Digital Resources for Japanese Studies

6. Reference Tools: Dictionaries, Maps, and Encyclopedias

Please also consult Portals and Subject Gateways for links to other sites.

General Resources

JapanKnowledgeジャパンナレッジ (Harvard ID/PIN required)
JapanKnowledge: encyclopedias, dictionaries and databases is a gateway to a wide variety of encyclopedias, dictionaries, maps, publications, and other scholarly resources for Japanese and East Asian Studies. See specific sections in this guide for more detailed information about particular resources.

Multiple databases may be searched at once (OneLook検索), or you can limit the search to specific databases (A-Search詳細検索). For some resources, you may need to install particular viewers or other software on your computer; these will be downloadable from the site.

Use at Harvard-Yenching Library: Resources requiring special viewers may be used on the Japanese Research Workstation in the Reading Room. If a resource you wish to use has not yet been enabled on that workstation, please contact Kuniko McVey via e-mail or at 617-496-3347.

Reference Sources -- Duke University Library East Asian Collection Japanese Studies Resources
Extensive bibliographies for Western- and Japanese-language reference tools, as well as links to other guides.

A Guide to Reference Books for Japanese studies 日本研究のための参考図書
Database version of a 1997 publication by the library of the International House of Japan. Includes printed materials in English and Japanese, CD-ROMs, online databases, and selected libraries. Specific terms may be entered, or you may search by general area. Entry may be done with English, romanization, or Japanese script.

East Asian Studies Research Guide
Introduction to Western-language reference sources on East Asia, including many for Japan. Includes call numbers for Harvard libraries and links where available.

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JapanKnowledgeジャパンナレッジ (Harvard ID/PIN required)
Provides access to a number of dictionaries, including:

  • デジタル大辞泉
  • 数え方の辞典
  • 亀井肇の新語探検
  • 科学技術略語大辞典
  • プログレッシブ和英中辞典
  • ランダムハウス英和大辞典
  • プログレッシブ英和中辞典
  • 最新英語情報辞典
  • COBUILD 英英辞典
  • CAMBRIDGE 英英辞典
  • Imidas 情報・知識
  • 現代用語の基礎知識

as well as biographical dictionaries such as JK Who’s Who and 日本人名大辞典.

Please see above for more information on using JapanKnowledge

Nihon kokugo daijiten 日本国語大辞典 (Harvard ID/PIN required)
Online version of the second edition of the 14-volume 日本国語大辞典, the "OED" for the Japanese language. Covers both the classical and modern languages as well as dialectical and script variations. Provides definitions, pronunciations, etymologies, and examples. Also accessible through JapanKnowledge.

CJKV-English Dictionary: A Dictionary-Database of CJK Characters and Compounds Related to East Asian Cultural, Political, and Intellectual History (Harvard ID/PIN required)
Originally part of the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism, the CJKV-English Dictionary provides romanization and definitions in English for characters and compounds in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. The focus is on Chinese terminology derived from Confucianism, Daoism, secular literature, poetry, and historical works. Page references are given to entries in classical dictionaries. Unicode-based.

Non-subscribers may access the dictionary at and conduct a limited number of searches by registering as a guest. Scholars of pre-modern East Asia may also obtain unlimited searching privileges by contributing to the dictionary. Information is available on the site.

Digital Dictionary of Buddhism 電子佛教辭典 (Harvard ID/PIN required)
Edited by Charles Muller at the Toyo Gakuen University 東洋学園大学, the dictionary provides English definitions for Buddhist terms in a range of languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Pali, Sanskrit, and Tibetan, as well as pronunciations. It includes A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms : with Sanskrit and English equivalents and a Sanskrit-Pali index, compiled by William Edward Soothill and Lewis Hodous. Harvard students, faculty, and staff may use the dictionary for unlimited searching via this URL.

Non-subscribers may access the dictionary at and do a limited number of searches by registering as a guest. Scholars of Buddhism may also obtain unlimited searching privileges by contributing to the dictionary. Information is available on the site.

Infoseek Rakuten Multi-dictionary Infoseek 楽天マルチ辞書
Five free online dictionaries from Sanseido 三省堂:

  • English-Japanese dictionary EXCEED英和辞典
  • Japanese-English dictionary EXCEED和英辞典
  • Japanese-Japanese dictionary 大辞林 第二版
  • Katakana (loan words) dictionary コンサイス カタカナ語辞典第二版
  • Chinese character dictionary オリジナル漢字検索データベース

Public Domain Data Library 私立PDD図書館
Dictionary and Who’s Who created from public domain resources and maintained by Hideaki Kurihara.

CD-ROM Materials
The following CD-ROMs may be used on the Japanese research workstation in the Harvard-Yenching Library reading room. Please request them at the circulation or reference desk by call number.

Daijisen 大辞泉
Harvard-Yenching Library: CD-ROM J-0001
Harvard-Yenching Library: Ref (J) PL675 .D342 1995x (print)

Super Nihongo daijiten Super日本語大辞典:漢和・国語・古語・類義語・ことわざ
Harvard-Yenching Library: CD-ROM J-0005

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JapanKnowledgeジャパンナレッジ (Harvard ID/PIN required)
Provides access to a number of encyclopedias:

Encyclopedia Nipponica 日本大百科全書
2001 print edition: Harvard-Yenching J 9328 6541

Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (English-language)
Print edition available in reference sections of Documentation Center on Contemporary Japan, Harvard-Yenching, and Lamont (call number: DS805 .J263 1993) and Widener (RR 3950.40)

Please request the following CD-ROMs from the circulation or reference desk by call number for in-library use. At Harvard-Yenching Library, CDs may be used on the Japanese research workstation in the reading room.

