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Cambridge University Library holds over 100,000 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. Most research materials in Japanese are housed in the University Library’s Aoi Pavilion, together with the Chinese and Korean collections. English-language secondary sources, language-learning materials, and translations of Japanese-language books may also be found in the University Library's general collections and in the Faculty Library for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the nearby Sidgwick Site. 

Cambridge's collection of early Japanese books and manuscripts is among the largest and finest in Europe. The early Japanese books were collected by Western visitors to Japan, primarily in the late nineteenth century, and most entered the University Library between 1911 and 1913 from the collections of William George Aston, Sir Ernest Mason Satow, and Heinrich von Siebold, all pioneers in the Western study of Japan. The collection attracted the interest of then Crown Prince Hirohito of Japan, when he visited England in 1921, and Hirohito donated hundreds of additional volumes from the Japanese imperial library. In 1937, the library acquired over two hundred volumes from the estate of Sir James Stewart Lockhart. Scholars Nozomu Hayashi and Peter Kornicki published a detailed catalogue of Early Japanese Books in Cambridge University Library in 1991, a digital version of which is included in the Union Catalogue of Early Japanese Books in Europe. The collection continues to attract the interest of scholars in both Europe and Japan, and it supports the teaching of Japanese book studies and early modern Japanese paleography. Selected titles are included in the Cambridge Digital Library.

The collection of modern and contemporary Japanese books began after World War II when Cambridge purchased 13,653 volumes of Japanese books in 1949 and 1950. Those modern Japanese books became the foundation of the Japanese Collections at the University Library. The Japanese collections continue to grow and develop to meet the needs of research and teaching within the University of Cambridge. They may be searched via iDiscover or the UK Union Catalogues of Japanese Books.

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. 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.