Jlit Net

Links

 

Links are divided, somewhat arbitrarily, into four categories: general, institutions, e-texts, and authors (the last of which is quite sparsely populated). The turnover for sites dealing with Japanese literaure tends to be high, so links may break from time to time.

Behold My Swarthy Face

A blog (more properly, a "collaborative web journal") dealing with various aspects of Japanese literature, culture, and society. The content is wide ranging and lively in style, with an emphasis upon the modern (the Modern Stuff label is the one most frequently used, although premodern posts can also be viewed). A short wiki-style encylopedia is provided. Swarthyface [aka Ryan Morrison] has recently been uploading study guides to works by Ishikawa Jun (Swarthyface's specialty), Tanizaki Jun'ichirō, Mori Ōgai, Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, and Natsume Sōseki, as well as critical guides to other literary topics. For the most part, these seem to originate in courses taught at a Japanese university, and they are available for download in PDF format from an external site. A Twitter feed also exists.

Books from Japan

A site managed by the nonprofit Japanese Literature Publishing and Promotion Center providing (as one would expect) largely promotional information in English about Japanese books, including lists of publishers, English synposes of some 1,700 Japanese books in a variety of categories (literature alone contains over 600 entries), profiles of the authors mentioned on the site, and contact information regarding translation grants provided by Books on Japan.

JALInet

Originally intended to be "a network that, through the voluntary contributions of five famous authors -- Yasutaka Tsutsui, Kyōji Kobayashi, Akira Hori, Yūji Usui, and Aki Satō -- seeks to express Japanese literature to the world," the site is now (early 2013) limited in usefulness to the presence of English translations of nine short stories by Tsutsui at this link (the link on the site itself is broken). The site announced the end of new translations in 2006, and it's anybody's guess how long the current translations will remain posted.

Japan 2001 Waka Website

A project by students and staff at the University of Sheffield to build a collection of 2001 classical Japanese waka in translation (nine major collections of classical poetry are represented). Background information includes an introduction to ancient phonology and (on the Commentary page) descriptions of major anthologies and poets. A search function is provided. The site was a recognized "event" of the Japan 2001 Festival that was held in Britain up to March 2002.

Japanese Literature Publishing Project

The Japanese Literature Publishing Project (JLPP) was established by the Agency of Cultural Affairs of Japan in 2002 to "promote the overseas publishing of modern Japanese literature." The English Program has resulted in the publication of 40 titles. Three other target languages are involved: French, German, and Russian. The site is currently under the direct management of the Toppan Printing Company, and the only real information available in English consists of lists of the works selected for translation and a downloadable list of the titles published in English under the project's supervision. A somewhat puzzling and disappointing public front for this project.

Japanese Literature Publishing and Promotion Center

The Japanese Literature Publishing and Promotion Center (J-Lit Center) is a nonprofit organization that was founded for the purpose of introducing Japanese literature overseas; it manages some of the copyrights for the JLP Project mentioned above. The site itself is rather spare, although the center also manages the somewhat meatier Books from Japan website.

Japan Fact Sheet

Part of a larger Web Japan site affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that offers a variety of information meant to introduce the world to modern Japan. The Japan Fact Sheet page contains collections of PDF files in six different categories, one of which is "Culture." The informative documents in this category cover such topics as Bunraku, Kabuki, No, and Kyogen, and contain attractive photographs as well. The PDF document on literature can be viewed or downloaded directly from this link.

Japan Review Net

A site that refers to itself as "an independent site for books on Japan." The books reviewed are mostly nonfiction, reflecting the academic background and professional experience of the site's two manager-editors. The site currently contains reviews of 41 books (nine of which are classified as fiction); a number of the reviews originally appeared in other publications. Also of interest is a series of casual interviews with people directly connected in various ways with Japan. There have been no updates of note since 2005.

Nihon Bungaku

A rather eclectic site -- based at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas -- containing introductions, reflections, and comments on a number of Japanese authors, works, and literary topics. Personal in tone and discursive in approach, the site offers a substantial amount of material, although a measure of caution is in called for in view of characterizations such as that the Edo period was the historical equivalent of the British Renaissance, and that Ihara Saikaku wrote "middle-class" fiction. The entries all date from 2000-2001, meaning that this is not an active site.