Encyclopedia of Japan 英文日本大辞典
Documentation Center on Contemporary Japan: DS805 .E53 1999x
Electronic (CD-ROM) version of Kodansha encyclopedia of Japan (1983) and Japan : an illustrated encyclopedia (1993).

Sekai daihyakka jiten 世界大百科事典, 2nd edition
Available as part of the Yomiuri shinbun 讀賣新聞 CDROM/DVD sets (Taisho 大正, Showa 昭和)
Harvard-Yenching Library: CD-ROM J-0010 (or 11 or 12 or DVD J-0038)

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Maps and Geography Resources

This section includes links to sites with maps of Japan or GIS work related to Japan.

For more information on maps of Japan held at Harvard, please consult the Map Collection, which has numerous maps and atlases of Japan and of East Asia (please note that the majority of their holdings are not in HOLLIS), and the Harvard-Yenching Library.

For information on Japan-related GIS work at Harvard or help with GIS, please consult the Map Collection and the Center for Geographic Analysis.

Modern Maps
Topographic Map of Japan, 1/25,000 scale ウォッちず 国土地理院地図閲覧サービス
Offered by the Geographical Survey Institute; Map of Japan in 1/25,000 scale is viewable.

MapFan Web 生活地図サイト
Searchable by address, zip code, and train station.

Rand McNally 世界地図 (Map of the World)
Available through JapanKnowledgeジャパンナレッジ

Historical Maps
For an introduction to online collections of historical maps held in Japan, please see Kazuko Sakaguchi's article, "Antique Map Digital Image Archives" in Tsūshin 通信 (Volume 8, Number 1) Spring 2002, pp. 5-7. Many of the sites listed here are discussed in this article in more depth.

Ashida Antique Map Collection 蘆田文庫古地図展
Online exhibition of a collection of 2,500 maps and other geographical materials originally belonging to Koreto Ashida 蘆田伊人編. (1877-1960) and now held by the Meiji University Library. Table of contents is also available. Includes maps of Japan, China, Korea, and the world and topographical studies from the Edo period. Annotations and references are comprehensive, and reports by the committee responsible for the collection provide further information.

Asia in World Antique Map 西洋古版アジア地図
This "Maps of Asia" site presents 97 Western maps of Asia dating from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Includes Italian, French, German, Scots, Belgian, and English maps. Created by Osaka University 大阪大学.

Complete Survey of the Japanese Coast 大日本沿海輿地全図
The first geographical survey maps of Japan, made by Tadataka Ino, and often known as the Ino maps 伊能図. This site provides digital images of 43 sheets, as well as options to view the entire map (some sheets have been lost) and to zoom in. There is also a comprehensive geographical name index including old, modern, and natural place names. Created by the National Diet Library.

East Asia - Images of Early Maps on the Web -- Map History / History of Cartography: THE Gateway to the Subject
Part of the WWW-Virtual Library: History. Provides links to a large number of collections of maps of Japan with brief descriptions of each, as well as maps of Asia more broadly.

Edo Streets Digital Exhibition 地図に見る江戸八百八町
Developed by the University of Tokyo library, this site presents Edo-period woodblock maps. Extensive commentary is provided for each map.

Edo Meiji Tokyo kasane chizu 江戶明治東京重ね地図
Available through JapanKnowledgeジャパンナレッジ.
Related print and CDR0M version at the Fung Library:
Edo Tōkyō kasane chizu kensaku dēta bukku : Ansei sannen (1856) do jissoku fukugen chizu   江戶東京重ね地図検索データブック : 安政三年 (1856) 度実測復元地図/ [henshū, kōsei Nakagawa Keiji] [編集・構成中川惠司].
Documentation Center on Contemporary Japan: DS896.35 .E26 2001x

Japan GIS Resources
Hosted by the China Historical Geographic Information System. Click on the Japan GIS - Japan Demo icon for sample maps of the Edo, Warring States, and medieval periods as well as a placename searching tool, downloadable data, and links to Japan GIS resources.

Japanese Historical Maps -- East Asian Library, University of California, Berkeley
Over one thousand images from UC Berkeley's extensive Japanese historical maps collection. Holdings range from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries and include manuscript and woodblock-printed maps. The collection includes maps of the world as well as maps of Japan. Bibliographic information is associated with each image, and this metadata may be searched in English. Lists of place names and author/publisher names are also provided.

Old Maps of Nagasaki 長崎古地図データベース
English version of site.
Developed by the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken 日文研), this is a database of 221 color photographic images of items in the collection of old maps of Nagasaki held by the Nagasaki Municipal Museum. Use of the site is free, but registration is required. Captions are provided in both Japanese and English and may be searched.

Old Northern Maps Cyber Exhibition 北方資料高精細画像電子展示
Created by Hokkaido University 北海道大学, this site traces the development of mapping of Ezochi / Hokkaido from 1700 onwards. Most date from the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The materials are part of the collection held by the university's Institute of Northern Territory Studies 北方資料室.

Premodern Antique Map and Drawing Map Collection 徳島大学附属図書館 貴重資料 高精細 デジタルアーカイブ
Includes maps of Tokushima 徳島, Edo 江戸, and Kyoto 京都, as well as provincial and world maps. There are also pictorial maps of clans, provinces, counties, villages, and rivers. The collection of the former daimyo大名, the Hachisuka (蜂須賀) Family, is also included, providing rich material for local history. Detailed annotations are given.

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Page Last Reviewed: October 21, 2010

October 21, 2010