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Information Literary Resources: 5. Japanese Periodical Indexes (H)

5. Using Japanese Periodical Indexes

Using Japanese Periodical Indexes for Your Research



Library Instruction Session for New/Continuing Graduate Students


Beth Katzoff and Yuan Yuan Zeng, revised by Beth Katzoff (July 8, 2005)

Library Instruction Session

Subject of the Lesson

This lesson covers the use of periodical indexes to locate Japanese articles in both scholarly and popular works for dissertation research. We cover both scholarly and popular literature because of the changing needs of researchers. Depending on the research topic, popular literature may provide the researcher with valuable insight into his/her topic (one example: gender and women's studies).

This lesson will cover two periodical indexes:

  1. Zasshi Kiji Sakuin (雑誌記事索引, Zassaku - Japanese Periodicals Index from the National Diet Library)
  2. Magazine Plus (from Nichigai Associates)

To keep in mind - While Zassaku generally covers scholarly literature from the holdings of NDL; Magazine Plus includes scholarly and popular literature and actually includes the information from the Zassaku database.
Important considerations for using these databases include:

  1. Accessibility (time of day of use, on or off campus)
  2. Free internet use vs. paid subscription

We will use Zassaku and Magazine Plus to demonstrate:

  • Two interfaces for Zassaku
    - Japanese
    - English since 9/04
  • Accessibility of Zassaku through the NDL site and Magazine Plus
  • Zassaku is free from NDL site and available from any computer with Internet access and Japanese capability
  • Zassaku unavailable from NDL site during maintenance (4am-7am Japan time or 2pm-5pm Eastern Standard Time)
  • Zassaku available through subscription to Magazine Plus (available any time)


New or continuing graduate students in Japanese Studies (mainly in history, literature, and political science)

Learning Objectives:

(note: this lesson addresses ACRL Standards, 1, 2, 3. Of the SAILS Skill Sets, it addresses Sets 1, 3 - 11)

Students should be able to

  1. Identify and obtain articles on research topic from start to finish (from identifying topic to getting the articles)
  2. Search Zassaku from NDL-OPAC site (free and available from home,, Magazine Plus (on computer with University IP address,)
  3. Distinguish between scholarly and popular literature - Zassaku vs. Magazine Plus
  4. Obtain the items from the University library or through ILL

Content Outline:

  1. Introduction (description of Zassaku, Magazine Plus)
  2. Searching
  3. Identify articles for research in history, literature or political science - based on keyword (identifying various keywords), journal name, and author search. Distinguish between scholarly and popular literature (handout or online guide) and learn to critically analyze information sources (handout or online guide)
  4. Search for article on University OPAC or Worldcat and RLIN. Request through ILL when not held by the University Library
  5. Question and Answer, one-minute paper evaluation



Part 1

Brief lecture about what a periodical index is and contains Why use a periodical index?

Periodical indexes are reference resources that identify and locate articles in periodical publications. Often subject-oriented, they list author, title, name of periodical, volume, pages and date of publication in entries called bibliographic citations.

Secondary vs. primary sources - keep in mind that various fields of study define primary and secondary sources differently

Whereas primary sources are original materials that are from the time period involved (diaries, interviews, letters, photographs, works of literature and more), secondary sources are accounts written after the fact that are interpretations of primary sources (biographies, dissertations, journal articles, monographs, and more).

Description of Zassaku and Magazine Plus

Zassaku is an index of periodical articles in the holdings of the National Diet Library from 1975-present. (From 1948 - 1974, the index is limited to the humanities and social science fields) It is updated twice monthly. It covers over 15,000 journal titles, most of which are academic periodicals. It has both Japanese and English user interfaces. For a selected list of journal titles see:
Because of its huge volume, the database is divided into time periods, with the default search starting with items from 2001-.
Search using Kanji (Chinese characters) is recommended because KANA/Romanized reading and keywords are assigned automatically.

Magazine Plus includes Zassaku holdings as well as Janaru, JOINT (economic journals), Gakkai nenpo (annual publications by university scholarly associations and research organs), ronbunshu, and KSK (index of articles in overseas newspapers and journals)

Specifics of using Zassaku and Magazine Plus - background on their holdings

Why use Zassaku when Magazine Plus includes holdings of Zassaku?

Benefits to Zassaku - Zassaku is free and non-subscription based whereas Magazine Plus requires a subscription. Zassaku has English interface whereas Magazine Plus only has Japanese.
Disadvantages to Zassaku - Zassaku has downtimes, whereas Magazine Plus is always available provided you have the subscription, Magazine Plus has more information.
English or Japanese search interfaces (English and Japanese on NDL Zassaku, Japanese-only for Magazine Plus), allow students to choose English or Japanese interface for individual research in this class

Issues: romanization and word division, getting access to these databases from various locations (University computers vs. at home)

Romanization - see
Computer access - To access Zassaku use any computer with Japanese capability and internet access. For information on installing Japanese capability on your computer, see
To access Magazine Plus, use any computer with a Cornell IP address and type in the URL:

Part 2

1. Searching - Demonstrate on Zassaku
Briefly explain search screen.

English Search Screen

There are about 15,278 journal titles; you can see a list of selected journals by clicking on "selected journals on the list" (Japanese only)
Choose dates - default is from 2001-, but you can select up to two date ranges.
Title (article), Author, Title (Journal), Publisher/Editor, Month and Year of Pub, Vol., Call No., ISSN/ISBN…
Sort by Ascending or Descending Order with 20 records per page (can make 50, 100, or 200 if you prefer)
Note there is a User Guide.

