A Short Tour of JKBooks, an eBook platform from JapanKnowledge

A glimpse of titles available on the JKBooks “Book Shelf” (Hondana) search page

You may have caught our earlier posts outlining some of OSU Libraries’ useful Japanese Studies online databases and archives. In the past, we’ve covered the Maruzen e-Book library and the KinoDen digital library, and described some specific collections including The Oriental Economist Archives and Manchuria Daily News Online.

Here I would like to highlight specifically JapanKnowledge Books, or “JKBooks,” a valuable database with access to a range of corpora dating from antiquity to the present. Presently, our libraries offers access to 11 titles (of the total 13 that are available for sale) to users with OSU credentials. This list is expanding all the time, and just this year, in fact, we have acquired three new titles. (To preview these titles, please use the link here to jump down to our list below.)

As the name suggests, JKBooks is connected to the JapanKnowledge database.  However, in contrast to JapanKnowledge, which contains a lengthy list of reference books — specialized dictionaries, encyclopedia, and yearbooks, for example — JKBooks offers specialized corpora of primary sources.

Three of my favorite JKBook titles are Taiyo (The Sun), a 19th-20th century magazine; the Gunsho Ruiju series, a compilation of manuscripts dated from ancient times to the early modern era; and the ORIENTAL ECONOMIST archives, a monthly English language magazine elucidating economic topics in industrialized, Imperial Japan. This is only a small sampling of the interesting and valuable JK Books collections you can access online!

Incidentally, while JapanKnowledge is a Japanese platform, with Japanese-language materials, English users can easily switch the interface language by clicking the “Eng” button found in the top right of every page (see image):

Screenshot of JKBooks basic search page in Japanese

On the top purple ribbon, you will see a menu leading to three different search pages to help you find the content you need in the database: Basic Search (基本検査), Advanced Search ( 詳細(個別)検査), and Book Shelf (本棚).

Basic Search allows searches on particular words or phrases contained in any of the archived materials. Advanced Search lets you narrow your options a bit, letting you drill down within one or more particular collection(s). And finally, Book Shelf features a user-friendly interface that lays out each particular collection by volume, issue, and/or date of publishing. This may be your best choice if you are interested in a specific series in the database or simply want to browse the publications from cover to cover. The image below shows the “Book Shelf” search options available upon clicking the title The Oriental Economist, in JKBooks’ English-language interface.

Screenshot of JKBooks Book Shelf page featuring The Oriental Economist archive

JK Books is an especially powerful resource for those who need primary sources in the vernacular and for those who are forced to work remotely. There is no shortage of unique perspectives and in-context information hiding in this treasure trove of

Current JKBooks at OSU

  1. Taiyo [Nihon Kindai Bungakukan]
  2. Bungei Kurabu: Meiji-hen [Nihon Kindai Bungakukan]
  3. Kindai sakka genkokushu [Nihon Kindai Bugakukan]*
  4. Fuzoku Gaho
  5. Gunsho Ruiju series
  6. Bijutsu Shinpo*
  7. Toyo Keizai Shimpo / Weekly Toyo Keizai Digital Archives
  8. Jinbutsu Sosho
  9. The ORIENTAL ECONOMIST Digital Archives
  10. Kamakura Ibun
  11. Bungeishunju Archives*

Note: Titles with asterisks (*) denote new databases acquired in academic year 2020-21.

If you have any questions regarding this resource, or any other resource offered for Japanese Studies at the OSU Libraries, please contact Dr. Ann Marie Davis, Japanese Studies Librarian at the Ohio State University: davis.5257@osu.edu.

Notes (and PowerPoint Slides) on Key Japanese e-Resources

In the current pandemic, our electronic resources are more important than ever. With this in mind, last month I collaborated with the Institute of Japanese Studies to offer an online workshop called “Remote Research and Teaching: Japanese E-Resources at OSU Libraries.

Now that the event is behind us (and I’ve had a chance to catch my breath!), I’d like to share the slides from the workshop here: https://go.osu.edu/2020DavisIJSWorkshop

Collage of eResources Slides

Preview of the eResources Slides from Fall 2020 IJS Workshop.
Available online at go.osu.edu/2020DavisIJSWorkshop

What do these slides cover? The following are some of the key resources (with relevant links and blogs) that were discussed at the workshop:

  • The KinoDen Digital Library for Japanese e-books (A new platform that we wrote about in a recent blog here);
  • The Maruzen eBook Library (An even newer platform that we wrote about in the blog here);
  • The Japan Knowledge database, a major reference collection including dozens of top-rated dictionaries, encyclopedias, an economic weekly journal, some of the most important classics in Japanese Studies, maps, and more.
  • JKBooks, an electronic book platform that provides full-text access to various collections of historic publications containing specialized content.

