By John Carpenter and Jordan Sand, F90,
updated by Sarah Thal, F92


I.  Historical Dictionaries
    A) General Dictionaries
    B) Specialized Dictionaries
II.  For Serious Research on a Premodern Topic
    A) Learning the State of the Field
    B) Finding an Evaluating Sources
    C) Shiryo Collections


A)  General Dictionaries

*** Kokushi daijiten. Yoshikawa Kôbunkan, 1979-97.
Call no.: REF DS 833 .K64
IHJ: 1539

This huge work, in 15 volumes (vol. 15 being an index in three volumes [ jô-chû-ge] ), took eighteen years to produce, and was finally completed in 1997.  This is now the standard multi-volume historical dictionary of Japan. It is mainstream in its approach: reliable but conservative and unimaginative. The signed entries, by senior experts, give good bibliographical references. One special strength are the remarkable collections of color illustrations that appears for various entries. Since it appeared gradually over close to two decades, some of the scholarship in the early volumes is already becoming outdated.  The index is divided into four different parts: historical materials (shiryô), place names (chimei), person's names (jinmei), and topics (jikô), so be careful that you have the right section.

** Nihonshi Daijiten. Heibonsha, 1992-94.
Call no: REF DS833 .N654 1992

This seven-volume dictionary appeared just as the Kokushi daijiten was nearing completion, and it was intended to provide more up-to-date scholarship in a more compact form. On the whole, it lives up to its promise: the editorial policy is more adventurous, the articles are by a younger generation, and it is generally more interesting and imaginative. If the Kokushi daijiten is what you use for reference, this is what you use for provocation and sheer interest. Articles are signed and provide full publication information for references. It includes large color illustrations, although not as impressive as those in the Kokushi daijiten.

** Nihon shi jiten.  Iwanami Shoten, 1999.  Y12,000.  On CD-ROM for Y8,500.
Call no: REF

This wholly new compact historical dictionary from Iwanami appeared in late 1999 as a challenge to the Kadokawa Nihonshi jiten (see next entry).  A CD-ROM edition appeared in late 2000, at a price considerably less than the paper version, so this would certainly be the preferable form for those whose computers can handle Japanese-language CD-ROMs.

Kadokawa Nihon shi jiten, 2nd edition. Takayanagi Mitsutoshi and Takeuchi Rizô, eds. Kadokawa shoten, 1986 <1974>. Y2900.
Call no.: REF DS 833 .K33 1986
IHJ: 1541

A softcover historical dictionary providing general, high school level information on 13,000 items. Includes almost 400 pages of useful maps, charts, and chronologies in the back.

Nihon shi kôjiten.
Call no.: REF DS833 .N5 F3 1997.

A rather encyclopedic historical dictionary, with fully 44,000 items (about three times as many as the Kadokawa work, and twice as many as Iwanami), but all of them of a short and standard length.

B)  Specialized Dictionaries

Nihon fûzokushi jiten. Nihon fûzoku gakkai. Kôbundô, 1979.
Call no.: DS 821 .N67269
IHJ: 1229

This dictionary of manners and customs covers everything from Heian coiffures to various types of privies. The entries, in gojûon order, are easy to read and often illustrated with finely executed drawings and photographs. Includes both a comprehensive index and a table of contents listing every entry under twenty-three classifications; clothing, hair-styles, dwellings, etc. A section of color plates of Naniwa clay figures, Japanese armor, flags, etc. Appendixes have calendrical charts, illustrations of costume, etc. Has a list of bibliographic references in the back.

Nihon kodaishi jiten. Endo Motoo. Asakura shoten, 1974.
Call no.: DS 851 .N44
IHJ: 1585

A handbook of Japanese history from ancient times through the end of the Heian Period. The first two sections contain a discussion of methodology and a historiographic overview of trends and major issues in ancient studies. The body of the book is an short encyclopedia, entries appear in gojûon order under six classifications: subjects, people, books, temples and shrines, places, and character compounds that include a number (meisû). Most entries include a brief bibliography. Historical charts in appendices, also an index. Useful for providing a newcomer to the field with a general introduction to methodology and issues.

Yûsoku kojitsu daijiten, ed. Suzuki Keizô (Yoshikawa Kôbunkan, 1996)
Call no.: REF DS 821 .Y87 1996

[NEW, entry still to be written]



¢** Shigaku zasshi, annual May issues ("Gogô" among insiders).
Call no.: DS1 .S54

This is how Japanese scholars keep up with the field -- read this, and you'll know what everyone's talking about. Since 1949, the May issue has discussed the historical research appearing in Japanese during the previous calendar year, under the title, "Nihon rekishi gakkai no kaiko to tenbô."  Japanese history is organized by period. Within each period, untitled, signed articles outline recent approaches and advances in a changing variety of fields or subjects. See next item for a cumulative edition through 1985.  After that date, you must search out the separate volumes for each year.