Premodern Japanese Texts and Translations

An ambitious bibliography of translations of classical Japanese texts written before the year 1600. The bibiography is edited by Michael Watson at Meiji Gakuin University and includes works written in kanbun and Chinese. Currently a single, large webpage, "equivalent to some 170 pages printed,"  arranged in alphabetical order by Japanese title (a separate page still under construction categorizes a number of authors alphabetically through the Edo period).

Publishers Association for Cultural Exchange (PACE)

The site of a nonprofit organization whose activities are "aimed at promoting cultural exchange between Japan and other countries through the exchange of publications." The value of the site lies in the availability of a downloadable version of "The Practical Guide to Publishing in Japan," a source of detailed advice about obtaining, publishing, and translating Japanese books.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan

A haphazard and dated site that is essentially a directory of members with links to a number of individual home pages.

Wabei Translation

A site with literary translations (and a few unrelated odds and ends) by a business/commercial translator named John Gardner. Translations include fiction by Miyazawa Kenji, Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, Hoshi Shin'ichi, and Miura Shumon, along with English versions of various Japanese folk tales, including a set of tales from the Kojiki.

Universities and research organizations

Asia Society

The home page of "America's leading institution dedicated to fostering understanding of Asia and communication between Americans and the people of Asian and the Pacific." Geographically broad in compass, the site is mostly given over to describing the Society's activities, including its programs, exhibitions, and publications. The literature pages contain very little specifically related to Japan.

Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture

The site contains a relatively detailed Calendar of Events for the Center's activities, and a complete list of the winners of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prizes for the Translation of Japanese Literature since 1979.

Duke University East Asian Collection: Japanese Studies Resources

While the main purpose of the site is to catalog those resources actually available at Duke, there is a substantial amount of useful information available on the nuts and bolts of conducting research in and on Japan. Links to various online resources, including databases, are provided.

International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken)

The English home page of the central institution for Japanese studies in Japan. The Center itself was established in 1987, and in 1992 the Department of Japanese Studies in the School of Cultural Studies of the Graduate University for Advanced Studies (yes, that is the name) was added. Searchable databases are available for such topics as pre-1900 printed books on Japan in European languages, Japanese art in foreign collections , although some of the most interesting (including the Database of Foreign Images of Japan and the database of early photographs), and the Database of Japanese Art) require registration and are limited to scholars.

Japan Foundation

The English home page of "the first organization that specializes in international cultural exchange in Japan." An extensive listing of the Foundation's activities and programs is available, as are a number of Acrobat-formatted publications, including Japanese Book News and the Japan Foundation Newsletter. The site also offers the Japanese Literature in Translation Search database -- for literary works translated into other languages mostly after World War II -- which is quite useful even if not comprehensive.

Japan Society

The Japan Society calls its main goal "the cultivation of a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan." The site contains detailed descriptions of the society's activities, along with online articles on a range of topics, image galleries, multimedia (videos of speakers at Japan Society events), and webcasts.

National Institute of Japanese Literature

This is meant to be the English home page of a research institute established by the Japanese government in 1972 to comprehensively collect and study materials related to Japanese literature; when most recently accessed, however, the URL led only to the Japanese site, which offers access on this page to a number of databases, including a public database of images of historical personages and a text database of 580 works contained in the previous 100-volume version of the Iwanami Nihon kotenbungaku taikei series (registration is required in some cases). Navigating the site requires a certain tenaciity, and a thorough restructuring is in order before the site will be able to fulfill its true potential.

Libraries, museums, theaters, and other resources

Costume Museum

Color photographs of Japanese costumes worn in major historical periods from Jomon to Meiji as displayed on the museum's life-sized dolls. Diagrams and detailed English descriptions (although somewhat labored) are provided. The museum itself, which opened in 1974, is located in Kyoto. The site seems to have remained unchanged for well over a decade.

