Originally by Giles Richter, Jordan Sand, and Henry Smith;
extensively revised by Adam Clulow in 2002.

The wide variety and tremendous number of periodicals make them a valuable but sometimes frustrating resource. Fortunately, for periodicals after 1948 there are efficient on-line search engines that enable you to quickly locate a resource. Unfortunately, pre-war periodicals are not so easy to locate. Columbia does have a large collection but its holdings are scattered and most pre-war periodicals are stored in Off-Site. Although it is reasonably easy to search by author name, there are only two resources that allow a search by topic. The following FAQ section is designed to aid you in your research. Part I covers pre-war periodicals and Part II covers post-war periodicals. Part III covers newspapers.


1) I want to do a general topic search of pre-war periodicals. Where should I turn?

Meiji Taisho Showa zenki zasshi kiji sakuin shusei. Koseisha. AI 19.J3 M45 1994

        One place to start is probably this Koseisha journal index, although this resource is spotty and not easy to use; see Steve Wills' guide for help.

Ôya Sôichi Bunko zasshi kiji sakuin mokuroku.13v. Kinokuniya Shoten. 1985. REF AI 19 .J3

Although the Ôya Sôichi Bunko is limited to popular journals, it is a unique resource in that field.

This is the catalog of the private collection of the popular commentator Ôya Sôichi. The catalog covers mainly articles in journals, mostly weekly and popular magazines, with few articles from academic or philosophic journals. Of these, it has indexed a total of about 280,000 issues from some 65,000 different publications, plus 40,000 books and other publications, as well as official government ministry publications. The collection spans Meiji, Taisho, and Showa. The bulk of the collection is indexed in 12 roughly 1,000- page volumes (2 sets of 6) that cover 1868 through April, 1984. 1984 through 1987 are in 4 volumes (2 sets of 2). The articles are indexed by name and by subject. Both names and subjects are easy and fast to use. Names are listed under the gojûon, with non-Japanese names last name first. Names headings include both authors and names which are subjects, which is very useful. Names headings also often feature a brief one-word “memo” identifying the individual's field or profession, very useful when you are unclear on first names or their readings. Headings are evenly spaced to facilitate scanning, with the date of publication clearly set off on the far right. Both name and subject listings under a distinct heading will be listed in chronological order, which has its advantages in quickly distinguishing early sources from more recent ones. The subject headings are organized under categories that specifically Ôya Sôichi, and are generally obvious (sciences, mass communications) but not always (‘the Left’, ‘the Right’). [GR, rev AC]

2) Are there any pre-war magazines or journals available on CD-ROM?

Columbia has purchased the CD-ROM version of the complete run of the important journal Taiyô from January1895 to February 1928. It is located on the dedicated Japanese-language terminal in Starr library.

3) I want some background information about the periodicals mentioned; for example dates of publication, editors, etc. Where should I start?

Nihon kindai bungaku daijiten . Kodansha.1977-8. REF PL 726.55 .N4853 1977.

Vol. 5 of this dictionary of modern Japanese literature is the single most valuable reference work for journals, with long descriptive entries for virtually all known literary journals, a category that includes most journals of opinion.

Further, you can look in Kokushi daijiten for background information. As always, this is really an all-purpose historical reference work, and in this case it includes entries for all of major modern literary and intellectual journals. [HS]

4) Where can I find the tables of contents for these periodicals?

 Bungei shunjû sanjugonen shikô . Bungei shunjû sha. 1959. REF O51 B88 Index 1-35  

This includes facsimile tables of contents for the first 35 volumes, covering the period January 1923-December 1957.

Chûô kôron sômokuji--Sôkangô yori 1000-gô ni itaru . Chûô kôronsha, 1970. REF AP95.J2 C47 1970.

This includes facsimile tables of contents for the first 1000 issues (vols. 1-85), covering the period 1887-1970.

Kaizô mokuji sôran
. 3v. Shinyaku Shobo. AP95.J2 Y6 1966 and 1972.

The first three volumes (published 1966-68) list the complete tables of contents for the entire life of the magazine from April 1919 until February 1955. The third volume is an author index.

Zasshi "Kaizô" no yonjûnen
. Kôwadô. 1977. REF 051 Ki22. 

This reprints the tables of contents on pp. 273-654 in facsimile form, but it is quite hard to read, and does not include the author index. [HS]


If you cannot find the periodical you are looking for above, consult one of the following general compilations of tables of contents.

