Freely browsable on the Internet, the Database of Pre-modern Japanese Works is a portal site containing an abundance of bibliographies accumulated by the National Institute of Japanese Literature over many years, as well as a huge variety of images of pre-modern works that have been digitalized by NIJL’s “Project to Build an International Collaborative Research Network for Pre-modern Japanese Texts (NIJL-NW project).”

Thus far, to access the knowledge in pre-modern books, it has been necessary to pay a direct visit to an archive to peruse the books there. With the Database of Pre-modern Japanese Works, however, it has become possible for anyone to access the books from anywhere, anytime.

One of the features of the Database of Pre-modern Japanese Works is called “Work Control.” With pre-modern books, if there are multiple versions, the same work may have differing titles (e.g. “Genji Monogatari,” “Kenshi,” and “Hikaru Genji, or titles where only one part has remained, such as “Kiritsubo” and “Utsusemi”). In addition, even if two books have the same title, they may have different contents (e.g. “Genji Monogatari” written by Murasaki Shikibu and an annotated work of the same book, also titled “Genji Monogatari”).

“Work Control” brings together the bibliographic information for each individual (physical) book in a work unit. This makes it very easy to, for instance, search for books which are the same work but have come down to the present day by a different pathway.

The Database of Pre-modern Japanese Works currently (as of April 2019) contains roughly 600,000 bibliographical information entries, of which nearly 100,000 are linked to image data. The work information brought together for these (600,000 entries) extends to roughly 180,000 entries.

JapanKnowledge has made it possible to search the “work information” in the Database of Pre-modern Japanese Works. Unified titles and differing titles can be searched for by heading search, and the author’s name, classification and year of creation in the work information can be searched for by full-text search. The more detailed information and pre-modern text image data on the open Database of Pre-modern Japanese Works can be directly browsed from a work information search hit on JapanKnowledge.

Contents information

Original books
Original Data Database of Pre-modern Japanese Works
Source National Institute of Japanese Literature
Publication date
Book price
Release date of JK April 10, 2019
Number of entries 174,948 entries
Number of characters
About search
Frequency of update
(as of April 2019)

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