Digital Cultural Library (Bunka Degitaru Raiburarii)

A rich site -- currently available only in Japanese -- managed by the Japan Arts Council, the administrative arm of the National Theatre of Japan. The site makes available a complete historical listing of performances at all of the Japanese national theaters, a selection of photographs and other images, visual guides to makeup and performance, and (most impressively in my view) a thorough multimedia introduction to traditional Japanese music, complete with video demonstrations and explanations. The overdone graphics can be avoided in part by relying on the site-menu link at the top of the main page, but be warned: navigation can become confusing. Still, an extraordinary source of information.

Japanese Historical Map Collection

A digitized collection of over 1,100 images of maps and books selected from among the approximately 2,300 maps contained in the Japanese Historical Map Collection at UC Berkeley's East Asian Library. The site is operated by the company that scanned the images. A special browser may be used to view the maps, though "advanced software functionality" can be obtained by installing a Java-based browser available for download from the site. The quality of the images is excellent, but navigation and viewing are quite troublesome and not very intuitive.

Kabuki-bito

A Shōchiku website for kabuki that consolidates links to its main theaters, including the Kabukiza and the Shinbashi Enbujō in Tokyo, the Osaka Shōchikuza, and the Nanza in Kyoto. The site offers a special Kabuki i-ro-ha menu that is worth browsing, although everything is in Japanese -- an English page with some useful introductory information is now available, however.

Kyoto National Museum

The most fully developed English-language site among Japan's national museums. The highlight is the searchable collection of images, which spans two databases: one of 10,000 images of 5,000 objects held by the museum, and the other containing images solely of national treasures and important cultural properties. There is also a page of links to other resources on Japanese art (including links to various museums around the world).

National Diet Library

Rather paltry in terms of English offerings, the National Diet Library does have a searchable online catalog of Japanese books acquired by the library since 1948 and a nonsearchable list of Western-language books on Japan obtained since 2002 (together with a link to a troublesome search page of past archives).  English links are also provided to the Japanese-only Digital Library from the Meiji Era and the Rare Books Image Database, the latter of which contains more than 20,000 images of Edo-period documents and woodblock prints. As of April 2013, the Digital Library from the Meiji Era contains PDF versions of 23,000 publications for which the copyright has expired (pages can be saved or printed out in 10-page increments), while there are 51,000 images from  957 titles available in the Rare Books image Database. It is an exceptional online resource for those who are able to use it.

National Theatre of Japan

A site managed by the Japan Arts Council that contains introductions in English to the traditional performing arts of Noh, Kyogen, Bunraku, and Kabuki. The sections on Bunraku and Noh and Kyogen are quite extensive, although heavily based on images and graphics, making navigation somewhat confusing and requiring a fair amount of clicking to read all of the text. The selection of video clips (in Flash format) is well worth viewing. One might perhaps hope for a less congested offering in the future.

Nitobe Memorial Museum 

A brief introduction to a museum in Towada, Aomori Prefecture, with exhibits of materials related to the life and work of Nitobe Tsutō and, to a lesser extent, his son Jūjirō and grandson Nitobe Inazō. For those interested, Jlit.net now makes available The Annotated Bushido website.

Tokugawa Art Museum

A relatively modest selection of "collection highlights" from the museum's six exhibition rooms, accompanied by decent English explanations. A calendar of special exhibits is also provided. The Japanese version of the site contains complete lists of the exhibits on display in each room of the museum, which is located in Nagoya and calls itself the third-oldest privately endowed museum in Japan (founded in 1935). The museum now owns most of the extant sections of the Genji monogatari emaki (Picture Scroll of the Tale of Genji).

Tokyo National Museum

The TNM Collection offers images of some 600 of the various works of art and decorative art, archeological relics, and other cultural assets from the Tokyo National Museum collection," selectable by type or region. The e-Museum allows users to view high-resolution images of national treasures and important cultural properties. The museum also takes part in the Google Art Project.

Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum

The English home page of the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, founded in 1928. The museum itself -- a repository for a wide variety of theatrical materials from around the world -- is located on the campus of Waseda University in Tokyo, and admission is free. The site contains a brief English introduction to the museum and offers a rather cumbersome search engine for viewing digital versions of holdings.