Please be aware that most of these e-Resources are available to OSU users with login credentials through our University Libraries catalog.

For questions about any of these materials, please contact me, Ann Marie Davis, Japanese Studies Librarian, at davis.5257@osu.edu.

For our next blog, we hope to tell you more about JKBooks, one of the key e-Resources mentioned above.  Until then, please stay safe and stay tuned!

Credit: Many thanks to Nicholas Castle (Class of 2021), OSU Libraries student worker, for drafting this blog.

Maruzen eBook Library (MeL) Now on Trial at OSU Libraries

Update (posted September 1, 2020): Following the trial period described in this blog, OSU Libraries made the decision to permanently adopt the Maruzen eBook Library (MeL) platform, which can be accessed now at: https://library.ohio-state.edu/record=e1002576~S7. Continue reading for details on how to use this helpful new e-resource!

In an effort to increase the list of e-resources for research and teaching in Japanese Studies, we have set up an Extended Trial Reading Agreement for the Maruzen eBook Library (MeL), which will last until the end of May.  During this trial period, OSU users will be able to access over 56,000 Japanese ebook titles.

Also during this trial period, unlimited concurrent user access is possible, but printing and downloading are not. If you have specific printing and downloading needs – or any questions whatsoever about Japanese language e-resources –  please contact me, Ann Marie Davis, the Japanese Studies Librarian at OSU, at davis.5257@osu.edu

To get started using this online platform, click the link in the OSU catalog here: 


For tips on how to search for books in MeL and use the various platform functions, please refer to the Maruzen eBook Library cheatsheet.

If you see something you’d like to consider purchasing, please feel free to e-mail me. If you need MeL materials for your teaching or research projects, you can also fill out this form for eBook purchases, which goes straight to our OSU Library acquisitions office: 





Introducing KinoDen, a New Online Digital Library of Japanese e-Books

With the new stay-at-home orders of COVID-19, many of us are wondering how we can access the materials we need to continue teaching and studying?  It’s a difficult situation, but the platform KinoDen can help. This new resource offers a brand new library of Japanese e-books that we can now access from the comfort of our homes.

What is KinoDen?

KinoDen is the name of a digital library service that was launched in 2018 by Books Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookstore based in Tokyo. OSU users logging on to KinoDen will find the following user interface (picture below) allowing them to browse, read, and request new titles from a growing selection of thousands of e-books. 

Image of the KinoDen home page now available through OSU Libraries

KinoDen e-books can be read online through a web app called bREADER for smartphones, tablets, and PCs. This app offers useful features such as a bookshelf, highlighter, note-taking function, and more.  OSU Libraries has already purchased a number of KinoDen titles and has plans to purchase many more in the coming weeks.  Once you log on to KinoDen platform, you can browse the titles by clicking “検索.” and then checking out the list as categorized, under various subject headings on the left-hand column.  By clicking the  button “未所蔵を含める” (in the upper left corner of the page), users can view the list of titles that OSU has already purchased and are available now in full-text format.

Returning to the larger list of all available titles (by un-clicking the button “未所蔵を含める”) , OSU users will also have the option to request additional titles for the bREADER. If there is a particular book you would like to access in full-text, please click on the title of the desired book, and then click on the button “購入をリクエスト,” which should be visible on the right-hand side of the page. This will activate a short form for users to fill in order to put in their purchase request to Kinokuniya Books and our Library. (If all else fails, and you’d like to follow up on a book title, please don’t hesitate to contact our Japanese Studies Librarian, Dr. Ann Marie Davis, at davis.5257@osu.edu.)

If you would like more information about how to use this resource, please check out this video, which offers a useful guide to newcomers to KinoDen.  Students and scholars who need Japanese-language books should feel welcome to take advantage of this new platform and suggest titles to add to our growing collection of e-books. 

To view KinoDen on the OSU catalog, please click here.

Still have questions or suggestions? Please contact Japanese Studies Librarian, Dr. Ann Marie Davis at davis.5257@osu.edu.

Temperance in Tokyo – Unique Woodblock Prints from the Early Japanese Women’s Rights Movement

Following the Meiji Restoration (1868) and the new policies of modernization (kindaika) and Westernization (seiyōka), Japan began to import much more than material goods from the Western imperial powers. New concepts and ideologies soon made their way across the Pacific and freely entered the once “closed country.”   Riding this wave were Christian values and models of Western feminism, which in part were proselytized by the American teacher and temperance crusader Mary Greenleaf Clement Leavitt (1830-1912).

