Libraries in Tokyo and Yokohama

List of libraries in Tokyo having a good collection of photo books.

Compiled by Philbert Ono, Last updated: March 1, 2011

JCII Library JCII ライブラリー
Address: JCII Bldg. B1F, Ichiban-cho 25
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN
Phone: (03) 3263-7111
URL: http://www.jcii-cameramuseum.jp/top_e.html
Hours: 10:00-17:00, closed Sat., Sun., and national holidays
Remarks: This library is run by the JCII (Japan Camera and Optical Instruments Inspection and Testing Institute) which also operates the JCII Camera Museum and Photo Salon at the same location. The library, which opened in June 1991, is in the basement floor below the Photo Salon. The library’s tiny reading room has magazine shelves full of current-issue photo magazines, some in English. The library has about 6,000 books and 450 magazine titles. It has all the past issues of Asahi Camera magazine, including the first issue published in 1926. Wonderful place to spend a rainy day. Unfortunately, it is closed on weekends even though the Photo Salon and Camera Museum are open. Near Hanzomon Station (Hanzomon subway line) Exit 4.

Photobook Diner Megutama 写真集 食堂
Address: 3-2-7-1F Higashi
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Phone/Fax: 03-6805-1838
Hours: Weekdays- 11:30~23:00 (last order 22:00)
Weekends /Holidays- 12:00~22:00(last order 21:00), Closed: Mondays (if Monday is a holiday, we will close on Tuesday).
Eatery near Ebisu Station with 5,000 photobooks for customers to browse freely. From the collection of Iizawa Kohtaro, a well-known photo critic.

Kawasaki City Museum Reading Room
(Kawasaki-shi Shimin Museum Tosho Esturan-shitsu)
Address: 神奈川県川崎市中原区等々力1-2(等々力緑地内)
Todoriki 1-2, Nakahara-ku
Kawasaki, Kanagawa, JAPAN 211-0052
Phone: (044) 754-4500
Fax: (044) 754-4533
URL: http://www.kawasaki-museum.jp/english/
Hours: 9:30-17:00 (enter by 16:30), closed Mon. (open if a national holiday, closed Tue. instead), day after national holiday (open if Sat. or Sun.)
Remarks: Although the library (on the 3rd floor) has a small reading area and almost no open stacks, its book collection is quite extensive. You have to check the library’s card catalog (for photography, check the drawers labeled 07) to see what you want. The card catalog is in Japanese. Fill out the form and give it to the library clerk who will retrieve the book for you. Nothing can be checked out of the library. A few minutes by bus (for Shimin Museum) from Musashi Kosugi Station (JR Nanbu Line or Toyoko Line). It is within a large park called Todoriki Ryoku-chi.

■JR南武線、東急東横線、武蔵小杉駅からパスで約10分
1番乗り場から市バス
(])〔杉40〕市民ミュージアム行終点下車
(2)〔杉40〕中原駅行(市民ミュージアム経由)
(3)〔溝05〕第三京浜入口行(市民ミュージアム経由)
(2)(3)は「市民ミュージアム前」下車徒歩2分
2番乗り場から東急バス
〔溝02〕溝の口駅行(宮内経由)、「等々カグランド入口」下車徒歩8分 ■JR川崎駅東ロバスターミナル27番乗り場から〔川33〕東急バス市民 ミュージアム行で約40分終点下車

Library at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo (E.H. Norman Library)
Address: Akasaka 7-3-38
Minato-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN
Phone: (03) 3408-2101
URL: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/japan-japon/library-bibliotheque/index.aspx?lang=eng&menu_id=19&menu=L
Hours: 10:00-12:30 & 13:00-16:30, closed Sat., Sun., Japanese & Canadian national holidays
Remarks: The library, which is open to the public, houses Asia’s largest collection of books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and microfilm on Canada. Also visit the art gallery while you’re there. On Aoyama-dori near Aoyama 1-chome subway station on the Ginza and Hanzomon Lines.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Art Library
(Tokyo-to Gendai Bijutsukan Bijutsu Toshoshitsu)
Address: 東京都江東区三好4-1-1(木場公園内)
Miyoshi 4-1-1
Koto-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN 135-0022
Phone: (03) 5245-4111
URL: http://www.mot-art-museum.jp/tosho/
Hours: 10:00-18:00, closed Mon. (open if a national holiday and closed on Tue. instead), and year end and New Year’s
Remarks: Opened in March 1995, this huge museum has various facilities including an Art Library. The library has over 45,000 art books, over 50,000 art exhibition catalogs, and over 3,300 periodicals. It also has a good collection of photography-related books in the open and closed stacks. Some in English. Great place to sit and read. You can use the computer database to search for what you want by subject, title, or author. A library clerk can help you with this. After you find the book in the computer database, you can have the librarian fetch it from the closed stack. This can be done only during 10:00-17:30. Also, you can use the photocopying machine only during these hours as well. Nothing can be checked out of the library, so you have to do your reading in the library. Note that you cannot bring any bags inside the library. It must be stored in the locker right outside the library. Smoking, eating, and drinking are also not allowed. In Kiba Park, a 15-min. walk from Kiba Sta. on the Tozai subway line or 15-min. walk from Kikukawa Sta. on the Shinjuku subway line.

