North America - U.S.A.

East Asia Library, Yale University -- Phase 1 --


Library Home Page


Sterling Memorial Library, P.O. Box 208240, New Haven, CT 06520-8240, U.S.A.


Haruko Nakamura
Librarian for Japanese Studies, East Asia Library
Tel: +1 203-432-1792
Fax: +1 203-432-8527

Size of collection

Books: 2012titles ; 5118 vols.
Manuscripts: 886 titles; 1,250 vols.
Single-Sheet Items: 29 titles; 39 sheets

Collection description

The majority of rare materials owned by Yale University are part of three distinct collections. The Japanese Manuscript Collection and the Yale Association of Japan Collection are both held in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, along with a small number of other works from Japan such as a book from the Jesuit Mission Press, the rare Kirishitan-ban from 1610 known as the Flosculi. A diverse assortment of rare materials are held in East Asia Library Special Collection at Sterling Memorial Library and include Edo period maps and guides, ehon such as the Hokusai manga, and other, primarily Edo period printed books.

The Japanese Manuscript Collection was acquired by Kan'ichi Asakawa, the first curator of the Yale East Asian collection, during a buying trip in 1906-1907. In certain respects, these materials complement the collection of manuscripts in the Library of Congress since Asakawa was purchasing materials for LC during the same trip. All of the works pertaining to Buddhism and the history of Japanese thought were allocated to LC, while Yale's purchases related to the study of medieval history including such topics as the legal system, military and commercial law, martial arts, and foreign affairs. While many of the manuscripts in the collection are originals, approximately sixty works were transcribed for Yale from originals or good copies. The entire collection consists of over 800 titles in 1,200 volumes and dates from the 17th to the early 20th century.

The Yale Association of Japan Collection was assembled in the 1930s by University of Tokyo historian Katsumi Kuroita and presented to Yale by the Association in 1934. It contains approximately 350 items ranging from manuscripts, sutras, calligraphy, and books to maps and art objects and was selected with the goal of illustrating the development of Japanese culture. It includes materials dating from the 8th century to the 20th century. The collection includes original documents from Tōdaiji dating from 1055, original records of the cadastral survey of Nishi Kamo compiled by order of Hideyoshi in 1586 and 1589, a collection of Tekagami, containing calligraphy samples from famous people produced between the 8th and 17th centuries, three copies of Ise monogatari dating from the 15th to the 17th centuries, and 12th century copies of the Hokekyō written in gold on indigo paper. It also includes examples of ōraibon (including a 17th century Teikin ōrai), meisho zue, Nara ehon, and many other genres. A detailed description of each item in the collection is contained in the book catalog cited below.

Access to bibliographic data

Online catalogues
OPAC : Orbis

B)Printed catalogues

  • Catalogue of books, manuscripts and other articles of literary, artistic and historical interest, illustrative of the culture and civilization of old Japan. Tokyo: Yale Association of Japan, 1934.
  • Asakawa, Kan'ichi. Gifts of the Yale Association of Japan. New Haven: s.n., 1945.
  • Iēru Daigaku-zō Nihon Monjoo korekushon mokuroku." Kokubungaku Kenkyū Shiryōkan Bunken Shiryōbu chōsa kenkyū hōkoku (11): 31-93 (2nd group) (1990)

How can researchers gain access to the material?

These rare book materials are kept in the Beinecke Rare Book and East Asia Library in Sterling Memorial Library. Procedures for gaining entry to the Beinecke can be found on its web site. For materials in East Asia Library, prior contact should be made with East Asia Library staff to inquire about access. Procedures for using special collection in East Asia library can be found in

Is reproduction of the material permitted ?

Microfilming, photocopying, and digitization are possible at the Beinecke Library. Fees are listed on its web site.