Visiting the Lisa Sainsbury Library

The Library is physically closed to all users during the current COVID-19 situation. Please contact the librarian for updates.

About the Library

The Lisa Sainsbury Library was inaugurated in May 2003 to promote the activities of the Sainsbury Institute and to contribute to the study of Japanese art history in the UK by making resources available to researchers at the Institute and other scholars in the UK and from overseas.

Library Collections

The Lisa Sainsbury Library collects a wide range of materials necessary for academic research on Japanese art history, visual arts, and cultural heritage throughout the Japanese archipelago spanning the Jomon period to the present. The items are mainly in Japanese or English although there are some materials in other European or Far Eastern languages.

The collections include reference resources, academic monographs, general books, museums’ permanent collection catalogues, exhibition catalogues and archaeological excavation survey reports.

The total volume of books is approximately 50,000, and there are over 300 titles of periodicals.

The Library catalogue is fully accessible online from:

Visitor Information

The Lisa Sainsbury Library collects and provides materials for academic staff at the Sainsbury Institute. However, library materials are open to those who wish to use them for their research purposes and are available free of charge.

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday, from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
It is closed on Bank Holidays and during the Institute holidays at Easter and Christmas. 

Access to the Library

Access to the Library is by appointment only. If you wish to use the Library or require any other information, please contact the librarian, Akira Hirano.

Use of the Library

All materials are for use in the Library.
A photocopier is available within the limits of copyright law.

Special Collections

In addition to the contemporary materials, the Lisa Sainsbury Library houses some special collections. The most important collections are the Cortazzi Collections long term loan from the late Sir Hugh and Lady Cortazzi. The Cortazzi Collections are approximately 100 items of early maps, around 60 pieces of ukiyo-e prints, and about 30 titles of early books dating from 1670. Most items of the Cortazzi Collections are digitalised with the help of the Art Research Center, Ritumeikan University and can be viewed online.

As well as the Cortazzi Collections, the Library holds some private collections such as the Bernard Leach Collection which was a generous donation from Lady Lisa Sainsbury, the Carmen Blacker Collection a bequest from herself and the Yanagisawa Collection gifted by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.

You can read more about the collections.

Collection Development

The Library is collecting materials by purchasing with a stable annual budget as well as by generous donations from many institutions and individuals. We would like to thank everyone who donated to the Lisa Sainsbury Library.
By means of an annual grant, the Sainsbury Institute supports the library of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London to develop its collection in Japanese art history. This grant scheme enables as to expand the range of resources in this field in the UK by complementing the Lisa Sainsbury Library collection and the SOAS Library collection.

Visiting Librarian

Since 2012, the Lisa Sainsbury Library has had a librarian from Keio University Media Center seconded to the Library for 3-4 months each year through the Center’s overseas training programme. The seconded librarian is encouraged to work in the Lisa Sainsbury Library, and to give a talk to the Japanese studies librarians in the UK about updated information on academic libraries in Japan. In return, he/she has an opportunity to visit academic libraries in the UK and in other European countries.