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 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 Foundation for the Advancement of Juvenile Education in Japan, mostly promotional in nature but also providing synopses and author profiles for hundreds of books, lists of literary-prize winners, and biographical information on some 70 contemporary Japanese writers.

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 55 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 list of the titles published in English under the project's supervision. The agency's irregularly held translation competition is also announced here (three have been held as of 2018). 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 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 that seems to have stalled in 2001 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 primary value of the site lies in the availability of a downloadable version of "The Practical Guide to Publishing in Japan 2014-2015," a source of detailed advice about obtaining, publishing, and translating Japanese books; otherwise, activity in English is nonexistent.

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 5,000 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 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, holdings of Japanese art in foreign collections, 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 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

This organization has recently (2014) 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 intended 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 Japanese-language page offers access 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). However, navigating the site requires a certain tenacity, and a thorough restructuring is in order before the site can fulfill 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, 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 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 also available.

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 user 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 video clips (in Flash format, unfortunately) is well worth viewing. One might perhaps hope for a less congested offering in the future.

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.

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 (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 has a link for searching 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 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 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 recently (highly) streamlined English-language international edition of the library contains translations of thirty stories.

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.

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. There used to be more available online.

Akutagawa Ryūnosuke

Oto no Volunteers: Audio versions of 11 stories, in Japanese, as recorded by a group of volunteers calling themselves the Hayamimi Net. The MP3 files are freely downloadable.

Hearn, Lafcadio

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 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 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.

Alfred A. Knopf maintains a site for Murakami, although (as only to be expected) it is promotional in nature. It also mysteriously resists easy 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.

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.

English Heritage has a short page on the Blue Plaque erected in London at the site of Sōseki's lodging house in Clapham. The Soseki Museum in London formerly had a website with photographs of other lodging houses, but the museum closed its doors in 2017 due to a lack of visitors.

Yoshimoto Banana

The regularly updated Official Blog of Yoshimoto Banana is available in Japanese. A former "official website" was suspended in 2018 because Yoshimoto now considers herself to be semiretired as a novelist. This page from the site contains links to several other sources of current news about Yoshimoto.