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This page focuses on images for art history and architecture study. It includes sites with:
- Illustrated books
- Image databases
- Reference resources
- Print databases
- Information on seals
- Other art digital archives
- Information on organizations
- Historical photograph databases
These digital archives focus on hand-illustrated books and scrolls.
New Nara Ehon Database 新・奈良絵本データベース
Illustrated Nara ehon books and scrolls in a Flash viewer provided by the National Institute of Japanese Literature.
Emakimono Database 絵巻物データベース
Browse, search, and view about 20 emaki from Nichibunken, with a focus on yokai related materials, including 「地獄草紙絵巻」「鳥羽絵巻」「長谷雄草紙」 「寛永行幸図巻」and「百鬼夜行絵巻」.
Ehon: The Artist and the Book in Japan (NYPL)
Images of the New York Public Library's ehon (illustrated book) collection. You can search the collection or browse by clicking on "See all Images" at the top of the page.
Nara Ehon Muromachi Jidai Monogatari 奈良絵本室町時代物語 (Hiroshima University)
Hiroshima University's collection of Nara ehon, including kaisetsu 解説 and honkoku + image viewer 翻刻+画像.
Shirayuri Women's University Ehon 白百合女子大学・絵本
Various types of illustrated books held by Shirayuri Women's University, available in color digital facsimile in a range of digital archives linked to on this page.
Ehon/Emaki no Sekai 絵本・絵巻の世界
Digitized color facsimiles of ehon and emaki held by Meisei University, including Heike Monogatari.
This is a database/wiki of emaki run by Nichibunken. You can view images of various emaki along with their text, which has been inputted under the image so is copy and pasteable. You can also search for specific characters across emaki.
Kusuri no Hakubutsukan Digital Archive くすりの博物館デジタルアーカイブ
Digitized images of 23 ehon and emaki held by the Eisai Co's medicine museum. The focus is, of course, on medical books.
Bunmeikaika-ki no Chirimen-bon to Ukiyo-e 文明開化期のちりめん本と湯清恵
A bibliographic database, with summaries, of chirimen-bon (crepe paper books) including fairy tales, Japanese culture, and Lafcadio Hearn works, in addition to calendars. They are from Hasegawa Takejirō as well as other publishers.
Chirimen-bon Database ちりめん本データベース
A database from Nichibunken, browsable and searchable, of chirimen-bon (crepe-paper books) from the Meiji period. Includes zoomable full color images of the books.
A search engine for inkan, indexed by personal name of artists, scholars, and calligraphers from the Edo period.
NIJL Collectors' Seal Database 蔵書印データベース
A database of seals stamped in books by collectors. The advanced search function is extremely detailed and allows you to search by size, color, title, author, etc. It provides high-quality digital images of the seals and notes which institution holds the book that was scanned.
These are digital archives that contain high-quality scans of images or photographs related to Japanese art history of all periods.
Kotenseki Etsuran Portal Database 古典籍閲覧ポータルデータベース
This database provides page images of yomihon from the Edo period, from Ritsumeikan's Art Research Center. Its interface is difficult to use, but if you click on "縮小画像一覧" you can view all thumbnails from a given book.
Bunka Digital Library 文化デジタルライブラリー
A digital library from the Japan Arts Council, including old photographs and nishiki-e prints as well as documents relating to various types of theater.
Museum of Fine Arts Boston | Art of Asia
Images of thousands of objects from the MFA Boston's collections, including many Japanese prints and other works of art.
National Museum of Japanese History Web Gallery 国立歴史民族博物館 WEB ギャラリー
Images of various objects from the museum's collections, including byobu, emaki, and archival documents.
Kyōto Daigaku Denshi Toshokan Kichō Shiryō Gazō 京都大学電子図書館貴重資料画像
A digital archive containing images of a wide variety of artifacts held by Kyōto University Library, including photographs, emaki, paintings, and more.
Petzold Scrolls Collection (Harvard)
This is a visual finding aid for the Petzold collection of Buddhist scrolls at Harvard-Yenching Library. Each scroll has a zoomable high-quality image as well as bibliographic data and catalog links.
Bijutsu Gahō 美術画報 Digital Archive
Bijutsu Gahō, aka Nihon Bijutsu Gahō, was a Meij-period magazine featuring reproductions of various kinds of art works. This database classifies and identifies each piece, along with high-resolution scan of the page of the magazine in which it appeared, including English translations of titles and exhibitions, as well as romanized artists' names. The database is being updated regularly.
