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Searching Japanese Databases and Catalogs: Articles

This guide features important general and subject-specific Japanese databases and catalogs that allow you to search for articles, books, and other research materials in Japan and the United States.


Searching for articles published in Japan can be challenging, and involve the use of multiple databases. Moreover, it is difficult to find journals with electronic access. However, more and more university and research group publications are coming online as open access resources, and it's possible to obtain more research that is freely available online. Other databases can direct you to where to find articles in print, both historical sources and contemporary research.

Getting Print Articles

You can get print articles held by other libraries in North America and Japan through InterLibrary Loan (ILL). To order articles through InterLibrary Loan, go to Penn Libraries' Document Delivery homepage. They will be scanned and delivered to you as a PDF. Penn has joined the Global ILL Framework Project, an agreement with Japanese universities to facilitate access to books and articles via ILL. Simply request Japanese articles the same way you would an English article, entering it in roman characters with no diacritics in the form, and note in the comment box if it's only held by Japanese libraries.

If you need an article or chapter from an item in LIBRA offsite storage at Penn, there's usually no need for you to recall the book and photocopy it yourself. From the item's Franklin page, click "Request it (PennKey)" and choose the option to get an article or book chapter from LIBRA. Fill out the form in roman characters with no diacritics and be sure to supply the full citation information so staff at LIBRA can find your article. It will be delivered to you as a PDF.

MagazinePlus Functions

MagazinePlus has the ability to browse journals, look at the most recent article citations posted, and also aggregate the detailed views of your search results into one window that can be exported into a file. To export your citations in TSV, CSV, or BibTex format (the former two being good for Excel, and the latter for citation managers), click on the citations from your results that you want to include in your list. Then click "チェックした文献を詳細表示". This will bring up a new window, where you can click on your preferred file type at the top of the page and export to a file from there. The file will automatically download.

To view the CSV or TSV files in Excel, you must import them with their proper encoding. This can involve using the "import" function in Excel, under the "file" menu. Click on "import," choose the file type and file, and then make sure to choose "Japanese" as the language. There will be several types to choose from, but the preview will display what the text will look like, so keep selecting until you find the Japanese encoding (or UTF-8) that works for your file.

Article Citations

Full-text Open Access Articles

These databases do not provide full text for every article citation, but do so for the majority. Articles are provided through institutional repositories as well as other databases.

To limit your search to only downloadable articles, check the option 本文あり near the search bar.

Tips for Searching Kōseisha's Database

Kōseisha Zasshi kiji sakuin shūsei database 皓星社雑誌記事索引集成データベース provides a fairly simple interface for searching, but has some more advanced options as well.

First, go to the advanced search 詳細検索 link. Note that if you enter a space in your keyword string, it will function as a boolean AND (so all words will have to be included in the results - it won't search keyword1 OR keyword 2). To use a thesaurus to broaden your search, check 利用する next to 類語辞典. To integrate a search of CiNii Articles as well as Kōseisha, check 利用する next to CiNii.

Be aware the Kōseisha database will convert 旧漢字 to modern characters in its search, and also has a list of pseudonyms associated with a person; if a person wrote an article under a lesser-known pseudonym, a search for his or her standard name will still bring up that article. So you can search with confidence knowing that the database will resolve your modern kanji with 旧漢字 and standard names to pseudonyms, without having to specifically enter those versions yourself. However, if you search for a pseudonym, it won't resolve that pseudonym back to the standard name, and entering 当て字 instead of katakana for foreign names will likewise not resolve back to the standard name. (So, enter the standard modern name.)

Additionally, note that searching for a personal name using the basic search will bring up results both by and about that person; to retrieve only results for one or the other, use the advanced search.

Kōseisha graphs your results for you so that you can see trends over time in publishing about your keywords. Without CiNii integration, it compares Kōseisha's databases with National Diet Library data. With CiNii integration, NDL's data is replaced with CiNii's on the graph.