When using English Search Screen, go directly to: or, click on "English Page is here" from the NDL-OPAC page
Then click on "Search for Japanese Periodical Articles Index." You get 1 main search screen.

The Japanese search screen looks like this

Japanese Search Screen


Simple Search - Find articles based on Keyword

Pick a topic to demonstrate.
Example search - to get an overview of articles on the subject of your research let's choose war and women in Japan. You are using Zassaku because you would like to find up-to-date secondary sources on your topic (even though this is an historical topic you want to find the most recent research on the topic). You can also search by Author or by the name of a Journal, but we will focus on Keyword for this class.

To get a range of articles -
Type Keywords in the Title (Article) section
Type in Japanese (if we type in English - "war" AND "women" - we will get only articles that have English in them. Zassaku will not translate into Japanese for us. So if in English, you will get 17 hits).

Search Screen Results

You will get no hits if you type in romaji ("senso" AND "josei")
If you search 戦争 女性 with a space in between under Title (which means AND), you will get 103 hits (as of 7/8/05) in Ascending Order (most recent first) and from 2001-.

Search Screen Results

This gives us a long list of articles since 2001. Now, if you would like, we can go back further from 1996-2000 etc. and try searching those dates.

If we click on one of the records we got from the 2001-search, try No. 3, you will see the bibliographic information for this article.

Search Screen Results

Now try searching with other search terms. For example, sensō and fujin (戦争 婦人) with a space in between under Title (which means AND) - you will get 10 hits in Ascending Order (most recent first) and from 2001-.
You will note that fujin is used on names of older organizations 国防婦人会, or names of magazines like Fujin no tomo or Fujin kōron (婦人の友,  婦人公論) for example.

You can also Limit the search by choosing search terms that define the war with which you are interested.
What if we wanted to focus on the Asia-Pacific War and women, and not Iraq or Afghanistan?

We can limit this search by changing AND to OPERATOR, and we can search sensō AND josei NOT Iraq by typing:
戦争女性イラク under Title


& = AND
+ = OR

Search Screen Results

You will get 88 hits for this, instead of 103 hits (as of 7/8/05)

Using the Zassaku interface from the NDL site, have students try their own simple searches.

Identify keywords, journal names, authors
e.g. What are other search terms/keywords that could be used for searching about women and war? Ajia taiheiyo senso アジア太平洋戦争, Taiheiyo senso 太平洋戦争, Dainiji sekai taisen 第二次世界大戦 for this war. Or, you can try searching fujin 婦人 instead of josei 女性.

Now take your own list and try searching.
Ask for assistance when needed


2. Search - Demonstrate on Magazine Plus

Simple Search
Can limit search to Zassaku holdings only, popular, or search all at once
Take the earlier search terms and do a keyword search: 戦争 女性

Magazine Plus Search Screen

If we search All (全ファイル) - Zassaku and others - you will get 690 hits, if limit to 学会年報, you will get 74 hits (as of 7/8/05). Now, you will notice that I did not specify a date range here so it includes all of its information. If you remember, when we searched Zassaku, the default was to search from 2001-. If we want to compare this list of results to those from Zassaku for this search, then we should limit to the date range after 2001. It will give me 280 hits.

Magazine Plus Search Screen

Again it is giving me the most recent hits first and lists 20 at a time as default.
So, that means that in addition to the Zassaku hits there are about 400 others.

If you want to get a long list of articles about war and women, search All on Magazine Plus.

Once you check off a record, you can open up the bibliographic information.
If the record has a number like this: NDLXXXXX, it indicates a Zassaku number that is from the Zassaku database.

Magazine Plus Search Screen

Instead of Josei 女性, we might also want to try Fujin 婦人 on Magazine Plus as well.
You will get 238 hits here (without limiting the date) (hits as of 7/8/05).

Individual work:

Now spend some time Guiding student searching on this topic or their own research topic.

What additional records (popular literature) are available from Magazine Plus that are not from Zassaku via NDL?
To do this you can compare the two lists you got from your search on Zassaku to your search on Magazine Plus. Or, you can click on the gakkai ronbunshu and not the Zassaku button on Magazine Plus.

Magazine Plus Search Screen

This is your list of 13 records.

Magazine Plus Search Screen

Note search screen result information
Click on individual records to see bibliographic information.

Part 3

  • Based on your search results, compile a list of articles to obtain
  • Evaluate the list
  • Identify scholarly vs. popular journals
  • See CU Library online guide - Distinguishing Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly Periodicals: A Checklist of Criteria
  • Explain scholarly journal articles, peer reviewed, how published
  • With women's magazines this may be more complicated. Older magazines like Fujin kōron 婦人公論 are examples of more intellectual women's magazines so they may be considered scholarly. Certainly a primary source for historical research, but if you are doing articles since 2001 - less likely scholarly and more popular.
  • Issues: popular journals may be more difficult to obtain
  • See CU Library online guide: How to Critically Analyze Information Sources

Part 4

Once you have identified the articles you would like to get, then you can search/p>

  1. Your university catalog (OPAC)
  2. Union catalogs (OCLC's Worldcat and/or RLIN).

To access these, search in the Library Gateway under Find Databases or by name in CU OPAC.
If the articles you want are in OCLC or RLIN, you can request through ILL

Establish NDL ILL registration to request as an individual or through your library's ILL

Part 5

Question and Answer

One-Minute Paper - At the end of the session, have the students write down answers to the following questions in one minute and then collect them for your reference

  1. What is the most important thing you learned today?
  2. What questions do you still have?

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