Shinkai Taketarō Glass Dry Plate Photographs 新海竹太郎
Dry plate photographs of sculptor Shinkai Taketarō's works, as well as his hometown in Yamagata, from the late 1800s and early 1990s. Images are of medium size but high quality and contain metadata on the works.
Harvard-Yenching Library Flickr Page
Contains images from many Japanese print and other art collections at the Harvard-Yenching Library.
Image Database of Texts and Pictures on East Asian Publishing Culture
A searchable and browsable database of images of publishing culture throughout history from the Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohoku University.
Databases of Prints
There are many databases of Japanese prints online, so they get their own box here. All of these databases have high-quality scan or photographs of prints, and many focus on ukiyo-e.
Japanese Woodblock Print Search
Browseable, searchable database of ukiyo-e in medium-sized images. Provides the ability to upload an image of a print and tries to match the print with one in the database, or recommend similar prints to the image.
Ukiyo-e Etsuran System 浮世絵閲覧システム
A database of images of ukiyo-e in the collection of Waseda University's Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum. Provides high-quality images of the ukiyo-e as well as metadata about the prints. Searchable, and the interface is available only in Japanese.
This database of caricatures from the 19th to early 20th centuries includes a tri-lingual search interface as well as information on ukiyo-e and caricatures in addition to images of the prints themselves.
Database of Ukiyo-e Held at the Library of Congress
A browseable and searchable, Japanese-only database of over 2000 ukiyo-e held by the US Library of Congress, administered by the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken). Good quality images of prints from many time periods.
ARC Ukiyo-e Kensaku System ARC浮世絵検索システム
A searchable ukiyo-e database by Ritsumeikan University's Art Research Center. The images are private collectors' prints digitized by ARC. Both Japanese and English interfaces.
Japanese Print Gallery
A London-based print dealer with a large number of medium-size, high quality digitizations of prints in the "gallery" section.
Japanese Prints - Online Archive of California
An online repository of images of Japanese prints from UCLA Grunwald Center for Graphic Arts.
Art of Japan
A print dealer site with many high-quality images of Japanese prints and paintings. English/Romaji interface only.
Barry Rosensteel Japanese Print Collection (University of Pittsburgh)
The Barry Rosensteel Japanese Print Collection was donated to the University of Pittsburgh in 2008 by Mr. and Mrs. Barry Rosensteel. The collection consists of 126 wood block prints. While the earliest print dates to 1760, most of the prints were produced in the 1800s, while others were created in the 1900s. The work of over forty artists is represented in the collection. The images portray Japanese culture through detailed depictions of portraits, landscapes, wildlife and theatrical performances, taking into account some of Japan’s rich history. The prints were produced with high-quality paper. Vegetative color pigments, and, in some cases, ground precious metals, were used as part of the creative process.
月岡耕漁 Tsukioka Kōgyo -- The Art of Noh, 1869-1927
Nōgaku zue 能 樂 圖 繪, or Pictures of Noh, is a spectacular series of Japanese color woodblock prints by the artist Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927). The University of Pittsburgh owns a rare, complete set of this series, published at Tokyo between the Meiji years 30-35, or 1897-1902. Bound in traditional folding-album format, the series comprises five volumes of 261 prints inspired by the plays of classical Japanese noh theatre. The complete set of prints, held by the ULS Special Collections Department, is digitally reproduced here along with a descriptive catalog and contextual essays.
Catalogue Raisonné of the Work of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), including many reference links, bibliography, and links to digital archives of other artists. The aim is to have a catalog and images of Yoshitoshi's entire oeuvre.
Japanese Old Photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Periods (Nagasaki)
"Japanese Old Photographs of the Bakumatsu-Meiji Periods” at the Nagasaki University Library is the largest collection of old photographs, approximately 7,000, taken all over Japan from the Bakumatsu through to the Meiji period. “Metadata Database of Japanese Old Photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Periods” inherited the data from the original “Japanese Old Photographs of the Bakumatsu-Meiji Periods” and presented them in a new design. In addition, the Metadata Database was made in accordance with the Dublin Core (the international standard of metadata) which allows various electronic library systems and digital archives to access the Japanese old photography collection of the Nagasaki University Library.
