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East Asian Studies

What's a subject guide?

Subject guides are starting points when "Search the Library" isn't enough.

Contact me for personalized help and to make suggestions for this page (really, don't be shy).

Japanese Language Databases

English Language Databases and Collections

Collections of documents and primary materials

NOTE: See "ESIA general resource" tab for other inter/disciplinary sources with Japan/Japanese content.


We have hundreds of Japanese dictionaries (from simple language learning to thematic to historical) in Japanese-only or English-Japanese or other languages. They are catagorised by about 20 subject headings and many call number ranges. Here are some ways to find them. 

Online (library subscription)

Browsing the stacks: 

  • Japanese language is PL 501 - 699 
  • Many dictionaries clustered in PL 650 - 700 (particularly PL 679)
  • Thematic dictionaries in relevant areas (e.g. DS 800-900 Japanese history, NA for architecture, HF for business, GV for sports/recreation, etc)

UAlberta  and NEOS libraries search

(note: with the following searches, be sure to select Databases → university of alberta library (which includes all NEOS).

Japanese-English, English-Japanese

("japanese language" AND (Dictionar* OR "terms and phrases" OR glossar*) AND English) OR ("English language" AND (Dictionar* OR "terms and phrases" OR glossar*) AND Japanese) [in subject terms]

Dictionaries of Japanese, in Japanese

"japanese language dictionaries"  [in SU subject terms] NOT ( english OR chinese OR korean OR portuguese OR russian OR sinhalese OR punjabi OR chinese)

All Japan-related dictionaries in UAlberta and NEOS libraries (almost).

To narrow above search results: 
  • add more AND statements. E.g. idioms, etymology, slang, "ancient chinese", dialects, translat*

Free (out of our control, may contain ads)

Newspapers, Pamphlets, etc

Japan-specific or in Japanese

Audio-visual (music, films, documentaries, etc)

See the Audio & Video subject guide for a variety of streaming film and video sources

DVD / Blu-Ray / VHS

Use terms like "feature films" or "television programs" combined with the country name (e.g. Japan,Tokyo,Yokohama).

Limit results by searching in the subject field (or using DE in Ebsco databases).  

  • "feature films" AND Japan
  • "television programs" AND "Japan"  
  • DE "Feature films" AND Japan


  • DVD region code: Most are Region 1 (Canada and USA). Discs with other region codes require multi-region DVD player.
  • Subtitles: Many have English subtitles - but not all

Transliteration of non-roman scripts

Search tools (catalogues & databases) may search for original language and/or transliteration and/or translations. The results depend on what metadata exists for each item so try a variety of methods and variations. Result lists don't necessarily show the original language until you click into the item record. 

Original language searching:

  • Cut-and-paste (e.g. from internet, bibliography, etc.) 
  • Add input languages to your keyboard language bar

Transliteration searching.

There are many schemes to "transliterate" different languages into the "roman" alphabet so trying several variations is important. Long vowels are the biggest challenge (e.g. o, ou, oo, ō, oh). Search engines often ignore accents and macrons. 

The Library of Congress Romanization tables (see below) are commonly used in library catalogues but older items may use an older scheme. Just some examples: Japanese - revised Hepburn, nihon-shiki, kunrei-shiki; Chinese - Wade-Giles, pinyin; Korean -  Revised Romanization of Korean (RR), McCune-Reischauer (MR), Yale, ISO/TR 11941.

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