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Japanese Studies

Welcome to the UCLA Library Guide for Japanese Studies. This guide presents both introductory and in-depth information for Japan-related research.


The Japanese Rare Materials collection here at UCLA is extensive and spans a wide breadth of material types and subjects. Subjects span very broadly from biomedical histories, to kabuki theater, to Buddhism and more. The core part of the Japanese rare materials were acquired from 1949 through the 1960s by two scholars of Chinese Archaeology and Japanese/Tibetan Buddhism, Dr. Richard C. Rudolph and Rev. Enshō Ashikaga, who established the UCLA Department of Oriental Languages in 1948, later named as Asian Languages and Cultures. 

These materials are held between East Asian Library (EAL) and Library Special Collections (LSC). The Suzuki Catalog is a thorough catalog of UCLA's Japanese rare materials, listing 1,305 titles in 4,022 volumes, of which LSC holds 199 titles in 815 volumes or roughly 15% of the titles. The rest are held in EAL but deposited as non-circulating materials in the Southern Regional Library Facility/SRLF, UCLA's off-site library facility. The Events Archive page has examples of the kind of rare materials that are held and used today.

  • Please follow the "How to use Aeon" slide below to access those held in LSC (record sample 1, sample 2).
  • Please contact the Young Research Library Circulation Desk in-person or by email ( to request the item you find in the UC Library Search shown as below (sample). You will be notified when your requested item is available to access in the East Asian Library Reading Room.
 Available SRLF Non-Circ Request at UCLA YRL Circulation Desk

Notable Collections

Julian C. Wright Collection

This is a gift collection donated to the UCLA Library in 1978 by Julian C. Wright (1904-1978), a collector and public school teacher in Los Angeles. Consisting largely of fine arts manuscripts and prints of 650 titles in ca.1,600 volumes, of which 456 titles are Japanese works, it enhances the Rudolph-Enshō Japanese Rare Materials collection by adding many illustrated works from the Edo period Japan.

Click here to view the Julian C. Wright Collection in UC Library Search

Kamigata Kabuki Banzuke 上方歌舞伎番付: Woodblock Print Playbills from Western Japan

Kabuki, a classical form of Japanese performing arts, was developed in the cities of Edo (Tokyo) and Kamigata (Osaka and Kyoto), and performed also in several other cities in early modern Japan. It became one of the most popular theatrical entertainments from the seventeenth through the late nineteenth centuries. Posters and programs for kabuki performances called "banzuke'' were printed in woodblock: such as "tsuji-banzuke," posters, "yakuwari banzuke," cast lists, and "ehon banzuke," illustrated scenes. The third type was also called "ezukushi" in Kamigata.

The kabuki banzuke collection held at the UCLA Library consists of 101 bound sets of yakuwari banzuke and ezukushi from the Kamigata theaters. Eighteen out of these 101 sets are bound each with two to four mismatched banzuke prints, with a few fragmentary ones. Including the fragmentary and mismatched banzuke prints, this banzuke collection documents a total of 125 kabuki plays performed at the Kamigata theaters during a period of nearly one hundred years from the Kansei era (1789-1801) to Meiji 10 (1877). Most of the sets retain the original colored covers dyed with stencils called "kappazuri," a dyeing technique unique to the Kamigata region.

It is believed to have been acquired for the UCLA Library between the 1950s and the 1960s by Dr. Richard C. Rudolph, UCLA professor of Chinese Literature and Archaeology and the first chair of the UCLA Department of Oriental Languages (now the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures).

View digitized at UC Calisphere

See also 青木亜里砂「カリフォルニア大学ロサンゼルス校図書館所蔵上方歌舞伎番付調査報告」 in 『演劇映像 58号』(2017).


The Toganoo Collection 栂尾文庫

The Toganoo Collection (栂尾文庫) was a private library of Shōun Toganoo (栂尾祥雲), the first library director and the fifth president of Koyasan University, specialized in Shingon Buddhism and established as a monastic school for Shingon Buddhist priests in Mount Koya, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. Shōun, a Shingon priest and scholar originally from Kagawa Prefecture, was also the second director of the Institute of Esoteric Culture, a research institute in Koyasan. The collection was purchased by the UCLA Library in 1962.

The entire collection consists of nearly 340 titles in 1,000 volumes of modern and premodern (pre-1868) Buddhist materials including two mandala manuscript scrolls. The premodern collection (115 titles in 333 volumes) contains prints and manuscripts from the 14th to the 19th centuries on both exoteric and esoteric traditions. A selection of sixty-six manuscripts from the collection were reproduced in a 13-volume set, The Toganoo Collection of Exoteric and Esoteric Works Kept in the University of California 栂尾コレクション顕密典籍文書集成 (Hirakawa Shuppansha, 1981). The premodern titles are included in Dr. Jun Suzuki’s catalog, Catalog of Rare Japanese Materials at the University of California, Los Angeles カリフォルニア大学所蔵栂尾コレクション顕密典籍文書集成 (Tōsui Shobō, 2000).

Click here to view the Toganoo Collection in UC Library Search.

View some digitized at UCLA Digital Library

See also 幾浦裕之「栂尾祥雲の蔵書について:UCLA栂尾コレクションと『栂尾蔵書目録』との関係から」in 『寺院文献資料学の新展開 第一巻 覚城院資料の調査と研究I』(臨川書院, 2019).

Wahon 和本 Literacies: A Collection of Books for the Study of Japanese Book History

The Wahon Literacies collection comprises a selection of 23 titles from UCLA’s collection of premodern Japanese books, in 81 volumes including three duplicate titles which demonstrate variations in coloration, provenance, and marginalia between copies. These books were selected initially for a hands-on workshop on wahon (Japanese premodern books) taught at UCLA in 2015 by Takashi Nakajima 中嶋隆, specialized in Saikaku Ihara (1642-1693) and Professor of Literature at Waseda University. 

This selection introduces many of the key bibliographic terminology to understand the physical characteristics of wahon. Printed in various parts of Japan, including Kyōto, Ōsaka, Mount Kōya, Ise, Yokohama, and Edo (Tōkyō) from 1627 to 1868, it offers a glimpse into a world of wahon during the early modern Japan. Different types of printing, binding, publishing, and genre are included in the selection, such as 古活字版  (kokatsujiban), 木活字版 (mokkatsujiban], 銅版 (dōban), 画帖装 (gajōsō), 巻子本 (kansubon), 求板本 (kyūhanbon), 重刻本 (jūkokubon), 浮世草子(ukiyo-zōshi), and 草双紙 (kusazōshi). This wahon collection illustrates a wide range of publishing culture of the Edo period when the publishing industry first flourished in Japan.

View digitized at UC Digital Library.