Japan - Libraries and museums

In 1948, the National Diet Library Law established the National Diet Library to provide reference service to the Diet, other libraries, and the general public. In 1949, this library absorbed the Ueno Library (the former national library) as one of its branches. The National Diet Library acts as a legal depository for Japanese publications and is also a depository library for the UN. There are over 7.3 million volumes in the library's collection. The University of Tokyo (Tokyo Daigaku) has 7.6 million volumes, and Keio University, also in Tokyo has libraries with holdings of over one million volumes.

Public libraries are beginning to find their place in Japanese life. Prior to the enactment of the Library Law of 1950, 70% of those who utilized libraries were students and scholars. Today, libraries are information centers, and increasing numbers of citizens are patronizing them.

Except in large cities, typical Japanese museums take the form of the treasure halls of shrines or temples, botanical gardens, and aquariums. Important museums include the National Science Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Calligraphy Museum, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, all located in Tokyo. Also in Tokyo are the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, a criminal museum, and a clock museum. In 2002 the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art opened in Kobe. Osaka houses a museum of natural history and the National Museum of Ethnography, and Kyoto, the former capital, has many historical sights and monuments. Yokohama is home to an equine museum and Kanazawa Bunko, a general museum dating back to 1275 and featuring Zen Buddhist documents.

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