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The Art Research Center (ARC), Ritsumeikan University, in collaboration with the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), is pleased to announce that 4,233 ukiyo-e prints and 74 Japanese old books from ROM's collection are now available in our database.

Royal Ontario Museum Ukiyo-e Database

*Note: From the ARC Ukiyo-e Portal Database, you can search for this collection by entering 'Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)' in the 'collection'-field.

Royal Ontario Museum Japanese Old Books Database

*Note: From the ARC Early Japanese Books Portal Database, you can search for this collection by entering 'Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)' in the 'owner'-field.

Located in Toronto, Canada, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) showcases art, culture, and nature from around the world. Canada's largest, most-visited museum, ROM has the most extensive collection of Japanese art in the country, a large part of which are ukiyo-e.

Digital archiving of ROM's collection of ukiyo-e prints began in March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the digitization of all the ukiyo-e prints and some of the early Japanese books.

Since then, the ARC has continued to add to the database to ensure all the works from the collection are available online for the public. Each item in the ARC database is linked to ROM's online collection. (Some links are yet to be adjusted.)

The collection includes ukiyo-e prints from a wide range of periods and genres, from monochrome early ukiyo-e prints of the Genroku period (1688 - 1704), to shin-hanga prints of the Taisho and Showa periods.

At its core is the collection of over 2,000 ukiyo-e prints of Sir Byron Edmund Walker--one of the founders and first chairman of ROM--that was bequested to the Museum in 1926.

Regarding main genres, the collection consists of 1,426 landscape prints (名所絵), 685 prints of beautiful women (美人画), 464 warrior prints (武者絵), 375 actor prints (役者絵), and 361 prints of scenes from stories (物語絵; including duplicates of actor prints). It is also particularly noteworthy that there are 219 war prints (戦争絵), 83 earthquake (地震絵) and catfish prints (鯰絵), 33 prints depicting foreigners, and 201 surimono.

Regarding ukiyo-e artists, the collection includes 750 prints by Hiroshige, 716 prints by Gekko, 300 prints by Hokusai, 125 prints by Toyokuni I, 100 prints by Kunisada, and 117 prints by Utamaro.

In 2009, a donation of 136 warrior prints from the late James King, a professor of English at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, enriched the collection of this genre. Moreover, Balfour Halévy, the former law librarian of York University, Toronto, donated his collection of over 600 works of Ogata Gekko to ROM in 2016. This rare collection is an essential source for research on Gekko.

We hope that access to this database from ROM's extensive collection provides a foundation for further ukiyo-e research and learning.

References:

・James King and Yuriko Iwakiri: Japanese Warrior Prints, 1646-1904. Hotei, 2007.

・Sir Byron Edmund Walker | Royal Ontario Museum (rom.on.ca): https://www.rom.on.ca/en/about-us/rom/founders/sir-byron-edmund-walker

The 118th International ARC Seminar will be held as a Webinar on Wednesday, May 24, from 18:00 JST.

The program is as follows:

Speaker: Chiaki TAKAHASHI (Part-time Lecturer, Faculty of Letters, Doshisha University)

Topic: Prize Contests and Photographs: Communities of Magazines and Readers


Date: Wednesday, May 24, 18:00 - 19:30 JST

Participation: online via Zoom, free of charge (no reservation required)

*This Webinar is open to everyone, and non-ARC members are also invited to participate via YouTube.

東海道五拾三次之内

We are pleased to announce that 1,541 ukiyo-e prints held by the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) are now available on the website of the Art Research Center (ARC), Ritsumeikan University.

Ukiyo-e Database for Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Note: From the ARC Ukiyo-e Portal Database, you can access this database by entering 'BAMPFA' in the 'collection'-field.

BAMPFA is the art museum of the University of California, Berkeley, in the heart of downtown Berkeley.

In September 2019, the Art Research Center (ARC) obtained authorization from the museum to digitize its collection of ukiyo-e prints, which has now been completed. Upon adding the metadata, we reported to the museum on the project in February 2020 and have been working to improve the data during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coordinating with the museum, the ARC has made the database publicly accessible from the ARC website. A button for each item provides a direct link to the BAMPFA collection database.

Among the 1,541 ukiyo-e prints in the collection, 595 landscape prints (名所絵) make up the largest share, followed by 501 prints of beautiful women (美人画), 224 actor prints (役者絵), and 83 warrior prints (武者絵). Regarding ukiyo-e artists, the collection comprises 359 ukiyo-e prints by Hiroshige, 164 ukiyo-e prints by Kunisada I, 118 ukiyo-e prints by Hokusai, and 72 ukiyo-e prints by Kuniyoshi.

