The following information was true as of June 21, 2013. Please be aware that the site described and the links provided below may have been updated or edited since then.
The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum at Waseda University provides a large amount digital information on their various theatre-related collections through databases and indexes available from the Digital Archives Collection page.
Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum Digital Archives Collection
English page: http://www.enpaku.waseda.ac.jp/db_en/index-e.htmlkai
Japanese page: http://www.enpaku.waseda.ac.jp/db/index.html
The Ukiyoe Viewing System includes digital images of the nearly fifty thousand wood-block prints in the museum's collections. Comprising the largest collection of actor and kabuki-related prints in the world, the Tsubouchi Memorial Museum's collections include many prints by famous names such as Toyokuni, Kunisada, and Hiroshige. The wood-block prints in the collections span more than two centuries, with over six thousand prints from the Meiji period, many of which depict themes related to modernization and industrialization such as trains, steamships, and Western-style clothing and structures.
- Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum Digital Archives Collection Ukiyoe Viewing System
English page: http://www.enpaku.waseda.ac.jp/db_en/enpakunishik/index-e.htm
Japanese page: http://www.enpaku.waseda.ac.jp/db/enpakunishik/index.htm
In addition to the valuable contents, the site has many positive features such as the linking of related prints or series for easy cross reference and the detailed pages explaining about the viewing system, how to use it, and the page's update history.
- Theatre Museum Ukiyo-e Viewing System - Notice on the Use
- Theatre Museum Ukiyo-e Viewing System - Instructions on the Usage (How to Search)
- Theatre Museum Ukiyo-e Viewing System - Update History
Unfortunately, however, despite the extensive instructions in English and English-language search page, the information for individual prints is only in Japanese. This limits searches to those using Japanese search terms. For example, a search for “Toyokuni” will return the message “No Applicable Records Found” while the same name in kanji returns nearly 19 thousand results.
Non-Japanese speakers can access the digital collection by clicking on the “show all” button near the bottom of the English-language search page. Results can be narrowed by choosing a location or theatre name from drop down boxes. Although location is fairly straightforward (Edo, Osaka, Kyoto, or Nagoya), the theatre name drop down box is confusing as “Morita” is listed twice. Although the romaji is the same, the names are written with different kanji and have completely different results. Unfortunately, however, this distinction is not explained on the English page.
The lack of English translations or even romaji readings for the valuable data provided is disappointing and severely limits the usefulness to non-Japanese speakers. Other digital databases offered by the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum have both English language keywords and romanized readings of terms such as author and artist names and the digital database for the journal Nōgaku even has English-language keyword terms for the articles in the database. Were the Ukiyoe Viewing System to contain this type of information, it would undoubtedly prove to be a useful and valuable resource on an international scale.