Sources

Most of the following books were found by doing at search at the Internet Archive for texts published between 1855 and 1912 that contain the word “Japan” in their titles or descriptions. The remainder were identified from references in bibliographies and online library catalogs and then found at the Internet Archive.

The selection of books for this list emphasizes first-person narratives, though some general historical and topical accounts are also included. The list includes some works by or about Christian missionaries, but many missionary works that were published during that period have been omitted. Books focused on natural history, international relations, etc. have also largely been excluded, as have creative works—novels, short stories, poetry—set in Japan. Translations from languages other than English have been mostly excluded as well.

The list might exclude some first-person narratives about Japan that do not happen to include “Japan” in the title or description; such books can probably found by doing subject searches in the catalogs of the Library of Congress, the British Library, or similar large online libraries. It might also have missed books that were published during the targeted period but whose publication dates are missing from the bibliographic information at the Internet Archive. Any suggestions for additions or corrections would be most welcome.

Books excerpted on this site are marked with a .

1855

A Visit to India, China, and Japan in the Year 1853

Bayard Taylor

Hildreth’s Japan As It Was and Is

Alternate title: Japan and the Japanese

Richard Hildreth

Japan and Around the World

J. W. Spalding

1856

Japan: An Account, Geographical and Historical, from the Earliest Period at Which the Islands Composing This Empire Were Known to Europeans, Down to the Present Time, and the Expedition Fitted Out in the United States, etc.

Charles MacFarlane

Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan: Performed in the Years 1852, 1853 and 1854, under the Command of Commodore M.C. Perry

Matthew C. Perry and Francis L. Hawks

Notes on the Late Expedition Against the Russian Settlements in Eastern Siberia, and of a Visit to Japan and to the Shores of Tartary, and of the Sea of Okhostk

Paul Bernard Whittingham

1857

My Last Cruise

A. W. Habersham

The Americans in Japan: An Abridgement of the Government Narrative of the U.S. Expedition to Japan, under Commodore Perry

Robert Tomes

1858

Japan Opened

Religious Tract Society

1859

Japan and Her People

Andrew Steinmetz

Personal Narrative of a Voyage to Japan, Kamtschatka, Siberia, Tartary, and Various Parts of Coast of China

J. M. Tronson

Two Journeys to Japan, 1856-7

Kinahan Cornwallis

Narrative of the Earl of Elgin’s Mission to China and Japan in the Years 1857, ’58, ’59

Laurence Oliphant

(British edition)

1860

A Cruise in the U.S. Steam Frigate Mississippi, Wm. C. Nicholson, Captain, to China and Japan, from July, 1857, to February, 1860

William F. Gragg

Japan and the Japanese

“An Oriental Traveller”

Narrative of the Earl of Elgin’s Mission to China and Japan in the Years 1857, ’58, ’59

Laurence Oliphant

(American edition)

1861

Nagasaki and Hakodate

C. Pemberton Hodgson

Japan, the Amoor, and the Pacific

Henry Arthur Tilley

Ten Weeks in Japan

George Smith

1863

A Lady’s Visit to Manilla and Japan

Anna D’Almeida

The Capital of the Tycoon: A Narrative of Three Years’ Residence in Japan

Rutherford Alcock

Niphon and Pe-che-li or, Two Years in Japan and Northern China

Edward Barrington De Fonblanque

Yedo and Peking: A Narrative of a Journey to the Capitals of Japan and China

Robert Fortune

1867

The Treaty Ports of China and Japan. A Complete Guide to the Open Ports of Those Countries, Together with Peking, Yedo, Hongkong and Macao

N. B. Dennys, ed.

1868

Greater Britain: A Record of Travel in English Speaking Countries

Charles Wentworth Dilke

(Chapter on Japan originally published in “The Fortnightly Review”, October 1, 1876.)

1869

Japan, Being a Sketch of the History, Government and Officers of the Empire

Walter Dickson

Our Life in Japan

R. Mounteney Jephson and Edward Pennell Elmhirst

(This book seems to be intended as semifictional humor, in the style of “Life in London” by Pierce Egan.)

