Skip to Main Content

Japanese Studies Visual Resources: Getting Started

Visual Index

  1. Japanese Image Websites -- search by format, subject and/or historical period
    Includes architecture, calligraphy, ceramics, folk arts, maps, painting, photographs, posters, prints, scrolls, sculpture.  Freely accessible websites.
  2. Manuscript materials in David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library
    See Duke's collection of reports from missionaries, early British diplomats to Japan, the East India company papers, diaries and letters from merchants and seamen, the Stereographic card collection, 1860-1928, the postcard collection and the Hartman Center advertising collection.  Holdings can be searched through their finding aids
  3. Japanese University Library Digitization Projects
    These are indexed at Ryukyu University.
  4. Japanese Museums
    Japanese Museums, like ones in Europe and the United States, often put images up on their websites.
  5. Manga
  6. Maps
    Historical maps have been digitized by Japanese and North American institutions.

Duke Image Databases

Duke Image Collections


CAMIO (Catalog of Art Museum Images Online)

Saskia Art Slides


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 (Western or Japanese) used in the resources. For information on Japanese calendrical systems, see tab. 

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.

Librarian for Japanese Studies

Matthew Hayes
235 Bostock, Perkins Library

About this Guide

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. Troost, the Japanese Studies Librarian and Head of International and Area Studies at Perkins Library, Duke University.