Ayako Yoshimura

Japanese Studies Librarian


Ayako Yoshimura joined the University of Chicago Library in June of 2015 after completing a Ph.D. in folklore at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she also served for five years as Japanese studies bibliographer. While remaining active internationally as a folklorist, Ayako offers Japanese-studies reference services to students, faculty, and independent scholars from all disciplines across campus and beyond.  


Ph.D. in folklore, University of Wisconsin–Madison (2015)
M.A. in folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland (2009)
B.A. in folklore and cultural anthropology, University of Wisconsin–Madison (2002)

Research interests:

Ethnography, autoethnography, personal experience narratives, vernacular beliefs, the supernatural, material culture (foodways, arts and crafts, ceramics [Japan-style patterns], clothing [the kimono], design and fashion), and public folklore (cultural exchange, community outreach). 

Publications (and other activities): 

“Grocery Stores as Sites for the Study of Material Communication: Ethnographic Guidelines.” In Culture Work: Folklore for the Public Good, edited by Tim Frandy and B. Marcus Cederström (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2022), 246–54.

Virtual Talk: "Decoding Botanical Motifs in Mayumi Lake's Unison" for the online event with Mayumi Lake: “Folklore of Kimono—Imaginary Flowers” (organized by the Hyde Park Art Center, February 16, 2022).

Exhibit: "Nikkei South Side: Japanese and Japanese Americans in Hyde Park and its Vicinity" (exhibition gallery of the Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, Joseph Regenstein Library, University of Chicago, November 1, 2021–January 28, 2022).

"Korona-ka ni okeru Beikoku Shikago Daigaku Toshokan no taiō to Nihon kenkyū shien コロナ禍における米国シカゴ大学図書館の対応と日本研究支援 [University of Chicago Library Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The View from Japanese Studies]," Karento Aweanesu カレント・アウェアネス [Current Awareness] no.347: CA1991, National Diet Library of Japan, March 20, 2021. (In Japanese)

"An International Student's Long Road to Librarianship," Asia Now (blog), Association for Asian Studies, February 25, 2021. (As part of the series "Ask a Librarian: Re-thinking Professional Contributions in Area Studies" with Ann Marie Davis, Rebecca Corbett, and Regan Murphy Kao)

A Glimpse of Meiji Kimono Fashion.” In Digital Meijis: Revisualizing Modern Japanese History at 150, edited by Tristan R. Grunow and Naoko Kato (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Library), 2018.
(Meiji at 150 Podcast Episode 72.)

“Japan.” In Ethnic American Food Today: A Cultural Encyclopedia, edited by Lucy M. Long (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), vol.1:327–337.

“To Believe and Not to Believe: A Native Ethnography of Kanashibari in Japan.” Journal of American Folklore 128.508 (2015): 146–78.

“Folklore and Asian American Humor: Stereotypes, Politics, and Self.” In Asian American Identities and Practices: Folkloric Expressions in Everyday Life, edited by Jonathan H. X. Lee and Kathleen M. Nadeau (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2014), 1–13.  

“Asian American Grocery Stores.” In Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife, edited by Jonathan H. X. Lee and Kathleen M. Nadeau (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2011), vol.1:21–23.

“Asian American Humor and Folklore.” In Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife, edited by Jonathan H. X. Lee and Kathleen M. Nadeau (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2011), vol.1:23–29.

“Kita-Amerika de minzokugaku o manabu 北アメリカで民俗学を学ぶ [Studying folklore in North America]. Nihon-Minzokugaku: Bulletin of the Folklore Society of Japan 263 (2010): 153–78. (In Japanese)

Kanashibari: Japanese Old Hag—A Case Study of Self-Analysis of Personal Experiences with the Supernatural among Three Japanese Individuals.” Culture and Tradition 27 (2005): 76–93.

“Kusemono na kusamono: Lutefisk 曲者な臭もの:ルタフィスク [Smelly stinker: lutefisk].” Chiba-Wisconsin Association News, Volume 15 (October 16, 2009): 3. (In Japanese)

Professional Affiliations:

American Folklore Society (2004–present)

North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (2009–present)

  • Digital Resources Committee (member, July 2016–June 2019; co-chair, July 2019–June 2022; advisor, July 2022-)
  • Outreach Working Group (DRC liaison, July 2019–present)
  • Multiple-Volume Set Project Committee (member, July 2016–June 2017; chair, July 2017–June 2018)