1870

Across America and Asia

Raphael Pumpelly

China and Japan and a Voyage Thither

James B. Lawrence

The Antipodes and Round the World, or, Travels in Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, China, Japan, and California

Alice M. Frere

Travels of a Naturalist in Japan and Manchuria

Arthur Adams

1872

Round the World: Letters from Japan, China, India, and Egypt

W. M. Perry Fogg

Round the World in 1870

A. D. Carlisle

1873

New Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun

Samuel Mossman

1874

Letters Which Have Appeared in the “Japan Daily Herald”

C. J. Pfoundes

Meeting the Sun: A Journey All Round the World

William Simpson

“Our Neighbourhood”; or, Sketches in the Suburbs of Yedo

Theobald A. Purcell

1875

Letters from China & Japan

Lilias Dunlop Findlay Swainson

Rough Notes of Journeys Made in the Years 1868, ’69, ’70, ’71, ’72, & ’73, in Syria, Down the Tigris, India, Kashmir, Ceylon, Japan, Mongolia, Siberia, the United States, the Sandwich Islands, and Australasia

(No author indicated)

The Eastern Seas: Being a Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. "Dwarf" in China, Japan and Formosa

Bonham Ward Bax

The Rambles of a Globe Trotter in Australasia, Japan, China, Java, India, and Cashmere

Egerton K. Laird

1876

English Influence in Japan

Charles Wentworth Dilke

1877

A Visit to Japan, China, and India

Robert Nicholas Fowler

Women of the Orient: An Account of the Religious, Intellectual, and Social Condition of Women in Japan, China, India, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey

Ross C. Houghton

Grandmamma’s Letters from Japan

Mary Pruyn

Japan: Historical and Descriptive

Charles H. Eden

1878

Life and Adventure in Japan

E. Warren Clark

1879

Child-Life in Japan

M. Chaplin Ayrton

China and Japan: A Record of Observations

I. W. Wiley

The Sunrise Kingdom, or Life and Scenes in Japan, and Woman’s Work for Woman There

Julia D. Carrothers

1880

Japan

Samuel Mossman

Japan: Its History, Traditions, and Religions, with the Narrative of a Visit in 1879

Edward J. Reed

The Boy Travellers in the Far East: Adventures of Two Youths in a Journey to Japan and China

Thomas W. Knox

Young Japan: Yokohama and Yedo

John R. Black

1881

Unbeaten Tracks in Japan

Isabella Bird

A Handbook for Travellers in Central & Northern Japan

Ernest Mason Satow

The Empire of Japan

Imperial Japanese Household Department

(Prepared for Centenntial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876)

Japanese Episodes

Edward Howard House

1882

Japan: Its Architecture, Art, and Art Manufactures

Christopher Dresser

Points of Etiquette Which We Should Know and Observe in Our Social Relations with the Japanese

John C. Berry

The Land of the Morning: An Account of Japan and Its People, Based on a Four Years’ Residence in That Country, Including Travels into the Remotest Parts of the Interior

William Gray Dixon

1883

Journal of a Lady’s Travels Round the World

F. D. Bridges

Highways and Byeways in Japan: Experiences of Two Pedestrian Tourists

Arthur H. Crow

Japan in Yezo

Thomas Wright Blakiston

Sunny Lands and Seas: A Voyage in the SS. Ceylon

Hugh Wilkinson

1884

Round the World

Andrew Carnegie

1885

History of Japan

Percy Thorpe

Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings

Edward S. Morse

East by West: A Journey in the Recess

Henry W. Lucy

1886

Gleanings from Japan

Walter G. Dickson

1887

Letters from the Far East

De Lancey Floyd-Jones

Sketches of Life in Japan

Henry Knollys

1888

Jottings of Travel in China and Japan

Simon Adler Stern

The Soul of the Far East

Percival Lowell

1889

Eight Years in Japan, 1873–1881

E. G. Hotham

A Budget of Letters from Japan

Arthur Collins Maclay

Echoes from Japan

M. McLean

From Japan to Granada

James Henry Chapin

Impressions of a First Tour Round the World in 1883 and 1884

Jehangir H. Kothari

Japan and Its Art

Marcus B. Huish

1890

Keeling’s Guide to Japan

A. Farsari

(fourth edition)

