Resource: Historical Sound Recordings from the National Diet Library

As the digitization of resources grows, it’s important remember that not everything is visual! At the end of 2019 Japan’s National Diet Library announced that it had added 1,000 new recordings to its already substantial database of historical sound recordings. Known as Rekion, the Historical Recordings Collection.

The database boasts of 50,000+ sound recordings, which can be browsed by title or by of its 19 genres:

Although there is an English site that provides these categories, the titles themselves are only available in Japanese. Furthermore, the majority of the holdings are only accessible through NDL and its partner institutions. However, you do have the option of ticking the “available online” option under the search bar to filter out things that you don’t have access to, which is helpful in navigating what is streaming and what is not. At the moment, approximately 4,900 titles are open to listeners.

In addition, the NDL has prepared some of the open-access materials with commentary, which can be useful for expanding your knowledge or teaching. These pages can be quite extensive and are also sourced with references.

Many of the recordings are from as early as the 1920s and look fascinating. Be sure to poke around the site and see what they have! Happy listening!



About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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