Gendai Nihon bungei sôran: Bungaku, geijutsu, shisô kankei zasshi saimoku oyobi kaidai . 4 v. Meiji bunken. 1968-73. Ref Z 3308 .L5 G52 1968.

An invaluable work that lists the complete contents of 138 modern literary magazines. As the title word shisô implies, it also includes some left-wing journals, including Kaihô, as well as Shinchô. Tables of Contents are from 1868-1945. Most importantly, it has a good author index in each volume which allows you to look up the names of authors featured in that volume but not in the series as a whole. [HS, rev AC]


If you still cannot find the journal you are looking for, turn to

Meiji Shinbun Zasshi Bunko Shozo Zasshi Mokuji Sôran. Ozorasha. 1993- Z 6958.J3 M45 1993

This massive series has 150 volumes and includes hundreds of periodicals. Despite the name it includes journals from Meiji, through Taishô and even includes some tables of contents from early Showa as long as the journal started in Meiji. It also reproduces the actual tables of contents and so it is invaluable for getting an idea of the journal before actually ordering it. Although it does have a valuable author index for each individual periodical, there is regrettably no general author index. The indices can be found in the Reference section while the main series is on the 100 level.

5) I am working in a specific field that has very specialized periodicals that are not included in the above resources. What can I do?

If you are looking for specialized periodicals in a particular field you should consult the following. This is not an exhaustive list.


Bijutsu kankei zasshi mokuji soran. Meiji, Taishô, Showa senzen hen. 4v. Kokusho Kankokai. 2000. REF Z 5937. B56

This covers 1868 to 1945 and includes 53 periodicals.


Bukkyogaku kankei zasshi bunken sôran. Kokusho Kankokai. 1983. REF Z 7835.B9 B75 1983

This covers 1868 to 1981 and includes 288 periodicals.


Nihon shi kankei zasshi bunken sôran. 2v. Kokusho Kankokai. 1984. REF Z 3306.N677

This covers 1868 to 1981.

Gender History:

Kindai fujin zasshi mokuji sôran 15v. Ozorasha. 1985. REF AI19.J3 K55

This covers 1875 to 1945.


Kindai Nihon shakaigaku kankei zasshi kiji mokuroku. Ryukei Shosha. 1997. REF Z 7164.S68 K46 1997

This covers 1868 to 1945.

6) I have found a citation, but I want to know if this periodical is available in U.S libraries. Is there a complete list of U.S holdings?

The Union List of Japanese Serials and Newspapers at   http://pears.lib.ohio-state.edu/ULJS/default.html
National union list of current Japanese serials in East Asian libraries of North America.
REF Z 6958.J3 M29 1992

This online database of serial holdings is searchable by title or subject in English or Japanese and includes the records in National Union List of Current Japanese Serials in East Asian Libraries of North America. The list currently includes 5000 titles. The print version is current only until 1992.



In searching post-war periodicals, it is important to take note of the 1945 to 1948 gap which is not traditionally cover by pre or post-war bibliographic tools. In terms of periodicals after 1948, 2002 witnessed the first time that the entire Zasshi kiji sakuin became searchable online.

1) Where can I get information on periodicals that came out between 1945 and 1948?

The Microfilm edition of censored periodicals, 1945-1949. User's guide to the Gordon W. Prange Collection, East Asia Collection, Mckeldin Library, University of Maryland at College Park, part 1. Yushodo Shoten. 1982. Z 3308.A5 04

The Prange Collection at the University of Maryland contains 13 000 magazine titles issued during the immediate post-World War II years. The user’s guide above provides some information as to the collection, but the materials themselves are not easily accessible.

2) What is the best tool for searching post-war periodicals?

Now that the Zasshi kiji sakuin is available online at the Diet Library [also at NACSIS CiNII and on Nichigai Magazine Plus], this is the first place to turn. The main library search engine is available at http://opac.ndl.go.jp/Process but in order to search the Zasshi kiji sakuin you must click on that box which is above the main interface. Once you have entered the zasshi kiji sakuin make sure you check all four boxes above the main search engine box or it will automatically assume you want to search only periodicals that appeared after 2001. The print edition of the Zasshi kiji sakuin is still available as Zasshi kiji sakuin (Jinbutsu-Shakai hen)   REF AI 19 .J3 Z392, although it's hard to know why anyone would want to use this notoriously cumbersome publication.