1891

Around the World in the Yacht ‘Sunbeam’

Annie Brassey

Japan: A Sailor’s Visit to the Island Empire

M. B. Cook

Things Japanese: Being Notes on Various Subjects Connected with Japan, for the Use of Travelers and Others

Basil Hall Chamberlain

1892

Japan in Our Day

Bayard Taylor

Rambles Through Japan Without a Guide

Albert Tracy

The Great Earthquake in Japan, October 28th, 1891

H. Tennant

The Real Japan: Studies of Contemporary Japanese Manners, Morals, Administration, and Politics

Henry Norman

Wanderings & Wonderings

J. J. Aubertin

Japonica

Edwin Arnold

Japan As We Saw It

Robert S. Gardiner

1893

General View of Commerce & Industry in the Empire of Japan

Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce

An Itinerary of Hokkaido, Japan

John Batchelor

Japan As We Saw It

Mary Bickersteth

A Japanese Interior

Alice Mabel Bacon

Tales of Old Japan

A. B. Mitford

An American Missionary in Japan

M. L. Gordon

1894

On Short Leave to Japan

G. J. Younghusband

The Flowery Kingdom and the Land of the Mikado, or, China, Japan, and Corea

Henry Davenport Northrup

The Mikado’s Empire

William Elliot Griffis

(seventh edition)

The Nightless City, or, the “History of the Yoshiwara Yukwaku”

J. E. De Becker

The Story of Japan

David Murray

The Wee Ones of Japan

Mae St. John Bramhall

Seas and Lands

Edwin Arnold

Wandering Words

Edwin Arnold

Occult Japan, or, The Way of the Gods: An Esoteric Study of Japanese Personality and Possession

Percival Lowell

1895

Out of the East

Lafcadio Hearn

In Bamboo Lands

Katharine Schuyler Baxter

Japan: The Land of the Morning

Rev. John W. Saunby

Lotos-Time in Japan

Henry T. Finck

Noto: An Unexplored Corner of Japan

Percival Lowell

Our Journey Around the World

Francis E. Clark, Harriet E. Clark

Pain’s Pyrotechnic Spectacle, War between Japan and China

(No author listed)

(Program for fireworks display held in New York)

The Japs at Home

Douglas Sladen

Rambles in Japan

H. B. Tristram

The Peoples and Politics of the Far East: Travels and Studies in the British, French, Spanish and Portuguese Colonies, Siberia, China, Japan, Korea, Siam and Malaya

Henry Norman

The Religions of Japan: From the Dawn of History to the Era of Méiji

William Elliot Griffis

This Goodly Frame the Earth: Stray Impressions of Scenes, Incidents and Persons in a Journey Touching Japan, China, Egypt, Palestine and Greece

Francis Tiffany

1896

Advance Japan: A Nation Thoroughly in Earnest

J. Morris

Japan: Its People and Missions

Jesse Page

Notes in Japan

Alfred Parsons

Problems of the Far East: Japan, Korea, China

George Nathaniel Curzon

The Yankees of the East: Sketches of Modern Japan

William Eleroy Curtis

Kokoro: Hints and Echoes of Japanese Inner Life

Lafcadio Hearn

1897

A Circuit of the Globe

A. McLean

Impressions of a Journey Round the World Including India, Burmah and Japan

George Henry Peters

Japan

John L. Stoddard

Japan: Described and Illustrated by the Japanese

Captain F. Brinkley (editor)

(Translations from Japanese)

