The Origins and Current State of Digitization of Humanities in Japan

panel / roundtable
  1. 1. A. Charles Muller

    University of Tokyo

  2. 2. Kōzaburō Hachimura

    Ritsumeikan University

  3. 3. Shoichiro Hara

    Kyoto University

  4. 4. Toshinobu Ogiso

    National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics (NINJAL)

  5. 5. Mitsuru Aida

    National Institute for Japanese Literature

  6. 6. Koichi Yasuoka

    Kyoto University

  7. 7. Ryo Akama

    Ritsumeikan University

  8. 8. Masahiro Shimoda

    University of Tokyo

  9. 9. Tomoji Tabata

    University of Osaka

  10. 10. Kiyonori Nagasaki

    International Institute for Digital Humanities

Work text
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Digital Humanities in Japan has been in
progress since an early period. Recently,
due to the spread and the development
of advanced digital environments, individual
humanities researchers are coming to use digital
materials in various forms, and according to the
continually growing needs of users, cooperation
and organization between projects has steadily
increased. However, there is some extent to
which the large framework known Humanities
Computing in Japan has lagged behind in
its efforts to develop cooperation with similar
projects overseas. Therefore, this panel aims to
take a step in the right direction by introducing
the origins and current state of Humanities
Computing in Japan on digitization by featuring
the reflections of the representatives of the
projects and organizations that have worked in
this area from a relatively early time.
Humanities digitization projects in Japan, being
developed by various research centers and
research organizations, have already garnered
over 3.5 billion yen in the form of known large-
scale grants which were funded by Japanese
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science
and Technology. This does not include the
numerous small grants that have been received
for various digitization projects by individual
researchers and small groups and budgets which
were assigned by each organization itself which
was promoting such projects. In order to provide
a venue for the presentation and publication of
the results of these funded projects, a number
of groups and associations engaged in this work
were established. One of the more prominent
is Special Interest Group for Computers and
Humanities (SIG-CH), which was established
in 1989 under the auspices of the Information
Processing Society of Japan which is the largest
society of informatics in Japan. SIG-CH has
served as the major organ for communication
among researchers interested in these projects.
Kōzaburō Hachimura,
Ritsumeikan University,
representing SIG-CH
The meetings of SIG-CH have been held on
a regular basis, about four times a year since
1989. At each meeting approximately 8 research
papers are presented, with the proceedings
being been published as the “IPSJ SIG Notes”
series. Up to the present, we have held 84
meetings, which have included a total of 720
paper presentations. The group consists of over
200 researchers belonging to the academic
organizations of informatics or humanities.
Here, processing, analysis or mining of texts,
images, digital archiving of texts, bibliographies
or other digitized materials, and especially 3-
D motion capture, etc. are the major themes.
The technique, tools or study results in
which they are applied etc. are presented.
In recent years, study results that use GIS
have been increasing in number. The various
Humanities fields in Japan are represented
by literature, linguistics, history, archeology,

museum studies, anthropology, dance studies,
and Buddhist Studies, etc. In earlier periods,
system-oriented thought was dominant, but
recently, presentations tend to be characterized
by an increase in content orientation, as well as
on local and international cooperation between
Toshinobu Ogiso,
representing the National
Institute for Japanese
Language and Linguistics
NINJAL, established in 1948, has created
various Japanese corpora. One example is
the "
Corpus," which is the first major
Humanities database in Japan created using
XML. It is a tag-structure rendition of the
19-20th century magazine
, in which tags
created for the purpose of linguistic research
applied to about 14.5 million text characters.
was a typical magazine in Japan during
the period of its publication from 1895 to
1925, and thus is an invaluable resource for
understanding the foundations of the modern
Japanese language which were formed during
that period.
Also underway at this institute is the
KOTONOHA plan, which seeks to integrate
various corpora (including the
One part of this effort is the presently-underway
project of the 'Balanced Contemporary Corpus
of Written Japanese' (BCCWJ), containing
100 million words. In addition to this, the
construction of a corpus is planned aimed
at compiling premodern data. This project
must especially address the peculiarities of
written Japanese, which does not include
spaces between words, and includes Chinese
, and
, making it
very difficult to indicate word information with
pauses between phrases, parts of speech, etc.
Mitsuru Aida, representing
the National Institute for
Japanese Literature (NIJL)
NIJL was established in 1972, making one of the
earliest efforts to digitize Japanese literature.
Researchers there have worked at converting the
research information into database format, and
in its inclusion of words, text descriptions, and
literary indexes, has become Japan's prototype
textual research database. In the early 1990's,
NIJL defined an original standard for tagging
Japanese literatures based on SGML, and upon
this built a large full-text database. It has played
a major role as the mechanism for a general
database of the human culture research.
Koichi Yasuoka, Kyoto
University, Institute for
Humanities Research
In 1980 the Jinbunken began the digitization
of the
Ming Dynasty Civil Examination Index
The following year, the institute initiated the
digitization of the
Index of Shanwen Liyi
Catalog for the Study of East Asian
. Moreover, the Institute has held
an Annual Workshop for Oriental Studies
Computing (ORICOM) every year in 1990.
The research conducted here for the past
20 years extends to many areas, including
multilingual text processing, character-code
issues, digital catalogs, and GIS. Most notably,
the Jinbunken has been actively engaged in
critique and development of Japanese
character sets, dealing with issues concerning
the relationship between ancient characters, JIS
X 0213, Unicode and so forth.
Ryo Akama, representing
the Ritsumeikan University
Art Research Center (ARC)
The extensive works of ARC have their origins
in the digitization of the
material that
Prof. Akama initiated in the Waseda University
Theater Museum in 1988. This approach led

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2010
"Cultural expression, old and new"

Hosted at King's College London

London, England, United Kingdom

July 7, 2010 - July 10, 2010

142 works by 295 authors indexed

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Conference website:

Series: ADHO (5)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None