Title: “Inshu no Nariyuki.” Meiji Woodblock Print Leaves, Illustrated by Sasaki Toyoju.
Collection number SPEC.RARE.MMS.0127.
Counterclockwise: Angled view of the six prints, detail of a jovial tavern scene, drunken disorderly conduct from the main character confronting a Native American man, drunken disheveled main character robbing a man by the roadside

Inspired by Christian sermons about the destructive nature of alcohol,  Leavitt  helped found the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in New York and Ohio in 1873.  Soon thereafter, her global crusade  led her as far as Japan and other countries including New Zealand, Burma, India, and Turkey, where female allies launched new chapters of the World WCTU.  Tired of the ill effects of alcohol on their domestic lives, women worldwide were drawn to the message of temperance and created an unprecedented transnational movement “for God, home and country.”

Continue reading

Distinctive Materials in History of Science – Donated by Dr. James Bartholomew

The Ohio State University Libraries have been fortunate to receive various donations over the years. The Japanese Studies collection is no different, having recently received a unique donation from Dr. James Bartholomew, an Emeritus Professor of History and specialist of modern Japan. During his career, Professor Bartholomew conducted research in the History of Science, Medicine, Higher Education, and Japanese Business. His recent donation manifests the tremendous knowledge he garnered over the course of his career.

Related to Professor Bartholomew’s research, one of the most fascinating topics in modern Japanese history is the so-called “opening” of Japan (or kaikoku) in the mid-nineteenth century. In the final decades of the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), various foreign powers, including the United States, Great Britain, France, and Russia, were making overtures to Japan to open its borders to expanded trade and foreign diplomacy. Throughout much of the Tokugawa period, Japan had had very limited relations with a small number of foreign countries. In the 1850s, the question of whether to open Japan to Western trade was becoming increasingly pressing for two main reasons: Western powers were threatening military action to open Japan’s ports, and many Japanese were anxious to learn about Western military technologies.

Continue reading

Announcing the Thomas Gregory Song Research Fellowship, Spring 2020


The Ohio State University Libraries is pleased to announce the Thomas Gregory Song Research Fellowship for an independent research project that makes substantial on-site use of the Thomas Gregory Song (TGS) Papers in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library (https://library.osu.edu/collections/ SPEC.RARE.0195/collection-inventory). Written predominantly in Japanese and English (with some documents in Korean), the TGS Papers include Song family genealogical records; personal photographs from Song’s childhood; an Oral History Interview; over 2300 blog posts; and personal correspondence, journals, and essays. The TGS Papers shed significant light on topics of World History, East Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, Asian diaspora, migration, and gender and sexuality studies. 

Applications are due by on Dec. 15, 2019 at 5:00pm.

Continue reading

Night Parade of One Hundred Demons: Kyōsai’s Hyakki Gadan Now at OSU Libraries

Japanese Studies invites you to learn about the mythology and artistic culture of Meiji Japan (1868-1912) through the newly acquired Kyōsai Hyakki Gadan (暁斎百鬼画談), a color woodblock print by eccentric painter and manga forerunner, Kawanabe Kyōsai (河鍋 暁斎, 1831-1889). The long, accordion book (orihon) depicts a parade of all manner of weird and wicked yōkai (妖怪), spirits and demons from Japanese mythology. This particular scene is evocative of the hyakki yagyō (百鬼夜行) idiom, a historic theme in Japanese visual representation wherein a procession of legendary creatures sets foot upon the communities of mortal men and women.

For more information about this new acquisition, please check out the full article on our Manga Blog at OSU Libraries, available here: https://library.osu.edu/site/manga/2019/10/02/night-parade-of-one-hundred-demons-kyosais-hyakki-gadan-now-at-osu-libraries/

New Acquisition: Day of the Western Sunrise — Film and Educator’s Toolkit

We are thrilled to announce the recent acquisition of the award-winning film, Day of the Western Sunrise, a powerful new resource for researchers and instructors of international studies, global and Japanese history, environmental studies, peace studies, atomic studies, and more! While the film is an excellent resource in its own right, it comes accompanied by an educator toolkit designed specifically for instructors of college and secondary education. 

Partnering with OSU’s East Asian Studies Center, we are equally excited to hold a viewing of this film, preceded by comments from the film’s writer, director, and producer Keith Reimink, at Hagerty Hall, Room 180, on the main campus. This event will take place on September 28, 2019 from 10:00am to 12:30pm.  For more details please visit https://easc.osu.edu/events/easc/sept28-film.