Waseda University Library Catalog

The searchable online library catalog of Waseda University. Searching is possible by author, subject, title, keyword, and other methods, both in transliterated Japanese and in Western languages (for books written in those languages). A very convenient source of bibliographical data for Japanese publications (even if the English could use polishing). RefWorks citation exporting is available, and Zotero connectors also work.

Aozora Bunko (The Blue Sky [Open Air] Collection)

An extensive and growing collection of downloadable e-texts for modern Japanese authors (up to about 50 years ago). The texts are offered in plaintext and XHTML (sometimes HTML) versions. Software can be downloaded to make the XHTML appear more like actual printed text. A page of links gives the locations of other e-text sites, including those with classical works. The Internet Archive also offers downloadable PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions of 4,000 texts in the Aozora Bunko. The welcome page has a link for searching by by keyword or category, but it is not actually functioning for Aozora Bunko and the regular search box should be used. Try these sites first for texts by prewar modern authors.

Japanese Literature in Translation Search

The Japan Foundation's searchable database of Japanese literary works that have been translated into other languages, mostly after World War II. Searches can be made in either Japanese or romanization, although the site cautions that the list may not be complete.

Japanese Text Initiative

This site, co-sponsored by the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center and the University of Pittsburgh East Asian Library, identifies as its goal "to make texts of classical Japanese literature available on the World Wide Web," although post-Meiji works are also provided. The complete list of texts can be accessed from this page. A total of about 300 texts are on offer. There is also an online Japanese Haiku Topical Dictionary available. A redesign of the site to increase functionality would be helpful.

Japan P.E.N. Club Digital Library

A collection of about 800 e-texts written by members of the Japan P.E.N. Club. The site offers quite a few Japanese texts, arranged in a number of generic and topical categories, but the organization is haphazard and the site is of limited use. The works that have been translated into English can be found here; the quality of translation varies. The English version of the site has not really been updated since it was started in 2001 (the list of presidents is current, but the welcoming message is the one from the president who retired in 2003). The Japanese site promises a "renewal" after the 76th International PEN Congress in 2010, meaning that nothing has changed since that time.

J-Texts

An eclectic selection of e-texts and links to other e-text sites. The focus is on premodern works, especially historical texts and gunki monogatari, but otherwise not easy to characterize. A number of things can be found here that can't be found elsewhere, including texts of Confucian works and Meiji poetry. The collection has been compiled by Kikuchi Shin'ichi of Konan Women's University and Fukasawa Akio of Showa Women's University, whose declared intention is to provide reliable, scholarly texts. Japanese only.

Japanese Book News

Back issues of Japanese Book News, a quarterly journal of information on publication trends published by the Japan Foundation.

Tsubouchi Shōyō's Shōsetsu shinzui (The Essence of the Novel)

A digital version of Nanette Gottlieb's 1983 translation of what is considered the first major example of modern Japanese literary criticism, available from New York University's Faculty Digital Archive.

Tuttle Publishing

Essentially an illustrated catalog of Tuttle publications dealing with various aspects of Asian culture. Readers can order Tuttle books (now published only in Vermont) directly from the site. Kodansha International having closed its doors in April 2011, there are no longer any major Japan-based publishers of English translations of Japanese literature.

Monumenta Nipponica

A site that introduces the contents of the latest issue and contains complete indexes for articles, monographs, and translations, along with an index of book reviews beginning with the Winter 1999 issue.

Akutagawa Ryūnosuke

Akutagawa Ryunosuke's 'The Spider Thread': Translation and Commentary: Pretty much as the link states. A paper that was first published in Edogawa Women's Junior College Journal in 1999.

Kicking giants: A brief introduction with (very) short excerpts from two works.

Oto no Volunteers: Audio versions of eight stories, in Japanese, as recorded by a group of volunteers calling themselves the Hayamimi Net. The MP3 files are freely downloadable.

Wabei Translation: Contains translations of 13 short works by Akutagawa, along with a number by other authors.

Hearn, Lafcadio

Exploring Lafcadio Hearn in Tokyo: Small photographs of several sites in Tokyo related to Hearn, along with a collection of links, a (very) short biography, and a few other items. The last update was in 2002.

