The following information was true as of October 23, 2014. Please be aware that the site described and the links provided below may have been updated or edited since then.
The Digital Collections of the National Diet Library (NDL) are a digital platform containing a rich source of primary and secondary materials. The Digital Collections website is available in both Japanese and English and has been organized into 12 categories including Books, Rare Books and Old Materials, and Historical Recordings. The English language website also includes multiple pages with English language information on the database and how to use it.
- National Diet Library Digital Collections
English page: http://dl.ndl.go.jp/?__lang=en
Japanese page: http://dl.ndl.go.jp/?__lang=ja
- National Diet Library
English page: http://www.ndl.go.jp/en/
Japanese page: http://www.ndl.go.jp/index.html
The Digital Collections can be searched by keyword across all collections or within a specific category, or browsed by category and limited by date, genre, contents, and access availability. On both the English and Japanese search pages keyword searches can be conducted in Japanese characters or Romanized letters and results are based solely on the contents of the materials themselves. For example, on either search page, limiting the search to items available online and searching with the kanji for nishiki-e (錦絵) will return 809 items (in Japanese) across a range of categories, topics, and dates. Using the keyword “nishiki-e” will result in one record, an issue of the NDL’s monthly English-language newsletter from 2001, while “nishikie” (without the hyphen) will also result in one record, an issue of the NDL’s online newsletter from 2012 with articles in Japanese and titles in both Japanese and English. Care must thus be taken in the romanization of Japanese terms, but search results remain the same regardless of the language of the search page.
Individual collections can also be browsed easily by type. For example, from the page for the “Rare Books and Old Materials Collection” are links for further divisions, “Nishiki-e,” “E-zu (Maps and Plans),” and “Important Cultural Properties.”
- Rare Books and Old Materials Collection
English page: http://dl.ndl.go.jp/?__lang=en#classic
Japanese page: http://dl.ndl.go.jp/?__lang=ja#classic
The nishiki-e link leads to a listing of over ten thousand results, most of which are available online, allowing users from around the world to easily view a huge selection of individual and bound volumes of woodblock prints. Although materials, as well as the information for each individual item, are only available in Japanese, the search page and all of the various sub-headings are in English, thereby providing and simplifying access to a vast collection of digital resources, including a large number of Meiji period woodblock prints.