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JAPN 453 - Readings in Modern Japanese Literature

Library research guide for JAPN 453: Readings in Modern Japanese Literature (Winter Session 2021/22)

Search Techniques


American Library Association-Library of Congress Japanese Romanization Table
Libraries in North America follow these rules

訓令式 Romanization

Used in Japanese institutions.

Although Hepburn romanization is now standard, older materials sometimes have variant romanization. You may miss finding something if you use a different romanization in your search, so try using "OR" searches or the following.

Wildcards and Truncation
Wildcards and truncation may be used in order to catch romanization and spacing issues. 

Allows you to search for terms that could have more than one ending.

Truncation Example:
kaguya? = "kaguya hime" | "kaguyahime".

allows you to substitute 0 or more letters in a word.

Wildcard Example:
na?ba = "nanba" | "namba"

Note: the question mark is used for the UBC Library catalogue, but other databases have other truncation/wildcard symbols (e.g. UBC Summon). See this wiki page for a more comprehensive guide.

Searching in Japanese

When searching in Japanese, characters placed together without a space will be searched as a compound phrase (e.g. 自然主義). If terms are placed separately (divided by a space, e.g. 自然 [space] 主義), depending on the database, either the search terms are combined by "AND," or the terms are used as alternate search terms (in that case you will need to provide the Boolean operator AND to combine the search terms).

Truncations in searching are understood in the following terms in Japanese databases: 前方一致・中間一致・後方一致.

  • 前方一致: 社会? = 社会運動・社会福祉・社会主義…
  • 中間一致: ?日本社会史? = 入門日本社会史・日本社会史の研究・図録日本社会史を学ぶ…
  • 後方一致: ?社会 = 社会・高齢社会・大衆社会…


Combining Concepts

Use Boolean Logic, which uses special terms called 'operators,' to make your keyword searching powerful.

  • Boolean OR: This operator serves to broaden a search by capturing synonyms or variant spellings of a term. If you want to find any of the terms in the search, use the Boolean operator OR.

Example: "kaguya hime" OR kaguyahime

  • Boolean AND: This operator operator narrows a search by capturing two or more ideas or concepts. If you want to find both of the following words in the search, use the Boolean operator AND.

Example: 社会主義 AND 日本

The following diagram describes how the Boolean operators, AND, OR and NOT, work in database searching.



Japanese Character Issues in North American Library Catalogues

There are a few issues you need to keep in mind when using vernacular characters in searching UBC and some other North American library catalogues. These issues do not affect Summon and WorldCat.

  • Unlike Japanese and international databases like WorldCat, local library catalogues like ours do not account for variant forms of Japanese characters (異体字). You need to include variants in order to develop a complete search strategy. At UBC, if you like to use vernacular characters in catalogue searching, use Summon. The best option for UBC catalogue searching, however, is to use romanization in searching because not all library catalogue records contain Japanese vernacular characters.

E.g.: 広重 OR 廣重

  • CJK (Chinese Japanese Korean) characters are still coded in MARC21 characters (as opposed to Unicode) in library catalogues like UBC and the Library of Congress, so quite a few common characters simply do not exist there. For example, the character 戸 is not a MARC21 character, so it is replaced by 戶.

E.g.: When a search keyword is 江戸, use 江戶

The Library of Congress maintains a searchable database of invalid characters: CJK Compatibility Database. You can also browse all the characters.