About the Japanese Studies Collection

Collection History

The Japanese Collection at Columbia University, founded in 1927 by Dr. Ryusaku Tsunoda, has since developed into one of the outstanding Japanese collections in the country. Dr. Tsunoda envisioned that the collection of Japanese materials would help foster a sound relationship between the United States and Japan that would be based on accurate and ever-deepening knowledge. He succeeded in convincing a number of both American and Japanese friends of the importance of his undertaking. The first response from Japan was an initial gift of some 5,000 books from the Imperial Household as well as from groups of Japanese financiers, industrialists, statesmen, academics, and private citizens.

Collection Description

The Collection's strength lies in the humanities and the social sciences with substantial holdings in literature, history, philosophy and religion, especially Buddhism, fine and performing arts, business and economics, and East Asian studies. The Library's Japanese language holdings, as of June 30, 2012, include 312,747 volumes; 2,544 serials titles; 35,254 microform items;  332 DVDs; 349 film and videocassettes; 344 audios; and 720 catgraphic/graphic materials. These resources are supported by a collection of secondary materials in Western languages.

Approximately 600 volumes of woodblock printed books were donated by the Imperial Household during Dr. Tsunoda's tenure. Some 300 scrolls, both original and in reproduction, have been among the Library's treasures since then as well. Another group of unique materials are a collection of letters and manuscripts by twentieth-century authors, and first editions of Japanese literary publications, inscribed by the authors to Professor Donald Keene.

The Library's collections primarily support the teaching, learning and research of the faculty and students in the Japanese studies programs at Columbia University, but the resources are available to, and well utilized by researchers in the greater New York area as well as scholars throughout the nation and Europe through Interlibrary Loan service.


Japanese Studies Librarian
Chiaki Sakai
Room 307 Butler LIbrary
(212) 854-1506