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Japanese Collection: Asian Collections at the Library of Congress

Rare Books & Manuscripts

Rare Materials Notice: The Japanese Rare Book Collection contains rare books, manuscripts, and other unique items that are only accessible in the Asian Reading Room by advance appointment. To schedule an appointment, contact reference staff through Ask a Librarian. Researchers should review the Asian Division's Rare Book Policy prior to their appointment.

The Japanese Rare Book Collection in the Asian Division at the Library of Congress comprises some 6,000 titles, all of which are accessible in the Asian Reading Room. Titles range across a variety of subjects, including art, geography, history, literature, mathematics, religion, and the sciences. The majority of these items are books, but the collection also features atlases, music scores, manuscripts, and three-dimensional objects.

A growing number of Japanese rare books are accessible online. Please see this guide's Digital Collections page for more information.

Rare Japanese materials can also be found in the collections of the Geography and Map Division, the Law Library, the Prints and Photographs Division, and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Searching the Japanese Rare Book Collection

As described on this guide's Romanization and Search Strategies page, we recommend searching for materials in romanized Japanese. For guidelines on romanization standards, please consult the Library’s Japanese romanization table.

Targeted searching and use of wildcards
In principle, all catalog records for Japanese rare items contain the added entry "Japanese Rare Book Collection (Library of Congress)", as well as the metadata tag "JARB". To perform a targeted search limited to items in the rare book collection, simply add JARB to a basic keyword search. For more complex or detailed searches the Advanced Search feature is helpful; but usually a simple search that uses the JARB tag will suffice. Using a single-character wildcard (%) or multiple-character wildcard (?) can help make your search more effective, as demonstrated below.

Searches might include names of specific works, authors, or topics in Japanese. All catalogued items have been assigned Library of Congress subject headings in English, so it is also possible to search by combining JARB with a subject term in English. Below are some examples of these types of searches.