*** Nihon rekishi gakkai no kaiko to tenbô, ed. Shigakkai. Yamakawa shuppansha, 1987.
Call no.: D13.5 .J3 N53 1987
IHJ: 1550

May issues of Shigaku Zasshi from 1949-1985, cumulated by historical era. Includes a very helpful index in back of all authors of works cited, so you can find out where a scholar is placed in the field.

* Nihon kinseishi kenkyû jiten, ed. Murakami Tadashi, et al. Tôkyôdô huppan, 1989.
Call no.: H85 .N55 1989

A useful guide to postwar Japanese historiography (especially from the 1960s through 1980s) on the early modern period. The book is divided into 8 sections: the state; status; villages; cities; popular movements; thought and culture; regional history; and sources and methodology. Each sections includes a general overview and signed articles on specific subjects within the field, outlining the historiography and including complete citations for important works discussed.


¢*** John Hall, Japanese History: A guide to Japanese reference and research materials. University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, 1954.
Call no.: REF Z3306 .H27 1973

A carefully compiled annotated bibliography of over 1500 titles in Japanese--many of the most important published sources on pre-1868 history.  Although very old, it is still of use for its discussions of collections of historical materials and older bibliographies, and reference works. Out of print at Michigan, but Greenwood Publishing [(203) 226-3571] offers a reprint for $38.50.

** Kokushi bunken kaisetsu. Asakura shoten, 1957-1965. 2 vols.
Call no.: REF Z3301 .E5
IHJ: 1527

An annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources in Japanese history, compiled over a period spanning WW2 by Endô Motoo and Shimomura Fujio. The first volume is divided into 3 sections: individual historical works and documents, series works and collections, and major non-Japanese works. The second volume contains additional works compiled in the same format subsequent to the publication of volume one, a section on local history (a flourishing new field in Japan at the time), and a section listing Japanese newspapers and general-readership magazines (of the authors' selection), and non-Japanese language newspapers and periodicals (gaijishi) published in 19th century Japan. In the individual document sections, the entries are in gojûon order, and each heading is followed by roughly 10-20 lines describing the work and giving location or sources for further reference. Citations, however, are incomplete. The historical documents included are primarily works available in modern printed form, although unpublished writing deemed particularly important is also listed. Pure literature has been passed over, but historically valuable diaries and zuihitsu are included. Collections are listed in gojûon order with their contents following. Comprehensive indexes for each volume list parts of collections and other works which were not given their own headings. Since "kindai" entries were only included as a postwar afterthought, on all but local history, the bibliography is predominantly pre-modern.

Nihonshi kenkyûsho sôran. Meichô shuppan, 1975.
Call no.: REF Z3306 .N55 1975
IHJ: 1528

A single volume bibliography of research works on Japanese history from Meiji period to 1972. Does not include primary source collections, compilations of monographs of an overly specialized nature, or works related to postwar Japan. Organized in ten fields, within each of which headings appear in gojûon order. Some have brief descriptive blurbs, some have only publication information. Does not look remarkably useful for gathering sources in one's field of speciality, but might be a quick reference for major works in an unfamiliar area.

Nihon kinseishi kenkyû nyûmon. Komiyama shuppan, 1974.
Call no.: 210.6 Ar12
IHJ: 1592

A handbook for researchers in Tokugawa ("kinsei") Japanese history. The editor is also author of Bakuhansei shakai no tenkai katei and Kinsei no komonjo. The present book includes introductory essays on major topics by members of Nihon daigaku kinseishi kenkyûkai, how-to chapters on kinsei historical research, and a directory of basic data, from Edo administration to premodern weights and measures, in charts and short explanatory articles. This material can probably all be found elsewhere (in connection with anything in the city Edo, for example, in the more recent Edogaku jiten), but this still looks like a reasonable place to go for cogent summaries and basic data. Might be worth owning.


Herschel Webb, Research in Japanese Sources: A Guide (Columbia Univ Press, 1965), ch. 8, "Historical Sources," provides a good outline of older but still basic collections of historical materials.  Call no.: REF DS 803 .W38

For more detailed background and information on specific works in major collections, consult not only the more specific kaidai, but also the Kokushi bunken kaisetsu, the Kokusho kaidai, and entries in the Kokushi daijiten.

Kokusho kaidai, by Samura Hachirô. 1926. 2 v.
Call no.: REF Z3302 .S26 1926
IHJ: 1017

An annotated bibliography of primary works, listed in gojûon order by title. Starting in the middle of the second volume are: 1) an author index that tells you where in the Kokusho kaidai the person will be most fully addressed; 2) subject index; 3) index by stroke number; and 4) the contents of collections, zenshû, etc. by the title of the collection.

Dai Nihon shiryô. Tôkyô daigaku shiryô hensanjo comp., 1901-.
Call no.: 210.083 T57

An annalistic history of the classical variety, divided into 12 multi-volume sections covering different historical periods. Sixteen are planned. Headings denote historical events, and are followed by a brief description and texts of all supporting documents. A full description of this compilation is provided in Herschel Webb's Research in Japanese Sources: A Guide. Dai Nihon komonjo compiles Nara period documents, documents of institutions and families and bakumatsu period documents on foreign relations. It is important to understand that these enormous compilations are strictly chronologies of events. It is therefore extremely difficult to study any historical theme across time. On the other hand, events covered are completely documented and annotated.

