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Cambridge University Library is one of the five major Japanese library collections in Britain. The collections at Cambridge started in the late 1940s. There are just under 90,000 volumes of Japanese books, including around 10,000 early Japanese books and a substantial number of bound periodicals, at the University Library. The University Library also subscribes to about 380 current titles of Japanese periodicals. All Japanese language publications are housed at the University Library’s Aoi Pavilion, together with the Chinese and Korean collections.

Most of the early books were collected by Ernest Satow (a diplomat who was a pioneer of Japanese studies) just after the Meiji Restoration (1868), which was the beginning of Japan’s modern period. Eventually, those books were transferred to his colleague, W.G. Aston. When Aston, who was another pioneer of Japanese studies, died in 1911, Cambridge acquired his collection. At the same time, Satow added some more of his remaining books to Cambridge’s collection. The modern Japanese books were purchased in Japan a few years after World War II. Cambridge purchased Japanese books, and acquired 13,653 volumes in 1949 and 1950. Those modern Japanese books became the foundation of the Japanese Collections at the University Library.

The Maruzen Corporation donated a major collection of microfilm that reproduces some 110,000 titles (160,000 volumes) of Japanese books published between 1868 and 1912 on approximately 15,000 16 mm reels. Online cataloguing is not yet complete for this collection, but a 25 volume print catalogue with reel numbers for individual titles may be found in the East Asian Reading Room at FD.20:16.1-25. A subset of these titles has been made available online via the National Diet Library Digital Collections.

Contact us

Dr Kristin H. Williams
Head of Japanese Section

Mrs Aki Bingley
Library Assistant for Japanese Section

Cambridge University Library
West Road 

Tel. 01223 333155

Opening hours


9:00-18:50 (staffed 9:00-17:10)


9:00-18:50 (staffed 9:00-16:50)


9:00-16:30 (not staffed)

No fetching or transferring of items between 12.30 and 14.00 and after 17.00 (after 16.45 on Fridays). No fetching or transferring of items Saturdays. On Saturdays non-borrowable items can be consulted in the Manuscripts Reading Room.