National Film Center Library
(Tokyo Kokuritsu Kindai Bijutsukan Kyobashi Bunkan Film Center Library)
Address: 東京都中央区京橋3-7-6
Tokyo Kokuritsu Kindai Bijutsukan Kyobashi Bunkan Film Center
Kyobashi 3-7-6
Chuo-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN 104-0031
Phone: (03) 3561-0823
Fax: (03) 3561-0830
URL: http://www.momat.go.jp/FC/Lib/nfclib.html
Hours: 12:30-18:30, closed Sun., Mon., national holidays, inventory period, Dec. 28 to Jan. 4.
Remarks: Many books and magazines on movie-making, cinema, and motion pictures are found here in the National Film Center Library in the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. The Center itself stores thousands of movies, newsreels, animation, TV movies, posters, and motion picture stills. Near Kyobashi Station (Ginza subway line).

Setagaya Art Museum Library (Setagaya Bijutsukan Library)
世田谷美術館ライブラリー
Address: 東京都世田谷区砧公園1-2
Kinuta Koen 1-2
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN 157-0057
Phone: (03) 3415-6011
Fax: (03) 3415-6413
URL: http://www.setagayaartmuseum.or.jp/index_e.html
Hours: 10:00-18:00, closed Mon. (open if a national holiday and closed on Tue. instead), year end and New Year’s
Remarks: The art library, free to the public, is small but there are enough books to keep you occupied for hours. Catalogs from past photo exhibits at the museum are included. From Shibuya Station, ride the Tokyu Shin-Tamagawa Line (Hanzomon subway line) (don’t ride the kyuko express) to Yoga Station. About a 20 min. walk from Yoga Station. The walk is pleasant, along a tree-lined road. Signs in English clearly point the way to the expansive Kinuta Family Park where the museum is located. Buses also run from Chitose Funabashi Station and Seijo Gakuen-mae Station on the Odakyu Line.

Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography Library
(Tokyo-to Shashin Bijutsu-kan Toshoshitsu)
Address: 東京都目黒区三田一丁目13番3号 東京都写真美術館図書室
Yebisu Garden Place, Mita 1-13-3
Meguro-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN 153-0062
Phone: (03) 3280-0099
Fax: (03) 3280-0033
URL: http://tokyophotomuseum-library.opac.jp/
Hours: 10:00-18:00, closed Mon. (open if a national holiday and closed on Tue. instead), and year end and New Year’s
Remarks: The museum’s small, cozy library is on the 4th floor. It is open free to the public. It has a large collection of photography-related books and magazines in Japanese and other languages. Most of the collection is in the closed stacks. You can use the computer to search for what you want by subject, title, or author. A library clerk can help you with this. After you find the book in the computer database, you can have the librarian fetch it from the closed stack. This can be done only during the following hours: 10:00-11:30 and 13:00-17:30. Also, you can use the photocopying machine only during these hours as well. Nothing can be checked out of the library, so you have to do your reading in the library. Note that you cannot bring any bags inside the library. It must be stored in the locker right outside the library. Smoking, eating, and drinking are also not allowed. From Ebisu Station (East exit), take the Sky Walk (moving sidewalk) to Yebisu Garden Place, a new shopping, restaurant, and hotel complex.

Yokohama Archives of History Reading Room
(Yokohama Kaiko Shiryokan Esturan-shitsu)
Address: 神奈川県横浜市中区日本大通3
Nihon Odori 3, Naka-ku
Yokohama, Kanagawa, JAPAN 231-0021
Phone: (045) 201-2100
Fax: (045) 201-2102
URL: http://www.kaikou.city.yokohama.jp/en/reading-room.html
Hours: 9:30 – 17:00 (enter by 16:30), closed Mon., year-end and New Year’s, inventory days
Remarks: Established in June 1981, this museum includes a large collection of picture postcards and 19th century vintage photos of Yokohama and Kanagawa. The exhibition floor shows how Yokohama was opened up to the West. The building used to be the British Consulate. Exhibitions center on the history of Yokohama’s opening to overseas trade. The reading room is excellent for Yokohama photography research. The Reading Room has many Yokohama-related materials. The perfect place to do research on “Yokohama Shashin.” Old picture postcards, photographs, English and Japanese newspapers, and books can be requested for viewing. A 100-yen admission is charged for Reading Room entry. For the exhibits, admission is 200 yen. 12-min. walk from Kannai Station on the JR Keihin Tohoku Line. You can also get off at Sakuragi-cho Station and take bus No. 8, 11, 20, or 58. Get off at Kencho-mae. The Archives is right across from the Kanagawa Prefectural Office (Kencho). Small admission charged.

