There are a number of online materials that have gathered information about what resources are available to start working on early modern Japanese materials written in cursive.
Digital Resources for Japanese Palaeography – The Digital Orientalist (Dr James Morris)
CJR-Kuzushiji-resources.pdf (ubc.ca) (Bianca Chui)
Kuzushiji – Japanese Digital Resources – Guides at Penn Libraries (upenn.edu) (University of Pennsylvania)
Recommended reference materials for kana
Recommended reference materials for kanji
- Kodama Kōta 児玉幸多(ed.), Kuzushiji yōrei jiten くずし字用例辞典 (Tōkyōdō shuppan, 2002) > This dictionary allows you to search characters through their radical, the total number of strokes, their on yomi or kunyomi. (There is a CDRom version which runs on Japanese OS)
- Kodama Kōta 児玉幸多(ed.), Kuzushiji kaidoku jiten くずし字解読辞典 (Tōkyōdō shuppan, 1993) > This dictionary allows you to search characters on the basis of the order used to write the calligraphic version.
- Tōkyō tegami no kai (ed.), Kuzushiji jiten くずし字辞典 (Shibunkaku shuppan, 2000)> This dictionary is extremely helpful for handwritten letters and for nyohitsu 女筆.
If you are struggling you can try and use digital materials.
If you want to try and scribble the sign you are trying to decode, use: AI Tegaki kuzushiji kensaku 手書きくずし字検索
If you have a picture of the sign you are trying to decode, use: 解析:木簡・くずし字解読システム (nabunken.go.jp)
Basic rules for honkoku 翻刻 (diplomatic transcription)
Please read the rules carefully.