May 3, 2010 (REVISED July 30, 2010) Library's Japanese Collection Past, Present and Future Subject of Display, Symposium

Events Mark 80th Anniversary of Library’s Japanese Collection

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Mari Nakahara (202) 707-2990

The Library’s Japanese collection, consisting of more than 1.17 million items, is the largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind outside of the country of origin. Selected treasures from the collection are the focus of a new Library display titled “Japanese Collection at the Library of Congress: Past, Present and Future” opening on Sept. 20 in the Asian Division Reading Room, and on view through Oct. 16.

Free and open to the public, the display will be on view 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday in Room 150 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, located at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.

The display comprises more than 20 items dating from 770 A.D. to the present in various formats—books, newspaper clippings, digital images. These include:

The Hyakumanti Dharani: One of the world’s earliest examples of woodblock printing (770 A.D.)

Tale of Genji: The Library’s rare edition of this Japanese literary masterpiece was published in Kyoto in 1654.

Miyako Rinsen Meisho Zue (Illustrated Manual of Celebrated Gardens in the Capital): Akisato Rito (1776-1830) produced this illustrated guidebook (meisho-zue) to the gardens of Kyoto (Japan’s former capital) in 1799.

Kanikosen: Published in English as “The Crab Canning Ship” or “The Crab Ship,” this novel by Takiji Kobayashi was written in 1929 from a left-wing point of view, eschewing capitalist exploitation. The Library’s copy on display contains censorship notes.

Tetsuwan Atomu (Mighty Atom or Astro Boy): The first Japanese television series to embody the aesthetic known as anime (animation), Astro Boy originated as a manga (comic book) in 1952. The manga version and DVD cover for the 2009 3-D film will be on display.

In conjunction with the display, a free public symposium of the same title will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 21, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building. Seating is limited; reservation are required by close of business on Monday, Sept. 13. Contact Mari Nakahara, (202) 707-2990,

Joining Associate Librarian for Library Services Deanna Marcum and Asian Division Chief Peter Young are three speakers who will discuss the past, present and future of the Library’s Japanese collection. They include Manabu Yokoyama, professor at Notre Dame Seishin University in Japan; Ellen Hammond, curator of the East Asia Library at Yale University; and Kakugyo Chiku, professor at Kanazawa Institute of Technology in Japan.

The exhibition and symposium commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Library’s Japanese collections. In 1930, Shiho Sakanishi became the Library’s first area specialist on Japan. Approximately 50 years earlier, the Library began acquiring Japanese materials when the U.S. and Japan agreed to exchange their respective government publications. Hired to manage and build that collection, Sakanishi acquired some 900 titles during her tenure, most of which were literary works. In 1938, the Japanese Section was established as part of the then Orientalia Division, which was renamed the Asian Division in 1978.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s website at and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at


PR 10-102
ISSN 0731-3527