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Japanese Studies in English: A Research Guide: Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Handbooks

Developed and updated by Dan McKee and Michael Engle.

Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and Handbooks

Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan. 9 volumes. New York: Kodansha, 1983-1986.
(Kroch Asia Reference DS 805 .K76 )
"The first comprehensive encyclopedia" about Japan in English. Over 9,000 short entries are contained in the eight-volume encyclopedia, supplemented by a one-volume index. Coverage includes philosophy, history, science, politics, economics, literature and the arts, food and clothing from both a historical and a contemporary perspective. Bibliographies are appended to most of the longer articles. Illustrated with black and white photos, charts, and maps. This was the single most useful print source on Japan for the non-Japanese reader when it was published, and is yet to be replaced with a comparably comprehensive source, although some of the articles (and especially bibliographies) are now somewhat dated.
Cambridge History of Japan. 6 volumes. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988-1999.
(Online version. Print version: Kroch Asia Stacks DS 835 .C17)
v. 1. Ancient Japan / edited by Delmer M. Brown
v. 2. Heian Japan / edited by Donald H. Shively and William H. McCullough
v. 3. Medieval Japan / edited by Kozo Yamamura
v. 4. Early modern Japan / edited by John Whitney Hall
v. 5. The nineteenth century / edited by Marius B. Jansen
v. 6. The twentieth century / edited by Peter Duus.
EIU Country Reports. Economist Intelligence Unit. Monthly updates.
(Online only).
Analysis of current political, policy and economic trends with an 18 month outlook. Quarterly and annual statistics with at least 150 data points picked from reliable sources and reviewed by EIU analysts to provide consistent, objective. and impartial coverage. Equivalent coverage across over 195 countries worldwide. Select Japan from the list.
Embree, Ainslee, ed. Encyclopedia of Asian History. 4 volumes. New York: Scribner, 1988.
(Kroch Asia Reference DS 31 .E56; also Library Annex)
Volume 2 includes a discussion of Japan with a map.
Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture. New York: Routledge, 2001.
(Kroch Asia Reference DS 822.5 .E516x 2001)
Covers Japanese culture from the end of the Japanese Imperialist period in 1945 up to 2000. Entries include shorter definitions, histories, and biographies and longer overview essays.
Frédéric, Louis. Japan Encyclopedia. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.
(Kroch Asia Stacks DS 821 .F73 2002)
Translated from the French into English by Käthe Roth. Alphabetical listing, includes a bibliography for each subject and an index.
Handbook of Japanese Popular Culture. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989.
(Kroch Asia Stacks DS 822.5 .H23; also Library Annex)
Signed essays on major topics in popular culture as of the late 1980s with bibliographies.
Hsu, Robert C. The MIT Encyclopedia of the Japanese Economy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999. 2nd edition.
(Kroch Asia Reference HC 462.9 .H73x 1999)
"The MIT Encyclopedia of the Japanese Economy, which covers all major aspects of Japan's post-war economy, is the most comprehensive English-language encyclopedia currently available. Some 180 topical essays covering banks, financial systems, major industries, corporate groups, management practices, labor unions, international trade and investments, government economic policies, and a host of other important topics are included along with some two hundred short definitional entries giving translations and cross-references for important Japanese economic terms. The overall result is a useful reference for all students and scholars of the Japanese economy." -- From a review by Declan Hayes. Full review.
Hsu, Robert C. Modern Japanese Writers. New York: Scribner, 2001.
(Kroch Asia Stacks Oversize PL 723 .M563x 2001+; Uris Reference PL 723 .M563x 2001)
Essays on the major 20th-century Japanese writers. Part of the reliable Scribners Writers series. Bibliographies of works by and about the authors.
Hunter, Janet. Concise Dictionary of Modern Japanese History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.
(Kroch Asia Reference DS 881.9 .H94)
A handy and basic guide to Japanese history that is organized alphabetically and includes romaji and Japanese characters and recommended reading for most entries. The appendices list era names, emperors, population statistics, political party information, Japanese cabinets, and a helpful glossary.
Keene, Donald. Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era. 2 volumes. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984-1998.
(Volume 1: Kroch Asia Stacks PL 726.55 .K26; Volume 2: Olin Stacks PL 726.55 .K39x 1998)
A history of modern Japanese literature. Volume 1 covers fiction [novels, short stories]. Volume 2 covers poetry, drama, and literary criticism.
Japan: A Country Study. 5th edition. Washington: Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, 1994.
Written by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, this online guide includes a profile of Japan and has chapters on history, society, environment, education, the arts, the character and structure of the economy, international economic relations, the political system, foreign relations, national security, and a lengthy bibliography for each chapter.
For more recent information on politics and the economy of Japan, see EIU Country Reports, above.
Oxford Handbook of Japanese Cinema. New York: Oxford UP, 2014.
(Online version. Print version: Kroch Asia Stacks Oversize PN 1993.5 .J3 O97 2014 +)
"[A]ddresses productive debates about what Japanese cinema is, where Japanese cinema is, as well as what and where Japanese cinema studies is, at the so-called period of crisis of national boundary under globalization and the so-called period of crisis of cinema under digitalization." [Introduction]
Perkins, Dorothy. Encyclopedia of Japan: Japanese History and Culture, from Abacus to Zori. New York: Facts on File, 1991.
(Kroch Asia Reference DS 805 .P44)
An introduction to the history and culture of Japan. An alphabetical listing of major categories, cross references, and a bibliography at the end, with index.
Rimer, J. Thomas. A Reader's Guide to Japanese Literature. New York: Kodansha International, 1988.
(Kroch Asia Stacks PL 715 .R57 R28)
Includes 30 modern works and lists translations.
Sage Handbook of Modern Japanese Studies. Los Angeles: Sage, 2015.
(Online version. Print version: Kroch Asia Stacks Oversize DS 806 .S24 2015 +)
"Japanese studies ... is informed by and has an impact on the range of disciplines, particularly in the social sciences. This Handbook is intended to serve as a major reference work and a seminal text, both rigorous and accessible, in assisting students and scholars in understanding one of the major nations of the world." [Introduction]

Language Dictionaries

Makino, Seiichi and Michio Tsutsui. A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar. Tokyo: Japan Times, 1986.
(Kroch Asia PL 679 .M23
About 200 words and phrases arranged in alphabetical order. Entries include meaning, related expressions, sample sentences, and grammatical notes.
O'Neill, P. G. Japanese Names: A Comprehensive Index by Characters and Readings. New York: Weatherhill, 1972.
(Kroch Asia Reference CS 1301 .O58)
A guide to reading names in Japanese characters. 3,600 characters with readings in part one and 5,000 readings of personal and family names in part two.
Spahn, Mark and Wolfgang Hadamitzky with Kimiko Fujie-Winter. Japanese Character Dictionary with Compound Lookup via any Kanji. Tokyo: Nichigai Associates, 1989.
(Kroch Asia Reference PL 679 .S73)
Takebayashi, Shigeru, ed. Kenkyusha Nichi-Ei jiten = The Kenkyusha Japanese-English Learner's Dictionary. Tokyo: Kenkyusha, 1992.
(Kroch Asia Reference PL 679 .K382x 1992)
Designed for students of modern Japanese. Japanese words are listed by romanized word (romaji), followed by the meaning and usage.