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These free resources are helpful for looking up Japanese words, learning about topics in Japanese studies, and finding books and free, open access texts in Japanese.
There are many websites, portals, and digital archives available with Japan-related resources. Some are in English, although many are only in Japanese. For a more comprehensive guide to these resources, check out the Japanese Digital Resources Guide.
There are a huge number of mobile apps available for both iOS and Android that help you learn and research Japanese. To learn about apps specific to Japan, Japanese, and Japanese news and culture, check out the Japanese Mobile Apps guide. This guide also includes helpful Twitter feeds related to Japan.
国語辞典 Japanese dictionaries
These are Japanese-Japanese dictionaries that provide not only word definitions, but also brief encyclopedia entries for people, events, places, and concepts. They are a good place to find the pronunciation of personal names and place names, as well as dates, if the terms have no entry in Wikipedia.
Kotobank is a useful starting point for definitions of words as well as short encyclopedic entries. It searches across a number of dictionaries and encyclopedias. All definitions are provided in Japanese.
Net Yōgo is a dictionary for Internet term usage and meaning. It includes "basic words" for several social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, to help you learn slang vocabulary for those services. It also provides a general search across all of its dictionaries. All definitions are provided in Japanese.
英和・和英辞典 JE-EJ dictionaries
These are both free English-Japanese/Japanese-English dictionaries, with a slightly different focus. WWWJDIC is more academic and focused on traditional word definition, whereas Eijirō has a focus on contemporary usage and translation of whole phrases. Although both contain many example sentences, Eijirō is stronger in this aspect. Use Eijirō for writing emails, speeches, and essays in Japanese (especially using keigo); WWWJIDC may be more appropriate for defining less commonly used words or looking up kanji.
WWWJDIC is a Japanese-English and English-Japanese dictionary with many functions, including word search and kanji lookup by a variety of methods. It's useful for looking up historical and rare words, compared with other dictionaries, but is less helpful in looking for phrases and very current usage, as well as slang.
Eijirō is an English-Japanese and Japanese-English online dictionary that is particularly useful for looking up phrases and contemporary (especially colloquial) Japanese usage. It is less useful for historical or rare Japanese words.
Provided by the Japan Foundation, the Database of Japanese Literature in Translation covers works ranging from premodern to contemporary, and translations from throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. It aims to have current information on translations of Japanese literature into a range of languages, and is not limited to English translations. One can search by both Japanese bibliographic information as well as target language metadata, such as original author, translator, original and translated titles, and publisher. The database can be difficult to search because the default search does not limit the text to single words - it can find "ring" in "spring," for example - and limiting it to "exact match" makes the search case-sensitive. Therefore, careful search formulation is necessary to successfully use this database.
JLit is a database of information on modern and contemporary literature, prizes, and authors, including literature news as well as timelines and biographical and bibliographic information. It is a good resource to consult for information on current literature and literary events in Japan. In English.
These reference sources are mostly in English and contain a wealth of information related to Japan. Japanese Wikipedia can be especially helpful for starting your research and looking up background information on a topic, as well as finding name pronunciation and dates. It's also good for upper-level language practice.
Web Japan is a basic site for general information about Japan, including current popular culture trends. It may be a good place to get ideas for paper topics on current issues and pop culture in contemporary Japan.
This database, provided by the Japan Foundation, enables search in Japanese and English, by title, author, translator, and more. It contains a full index of all current and past Japanese translations into foreign languages, not just English, and invites submissions of translations not currently included in the database.
Jlit.net contains a wealth of information about modern and contemporary Japanese literature, including new books, author biographies and bibliographies, and other book and literature news, such as the winners of literary prizes.