Day of the Western Sunrise Documentary Trailer from DALIBORKAfilms

The film covers the terrible consequences of a US hydrogen bomb test on the Bikini Atoll, which contaminated a Japanese fishing boat called the Lucky Dragon Five (Daigo Fukuryū Maru, 第五福龍丸) on March 1954.  The affair also saw the contamination of all 23 fishermen on board, each of whom subsequently suffered Acute Radiation Syndrom (ARS) in the aftermath. After living for months under observation and quarantine, all of the men recovered except for the boat’s chief radioman, Aikichi Kuboyama, 40, who died on September 23, 1954.  

The incident received media coverage throughout Japan and around the world, as startled onlookers awaited to learn the fate of fishermen who suffered from “atomic bomb disease,” as it was then known. Later that year, the legendary film Godzilla  (Gojiraゴジラ)  was released by Toho films, inspired in part by the terrible incident.  Although he had set out to make a conventional monster film, the screenwriter, Ishirō Honda, explained that after hearing about it, he “took the characteristics of an atomic bomb and applied them to Godzilla” (quoted by Ropeik, 2018).

A still from the animated documentary, Day of the Western Sunrise, about 23 crew members of a fishing boat, who survived the atomic bomb test in the Bikini Atoll in 1954. (DALIBORKAfilms)

Keith Reimink, director and producer of the Day of the Western Sunrise, documents the ways in which nuclear technology changed the lives of the young men who were caught in the blast radius. His film captures rare oral interviews with remaining survivors as they near the end of their lives. His film juxtapositions these intimate interviews with handcrafted animations inspired by the famous kamishibai, or ‘paper theater,’ style of Japanese storytelling.


Film and Educator Toolkit: 

Day of the Western Sunrise: Daigo Fukuryū Maru = Nishi kara nobotta taiyō (Day of the Western Sunrise: 第五福竜丸 = 西から昇った太陽) , written and directed by Keith Reimink (Pittsburgh: Daliborka Films LLC, 2018)


Related Upcoming Lecture:

Bill Tsutsui Lecture — “Beyond the Man in the Rubber Suit: Godzilla, Postwar Japan, and the Global Imagination,” sponsored by EASC and OSU Libraries. (November 19, 2019)


Select sources at Ohio State on the Lucky Dragon, Bikini Atoll, and the atomic bomb:

Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World by Ferenc Morton Szasz (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2012)

Daigo Fukuryū Maru (第五福竜丸), written by Yasutarō Yagi (八木保太郎), directed by Kaneto Shindō (新藤兼人) (Tokyo: Asmik Ace Entertainment, 2001)

The Day the Sun Rose in the West: Bikini, The Lucky Dragon, and I by Oishi Matashichi (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2011)

Deleuze, Japanese Cinema, and the Atom Bomb: the Spectre of Impossibility by David Deamer (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014)

Human Face of the Pacific, The Marshall Islands: Living with the Bomb, directed by Dennis O’Rourke and Tim Litchfield (Canberra: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, 1983)

Narrative as Counter-Memory: A Half-Century of Postwar Writing in Germany and Japan by Reiko Tachibana (New York: State University of New York Press, 1998)

“U.S. Military Tests Nuclear Weapons at Bikini Atoll ca. 1946” (WPA Film Library, 1946)


Online Sources:

How the unlucky Lucky Dragon birthed an era of nuclear fear” by David Ropeik (Chicago: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 28, 2018)

“Gojira vs. Godzilla: Two nuclear narratives in one monster” by Lovely Umayam (Medium.com) Note: “This piece was written by Sayaka, a student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and published on Bombshelltoe on March 3, 2013.”

Japanese Monsters, Ghosts, and Spirits: Mythical Yōkai (妖怪) at OSU Libraries

An example of a colorful three-panel woodblock print of Japanese spirits and demons from the book Yōkai: Strange Beasts & Weird Spectres — 100 Japanese Triptychs (pages 56-57)

In Japanese folklore, yōkai (妖怪) refers to legendary ghosts, monsters, and spirits.  Rooted in Japanese animism, ancient Japanese religion, and the providence of nature, these mythical creatures are attributed with strange behaviors to explain the otherwise mysterious phenomena encountered in ancient life. Shedding light on the meaning of this word, the two kanji for yōkai, mean “attractive, bewitching” (妖)  and “mystery, wonder” (怪) respectively.  Because of their connection to human nature, yōkai were often depicted as strange embodiments of ordinary individuals or creatures — some resembling humans, for example, with altered features such as a long neck or three eyes.  Others looked like strange animals, plants, insects, or household goods. 

Continue reading

« Older posts