Steve Trussel's Lafcadio Hearn Page: A useful single-page site on Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo), with a bulletin board where questions concerning this celebrated interpreter of Japanese culture receive authoritative answers (although it is no longer very active). There is an excellent collection of related links.

Kawabata Yasunari

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1968: The page on Kawabata at the official site of the Nobel Prize.

Yasunari Kawabata: The page on Kawabata at the Author's Calendar site.

Mishima Yukio

Googling will result in a long list of sites on Mishima, most offering the same sort of information. Perhaps the most interesting material in English on the Web are the video clips that have been uploaded to YouTube, links to three of which are provided below:

Interview with Yukio Mishima: A 1969 interview, conducted in English, originally broadcast by a Canadian television station. On YouTube, with a simultaneous transcript provided.

Mishima Yukio Speaking in English: A documentary excerpt uploaded to YouTube in which Mishima discusses the "samurai spirit." It is about nine minutes long.

Yukio Mishima Speaking in English: An audio recording uploaded to YouTube in which Mishima addresses the Foreign Correspondants' Club of Japan in 1966.

Miura Ayako

Miura Ayako Literature Museum:  A Japanese-only page that describes the collections on display at the museum and offers a detailed biographical timeline together with a list of posthumous publications.

The World of Miura Ayako:  A blog originally intended to supplement a website dedicated to Miura, currently (March 2013) being offered as a replacement of sorts by Hokkaido resident "dosankodebbie," who plans eventually to revive the main site.

Mori Ōgai

The Mori Ogai Memorial:  A one-page introduction to a memorial site in a boarding house in Berlin where Ōgai stayed briefly after his arrival in Germany.

The Museum Meiji-Mura:  This site includes a photograph of the house shared (at different times) by both Ōgai and Natsume Sōseki in Tokyo, now relocated to this outstanding open-air architectural museum in Aichi Prefecture. The photograph can be found in the list on this page.

Murakami Haruki

Haruki Murakami Stuff: A Murakami Fan Blog. A blog where the goal is to "post everything related to Murakami." Content is classified into six broad categories, including one featuring clips of all the songs mentioned in Murakami's novels.

How Haruki Murakami's '1Q84' Was Translated Into English: A short interview with Philip Gabriel published in The Atlantic website on October 24, 2011.

The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami: An article on NYTimes.com that appeared after the publication of 1Q84; a print version appeared three days later, on October 24, 2011, in the Sunday Magazine of the New York Times.

List of reviews of books by Haruki Murakami in the New York Times.

Random House maintains a site for Murakami, but it is not exactly user friendly, and the main emphasis -- as only to be expected -- is commercial. Other sites tend to be informal and/or disorganized, although patient clicking can sometimes be rewarded.

Natsume Sōseki

The Eldritch Press Natsume Soseki Home Page: This site contains the complete text of Edwin McClellan's translation of Kokoro (with the permission of Regnery Gateway, which owns the copyright). It can also be downloaded as a ZIP compressed file. Some links are listed, but they date from 2000 and are mostly broken.

The Museum Meiji-Mura: This site includes a photograph of the house shared (at different times) by both Ōgai and Natsume Sōseki in Tokyo, now relocated to this outstanding open-air architectural museum in Aichi Prefecture. The photograph can be found in the list on this page.

The Soseki Museum in London: A site in Japanese devoted primarily to Sōseki's (dismal, according to some) two-year stay in England, with pictures of various artifacts and short explanations attached. Photographs of the lodging houses in which Sōseki stayed are also available. A previously promised English site never materialized, and the Japanese site is marred by a garish and confusing layout. A more inviting, if briefer, introduction to Sōseki's Blue Plaque lodging in London can actually be found at London-Go.com.

Yoshimoto Banana

Yoshimoto Banana Offical Site: The official site of this popular novelist. The English pages contain a good deal less than the Japanese pages in terms of volume and do not appear to have been updated since 2011, but they do include a FAQ where Banana explains, among other things, the origin of her name. Even if you don't read Japanese, you might want to view the Japanese pages to see the extra photographs.