Particularly noteworthy are the 134 surimono (摺物) and 120 pillar prints (柱絵), for which the opening of this database provides a foundation for further research.

The 117th International ARC Seminar will be held as a Webinar on Wednesday, May 10, from 18:00 JST.

The program is as follows:

Speaker: Naoki ISHIBASHI (Professor, Graduate School of Data Science, Musashino University)

Topic: Artizon Cloud: A Multidatabase System Architecture for a Museum and Its Applications


Date: Wednesday, May 10, 18:00 - 19:30 JST

Participation: online via Zoom, free of charge (no reservation required)

*This Webinar is open to everyone, and non-ARC members are also invited to participate via YouTube.

専修大学図書館「向井信夫文庫」の浮世絵全点

We are pleased to announce that 1,481 ukiyo-e prints from the Mukai Nobuo Collection of Senshu University Library are now available online in the Ukiyo-e Portal Database of the Art Research Center (ARC), Ritsumeikan University.

Ukiyo-e Database of the Mukai Nobuo Collection, Senshu University Library

Note: From the ARC Ukiyo-e Portal Database, you can search for the Mukai Nobuo Collection by entering '向井信夫文庫' in the 'collection'-field.

The late Mukai Nobuo was known as a collector and researcher of Edo-period Japanese books. His collection comprises a wide variety of books from the late Edo period, such as gesaku (戯作)--including sharebon (洒落本), kokkeibon (滑稽本), hanashibon (咄本), and ninjobon (人情本)--kanshibun (漢詩文), kyoshi (狂詩) and kyobun (狂文), kosho zuihitsu (考証随筆), Yoshiwara-and kabuki-related works, picture books, and more.

While collecting these Japanese books, he also collected ukiyo-e prints and ukiyo-e albums of the same period. It is a well-balanced collection of late-Edo period actor prints (役者絵), warrior prints (武者絵), prints of beautiful women (美人画), and caricatures, with a sizeable collection of 690 works by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (月岡芳年).

The Art Research Center (ARC) has collaborated in this project by digitizing the collection and providing detailed metadata.

While the Edo-period Japanese books of the Mukai Nobuo Collection are released sequentially by the National Institute of Japanese Literature, they are also accessible through the ARC database system.

Senshu University Library's Nobuo Mukai Collection Browsing System

Note: From the Early Japanese Books Portal Database, you can search by entering '専修大学' as the owner of the collection.

Regarding the use of rare books and materials of Senshu University Library, please refer to the library website https://library.lib.senshu-u.ac.jp/information/collection.

The 116th International ARC Seminar will be held as a Webinar on Wednesday, April 26, from 18:00 JST.

The program is as follows:

1. Speaker: Simon KANER (Executive Director, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia)

Topic: Stonehenge and prehistoric Japan--Archaeological exchanges between Japan and the UK: Current and future trends

2. Speakers: Ryoko MATSUBA (Lecturer in Digital Japanese Arts and Humanities, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia)
Joseph BILLS (MPhil, Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge)
Bori KO (MA Student, History of Art and Archaeology of East Asia, SOAS University of London)
Liam HEAD (MA Student, Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies, University of East Anglia)

Topic: Implementing the ARC Model in the UK: Digitising Sword Ornaments at the British Museum


Date: Wednesday, April 26, 18:00 - 19:30 JST

Participation: online via Zoom, free of charge (no reservation required)

*This Webinar is open to everyone, and non-ARC members are also invited to participate via YouTube.

We are pleased to announce the Call for Manuscript Submissions for the Art Research Center's journal ART RESEARCH vol. 24-2.

As an academic journal specializing in arts and culture, the purpose of ART RESEARCH is to widely publicize the results of the research projects and activities conducted by the Art Research Center (ARC), Ritsumeikan University, and its partner institutions and collaborative researchers.

Since its establishment in 1998, the Art Research Center (ARC) has been selected for several national grants as a center of excellence for research in culture, art, and information science. In FY2019, the center assumed the role as the International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art & Culture (ARC-iJAC) upon its accreditation by the MEXT as an International Joint Usage/Research Center. The ARC is highly regarded as a leading hub for the digital archiving of Japanese art and culture.

Our online journal will be published several times a year, and at the end of the fiscal year, a print booklet compiling all contributions will be distributed, as we hope to increase the submission opportunities for researchers.

We look forward to receiving your manuscript.

