the Starr Library computers (on which you can switch among English and C-J-K from the drop-down menu of the language icon in the tray to the lower right of the screen).
1)  For books in American libraries, please see Part II above for Books in English, all of which also applies to titles in Japanese, which are included in CLIO, Eudora, and WorldCat. Note that all of these catalogs now include Japanese characters (integrated into the entry in Eureka, under the "Original Script" heading in CLIO, and in WorldCat, you must first click on "Show Vernacular" under the 'Language' heading). 

2)  If you wish to search for books that are available in Japanese but not American libraries, the most practical place to start is with WINE, the online catalog of the Waseda University Library, both because it is very user friendly, but even more importantly because Columbia has a special relationship with Waseda and can order books from that library on interlibrary loan fairly quickly. (Actually, most Waseda books are now listed in WorldCat, where you will be provided with a direct link to the WINE catalog.) If you wish to borrow a Waseda book, you may request it through normal Interlibrary Loan. 

3)  The three other places to search for books in Japanese libraries are in the National Diet Library (NDL) (the largest library in Japan, with the deepest holdings--but be warned that it is shut down from 4-7 am Tokyo time on weekdays, which is 4-7 pm in New York, or 3-6 pm during daylight savings), the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library (TMCL) (a very large and distinguished public library), and in WebCat, a large and very useful catalog of the digital records of almost one thousand Japanese libraries that has been assembled by NACSIS (National Institute of Informatics).  Do not assume, however, that WebCat includes all the holdings of all the libraries listed as participants.  In the case of some of the largest and oldest libraries (such as Tokyo University and Kyoto University), they have simply not yet been able to digitize all their records. In other cases, notably that of Waseda, certain universities have refused to turn over their laboriously prepared databases to NACSIS for no compensation. (Only periodicals from Waseda are listed in WebCat.)  It is not entirely clear why all of the TMCL holdings are not on WebCat, while the National Diet Library remains completely apart from it. WebCat remains particularly useful, however, for checking the readings of authors and titles (all of which are provided in kana), and for indicating libraries in which they may be found. Most of these libraries will not be able to provide inter-library loans to the U.S., but 47 out of the 104 libraries that participate in Global ILL Framework are able to provide loan service to the U.S. If you wish to borrow a GIF-participating library book, it is a good idea to get in direct contact with Ms. Noguchi, the Japanese Studies Librarian, at  <>. 


The crucial online index available at Columbia is "Magazineplus," a very large database of journal articles that combines the Zasshi kiji sakuin,  now retrospective to the 1970s, together with a separate magazine article database of more popular journals. Once you have located articles of interest, you can find the periodicals themselves through the same tools mentioned above: CLIO, Eureka, WorldCat, Waseda, WebCat, and NDL. NOTE: Searching in Magazineplus will require a computer with Japanese-language input capability.

Zasshi kiji sakuin also available through both the National Diet Library and the National Institute for Informatics (NII, formerly NACSIS) via its Citation Information (CiNII, pronounced "Sainii") service, but differs from that in Magazineplus in one crucial respect: its listings go back much further in time: from all that I can tell (as of February 2005), Magazineplus listings for most major journals go back no further than 1975, whereas the NDL and NII listings now seem to go back to the very origins of the Zasshi kiji sakuin in 1948. On the down side, the NDL and NII listings do not include the popular journals that constitute the "Plus" in Magazineplus.  Just to complicate things, the NDL and NII use different search engines for the same data, and may produce different results. So the basic rule for now should be: ALWAYS SEARCH IN ALL THREE VERSIONS OF THE ZASSHI KIJI SAKUINNDL, CiNII, AND MAGAZINEPLUS.

hds2/March 2005
rev. sn2160/May 2005