Skip to main content

Tutt Library Research Guides


JA130 Japanese Culture: Choose a Topic

Background Information

Specialized reference books focusing on Japan are a great place to find succinct, reliable overviews about Japanese history, politics, culture, and art. Here are some places to start: 

Routledge handbook of Japanese culture and society (Reference DS 822.5 .R68 2011)

Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan (Reference DS805 .K633 1983)

The Cambridge History of Japan (Reference DS835.C36 1988)

Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture (Reference DS822.5 .E516 2002)

The Anime Encyclopedia (Reference NC1766 .J3 C53 2006)

Handbook of Japanese Mythology (Reference BL2203 .A86 2003)

Japan Encyclopedia (Reference DS821 .F73 2002)

A Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Oriental Arts (Reference N7262 .P5)

Online reference:

Use Gale Virtual Reference Library to search for a particular topic by keyword.

Choosing the Right Topic

Identifying Your Topic

Choosing and defining a topic to research is often the first challenge you face when starting your research project. Here are some suggestions for defining, refining, developing and a topic. However, if you are having difficulty in identifying a topic, consult with your professor.

Once you have selected a topic to research, you are ready to begin refining your topic, so that it is neither too broad nor too narrow.  You want to find enough information, but not too much!


Narrowing Your Topic

A topic that is too broad or vague can be refined by focusing on some specific aspects of the topic.

     Example: History of the automobile in the United States

This topic, as stated, is much to broad; you could right an entire book on this! The topic can be limited in a number of ways, such as focusing on a specific:

  • time period - Development of the automobile in the U.S. during the Roaring Twenties.
  • geographic area - Introduction of the auto into large urban areas.
  • specific group - The effect of the United Auto Workers union on the General Motors Corp.
  • specific individual - The influence of Henry Ford and the use of the assembly line in auto production.
  • specific event - The effect of the federal Interstate Highway System on auto travel.


Developing Your Topic

Having refined your topic, you are now ready to develop it further by looking at some background information. After you have an overview and broad understanding of your topic, it will be easier to pick one aspect to focus on.

Collections & Digital Archives Librarian

Sarah Bogard's picture
Sarah Bogard
Tutt Library

Need ideas?

Visit Japan

Tutt Library, Colorado College      Research Help Desk: 719-389-6662, Texting: 719-387-5441, E-mail: