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Cambridge University Library


The Japanese Collections at Cambridge University Library in the Aoi Pavilion include over 100,000 volumes of Japanese books, including around 10,000 early Japanese books. Cambridge uses a unique classification system for East Asian books. The University Library also subscribes to hundreds of Japanese periodicals. The collection mainly supports Japanese studies research and consists of books about Japan that are written in Japanese, Chinese, or Korean. The Japanese collection itself does not actively acquire language textbooks, but readers may use iDiscover to find Japanese language textbooks or dictionaries in the UL or other Cambridge libraries. English-language secondary sources, language-learning materials, and translations of Japanese-language books may be found in the general collections of the UL 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 Catalogue 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

Japanese Section

Cambridge University Library
West Road 

Tel. 01223 333155

Opening hours

Monday to Thursday

9am to 6:50pm (staffed 9am to 5:10pm)


9am to 6:50pm (staffed 9am to 16:50pm)


9am to 4:30pm (not staffed)

No fetching or transfers 12.30pm to 2pm, after 4:45pm (4:30pm Friday), and all day Saturday. Readers wishing to consult non-borrowable items on Saturdays, please order by 3pm on Friday, for transfer to the Manuscripts Reading Room for consultation.