Read more>>

[イベント情報]
April 17, 2023(Mon)

With the establishment of the International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC) in 2019, the Art Research Center strives to push the internationalization of research activities that transcend disciplines and geographic boundaries.

NEWS

March 29, 2023: The cherry blossoms have reached their peak on Kinugasa Campus, Ritsumeikan University.
We were delighted to welcome Dr. Huw Jones and Dr. Yasmin Faghihi of the Cambridge University Library to the ARC, as well as Dr. Pilar Cabañas of the Complutense University of Madrid.
Dr. Cabañas is the leader of the ARC-iJAC project Ukiyo-e, illustrated books, albums and painted books in Madrid Collections (FY 2023).
This video was produced for the Comprehensive Digitization and Discoverability Program (CDDP) of the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC) and showcases how to custom-build your own online research database in the ARC Research Space (free of charge).
Interested in building your own research database?

>>Please contact us!
Supported by the ARC-iJAC, the research led by Dr. Ewa Machotka and Dr. John Pavlopoulos (Stockholm University) has pursued the large-scale digital geospatial exploration of places depicted in Japanese early modern ukiyo-e landscape prints through Natural Language Processing (FY 2021). Their follow-up project aims to apply NLP technology to inscriptions on ukiyo-e landscape prints to facilitate a large-scale exploration of textual information featured in those prints (FY 2023). >> Full interview.
[Database] Release of Gidayu-bushi Lyric Booklets (Shohon)
About 580 gidayu-bushi lyric booklets (shohon) from the Takeuchi Dokei Collection, held by the Kunitachi College of Music Library, are now online available in the ARC database system. >> Database.
>> Commentary on materials.

Based on an academic exchange agreement between Ako City and the ARC, a database of Chushingura ukiyo-e held by the city has been built and published online since 2008.
With the recent addition of about 600 items, a total of 2,564 ukiyo-e prints and one book (4 volumes of Gishi Taikan) related to Chushingura are now available online.
>> Database.
>> Online exhibition.

Jointly conducted with Nara Prefecture, the research project to visualize the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Tamaki Shrine--is led by ARC faculty member Prof. Satoshi Tanaka (College of Information Science and Engineering, RU).
It involves 3D measurement of the Tamaki Shrine using drones, terrestrial laser scanners, and 360-degree cameras to take multifaceted measurements.
>> Read more.

Co-organized by the ARC-iJAC, a workshop with the Ukiyo-e Woodblock Engraving and Printmaking Techniques Preservation Society (浮世絵木版画彫摺技術保存協会) was held on Feb. 17, 2023.
The workshop served to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and opinions concerning ukiyo-e woodblock engraving and printmaking techniques. There has been a decade of cooperation between the society and the ARC.
>> Read more.

On March 15, Prof. Koichi Hosoi (College of Image Arts and Sciences, RU), Deputy Director of the ARC, gave a seminar talk at Synergy Link Kyoto, an event centered around AR/VR, the metaverse, and web3.
The topic of his seminar talk was The Next Generation Internet World and the Industry (「次世代インターネット世界と産業」).
Furthermore, research achievements on creating a Japanese cultural study environment using virtual space-related technologies, such as the metaverse, were showcased at the event.
On February 4, Prof. Ryo Akama (College of Letters, RU), Director of the ARC, delivered a special lecture on The ARC Research Space: Aiming at Perfecting a Comprehensive Digital Research Space.
The DH conference, hosted by the Institute of East Asian Art History (IKO) and the Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies (HCTS), Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg, discussed the problems, challenges, and breakthroughs with digital technologies in East Asian Studies research.
Upcoming Events

April 26 (Wed), 2023, 18:00-19:30 JST
116. International ARC Seminar
1. Speaker: Simon KANER (Executive Director, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia)

Topic: Stonehenge and prehistoric Japan--Archaeological exchanges between Japan and the UK: Current and future trends

2. Speakers: Ryoko MATSUBA (Lecturer, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia), Joseph BILLS (MPhil, Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge), Bori KO (MA Student, History of Art and Archaeology of East Asia, SOAS University of London), Liam HEAD (MA Student, Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies, University of East Anglia)

Topic: Implementing the ARC Model in the UK: Digitising Sword Ornaments at the British Museum
May 10 (Wed), 2023, 18:00-19:30 JST
117. International ARC Seminar
Speaker: Naoki ISHIBASHI (Professor, Graduate School of Data Science, Musashino University)
Topic: To be announced


May 24 (Wed), 2023, 18:00-19:30 JST
118. International ARC Seminar
Speaker: Chiaki TAKAHASHI (Part-time Lecturer, Faculty of Letters, Doshisha University)
Topic: To be announced
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Background:
Supported by the ARC-iJAC, the research led by Dr. Ewa Machotka and Dr. John Pavlopoulos (Stockholm University) has pursued the large-scale digital geospatial exploration of places depicted in Japanese early modern ukiyo-e landscape prints through Natural Language Processing (FY 2021). Their follow-up project aims to apply NLP technology to inscriptions on ukiyo-e landscape prints to facilitate a large-scale exploration of textual information featured in those prints (FY 2023).