JR関内駅(南口)、市営地下鉄関内駅から徒歩約15分。
* JR桜木町駅、東急東横線桜木町駅から市営バス「県庁前」・「大桟橋」下車、徒歩1分。
* 桜木町駅から徒歩約20分。

Yokohama City Central Library (Yokohama-shi Chuo Toshokan)
横浜市中央図書館
Address: 神奈川県横浜市西区老松町1
Oimatsu-cho 1, Nishi-ku
Yokohama, Kanagawa, JAPAN 220-0032
Phone: (045) 262-0050
Fax: (045) 262-0052
URL: http://www.city.yokohama.jp/me/kyoiku/library/e_index.html
Hours: 9:30 – 19:00 (till 17:00 on Sat., Sun., Mon., and national holidays), closed once a month (irregular), Dec. 29 – Jan. 3, and inventory days.
Remarks: Large public library where you can borrow books to take home. Many materials on Yokohama, one of the birthplaces of photography in Japan. 5-min. walk Keihin Kyuko Hinode-machi Station. Also 10-min. walk from Sakuragicho Station. ・京浜急行日ノ出町駅下車5分 ・JR、東横、市営地下鉄線 桜木町駅下車10分

Yokohama Museum of Art, Art Library (Yokohama Bijutsukan Bijutsu Toshoshitsu) 横浜美術館 美術図書
Address: 神奈川県横浜市西区みなとみらい3-4-1
Minato Mirai 3-4-1, Nishi-ku
Yokohama, Kanagawa, JAPAN 220-0012
Phone: (045) 221-0300
Fax: (045) 221-0317
URL: http://www.yaf.or.jp/yma/artinfomation/index/
Hours: 10:00 – 18:00 (enter by 17:30), closed Thu. (open if a national holiday), the day after a national holiday, and the year end and New Year’s
Remarks: The very large Art Library (Bijutsu Tosho-shitsu) is open to the public free of charge. It has a separate entrance from the museum so you do not need to pay museum admission to enter. Opened in Nov. 1989, the library has many art-related books, reference materials, catalogs, microfilm, and periodicals in open and closed stacks. In terms of floor space, this library is the largest (935 sq. m) among those listed here. Very spacious with many chairs and tables. There are many photography books and magazines including English ones. Library materials cannot be borrowed outside the library. A copy machine is provided. Bags, etc., must be put into the locker before you enter the library. Only writing materials are allowed in. Walk from Sakuragi-cho Sta. and get on the moving sidewalk for the Landmark Plaza. Enter and walk straight through the Landmark Plaza and exit on the other side. Go left and walk a little more. You will then see the museum.

Libraries Outside Tokyo

List of libraries outside Tokyo having a good collection of photo books.

Compiled by Philbert Ono, Last updated: March 1, 2011

Takarazuka Media Library 宝塚メディア図書館
Address: 〒665-0035 宝塚市逆瀬川1-13-1アピア3 2階
Apia 32nd floor, Sakasegawa 1-13-1
Takarazuka-shi
Hyogo, JAPAN 665-0035
Phone: (0797) 76-5720
Fax: (0797) 76-5725
URL: http://medialib.jp/
Hours: 12:00-19:00, closed Tue., summer, year end and New Year’s
Remarks: Excellent collection of photo books, art and design books, music books, film books, magazines, videotapes, CDs, DVDs, and all issues (1800) of Life magazine. It has about 30,000 books (as of Feb. 2011). To view the library materials, you must register as a free member. To borrow library materials, you must become a paying member.. It costs only a few thousand yen to become a member. The old Saito Media Library in Osaka merged with this library. One-minute walk from Sakasegawa Station on the Hankyu Imazu Line. 阪急今津線逆瀬川駅より徒歩1分

Kyoto International Community House Library (Kyoto-shi Kokusai Koryu Kaikan Toshoshitsu)
Address: 京都市左京区粟田口鳥居町2番地の1
2-1 Torii-cho, Awataguchi
Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, JAPAN 606-8536
Phone: (075) 752-3010
Fax: (075) 752-3510
URL: http://www.kcif.or.jp/en/kaikan/
Hours: 9:30-20:00, closed Mon. (open if a national holiday and Tue. is closed instead)
Remarks: The Kyoto International Community House is a public facility operated by the city of Kyoto through the Kyoto City International Foundation. It is a large public facility with conference rooms, an event hall, a library (with English materials), Internet terminals, restaurant, and exhibition room. Besides renting out their facilities, they offer language and culture classes. It is a popular place for Kyoto’s foreign and internationally-minded residents and students to hang out. There are currently about 22,000 books and materials housed within the library. It is possible to browse freely through maps, magazines and newspapers from around the world, along with a selection of books and materials from both overseas and Japan. The library has two photo books (one by IZIMA Kaoru and one titled “Naked Women,” both are autographed) donated by PhotoGuide Japan in Nov. 2001.) Near Keage Station (Tozai subway line).