The Meiji and Taisho Eras in Photographs 写真の中の明治・大正
Many historical photographs of the Meiji and Taisho eras. The photographs used here were taken from the albums and photo books possessed by the National Diet Library. For photographs which are referred to in materials contained in the Digital Library from the Meiji Era (Japanese only) or "Digitized Contents (Rare Books, etc.)" (former Rare Books Image Database) (Japanese only) on the NDL website, links are provided to corresponding sites. In addition, persons related to the photographs contained in the NDL Electronic Exhibition "Portraits of Modern Japanese Historical Figures" are linked to their corresponding pages, and portraits and biographies of the persons can be checked.
Japanese Old Photographs of the Bakumatsu-Meiji Period - High Quality Image Collection (Nagasaki)
High-quality images of the photographs contained in the "Japanese Old Photographs of the Bakumatsu-Meiji Period" database.
East Asia Image Collection (Layfayette)
The East Asia Image Collection is an open-access archive of digitized photographs, negatives, postcards, and slides of imperial Japan (1868-1945), its Asian empire (1895-1945) and occupied Japan (1947-52). Images unique to this collection include the Warners' unpublished slides and negatives , made from snapshots taken during their years of US State Department service in Asia (1932-1952). Rare materials include prewar picture postcards, high-quality commercial prints, and colonial era picture books.
Magic Lantern Slides Collection (Hawaii)
University of Hawaii Manoa's collection of magic lantern slides from Japan.
Early Photographs of Japan (Harvard)
Early Photography of Japan is a virtual collection of more than 40 souvenir photograph albums and illustrated publications with over 2,000 images from Widener Library, the Fine Arts Library, and Harvard-Yenching Library. These images primarily document the early history of commercial photography in Japan and are representative of what is often called Japanese tourist photography or Yokohama shashin. They reflect the Western image of traditional Japanese culture before the dramatic transformation brought about by modernization during the Meiji period (1868-1912).
Wada Shin Survey Photographs 和田新調査撮影記録
A digital archive of high-quality scans of photographs taken around the world by Wada Shin 和田新.
Odaka Sennosuke Survey Photographs 尾高鮮之助調査撮影記録
The artist Odaka Sennosuke conducted a global survey along with Monbushō researchers in 1931-32 including countries such as southeast Asian nations, India, Afghanistan, and Egypt as well as Europe. This digital archive contains high-quality scans of his photos and additionally locates them on Google Maps.
These reference resources cover various aspects of art history, different time periods, and the use of images in research.
artscape:DNP Museum Information in Japan
A bilingual resource for finding current exhibits at museums around Japan.
Image Use Guidelines
NCC's guide to image use for research on Japan is a key resource for understanding how to get clearance for using images, your rights, and the rights of the image owners.
JAANUS: Terminology of Japanese Architecture and Art History
This dictionary contains approximately 8000 terms related to traditional Japanese architecture and gardens, painting, sculpture and art-historical iconography from approximately the 1st century A.D. to the end of the Edo period (1868). Terms from related fields such as lacquer, ceramics, textiles and metalwork have been included where they are considered to be of general interest and/or impact on the principal fields of architecture, painting and sculpture.
artelino Ukiyo-e Signature Database
This database provides signature and seal samples for thousands of ukiyo-e artists.
A Guide to the Ukiyo-e Sites of the Internet
Comprehensive English-language directory of various websites relating to ukiyo-e, including image databases as well as information about artists and prints.
Find Information on Ukiyo-e (Waseda University)
A guide to print and Internet resources for viewing and studying ukiyo-e.
Selected Reference Sources on Edo-Period Illustrated Books 江戸時代絵本研究ための参考文献
A selected guide to online resources for reading Edo-period illustrated books, from UCLA.
Union Catalog of National Art Museums 所蔵作品総合目録検索システム
While this doesn't necessarily lead you to online images, it is a search of all national art museum catalogs in Japan. You can also limit your search to specific museums or browse by artist name.
Biographies of selected collectors and dealers (Freer-Sackler)
Biographies of art collectors and dealers by the Freer-Sackler Gallery, with links to related collections and Smithsonian records.
These digital archives contain images of architecture as well as information.
Asian Historical Architecture
Asian Historical Architecture is a photographic survey of Asia's architectural heritage. It contains over 17,500 photos of 850 sites in twenty-one countries, with background information and virtual tours, as well as bibliographies. This website is a collection of photos from many different contributors.
Waseda Architecture Archives
Various information and primary sources (such as interview videos on YouTube) about Japanese architecture and architects.
Organizations and Journals
These organizations provide art history related information on the web, and offer open-access journals.