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Japanese Collection: Asian Collections at the Library of Congress

Romanization & Search Strategies

Users can search for materials in the Japanese collection by accessing the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

Searching in romanized Japanese

When conducting an initial search with Japanese terms, it is best to use romanized Japanese to ensure the broadest search possible. Some catalog records for materials published prior to 1980 contain only romanized Japanese in their catalog records. In addition, items published prior to 1946 typically include older Chinese character forms (kyūjitai 旧字体), which the online catalog treats as entirely separate characters. For guidelines on romanization standards, please consult the Library's Japanese romanization table.

Notes on variant character forms

Searching in romanized Japanese is also recommended for reasons related to the use of variant character forms.

  • Many catalog records contain traditional Chinese character forms (kyūjitai 旧字体), historical kana usage (kyū kanazukai 旧仮名遣い), or other character variants. The online catalog treats these variants as discrete, non-equivalent entities. Thus, a search using equivalents found in contemporary Japanese orthography will not yield any matches. For example, a search for 文学; will not retrieve records that contain 文學.
  • Due to a lack of Unicode compatibility in the Library's database, only MARC21 characters can be displayed in USMARC records. This means that certain forms of Chinese characters used in records for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (CJK) materials cannot be displayed. For Japanese publications, one of the most problematic examples in this regard is the character 戸, which is used to write Edo 江戸, the former name for Tokyo. Because it is not a valid MARC21 character, all instances of 戸 appear in the Library's catalog as 戶, which is a valid MARC21 equivalent.

For for information on non-MARC21 characters and their MARC21 equivalents, please reference the CJK Compatibility Database.