Japan and Korea: Questions and Answers for Mission Circles and Bands

Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church

Journeys Among the Gentle Japs in the Summer of 1895

Rev. J. LL. Thomas

The Story of Japan

R. Van Bergen

Gleanings in Buddha-fields: Studies of Hand and Soul in the Far East

Lafcadio Hearn

A World-Pilgrimage

John Henry Barrows

1898

Glimpses of the Orient

Trumbull White

Guide Book for Tourists in Japan

Japan

Walter Dickson

Reading List on Japan

Helen Kilduff Gay

The Gist of Japan: The Islands, Their People and Missions

Rufus Benton Peery

What Will Japan Do? A Forecast

J. Morris

Exotics and Retrospectives

Lafcadio Hearn

(1914 reprint)

Travels through Asia with the Children

Frank G. Carpenter

1899

A Jaunt in Japan, or Ninety Days’ Leave in the Far East

S. C. F. Jackson

Japan in Transition

Stafford Ransome

1900

Annual Events in Japan

Tourist Bureau, Ministry of Transport

Guide Book for Tourists in Japan

Genjiro Watanabe

Half-Hours in Japan

Herbert Moore

Japan: Country, Court, and People

J. C. Calhoun Newton

Japan and Its Regeneration

Otis Cary

Letters Written by the English Residents in Japan, 1611-1623

Naojiro Murakami

Life in Japan, As Seen Through a Missionary’s Spectacles in the Twilight of the 19th Century

Ella Gardner

Westward to the Far East: A Guide to the Principal Cities of China and Japan with a Note on Korea

Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore

1901

A Handbook for Travellers in Japan

Basil Hall Chamberlain and W. B. Mason

Japan: A Record in Colour

Mortimer Menpes, transcribed by Dorothy Menpes

Japan: Its History, Arts, and Literature

Captain F. Brinkley

Japanese Plays and Playfellows

Osman Edwards

1902

Jinrikisha Days in Japan

Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore

Japan and Her People

Anna C. Hartshorne

Japan and Its Trade

J. Morris

Japan, Our New Ally

Alfred Stead

Sea-girt Yezo: Glimpses of Missionary Work in North Japan

John Batchelor

Japanese Girls & Women

Alice Mabel Bacon

Around the World Via Siberia

Nicholas Senn

1903

The Heart of Japan

Clarence Ludlow Brownell

A Handbook of Modern Japan

Ernest W. Clement

An Artist’s Letters from Japan

John La Farge

Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan

Lafcadio Hearn


Alternate edition:

Progress of India, Japan and China in the Century

Richard Temple

Kottō, Being Japanese Curios, with Sundry Cobwebs

Lafcadio Hearn

1904

Around the World Through Japan

Walter Del Mar

Handbook of Japan and Japanese Exhibits at World’s Fair, St. Louis, 1904

Hajime Hoshi

Impressions of Japan

George H. Rittner

Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation

Lafcadio Hearn

Japan: The Place and the People

G. Waldo Browne

Japan and the Japanese As Seen by Foreigners Prior to the Beginning of the Russo-Japanese War

Karl Kiyoshi Kawakami (editor)

Japan: Aspects and Destinies

W. Petrie Watson

Japan in Pictures

Douglas Sladen

Japan in the Beginning of the Twentieth Century

Department of Agriculture and Commerce

Japan To-Day

James A. B. Scherer

Present-Day Japan

August M. Campbell Davidson

Queer Things About Japan

Douglas Sladen

To the Golden East: Being a Résumé of the Author’s Experiences in India, China, Japan, &c.

Hubert Holliday

Wonders of Japan: A Portfolio of Views in the Enchanted Bamboo-land

(No author listed)

The New Far East

Arthur Diósy

(fourth edition)

Two Years in Three Continents: Experiences, Impressions and Observations of Two Americans Abroad

Edgar M. Condit

1905

Letters from Japan

Mrs. Hugh Fraser

An American Cruiser in the East

John D. Ford

From Egypt to Japan

Henry M. Field

Imperial Japan: The Country and Its People

George William Knox

Japan: From the Old to the New

Robert Grant Webster

Japan As Seen and Described by Famous Writers

Esther Singleton (editor and translator)