Drawn from the holdings of the National Diet Library, the Zasshi kiji sakuin is the most general periodical index for scholarly research in Japanese. Listings are gathered from between 2,000-3000 publications, including kiyô, and some English-language articles when they appear in Japanese-language publications. Articles may appear under more than one heading if relevant. There is a list of journals arranged by gojuon, as well an authors index in the back of each volume. Note this index only refers to authors of articles contained in that particular volume.

Columbia has the Humanities and Social Science index (there exist others for the sciences). All articles are organized into standard general Nippon-decimal categories. These categories are often overly broad and rigid. To locate less obvious subjects, acquaint yourself with the table of contents; consulting the cumulative index guides (sôgô sakuin) will save time. Unfortunately, the absence of these guides for most recent years can leave you guessing about under which heading your subject appears. It is crucial to understand that the Zasshi kiji sakuin has been published in several series that do not overlap. One ought therefore be sure to check each series for possible entries. This is facilitated by article, author and subject index guides for 1948-64, and 1965-75. After 1975, there is only the author index found in the back of every volume.

3) What does--or more importantly, what doesn’t--Nichigai Magazine Plus contain?

According to the Nichigai (Magazine Plus) Website its database contains the following

1) Zasshi kiji sakuin: Japanese Journal index (1975- )

2) Festschrifts (1945-1998)

3) Collections of Essays (1945-1998)

4) Symposia & Speeches (1945-1998)

5) Bulletins, transactions, proceedings (1945-1995)

6) Popular magazines (1981- )

7) Others

Note that Nichidai Magazine Plus includes its most basic database, the Zasshi kiji sakuin, only from 1975, so if this is your primary need, you should turn first to the much more complete version of this resource on the NDL website.  

4) Is there any way to search for English titles of articles in Japanese?

Current Contents of Academic Journals in Japan A1 19 C85 

This began in 1952 as Bibliography of the Humanistic Studies and Social Relations, published by Tokyo University, but was discontinued in 1960. Of this first version, Starr Library has Nos. 1 [1952], 2 [1953-54], 6 [1958], and 8 [1960] (A1 19.J3 B5). Arranged alphabetically by author, rather than topically as in its successor. It was then resumed in 1970, and has since been published annually or semi-annually by the Center for Academic Publications of the Japan Foundation. Starr has 1970-1992. 1994-2000.

This is a bibliography of the Western-language titles of articles that appear in scholarly journals published in Japan. The 1988 edition claims to have covered 276 journals. Although the articles covered are almost all in Japanese, article titles appear in English (or sometimes French or German) translation, without the original Japanese. The compilers do no translate themselves, but use those translations provided in the journals themselves and this means that only journals that include a translated table of contents are represented, with the exception that “articles from journals which have no table of contents in western languages are included when the author replied to our inquiry regarding translation of the title of his or her article.” The coverage is thus somewhat arbitrary. Rakunô gakuen daigaku kiyô (“Journal of Dairy Agriculture”) is included, but Rekishi hyôron and Nihon rekishi are not; Shisô is included, but Shisô no kagaku is not. The arrangement is topical, although the areas covered are often broad and mixed. An index of authors appears at the end.

This is a useful resource for quickly scanning tables of contents of a large, though not exhaustive, selection of academic journals. Best for getting a broad sense of what sorts of things are being published in scholarly journals; when searching on specific topics, it will be necessary to turn to Japanese-language periodical indexes. [JS & GR, rev HS and AC]


Searching for newspaper articles can be a very frustrating experience. Fortunately the task of endlessly scrolling through newspaper microfilms has been considerably reduced by the advent of the Yomiuri Shinbun CD ROM.

1 ) I have a topic and I want to do a quick search of pre-war newspapers. Where should I start?

The best place to start is the Yomiuri Shinbun CD ROM. At the time of writing you could search until 1936 using this CD ROM. There are three sets of CD ROMs which must be accessed separatel: Meiji (but only from Meiji 7 [1874], until 1912); Taishô (complete); Showa I (1926-36); and Showa II (1937-45). The CD ROM has an straightforward interface although the Showa interface is slightly different from the Taishô and Meiji.  The following FAQ may help you with your searching:

Q) What can I search using this CD ROM.?

A) Despite appearances, this is a not full text search engine. Sometimes the search engine will pick up key words in the article but you cannot search each word in the article. Through the search engine, you are automatically searching the morning and evening edition of the newspaper as well as any extra editions. You can search advertisements as well. If you want to search all advertisements enter kôkoku in the search engine.

