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NCC's Online Guide to Research Access for Japanese Museums, Libraries, and Archives (MLA): General Affiliation Procedure for Japanese Institutions

日本研究のためのMLAアクセスガイド NCC's Online Guide to Research Access in Japan's major Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLAs) with links to their key Websites

Using Research Institutions

Advance planning for your visit

  • Use WorldCat to find the institutions holding the materials you need (often materials may be held by more than one institution but the levels of access they provide may be quite different). You may find that the materials you seek are available via Inter-Library Loan, see below. 
  • Verify which institutions hold the information you seek in the online catalog (OPAC) of the institution(s) you are considering, and determine the circulation status of those materials.
  • Use the institution's home page to study their policies and procedures for outside users. Note that rare materials may require additional levels of approval and may not circulate.
  • Using a Japanese Institution's Library generally requires a letter of introduction from your home institution library. Many institutions provide forms.  If they do not specify them, you could use the following form:
    • A letter of Introduction (紹介状 Shōkaijō) (Word,  PDF)
    • Library Materials Request Form (図書閲覧願 Tosho etsuran negai (Word,  PDF)
Other than books and periodicals,  most  institutions have some form of the request for material use form .  They can be confusing  In this guide included the English explanation for each field on the Request for Material Use Form sample at bottom.
Note: If the materials are available through inter-library loan and/or in digital form via the Internet you may be able to get them at home. NCC's Inter-library Loan and Document Delivery site provides a comprehensive set of references to international ILL services from Japan.

Prior to the visit

  • Material Holding Survey: Use the institution's OPAC (or WorldCat if you don't know which institutes are holding the library materials) to find locations of materials that you want.
  • Submitting library materials request form through your home institution library
  • Some institutions ask your home institution library to issue a letter of introduction. 
  • Some institutions may ask researchers to provide additional information about their research plans, check for such information on each page.
  • Some institutions may require researchers to specify the exact dates of their visit.

Note:  Some institutions issue a visiters' permit (許可証 Kyokashō) .  Please request one if it is required by the institution.  Please also noted that some institutions require that a letter be sent on a researchers behalf by their librarian.  Please check to determine whether an institution accepts requests directly from the individual researcher, or if they need a letter on your behalf from a librarian.  This guide's bilingual templates are designed to be helpful when a librarian letter is needed but no Japanese speaking librarian is in residence. 

Upon Arrival:  Bring the letter(s) of introduction, any visitation documentation received, and your personal ID.

General Affiliation Procedure

Long-term Research and Affiliation

Long-term research for graduate students and post doctoral researchers is generally negotiated in conjunction with the research institution, relevant faculty members, and funding agencies, please see the links to the specific procedures of different funding agencies. In some cases, the actual application process may simply be the renewal of the kind of short-term access, described above.   

Post doctoral Fellowships may be available through the JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowships

This 1 to 12 month program was launched this year to provide opportunities to  pre- and post-doctoral researchers from the US, Canada and Europe to conduct research under the guidance of their host institutions.

Eligible countries are the US, Canada, Russia, France, Germany, Sweden, the UK, Italy, Finland, Switzerland, Norway and  the other European Union Countries.

Major sources of funding for graduate students and post doctoral research is also provided by:

MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology- Japan)


The Japan Foundation 

National Endowment for the Humanities (JUSFC program)

For information on visas necessary for long-term stay as a researcher please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs visa information page.

There is a change in the immigration policy.  Please read "Changes to the Immigration Control Act."

For using the library, visiting researchers need a University ID card and must register at the main library counter to obtain the library card.

Long-term research affiliation is generally negotiated on an individual basis among the applicant, the institution in which they will be residents, and relevant faculty at that institution.  Funding agencies may also have specific procedures required of applicants, please consult the funding section of the Further Resources tab for more information. 

North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
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