Links to Other Japan-Related Resources
This archive of journals, images, and other materials is an invaluable academic resource that is available at almost all colleges and universities in the U.S. Therefore, even though the focus of this list is open-source materials, I am making an exception for this. All issues of the major journals on Japanese studies—e.g.
The Journal of Japanese Studies, The Journal of Japanese History, The Journal of Asian Studies—are posted on this site five years after their publication. One valuable journal unfortunately not yet part of JSTOR is
Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique.
English-Language News Outlets
The Asahi Shimbun
These are the websites of Japan's three major general interest daily newspapers. For the past decade or so important articles have been translated into English and posted on their websites. The newspapers limit access to past articles to one or two months—so these resources are most useful for current-events topics. Combined with other sources, though, they can shed light on historical issues and in particular on present-day understanding of historical questions.
The Mainichi Daily News
Daily Yomiuri Online
The Japan Times
The Japan Times and Japan Today are produced in English from the outset. These are not translations of articles originally published for a Japanese reading audience. One advantage of these sources is that they allow greater access than the daily papers to past articles:
Japan Today's searchable archives go back six months and
Japan Times' archives go back to 1997.
Online Academic Resources
The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus
Japan Focus is the best online English-language journal for scholars of Japan and the general public. Its focus is largely on current events and policy—but unlike the news outlets also listed here its authors use academic standards of analysis based on thorough research. They also tend to write in accessible style without assumption of extensive background knowledge. In the editors' words: "this peer-reviewed open-source journal is a fully-indexed resource. Its website contains more than 1,400 articles. 4,000 subscribers receive a free weekly newsletter linking to three to six new articles. More than 300,000 articles are accessed each month with more than 110,000 reader visits from 180 countries." Debates over interpretations of modern Japanese history and their ramifications in contemporary international relations constitute one area of particular interest on this site.
H-Japan Discussion Network
This is part of H-net Humanities & Social Sciences Online; it is a moderated and searchable discussion forum that also provides reviews of academic literature. Submissions to the site are limited to professional scholars and graduate-students, meaning that undergraduates are unlikely to submit questions or other materials to the site. Nonetheless, its capacious discussion logs can be of use to students who need guidance in specific research avenues.
"Visualizing Cultures: Japan"
This valuable website comprises a collection of images spanning more than a century. And this archive has much more to offer also: the site's woodblock prints, artwork, and video also cover diverse events, periods, genres, and locations. Also of tremendous use to students of Japanese history are the contextualizing essays. These, written by MIT-professors and project-founder John W. Dower as well as other Japan scholars, are a valuable resource for papers and as supplementary reading for course. Building on these, instructors can engage students' interest in the use of images as "documents" for historical analysis, and students can follow up with investigations or projects of their own.
U.S. National Archives Archival Research Catalog
Searching on this site under the category of "digital copies" one finds thousands of Japan-related images. Be sure to search with specific terms, not simply the word "Japan." Also remember that these images are almost exclusively collected from American travelers to Japan—meaning that photographs of the Occupation era are especially numerous. Although descriptions of the photographs' contexts are not as full as one might like, they nonetheless provide good starting points for further investigation.
"Meta Database of Japanese Old Photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Period"
The Nagasaki University Library Collection produces this searchable archive of images. Most of the images are photographs but paintings can also be found; its collection spans the period roughly from 1860 to 1920. One of its advantages is its emphasis on photographs produced by Japanese (which differs from the emphasis of the U.S. National Archives' focus on photographs by visiting foreigners).
Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Japan Collection
Many libraries are making their collections available online, and will offer access to Japan-related materials, but the Boston museum''s collection of Japanese art is among the richest in the world, and it has been a leader in making images available online. In addition, in recent years it has moved creatively into the collection of modern Japanese art, and has broadened its definition of artworks worthy of collection, to include for example nearly 20,000 postcards offering valuable representations of many aspects of modern life and historical topics.
The U.S. State Department Office of Japan Affairs: U.S. and Japan
This State Department web site "is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001." It has links to numerous "fact sheets" on Japan and U.S.-Japan relations, policy speeches by American politicians and diplomats, statements on security issues, and et cetera.
Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This website is broader in content than the above U.S. State Department one. It is also more up-to-date and searchable. Digging around in the site's archives yields policy speeches and other such materials dating back to 2002—which means that this resource picks up about where the U.S. one leaves off. Also of note is the site's list of links to other Japanese-government websites; these offer much the same in terms of policy materials but with an internal focus related to the various ministries' and agencies' areas.
National Diet Library Modern Digital Library
This site is maintained by the National Diet Library—the corollary to institutions like the U.S. Library of Congress. Its archives are only officially searchable in Japanese; but inputting terms in English sometimes yields results anyway. People who are unafraid to take a few stabs in the dark might find a few gems this way.
The Google Books Library Project is an extremely exciting development in public access to scholarship, historical materials, and literature. Working to scan millions of volumes of texts whose copyrights have expired (and, more controversially, works under copyright as well), Google is making new texts available every day. These certainly are by no means limited to Japan (and Japanese-language works will probably not be so readily available for some time) but, as evidenced by the numerous links to specific texts in the primary-document section, this is already an invaluable tool for search out sources for study of Japanese history.
Far less known than its big brother, Wikipedia, Wikisource has the potential to become much more valuable than the often unreliable Wikipedia to teachers of history. I have used Wikisource links wherever possible in the primary-documents section. Unfortunately, the organization and execution of this website leaves much to be desired; searching for documents by name or content is particularly difficult, with the internal search engine usually failing completely. Posting and editing documents is also hard work. But if this site gains even a fraction of the public support that Wikipedia has, these problems will probably soon be resolved.
Online Library Portals
Many library websites provide such materials as bibliographies of scholarship (especially the ANU site) as well as collections of images, maps (the UC Berkeley site), and more. This is by no means an exhaustive list of useful sites of this sort. I selected these in particular because they offer open access—many other sites offer similar or even superior services but limit access to their own students and faculty. A little digging in such portals can quickly familiarize researchers and students with what resources are available at what institutions, with the state of a particular field or subfield of study, and can sometimes provide access to primary materials for research.
Australian National University
University of California at Berkeley
United States Library of Congress