Europe - France

Département des Manuscrits,
Bibliothèque Nationale de France -- Phase 1 --


Library Home Page: Bibliothèque Nationale de France


58 rue de Richelieu 75084 PARIS Cedex 02 France


Véronique Béranger
Librarian, Japanese collections
Tel: +33-1-5379-8028
Fax: +33-1-5379-8900

Size of collection

841 titles, 2275 volumes
Bound printed books (mainly xylographs): 1451 vols
Manuscripts: 303 vols
Single-Sheet Items: 251 printed sheets (hanga), 116 paintings, 80 maps

Access to bibliographic data

A)Online catalogues
The catalogs of the Japanese collection (Smith-Lesouëf collection excluded) is a copy of a card catalogue and is viewable in the Manuscripts reading room. Some entries are online

B)Printed catalogues
There is an inventory of the Japanese Smith-Lesouëf collection in:
Béranger, Véronique, Japonisme et érudition: le livre japonais dans les collections d’Auguste Lesouëf (1829-1906), Thèse d’Ecole des chartes, 2000, available in the Manuscripts reading room.

How can researchers gain access to the material?

Researchers are asked to provide specific requests or research topics.
The «Reserve»is viewable only with the authorization of the Director of the department of Manuscripts. For access to these manuscripts, please contact Véronique Béranger in advance.

The Manuscripts reading room, from 10:00 - 18:00 (Saturdays: 10:00 - 17:00).

History of the collections

The Japanese collection has been built from the 18th C on, from different origins: missionaries, travelers, orientalist scholars (among them Tittsingh, Siebold, Klaproth, Abel-Rémusat,etc), diplomats (from 1858 on), collectors, specialized librarians (in the 2nd half of the 19th C).

the oldest item is a manuscript fragment of the Dai hannya hara mittakyō 大般若派羅蜜多経, dated to the 8th C.. The first title to be mentioned in the catalogs are two titles of Kirishitanban キリシタン版, and a manuscript copy of the grammar of Joao Rodrigues. The most precious part of the collection is a set of 18 Nara ehon 奈良絵本, from the beginning of the 17th C to the end of the 18th C, with various titles of kanazôshi 仮名草子 and setsuwa 説話. All the Nara ehon have been digitized : Gallica

Because of the tight network connecting the European orientalists at the beginning of the 19th C, the collection received a lot of documents linked with the Rangaku studies (dictionaries, medicine...) and the presence of the Westerners in Nagasaki (paintings from the school of Hokusai executed for Siebold, paintings from the Kawahara Keiga school 川原慶賀工房, Bankanzu 蛮館図).

But the main scope of the collection is a set of illustrated books from the Edo period; among them, ehon 絵本 and meisho zue 名所図会, ôrai mono 往来物 occupy a great place. We can also find some important Yomihon 読本. Books from Hokusai are to be found, among them the rare complete series of Chie no umi (千絵の海). A scroll of 1838 from Kikuchi Yôsai菊池容斎 is particularly important (Kannongyô emaki 観音経絵巻).

Finally, some illustrated items of the Meiji period exist in the collection (lithographs, etchings..), reflecting the cultural links between France and Japan from the 1858 treaty.

Select bibliography of publications about the collections (books, articles)

  • Manuscrits, xylographes, estampages : les collections orientales du Département des manuscrits : guide / sous la dir. d'Annie Berthier. Paris : Bibliothèque nationale de France, 2000 (p. 119-125, 135-137) available online from the catalogue : web site
  • 小杉恵子 Kosugi Keiko, « Inventaire des pièces hors catalogues du fonds Smith-Lesouëf japonais de la Bibliothèque nationale de France », in Le Vase de béryl : études sur le Japon et la Chine, Paris, Picquier, 1996, p. 429-437. (スミス・ルスエフ・和書コレクション未整理資料目録)
  • 「パリ国立図書館における18 - 19世紀収集和古書目録稿 — ティチング・シーボルト・ストゥルレル・コレクションを中心としてー」、『日覧学会会誌』第17巻第1号(通巻第33号)、1992年
  • ピジョー(ジャクリーヌ)、小杉恵子、『ひともと菊・奈良絵本』、Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, 1984, 33-76 p.
  • ピジョー(ジャクリーヌ)、小杉恵子、Pigeot (Jacqueline), Kosugi Keiko. Voyages en d’autres mondes. Récits japonais du XVIe siècle traduits et commentés. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale / Ph Picquier. 1993. 197 p.
  • ピジョー(ジャクリーヌ)、小杉恵子、『奈良絵本集・パリ本』東京 古典文庫 1995
  • 吉田幸一、『異国物語』、東京、古典文庫 1995
  • 『 秘蔵浮世絵大観・パリ国立図書館(8)』 、東京、講談社、1990

Is reproduction of the material permitted ?

If there is no existing reproduction, the reader may be authorized to take his / her own pictures. Microfilms in black& white and in colors are currently available for a limited part of the Japanese books / prints collection.
All the existing color transparencies have been digitized and are viewable at Banque d'images.
For ordering images, please see website. For reproduction fees, please see website.


A collection of 3300 titles of printed books and 2000 prints is also viewable in the Département des Estampes et de la photographie.
The old card catalog have been included with its old transcriptions (i.e Hokousai for Hokusai) on website.
A rich collection of Japanese maps exists in the Département des Cartes et plans.