Q) I can’t think of related key words that will produce more results. What can I do?

A) If you are uncertain of basic key words associated with your topic the search engine has a jiten feature which lists associated key words. For example if you want to make a search on a prominent politician, the jiten function will bring up a list of government posts he held. Press the red button with the character ji written on it if you want to browse these keywords. When you have chosen one keyword hit the enter the keyword option which will automatically enter it in the main search engine.

Q) I have produced too many hits. How can I narrow it down?

A) Since you are searching such a massive amount of articles a vital tool is the classification. First set a main classification (bunrui) which follow the usual fields of politics, economics, culture, etc. Then set a minor classification (shôbunrui) which if you had chosen culture would be fine arts, music, etc. With these classifications set it is more likely that your search will yield a manageable number of hits. 

Q) I can’t read the articles. What should I do?

A) It is easier to read the articles in printed form than on the screen. However even then some of the articles are difficult to read. Make sure the printer is set to best quality printing or you will struggle. Further you should try and print the text in as close to actual size as possible. This usually involves selecting roughly a third of the page as your printing area.


2) Does Columbia have any CD-ROM databases for post-war newspapers?

Columbia also has the Asahi Shinbun CD ROM, which however is not a full-text database, consisting only of headlines and sub-headlines. It now covers the years 1945-1999. The Asahi has begun issuing a full-text, fully indexed CD-ROM, but it is very expensive, and Columbia has chosen for the time being not to purchase it, since we have the entire holdings on microfilm, and the headline index on CD-ROM serves as a rough index. One special feature of the index that accompanies the full-text CD-ROM is that it includes advertisements as well as articles. Harvard has a set if you really need this.

3) I want to look through a series of newspapers on a particular topic without going through each newspaper. Are there any helpful collections of newspaper articles?


4) What importantt Japanese newspapers does Columbia have?

Asahi Shinbun
Microfilm: EJFN I, July 1888-

Shukusatsuban: 1931-1983 (with significant interruptions)

Index: Asahi Shinbun AI 21.A85A84 1986

The printed index is organized by month and is divided into basic categories with large divisions such as Economics broken down into smaller sections like Banks. The series covers 1919 to 1989. In addition to the index by year there are supplementary author indices which are bound in blue and can be found in the shelf below the main index. Vol 6 (supp) covers 1927-1945, Vol 11 (supp) covers 1946-1958, Vol 16 (supp) covers 1959-1963, and Vol 41 (supp) covers 1985-1989.

Mainichi shinbun
Microfilm: EJFN 2, 1984-1995
Shukusatsuban: PN 5408.C6 M3. 1950-1983

Yomiuri shinbun
Microfilm: EJFN 3, 1984- 
Shukusatsuban: PN 5408.C6 Y53, 1958-1983

Manshû nichinichi shinbun
Microfilm:EJFN 4, 1909-1943

Nihon keizai shinbun
Shukusatsuban: PN 5408.C6 N53, 1949-

Japan Times
Micofilm: FN 301, 1941-1945, 1975
Shukusatsuban: DS 801.J28 F, 1957-

6) What is a clipping service and can it be useful to me?

A clipping service is usually provided by a institution whereby its researchers clip out interesting or relevant articles and paste them into a collection or put them online.  Like collections of newspaper articles, the nature of the articles is highly selective.  The  most  useful clipping services, one on-line and the other on-site, are:

Asahi Shinbun Online Clipping Service. http://www.iss.u-tokyo.ac.jp/

This service is offered by the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo and is free if you log in as guest. The coverage extends from 1922 to 1997 and includes citations but no articles. These are articles clipped by the Asahi newspaper itself.

Shinbun kirinuki shiryo . 

This is available at the National Diet Library in the shinbun etsuran shitsu.  From 1948 until the 1980s, the staff at the Diet Library cut up newspapers according to topic and pasted them into notebooks. It is prohibitively expensive to make copies of the files (if the clippings are old and in bad shape, 180 yen per page, if not, 30 yen), but they provide the opportunity to preview newspaper coverage without having to wade through entire issues of every newspaper. It also gives an indication of when the press thought a particular issue was important, which frequently differs from when a Ministry thought an issue was important. The clippings are extensive; as an example for repatriation, there is an entire volume devoted to the summer of 1949. It may take a couple of hours to figure out the indexes (they are in heavily worn green bindings on a table where you stand to fill out call slips), but the investment is worth it. (LW, rev AC)