Area Studies: Japan

A wide range of sources, by writers, diplomats, tourists, businessmen, missionaries and others, documenting the political, cultural and social history of Japan from 1400 to the 20th century.

Modules include

Module Summary Date
Japan Through Western Eyes

Manuscript records of traders, travellers, missionaries and diplomats, 1853-1941

This collection makes available a wide range of English-language sources by writers, diplomats, tourists, businessmen, missionaries and others documenting the political, cultural and social history of Japan from 1853 to the present. These include the papers of William Elliot Griffis (1843-1928), an American teacher in Japan in the 1870s and prolific author on Japanese subjects, and Harold S Williams, an Australian businessman who lived in Japan for more than sixty years between 1919 and 1987. From earlier in the nineteenth century we include the Japanese manuscripts of Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866), one of the first Europeans to teach Western medicine in Japan, held at the British Library.

East Meets West: Parts One to Three

Original records of Western traders, travellers, missionaries and diplomats to 1952

This collection consists of three groups of early-modern printed and manuscript material relating to Western visitors to Japan. Highlights include an illuminated English copy of the Travels of Marco Polo of c.1400; the logbook of William Adams (1564-1620), the first known Englishman to reach Japan; the manuscript notebooks of the German physician and naturalist Englebert Kaempfer (1651-1716); and the Historischer Atlas von China of Heinrich Julius Klaproth (1782-1835).

Asian Journals: The Anglo-Japanese Gazette


The monthly Anglo-Japanese Gazette was founded as a monthly review devoted to the commercial and social interests of the British Empire and Japan. It contains excellent material on trade with Japan and East Asia and demonstrates the closeness of links between Britain and Japan following the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902.

Asian Journals: The Eastern World

A Weekly Journal for Law, Commerce, Politics, Literature and Useful Information’, 1899-1908

This journal provides a wealth of information on Japan and the Far East. Published in Yokohama, Japan, it contains regular articles on the commercials code of Japan, the Japanese diet (parliament), patents and trademarks, banking, joint-stock companies, trade and industry.


Key data

Period covered


Source archives

  • Bodleian Library, Oxford
  • British Library, London
  • National Library of Australia
  • Rutgers University Library
  • William R Perkins Library, Duke University
  • Western interactions with Japan from medieval times to present day
  • The Christian Century in Japan, 1549-1650
  • Japanese culture and customs
  • Diplomacy and global politics
  • Perry expeditions
  • Education
  • Missionaries and religion
  • Trade and commerce
  • Personal papers
  • Correspondence
  • Journals, travel writing and diaries
  • Logbooks
  • Photographs
  • Ephemera
  • Artefacts
  • Periodicals
  • Business and Economics
  • East Asian Studies