Project leader: Dr. Ewa Machotka (Dept. of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Stockholm University)
Project manager: Dr. John Pavlopoulos (Dept. of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University)
Project members: Konstantina Liagkou, Panagiotis Papapetrou, Marita Chatzipanagiotou

Thank you very much for your time today. Could you please tell us the motivation for your ARC-iJAC research project Natural Language Processing for a Geospatial Exploration of Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints?

Unknown-2.pngMachotka: The last several decades saw the rise of interest in the concept of Global Art History, understood as a heterogenous transnational and critical study of the world's cultural production. One of the challenges of this new research direction is the question of how to acknowledge the conceptual and material heterogeneity of artistic production across the world in a way that does not support a universalist understanding of cultures. This concern prompted our research. We saw that Japanese early modern landscape prints, as globally recognizable non-Western pre-modern artifacts, offer a critical testbed for considering these issues.

We know that these prints are often defined today as fūkei-ga, or landscapes. However, we should not forget that the notion of fūkei is a modern cultural translation entangled with the ideology of modernization and colonial power. Originally these images were largely defined as meisho-e or 'images of famous places', and they are rooted in poetic rhetorical figures that tie seasonal images with either actual or imagined places. So, to understand meisho-e prints and their social function at the time of their production, we have to understand what places were depicted (i.e. considered culturally significant) and how these geographical locations were represented and mediated by the prints. We wanted to identify a general pattern in this mediation, which can be done easier at a large scale instead of at the level of individual prints.

Considering the richness of the corpus that includes thousands of objects, we thought that recent advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) could effectively help us to take the first step in this study, namely the geolocation of places depicted in prints, and identification of their distribution across time and space. Our exploratory mixed-method analysis has so far delivered promising results. We developed a novel application of NLP for the Digital Humanities that demonstrates the transformative potential of AI for the study of Japanese early modern prints and Art History at large.

How have the ARC-iJAC resources supported you in realizing this project?

ishiyamadera_1.pngLiagkou: To put it plainly, our research would not be possible without the Ukiyo-e Portal Database being developed by and hosted at the Art Research Center at Ritsumeikan University. First, the Portal Database offered us access to print collections kept in different museums around the world. If this feature sounds trivial, please note that not all museums freely share their collections online with the public.

Second, the ARC Ukiyo-e Portal Database offers access to an extremely rich corpus. When we started our research, the Portal Database hosted 678,429 prints kept at 28 institutions in Japan and abroad, and it is continuously growing. Hence, it offers access to a very large corpus of ukiyo-e prints facilitating 'distant viewing' or a macro analysis of the prints, thus also enabling a diversity of analytic tasks.

Third, the Portal Database features not only high-quality visual data itself (delivered in a standardized protocol) but also rich and high-quality metadata facilitating different kinds of explorations and analyses. In the context of our project, we especially appreciated image-content-related transcription of inscriptions on prints which often mention names of the places depicted in the prints. We identified these mentions with NLP, geotagged them, and then visualized them on a map.

As part of your research project, you developed an online application called Ukiyo-e Distant Viewer. Could you briefly explain its merits/ purpose?

Pavlopoulos: The Ukiyo-e Distant Viewer aims to facilitate the geolocation and visualization of recognized place-name entities found in ukiyo-e prints, enabling users to identify culturally significant places and explore their spatial distribution. This analysis covers thousands of images across Japan and provides a large-scale perspective on early modern landscape imagination.

It is important to note that our focus is not on individual prints or print series, but rather on identifying trends and changes across time.Ultimately, this tool will enable us to trace the chronological development of this imagination and gain insights into its cultural and historical significance.

Unknown-3.pngHow do you feel about the execution of the project? Have you come across any particular challenges?

Liagkou: Our exploratory mixed-method analysis has so far been successful. First, by employing the NLP approaches such as transfer-learning and Named Entity Recognition (NER) and applying our fine-tuned recognition model on a large dataset of prints, we provided a use-case of how a macroanalysis of a visual dataset can be undertaken in art historical research of Japanese visual culture.