Japan, the Eastern Wonderland

D. C. Angus

More Queer Things About Japan

Douglas Sladen and Norma Lorimer

My Travels in China, Japan, and Java, 1903

The Raja-I Rajgan Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala

Religion in Japan: Shintoism, Buddhism, Christianity

George A. Cobbold

The Japan-Russia War: An Illustrated History of the War in the Far East, the Greatest Conflict of Modern Times

Sydney Tyler

Young Japan: The Story of the Japanese People and Especially of Their Educational Development

James A. B. Scherer

1906

A Woman Alone in the Heart of Japan

Gertrude Adams Fisher

A Guide-Book for Tourists in Japan

The Welcome Society

An English Girl in Japan

Ella M. Hart Bennett

Great Japan: A Study of National Efficiency

Alfred Stead

The Garter Mission to Japan

Lord Redesdale

Japan

David Murray

Makers of Japan

J. Morris

The Land of the Tatami: Travels in Japan

George T. Murray

Vacation Days in Hawaii and Japan

Charles M. Taylor

1907

Life of Japan

Masuji Miyakawa

Old and New Japan

Clive Holland

Our Journey to Japan

Jacob Schiff

Shinto: The Ancient Religion of Japan

W. G. Aston

The Future of Japan, with a Survey of Present Conditions

W. Petrie Watson

Wanderings East of Suez, in Ceylon, India, China and Japan

Frederic Courtland Penfield

1908

In Togo’s Country: Some Studies in Satsuma and Other Little Known Parts of Japan

Henry R. Schwartz

Summer Greetings from Japan

Walter L. Sheldon

The Far East Revisited; Essays on Political, Commercial, Social, and General Conditions in Malaya, China, Korea and Japan

A. Gorton Angier

The Social Evil in Japan and Allied Subjects: With Statistics, Social Evil Test Cases, and Progress of the Antibrothel Movement

U. G. Murphy

Japanese Life in Town and Country

George William Knox

The Newest Way Round the World

Celeste J. Miller

1909

Every-day Japan: Written After Twenty-Five Years’ Residence and Work in the Country

Arthur Lloyd

The Arts of Japan

Edward Dillon

The Empire of the East, A Simple Account of Japan as It Was, Is, and Will Be

H. B. Montgomery

1910

Behind the Screens: An English Woman’s Impressions of Japan

Evelyn Adam

A Journal from Japan

Mary C. Stopes

Rare Days in Japan

George Trumbull Ladd

A Journal of the Perry Expedition to Japan (1853–1854)

S. Wells Williams

Highways and Homes of Japan

Kate Lawson

Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan

E. Papinot

(1964 reprint)

In Lotus-Land Japan

Herbert G. Ponting

Japan & the Japanese

Walter Tyndale

Japan To-Day: A Souvenir of the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition Held in London 1910

Kotaro Mochizuki

A Vagabond Journey Around the World

Harry A. Franck

Picturesque Japan

Chester R. Stratton

Sights and Scenes in Fair Japan

Imperial Government Railways

The Shinto Cult: A Christian Study of the Ancient Religion of Japan

Milton Spenser Terry

The Story of Old Japan

Joseph H. Longford

Winter Wanderings; Being an Account of Travels in Abyssinia, Samoa, Java, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, South America and Other Interesting Countries

Abraham Per Lee Pease

1911

An Army Officer on Leave in Japan

L. Mervin Maus

From Japan to Jerusalem

E. Graham Ingham

Japan for a Week (Britain For Ever)

A. M. Thompson

Surface Japan: Short Notes of a Swift Survey

Don Carlos Seitz

The Far East, China, Korea, & Japan

Frank Elias

Things Seen in Japan

Clive Holland

Where Half the World Is Waking Up: The Old and the New in Japan, China, the Philippines, and India

Clarence Hamilton Poe

1912

Fourteen Years of Diplomatic Life in Japan

Baroness Albert d’Anethan

A Gentle Jehu in Japan

Ethel L. McLean

Japan and Japanese-American Relations

George H. Blakeslee (editor)

Japan As I Saw It

A. H. Exner

Japan of the Japanese

Joseph H. Longford