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Japanese Collection

The library currently holds 45,000 Japanese titles in approximately 80,000 volumes, although the acquisition of such materials was started only after the Second World War. Here, mass purchases again played a special role. Several dozen prints from the Meiji era (1868 to 1905), photographs and playing cards were acquired from a Bamberg chemist in Yokohama. In 1972 190 prints of the time before the Meiji era could be purchased from Holland for the first time. From 1986 onward, further 709 old Japanese works comprised in 2,654 volumes, so far held by an excellent Japanese scholar's library, were acquired with the financial support of the "Stifterverband fuer die deutsche Wissenschaft" (Donators' Association for the German Academic Research). The collection was recently complemented by several hundreds of valuable coloured xylographs, which had so far been in private hands.
The strength of the old Japanese collection lies in its balance, as is evidenced by rare genres such as land surveying, agriculture, political economics, archery, obstetrics or veterinary medicine with well preserved and complete specimens from the Edo period. Furthermore, the subject areas of Buddhism, philosophy, history, haiku, kanshi and waka, calligraphy, regional studies, women's issues, human medicine, botany and text books. A specimen of the very oldest Japanese print (before 770), a Buddhist scroll with an incantation (dharani) is kept in a carved wooden pagoda. The only specimen of an early Jesuit print surviving in Germany is the "Giya do Pekadoru" (Nagasaki, 1599). Among the richly and elaborately illustrated book production from the Edo era 44 painters' books are particularly outstanding, which represent drawings by famous artists in virtuoso coloured xylographs. The most extensive group of works, about 200 Chinese works printed in Japan, evidences the careful tradition of these sources. A great part was published in the late Ming period, or the early Qing period (17th century), some of the titles are no longer traceable in China today, such as the early type print "Lidai junchen tuxiang" (1610) with large-scale portraits of prominent Chinese.