Resource: Japan Foundation Database of Translated Japanese Literature

For those who research translation and Japanese literature (or just really enjoy reading!), the Japan Foundation has created a database that catalogs Japanese literature translated into over two dozen languages.

The website is set up with a bilingual interface in Japanese and English, with both simple and advanced search functions. Searches can be done in either romaji or in Japanese (with kanji, hiragana, or katakana).

Simple searches allow you to explore the database by keywords (FreeWords), language, or the range of publication years, while the more advanced search option includes Title, Author, and Publisher as well. As you can see in the image below, if I was curious what works by Izumi Kyoka had been translated into other languages since I read him in college, I could do an author search and find that a number of his short stories have appeared in languages like Spanish, French, Russian, Hungarian, and more in the last 15 years.

Clicking on each entry brings up the details of the database information, including publishers, translators, the number of pages, and even the ISBN, making the books easy to find when you’re ready to purchase them somewhere.

There’s a detailed help guide in Japanese and English that also features small screen caps, so I won’t go into detailed ‘how-to’ here, but the system is easy enough to navigate even if you’re a beginning reader of Japanese because of the bilingual instructions. The database is not comprehensive, but I’m sure it will continue to grow as more and more people translate Japanese literature and become aware of its existence. There are instructions on the main page as to how people can get their works put into the database, so be sure to let authors and translators know about it! Happy reading!

About Paula

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