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Japanese Studies Primary Sources in Western Languages: 6. Meiji: 1868-1912

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After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan embarked on a course of modernization and Westernization, sending expeditions overseas and implementing thorough political, economic and social reforms at home. Large numbers of foreigners began to settle in Japan. The openness to the West and foreign travel to Japan produced a large body of western-language material, ranging from travel accounts to newspapers to diplomatic records.


To search for materials in Orbis, try a subject search using 'Japan history Meiji period.' See Reiko Yoshimura's website for more specific examples.


Many of the materials in Manuscripts and Archives and the Microform collections are catalogued on the finding aid section of those departments' websites.

Sources in Translation

Journeys to Japan

Created by Professors Daniel Botsman and Rustin Gates (Bradley University), this bibliography contains dozens of Western accounts of travel to Japan, beginning in the 16th century. The sources are grouped chronologically, and are linked to their respective Orbis records.


Government Documents

Databases and Reference Works

The Historiographical Institute at the University of Tokyo offers a wealth of online resources: most of their databases are in Japanese, but the On-line Glossary of Japanese Historical Terms (located under 'Tools') allows you to search for terms in English, French, German and Japanese (romaji, hiragana, and/or kanji). The database returns works (in all these languages) that contain the relevant term, and also serves as a useful tool for translation. To search using a non-Japanese term, enter the term (or terms) and click the 全文検索 button; to search using a romanized term, click the 語彙検索 button.

For help with Japanese dates, refer to Tsuchihashi's chronological tables.


John Dower's Japanese History and Culture from Ancient to Modern Times: Seven Basic Bibliographies contains a chapter devoted to the historiography of ancient and pre-modern Japan, with some translated primary sources.