Nagoya International Center Library 名古屋国際センターライブラリー
Address: Nagoya Kokusai Center Bldg. 3F
Nagono 1-47-1, Nakamura-ku
Nagoya, Aichi, JAPAN
Phone: (052) 581-0102
URL: http://www.nic-nagoya.or.jp/en/library/
Hours: 9:00 – 19:00 (till 17:00 on Sun. and holidays), closed Mon., second Sun. in Feb. and Aug., Dec. 29-Jan. 3
Remarks: The library is part of the Nagoya International Center established in 1984 to promote international exchange between Japanese and foreigners in Nagoya. The libary has a good collection of English books, newspapers, magazines, and videos. Emphasis on the Chubu region. Near Kokusai Center Sta. on Sakura-dori subway line. Also walkable (7 min.) from JR Nagoya Station. 名古屋国際センターは、名古屋駅から東へ徒歩7分、又は地下鉄桜通線「国際センター」駅で下車して下さい。国際センタービルと地下鉄駅は地下でつながっています。

Hakodate Photo Archives (Hakodate Shashin Toshokan)
はこだて写真図書館
Address: 北海道函館市豊川町9-23
Toyokawa-cho 9-23
Hakodate, Hokkaido, JAPAN 040-0065
Phone: (0138) 27-1018
Fax: (0138) 27-1018
URL: http://www.hpaorg.net/
Hours: Closed in 2007.
Remarks: The Hakodate Photo Archives has closed. It was a registered non-profit organization that collects, researches, preserves, and exhibits photographs. It operates the Hakodate Shashin Toshokan (photo library) that opened in Oct. 2001 and the HPA Gallery, an exhibition space in the library. The library has many open stacks of photography-related books. It also holds seminars and workshops and offers memberships. Admission charged.

Nara City Museum of Photography Reading Room 奈良市写真美術館
Address: 奈良県奈良市高畑町600-1
Takabatake-cho 600-1
Nara-shi, Nara, JAPAN 630-8301
Phone: (0742) 22-9811
Fax: (0742) 22-9722
URL: http://www1.kcn.ne.jp/%7Enaracmp/
Hours: 9:30-17:00, closed Mon. (open if a national holiday and closed on Tue. instead), the day after a national holiday, Dec. 27 to Jan 3.
Remarks: Western Japan’s largest museum dedicated to photography opened in April 1992. Designed by KUROKAWA Kisho (who later won the 1991 Japan Art Academy Award), the museum was built upon the donation of IRIE Taikichi’s photographs (80,000 shots) taken during his lifetime. This museum’s little reading room (shiryo kanran-shitsu) is small but large enough to keep you reading and looking at the photo books for a day or two. JR・近鉄奈良駅から市内循環バスで「破石町(わりいしちょう)」下車、東へ徒歩10分、新薬師寺西側

PhotoLibraries FAQ

What is PhotoLibraries?

It’s a list of mainly museum libraries that have a good collection of photo books and magazines. It’s a good place to see out-of-print photo books or to do research on Japanese photography.

Which libraries have the best collection of photography books?

The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, JCII Library, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo), and the Yokohama Museum of Art libraries. In Osaka, the Saito Media Library has a very large collection of photo books. And in Hokkaido, the Hakodate Photo Archives is also nice. (All listed in PhotoLibraries.)

Can anybody use the museum library?

Yes, the museum libraries are open to the public.

Do I have to pay to use the museum library?

No, the library is free. You do not have to pay museum admission to enter the library.

At the museum libraries, can I borrow books?

No materials can be taken outside the library. You have to do all your reading inside the library. However, photocopying services are available at cost. Photocopying services are usually available until 30 or 60 minutes before the library closes. Check with the library clerk for the exact time. You may have to fill in a simple form to photocopy library materials. (There may or may not be a do-it-yourself photocopying machine.)

For doing research on Japanese photography, which libraries have the most materials in English?

The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo), and the Yokohama Museum of Art libraries have a substantial collection of art- and photography-related magazines in English, but there are still very few books in English on Japanese photography. If you want to do any substantial research on Japanese photography, Japanese reading ability will be essential.

Through the Internet, can I do an online search of the library’s holdings?

It might be possible. Check the museum’s Web site if you can read Japanese. A search for books can usually be done with a computer terminal at the library.

What about the public libraries, do they have photography books too?

Neighborhood public libraries will usually have photography books. You can borrow the books usually for 2 weeks. To borrow books, you must have a library card which means you must be a local resident to be able to apply for one.