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ASIA 453: Developing your Topic

Background Reading

After doing some preliminary reading you may come across a potential research topic. Use this background reading wisely in order to pull important concepts or keywords that can help you with a search.

For Example:

Taketori Monogatari

Effective Keywords for Effective Searching

Without the right keywords, we may miss important resources that are available to us. Try and think about possible terms before running your search, and keep in mind the following:

Think about where things took place, considering narrow terms (city/town name) as well as broader identifiers (prefecture or region). In addition, consider how places were named previously, such as Edo for Tokyo.

Date Range
In addition to Western calendar dates look for Japanese era names as well as broad-level periods (medieval, premodern). Remember that different era names are sometimes used to indicate the same time period, such as Tokugawa and Edo.

In addition to the names of authors and characters, try looking at those connected to the person you are researching, Japanese fiction writers and actors often had pseudonyms and stage names.

What other events were happening at the same time? When the literary work was created, what else was going on in the country or region?

What is happening today with this work? Are people still reading it? Have other types of material been created from it? Is it similar to anything contemporary? Can you spot a relationship between the two, or do you see how the work could have influenced what's happening today?

Language Issues

Although Hepburn romanization in 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. 

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

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. See this wiki page for a more comprehensive guide.

Search Template & Example