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Japan Studies: Finding images

Databases for digital images


Nichibunken Databases

Lists various databases for visual resources such as early photographs, illustrations of modern folklore and Japanese picture scrolls.  Below are some examples of the databases with brief descriptions provided by Nichibunken. - Some databases require registration.

Database of Foreign Images of Japan

"Nichibunken's collection of photographs, illustrations, and other visual images of Japan or Japan-related subjects from around the world."

Database of Early Photographs

"Hand-colored photographs of Japan and accompanying text dating from the end of the Edo Period through the beginning of the Meiji Period."

Database of Japanese Art in Overseas Collections

"Images and textual information on Japanese art such as paintings, prints, ceramics, lacquerware, etc. , in foreign collections."

Space in Historical Perspective

"Contains information found in maps, primarily maps of early modern (mid-16th-mid-19th centuries) cities. Visual image data supplements information from maps in the collection of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies"

'Zuroku Bei-O kairan jikki'

"Zuroku Bei-O kairan jikki‘ (“Illustrated true account of the observations of the ambassadors plenipotentiary of America and Europe”) is a collection of illustrations and descriptive passages related to those illustrations from Tokumei zenken taishi Bei-O kairan jikki ( A true account of the observations of the ambassadors plenipotentiary of America and Europe) written by Kume Kunitake and , published in 1878."

Miyako nenju gyoji gajo (Picture Album of Annual Festivals in the Miyako)

"The Miyako nenju gyoji gajo (Showa 3, 1928) in the Nichibunken library collection is made available for electronic viewing. It is a two-volume album of hand painted pictures on silk by NAKAJIMA Soyo, depicting the annual festivals and customs of Kyoto at the beginning of the Showa period. These paintings are accompanied by explanatory texts written by the folklorist and Kyoto scholar EMA Tsutomu."

Emakimono (Picture Scrolls)

"Database of images of Emakimono (picture scrolls) held at the Nichibunken Library. Bibliographical information is also available."

Database of illustrations of Modern Folklore

"Database of images of esoshi(illustrated books that were popular during the Edo period) in the Nichibunken Library."

Finding/identifying images

There are thousands of printed publications that provide various types of images including paintings, scriptures, architecture, photography, advertisements, and manga/cartoons.  Categories for those images can be specified by period, geographic location, and subject.

Pre-1160: Nara - Heian Period

 circa 1160-1600: Kamakura, Muromachi, Sengoku, Azuchi Momoyama Period

circa 1600-1867: Edo Period

circa 1868-present: Meiji, Taishō, Shōwa, Heisei, Reiwa periods


Using Japanese Sources

Useful even for those unable to read Japanese, these collections of images are organized chronologically and thematically with captions often including Western calendar dates (For information regarding Japanese calendar systems, see this Duke University Library guide.)

Special collections at Yale