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 literature tends to be high, so the links can be expected to break from time to time.

 

Behold My Swarthy Face

A blog by Ryan Shaldjian Morrison (aka Swarthyface) dealing with a wide range of authors, genres, and literary works. Video commentaries, recitations, and study guides form the bulk of the content on offer. Morrison, a lecturer at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, also has a Twitter feed.

Japanese Literature Publishing Project

The Japanese Literature Publishing Project (JLPP), established by the Agency of Cultural Affairs of Japan in 2002, "promotes a global appreciation of contemporary Japanese literature by hosting translation competitions in a variety of languages, along with translation workshops and symposiums." As of 2020, the English Program has resulted in the publication of 72 titles and counting. Six other target languages are involved: French, German, Russian, Turkish, Portugese, and Indonesian. The only real information available in English consists of the lists of works selected for translation, introductions to the translators, and a downloadable catalog of the titles published in English under the project's supervision. The agency's irregularly held translation competitions are also announced here (the sixth is underway in the second half of 2020). A somewhat disappointing public front for this project.

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 downloaded directly from this link.

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 the site has long been inactive.

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. The editor added a headnote in 2013, but 2009 (or, on another page, 2006) is the last revision date mentioned; likewise, a separate page with an alphabetical listing of translations by author appears to have stalled in 2001.

WakaPoetry.net

A site that began as a project by students and staff at the University of Sheffield as part of the Japan 2001 Festival in Great Britain. Originally aiming to build a collection of 2001 classical Japanese waka in translation (nine major collections of classical poetry are represented), the site now contains more than 5,600 translations, making it "the largest resource of translated classical Japanese poetry on the web." The sheer size, together with the blogging-software site construction, makes for some unwieldiness; perhaps a redesign might be undertaken before the task becomes too daunting.

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 Libraries: Japanese Studies

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-language home page of the central institution for Japanese studies in Japan. The Center 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, holdings of Japanese art in foreign collections, all of the waka contained in the 21 imperial collections of poetry (no annotations), and many others, although actually finding things can be a bit of a chore and ultimately requires Japanese-language ability.

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. The site cannot really be called user-friendly, but links to Japanese Book News (through 2016) and the Japanese Literature in Translation Search database -- for literary works translated into other languages mostly after World War II -- are available on this page.

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

In 2014 this organization initiated a "Project to Build an International Collaborative Research Network for Pre-modern Japanese Texts (NIJL-NW project),” consisting of a database that is eventually meant to include "about 300 thousand of the 500 thousand items listed in the 'Kokusho Somokuroku' (General Catalogue of Japanese Writings published by Iwanami Shoten)." This English-language page offers access to a number of databases, mostly in Japanese, including the Database of Pre-Modern Japanese Works (which does support romanized search terms), 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). Somewhat easier to use than in the past, navigating the site nevertheless requires persistence, and a thorough restructuring is in order before the site can deliver on its true potential.

Libraries, museums, theaters, and other resources

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; navigation can become rather confusing. Still, an extraordinary source of information.

Japanese Historical Map Collection

A digitized collection of over 1,900 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, although "advanced software functionality" can be obtained by installing a dated (and by now insecure) Java-based browser available for download from the site, which has not been updated since 2014. The quality of the images is excellent, but navigation and viewing are troublesome and not very intuitive.

Kabuki Official Website

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 useful, if basic, introductions to various aspects of this performing art.

Kyoto National Museum

A relatively well-developed English-language site, the highlight of which is a set of searchable databases providing access to thousands of images of important objects held by the Kyoto National Museum and several other museums (some information is unfortunately available only in Japanese).

National Diet Library Digital Collections

A total of over 500,000 items from the library's holdings are available for viewing online in more than a dozen different "collections," including over 350,000 books obtained by the library up to 1968 (i.e., for which the copyright has expired). Pages can be printed out in PDF form in 10-page increments. An English search function exists, but it is pretty useless unless the viewer can read Japanese. This is an exceptional online resource for those able to use it.

National Theatre of Japan

One of a set of theater-related sites managed by the Japan Arts Council offering extensive introductions in English to the traditional performing arts of No and Kyogen, Bunraku, and Kabuki. The selection of short video clips provided in each genre is well worth viewing.

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 has a page at Google Arts & Culture.

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 collection is searchable through the Waseda University Cultural Resource Database (switch the language to English).

Waseda University Library Catalog

The online library catalog of Waseda University, searchable through Primo Search. A very convenient source of bibliographical data for Japanese publications (even if the English could use polishing). Various citation managers are supported.

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 (in Japanese only) 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 Internet Archive's welcome page allows searching by metadata or text. Try this site first for complete texts by prewar modern authors.

Japanese Literature in Translation Search

The above link will display a page with a link to the search engine for the Japan Foundation's 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. A total of about 300 texts are on offer. The site has begun to show its age, and the collection itself does not seem to be actively updated.

Japan P.E.N. Club Digital Library

A large collection of Japanese e-texts written by members of the Japan P.E.N. Club. The site offers quite a few texts, arranged in a variety of generic and topical categories. The highly streamlined English-language international edition of the library contains translations of thirty stories.

Masaoka Shiki Library Digital Archive

The online database of Shiki holdings at Hosei University in Tokyo. Currently, search terms must be entered to find materials; no browsing function is offered.

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 a search engine for finding past content. Articles are linked to their Project Muse and JSTORE locations.

Hearn, Lafcadio

Steve Trussel's Lafcadio Hearn Page: A 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 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.

Mishima Yukio

Googling will result in a long list of sites on Mishima, most offering the same sort of information. Perhaps the most interesting items 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 Correspondents' Club of Japan in 1966.

Miura Ayako

Miura Ayako Literature Museum:  A Japanese-only site 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 former website dedicated to Miura; the most recent entry dates back to 2012.

Mori Ōgai

The Mori Ogai Memorial Site:  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

How Haruki Murakami's '1Q84' Was Translated Into English: A short interview with Philip Gabriel published on the website of The Atlantic 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.

Alfred A. Knopf maintains a site for Murakami, although (as only to be expected) it is promotional in nature. It also mysteriously resists fast loading in a browser. There are introductions to and excerpts from Murakami's novels to be found, along with interviews and (screened) contributions from the "community" of fans. A "comprehensive archive of all reviews" from 1989 onward turns out to be a list of adulatory blurbs taken from those reviews; the 30 photographs of Tokyo in a gallery "provided by the author" were in fact taken by one Eizo Matsumura and could have been more informatively captioned.

The Underground Worlds of Haruki Murakami: A New Yorker magazine interview by Deborah Treisman from February 2019, adapted from stage conversations held in 2008 and 2018 at the New Yorker Festival.

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.

Yoshimoto Banana

The regularly updated Official Blog of Yoshimoto Banana is available in Japanese. A former "official website" was suspended in 2018 because Yoshimoto wanted to devote less time to activities other than writing novels. This page from the still-existing website contains links to several other sources of current news about Yoshimoto.