Machotka: We also identified a number of methodological challenges. As we know, the field of Spatial Art History--combining Geographical Information Systems (GIS), NLP, and Corpus Linguistics--has advanced in the past few years. However, although these tools perform well on modern datasets, it is not the same for historical materials.

We can encounter several problems, such as OCR errors, difficulties related to place reference identification, and place reference disambiguation (related to language changes over time), among others. The situation is even more complicated in the case of mapping meisho-e prints due to the ambiguity of the depicted visual motifs. We need to note that place identification in prints is not always facilitated by iconography or visual motives but by the image-content-related inscriptions printed in the images that often feature place names.

So, the geolocation of these sites requires the reading of inscriptions. And transcription of inscriptions is one of the main obstacles for art historians interested in a large-scale analysis of the prints. This is due to the complexity of the Japanese early-modern writing system, problems with adequate identification of place names, and material aspects of a print (e.g. color scheme and preservation state). We plan to address some of these issues in our next project, which focuses on exploring possibilities of using computational tools for the automated transcription of inscriptions on prints.

Your next project, AI-powered Text Recognition of Inscriptions in Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints, will continue to utilize Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to study the landscape prints (meisho-e) in the ARC Ukiyo-e Portal Database. What is the significance of this project?

Pavlopoulos: In this project, we will focus on resolving the linguistic problems related to transcribing the inscriptions on prints enabling geolocating of places mentioned in these inscriptions. We will investigate the development of computational tools for the automated recognition of the text of inscriptions on prints rather than using already-transcribed inscriptions provided in the database.

As we established previously, NER can be used to successfully extract the place names from inscriptions on ukiyo-e prints. However, the tool requires transcribed digital metadata to generate information, while many museum collections lack reliable transcriptions of inscriptions on prints.

Optical character recognition and handwritten text recognition (HTR) can be used to recognize the text from an image. Due to the technological, formal, and linguistic characteristics of ukiyo-e print inscriptions, which do not use a standardized writing system or movable type, we hypothesize that handwritten text recognition could be effectively applied to inscriptions on Japanese prints.

We expect the recognized text to contain errors, and we will investigate the accuracy of extracting place-named-entities from the recognized (not transcribed) text. This multimodal methodological challenge requires testing on non-transcribed inscriptions on prints, and our study will facilitate this.

How did you first connect with the Art Research Center (ARC)? / How did you hear about the International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC)?

Machotka: As a scholar of Japanese art history educated in Japan, at Gakushūin University in Tokyo (thanks to the doctoral fellowship issued by MEXT), I have been well aware of the pioneering contribution of the Art Research Center (ARC) and the International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC) to the digitization of Japanese cultural artifacts, and computational analysis of Japanese art.

I also had the honor and pleasure to meet the leading ARC researchers, Prof. Akama Ryo, Prof. Suzuki Keiko, Prof. Yano Keiji, Dr. Matsuba Ryoko, and many other colleagues at different academic events in Europe and Japan. So, I have been aware of the important work done by the ARC, its faculty, and the research value of the ARC databases for a long time. And I have to admit that I probably would have never started my own research adventure with Digital Art History if not for the ARC and its ground-breaking work.

Is there anything else you would like to comment on or highlight?

Machotka: We would like to stress one important issue, which we think is the key to the success of Digital Humanities, and can push the frontiers of research in (Global) Art History. It is the need and value of collaboration across various disciplines, institutions, and national borders.

Communication between researchers, exchange of experiences, sharing knowledge and good practices is the key to knowledge production. Digitization processes are going fast, and many museums invest in building their digital databases and sharing their collections with the general public. But to benefit from this incredible work, we would also like to see a strengthening of analytical aspects of Digital Art History, using computational tools not only to offer wider accessibility to museum collections but also to facilitate analysis and a better understanding of art objects.

So, we would like to encourage other art historians and computer scientists to explore possibilities for collaboration. Interdisciplinary work across distant disciplines like ours is not an easy task, as we need to learn to understand and respect our divergent research approaches. But it has been a rewarding experience for our team and brought out new findings that can move our disciplines forward.

(This interview was conducted by Yinzi Emily Li.)

The 115th International ARC Seminar will be held as a Webinar on Wednesday, April 12, from 18:00 JST.

The program is as follows:

Speaker: Ryuzo UENO (Professor, College of Letters, Ritsumeikan University)

Topic: The Acceptance of"Sanguozhi" in Japan through Ukiyo-e


Date: Wednesday, April 12, 18:00 - 19:30 JST

Participation: online via Zoom, free of charge (no reservation required)

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