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Japanese Visual Resources: Introduction to Print Sources

Print and electronic resources for Japanese images


The East Asia Collection (EAC) at Duke houses an impressive collection of image resources in print format useful for students, teachers, and librarians of Japan. This guide introduces resources that give visual testimony to the history and experience of modern Japan.

Images include: photographs, photo essays, art work, manga/cartoons and other non-photographic images, hikifuda (advertising handbills), and more. You will find retrospectives recapping periods of modern Japanese history, as well as resources that focus on particular topics, such as women, children, Okinawa, and southeast Asia, and medieval and pre-modern Japan.

This web guide aims to introduce these materials to a larger audience, including users who have only started studying Japanese or don't know Japanese at all. To aid all users, this guide includes notes on the calendrical systems used in the resources. 

This guide has two parts:

1. Main Guide to Japanese Images Resources: Presents vernacular resources found in the EAC, with details on coverage and special features such as indexing and color reproductions. You'll also find some translations of titles, selected chapter headings, and brief excerpts from the resources. Most of these resources were published by newspapers (Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri). In addition to these newspaper image compilations, Perkins Library houses rare periodicals such as Dōmei gurafu (同盟グラフ), and Gahō chūseishi (画報中世史), Gahō kinseishi (画報近世史), and Gahō gendaishi (画報現代史), and one-of-a-kind material from the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, found in David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

2. Guide to Print Resources for Non-Japanese Readers:  Don't know Japanese? Check out the link, "For Non-Japanese Readers." This section highlights some resources from the Main Guide that will be more accessible to those who cannot read Japanese. While you won't be able to read the text, you may find these resources to be usable in your classes or personal study because their captions include Western calendar years.

* Image source: Japanese Soldiers Conveying Injured Enlistee, 1943; rom Gahō gendaishi, v.1, p. 129.

Print compilations of images

This main section includes resources on Japan in general, on particular groups such as women and children, and on particular regions such as Okinawa and southeast Asia under Japanese colonial power. There are also collections of illustrated (non-photographic) resources, specifically manga (cartoons/comics)and hikifuda (advertising handbills).

The last note in each description indicates the calendrical systems used in the resources.

These have been grouped into 5 categories: Single-volume Resources, Multi-volume Resources, War-related Resources, Illustrated (non-photographic) Resources, and Periodical Resources.

*Image source: Barefoot students on their way to school, 1946; from Gahō gendaishi, vol. 1, p. 201.


This Web Guide to Japanese Image Resources at Duke was created by Alison Raab, an MSLS student at the School of Information and Library Science, at UNC Chapel Hill. It was created as a project for JPN 291, Japanese Studies Research Methods, taught at Duke University by Dr. Kristina Troost, the Japanese Studies Librarian and Head of International and Area Studies at Perkins Library, Duke.

Finding Print Sources

Prewar magazines

Front (Tokyo, Japan)
Propaganda periodical from World War II (1942-45). See table of contents for box contents.

Originally published quarterly by Nippon Kobo, 1934-1944. Text in English, French, German, and Spanish.

Books on exhibitions

Divided into two parts: the view of the other (including aborigines) and exhibitions in Taiwan, Korea and Manchuria.

図說万国博覧会史 : 1851-1942  21 exhibitions in the US and Western Europe between 1851 and 1940

昭和期美術展覧会の研究. 戦前篇