Towards Constructing An Ecosystem for Digital Scholarly Editions of East Asian Historical Sources: With the Focus on the TEI-Markup of the Engi-Shiki

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Naoki Kokaze

    University of Tokyo

  2. 2. Kiyonori Nagasaki

    International Institute for Digital Humanities

  3. 3. Yuta Hashimoto

    National Museum of Japanese History

  4. 4. Ayano Kokaze

    Ochanomizu University

  5. 5. Makoto Goto

    National Museum of Japanese History

Work text
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The Text Encoding Initiative has long been the defacto standard for constructing digital scholarly editions of humanities as the interoperable data. As beginners often worry about the high cost of learning TEI, those seeking to disseminate TEI commonly provide markup guidelines (Terras et al. 2009). Compared with European sources, however, there are fewer projects to create TEI documentation for East Asian materials (Bingenheimer 2009; TEI EAJP SIG 2018; Nagasaki et al. 2013; Nagasaki 2019). Therefore, it is necessary to construct basic texts with the TEI and distribute them internationally because they function as the basis for research on East Asian culture and history.
This poster presents the importance of creating a TEI documentation for East Asian sources through the markup project of the Engi-Shiki and demonstrates the documentation itself. The Engi-Shiki is a 50-volume work compiled between in 907 and 927 C.E. The first ten volumes are Imperial Shinto regulations, and the last 40 are codifications of criminal and administrative law (Brown 2010). This abstract explains why the Engi-Shiki matters in the context of East Asian studies, and describes the contents of the TEI documentation.
There are three reasons why the Engi-Shiki has a further implication for East Asian studies. Firstly, as the general characteristics of East Asian text, the Engi-Shiki contains Chinese characters which flow vertically, double-line annotations contained within a single line, written in Kuzushiji —classical calligraphic renderings of Japanese text— (Hashimoto et al. 2016) without the space for word-separation, and Chinese numerical values with the non-International System of Units for measurement (Kokaze et al. 2017). All of these features require customized schemes when processing East Asian texts by computers.
Secondly, the documentation will be referencable for various markup projects, because the Engi-Shiki has several styles of texts. For example, the one is the Shito ritual prayer Norito
祝詞 with the classical Chinese grammar, and the other is the bookkeeping entry containing the explanation of administrative law. Concerning the bookkeeping entries, it has already been clarified the compatibility between the Engi-Shiki and the “Transactionography” —the markup strategy of historical financial records (Tomasek and Bauman 2013)— (Nagasaki et al. 2018). Therefore, the TEI documentation of the Engi-Shiki offers the high versatility for other projects.

Thirdly, the Engi-Shiki has useful connections with Chinese history. Because the Engi-Shiki was detailed enforcement of the Chinese ancient administrative codes
令, it helps us to understand how the Chinese Tang
唐 administrative rules were used in Japan. Primarily, the Engi-Shiki provides information on the division of administrative counties based on their socio-political power, so it has something valuable with such geographical modeling of administrative regions as some researchers in Kyoto University investigated (Ushine et al. 2007). Although this poster focuses on the Japanese source, we will address to reach out scholars whose interests lie in East Asian history and culture, as a prospect.

As for creating the documentation, we need to determine how profoundly and informatively we encode the texts. According to “Best Practices for TEI in Libraries” (Hawkins et al. 2018), our markup project applies the deepest Level 5. The contents are the following:
1. Metadata Description
2. Encoding the Overall Structure
3. Detailed Markup according to Your Research Interests
4. Dealing with Multi-Lingual Texts
5. Scheme Customization
6. Examples of the Display and Applications
Among them, the Scheme Customization is crucial for East Asian texts. Notably, Japanese texts often contain the “parallel embedded small-font size texts (called ruby in HTML5) which explain the pronunciation of a word” (Nagasaki et al. 2016). A TEI ODD file for Ruby, created by Kiyonori Nagasaki, is now available at
Finally, the target audiences should be specified. They are (a) Encoders of the Engi-Shiki, (b) Research institutions that create TEI files of East Asian pre-modern materials mainly in Japan, (c) DH scholars utilizing TEI data, and (d) people who analyze data after the end of our project. The documentation also works as a traceable record of research which describes what kind of intention we have had during the markup.
Though it may be a too magnificent notion in the academic field, we are willing to make efforts toward a “digital ecosystem.” Once we have provided the documentation in the interoperable way where scholars can edit, develop, and share the contents, it can be said that this documentation function as a platform of the digital scholarly edition. In the presentation at the conference, we welcome critical feedback on building a research platform, such as connecting the relevant researchers and institutions and maintaining the data.


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