Kokushi taikei. Compiled by Kuroita Katsumi and Maruyama Jirô. Yoshikawa Kôbunkan, 1929-1964. 66vols.
Call no.: 210.083 K82

The standard collection of pre-Meiji primary and historical writings. Students of pre-modern Japan will often find citations to volumes in this collection. Although it is sometimes a bit confusing to sort out the supplement volumes from the main volumes, it is usually quite easy to find what you're looking for. On the other hand, it is not an easy work to use as a starting point in your research. Before attempting to attack this giant all by yourself, see if the following volume is of any assistance:

Kokushi taikei shomoku kaidai (Annotated catalog of works in the Kokushi taikei). Yoshikawa Kôbunkan, 1971, vol. 1-
Call no.: REF. 210.083 K821

This work is supposed to be complete in two volumes, and the library should have volume 2 (that is, if it has--or ever will--come out). It is a thoroughly annotated guide to the Kokushi taikei including copious references, though it is not a comprehensive index by any means. Vol. 1 covers through volume 37.

Koji ruien (Encyclopedia of ancient matters). Jingûshichô. Tokyo: Koji ruien kankôkai, 1896-1914, 51 vols.; reprint ed. Hyôgensha, 1927-1930; 3rd (rev popular) ed., 1936, 60 vol.
Call no.: 031 H79 (60 vols.)
Fukuda: A80

A compendious assemblage of materials dealing with every imaginable aspect of pre-modern Japan. Based on the model of the great Chinese encyclopedias, the project was carried out by the Bureau of Shintô Shrines (Jingû Shinchô). It was first published in 350 volumes from 1896 to 1913, but all works mentioned are pre-Restoration. The work is divided into 30 broad categories each of which is represented by an introductory essay and a set of relevant primary and early secondary documents.

Chances are that you will often be sent to this work by a reference in some other secondary work or bibliographic guide, and since it has many documents available nowhere else it is an important source for scholars of Japanese culture.

Should you want to set about looking things up on your own, volume 60 has a complete table of contents and a subject index of entries in gojûon order. The indexing system is a bit disconcerting at first, but once one gets used to it, it is quite straightforward. The trick is to ignore the superfluous information (which seems to refer to the section and satsu numbering of an earlier edition). The volume is indicated by single-kanji abbreviations. (Some conscientious scholar has tipped in a handwritten guide to volume abbreviations and volumes numbers at the rear of the volume). After that all you need is the page number, which is in the last slot.

Apparently there is a new reprint, 1967-1972 in 51 volumes available. We might need it soon, the index volume especially is very brittle.

Kôbunko. Mozume Takami. Tokyo: Kôbunko Kankôkai, 1916-18. 20 vols. Reprint ed. 1925.
Call no.: 031 M87

This is another one those massive classifed compendia, along the lines of Koji ruien, though with more emphasis on literary and cultural than legal or institutional matters. Each topic is represented by a selection of relevant passages from texts culled from over 10,000 Japanese as well as Chinese books. It also includes numerous biographies of historical figures. It can be considered an encyclopedic dictionary, including definitions of all terms the quotation of most, but not all, of the passages cited in Mozume's index, Gunsho sakuin. (If you want to be thorough, you thus must go to Gunsho sakuin to see what you missed.) For literary historians, this work often holds the key to perplexing questions concerning literary terms and allusions.

Gunsho sakuin. Kobunko Kankokai, 1916-1917. 3v. Reprint ed. 1922.
Call no.: 029.2 M87

Although it was not originally intended as such, it now is basically used as an index to Kôbunko, listing about 50,000 items (arranged in gojûon order) covering various subjects with citations culled from over 10,000 pre-Meiji sources. More subjects are covered here than either Koji ruien or Kôbunko. It does not contain definitions as does Kôbunko.

Gunsho ruijû. Hanawa Hokiichi. Tokyo: Keizai Zasshi sha, 1897-1902. 19vols.
Call no.: REF Z3302 .G852 1930

This collection of over 1,200 miscellaneous writings was completed 1819 under the editorial direction of the Tokugawa scholar Hanawa Hokiichi (1746-1821) who was an amazing man, if only for that fact that carved out such a prominent place for himself in scholarly and literary cirlces despite being blind from the age of five. His was known as "The Blind Jellyfish" in kyôka circles. One is usually sent to this work by some other work such as the Kokusho sômokuroku. It has katsuji versions of many texts that can be found nowhere else. Volume 1 contains a table of contents and an index to titles.

Zoku gunsho ruijû. 1923-30. 72 vols.
Call no.: (see previous entry)

Modeled on the Gunsho ruijû, this is its massive supplement compiled by Hanawa Hokiichi's son, Tadatomo (1807-62).

Gunsho kaidai.
Call no.: Z3302 .G85 1962

Provides information on the authorship, creation, and content of texts in the Gunsho ruijû.

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