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ARC-iJAC Activities



Ako City has started to hold the online exhibition Gishi no Leader: Oboshi Yuranosuke (「義士の頭領・大星由良之助」) from Saturday, November 14, using the Virtual Institute platform of the International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC).

1.pngAko City and the Art Research Center (ARC), Ritsumeikan University, have been promoting the digital archiving of ukiyo-e with the theme of Chushingura and have made the ukiyo-e collection of Chushingura held by Ako City open to the public.

Since 2019, the ARC and Ako City have been working to hold digital exhibitions centered on the works in its database for the purpose of developing database operation methods and promoting their utilization.

In this exhibition, we are introducing a collection of works depicting Oboshi Yuranosuke (or Oishi Kuranosuke), the protagonist of the play Chushingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers). Based on a historical event, Chushingura tells the story of forty-seven loyal retainers from the Ako domain led by Yuranosuke who avenged their lord's death. This year, the second online exhibition entitled "Gishi no Leader: Oboshi Yuranosuke" has been now made available to the public.

You can enjoy various "cool" images of Yuranosuke, such as scenes when he appears, scenes of the famous actors playing the role of Yuranosuke, and scenes depicting him in the act of revenge.

>> Click here to enter the Ako City Chushingura Ukiyo-e Digital Exhibition.

>> Click here for the Ako City Chushingura Ukiyo-e Database.

takeuchi_michitakanosekai.jpgのサムネイル画像The Art Research Center is pleased to announce that The World of the Takeuchi Michitaka Collection (『竹内道敬文庫の世界』), a treasure trove of early modern Japanese music materials, has been released.

With the aim to digitize and publish one of the representative collections of the Kunitachi College of Music Library - the collection of Takeuchi Michitaka - the Art Research Center has been collaborating with the library to release the official version of The World of Takeuchi Michitaka and make it available on the ARC's Virtual Institute:

The Takeuchi Michitaka Collection is the world's largest collection of modern Japanese music, especially regarding shamisen music, with over 10,000 items in total, including nishiki-e (woodblock prints), music books, and banzuke (playbills).

While we had previously released the nishiki-e database in March 2019, we officially launch an online digital exhibition this time based on the Kunitachi College of Music 90th Anniversary Project: Takeuchi Michitaka Collection Nishiki-e Picture Book. At the same time, the entire banzuke collection (over 5,600 items) with the focus on kabuki and joruri theater playbills will be made available to the public from our banzuke database.

Please feel free to use this as an online hub for your research on Japanese music:

As we strive to continue with the digital archiving of music books to release them in the next fiscal year and beyond, please visit our website again in the future.

Furthermore, our digital exhibition is also accessible from the top page of the Kunitachi College of Music Library:

BM-2020.3015.046.jpgThe Art Research Center is pleased to announce that the group of drawings by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) made for a book called Great Picture Book of Everything (『万物絵本大全図』) and published online by the British Museum on September 3, 2020, is now also available in the ARC database.

The metadata in the ARC's database is more detailed than the original database due to the additional information provided with the ARC's own research.


The existence of these drawings that were formerly owned by Parisian jeweler and art collector Henri Vever had been unknown to the wider world for 70 years after they were sold at an auction. It was only last year when they were finally re-discovered and acquired by the British Museum.

In a total of 103 drawings, Hokusai depicted a wide range of subjects related to natural phenomena, landscapes, ancient China, India and Southeast Asia, amongst others. The discovery of these drawings is especially significant as they stem from a period in the artist's career, the late 1820s, where he was previously thought to have created relatively little due to a series of difficult personal challenges. However, this group of drawings actually marks a turning point in the artist's career, giving him a new burst of creativity that was to be reflected in his subsequent famous print series, Thirty-Six Views of Mt Fuji (c. 1831-1833).

Ukiyo-e Portal Database: (in Japanese) (in English)

The Early Japanese Books Portal Database

The published images were taken by Art Research Center staff.

<Cooperation with the British Museum>

The ARC has been engaging in the digitization of the British Museum's Japan-related artworks for more than 10 years.

While the artworks that have been digitized by the ARC are available in the British Museum's collection search system, they are also published online by the ARC based on the contractual terms, and many items are only available in the ARC database.

Please refer to the ARC's databases for the British Museum below.

The British Museum Japanese Old Books Database (1,567 items) (in Japanese) (in English)

Ukiyo-e Online Database for the Collection of the British Museum (20,436 items) (in Japanese) (in English)

0006_p03_4.jpgThe Otojiro & Sadayakko Kawakami's Album of European and American Performance Materials (commonly known as Otosada Album)/「川上音二郎・貞奴一座欧米公演関係資料アルバム(通称【音貞アルバム】)」 has been published in the Art Research Center's Shochiku Otani Library Special Data Browsing System.

The Shochiku Otani Library that has been implementing the FY 2020 Adopted Joint Research Project (Open Theme) "A Study on the Construction of a Theater Material Image Search System that Utilizes the Theater Performance Record Database (演劇上演記録データベースを活用した、演劇資料画像検索閲覧システムの構築に関る研究)" as part of the International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC) has released the Otojiro & Sadayakko Kawakami's Album of European and American Performance Materials (Otosada Album).

Please access the database from here:

The Shochiku Otani Library Special Data Browsing System has been developed by the ARC-iJAC.

The digital archiving of these materials was made possible by funds raised through the crowdfunding project [No.7] Preserving the Trajectory of Otojiro & Sadayakko Kawakami on the Global Stage for the Future that was launched by the Shochiku Otani Library in 2018. Currently, the crowdfunding project has successfully reached to the round [No.9].

Otojiro Kawakami was a pioneer of the Liberal Civil Rights Movement, actor, and entertainer who enjoyed great popularity with his Oppekepe song. Regarded as a founder of the shinpa theatrical form that originated in the Meiji Period, he played a major role in the modernization of Japanese theater. Furthermore, Sadayakko, who became his wife, is considered as Japan's first actress in the modern period.

This album is extremely valuable because it contains letters and magazine articles from the time when Otojiro and his troupe toured the United States and Europe starting from April 1902.

For more details on the Otosada Album, please see the article below:

The Shochiku Otani Library, founded in Tokyo in 1956, is dedicated to materials concerning Japanese theatrical works (mainly kabuki, bunraku, shinpa, shingeki, and commercial plays) as well as movie and TV-related scripts, magazines, posters, and photo collections, amongst others.

The Art Research Center (ARC) is pleased to announce that a video of the "Katayama Noh Online Special Performance" held on September 5, 2020, at the Nagoya Noh Theater has been released and will be available on YouTube until October 10, 2021.

The ARC has been closely working with the Katayama Family Foundation for the Preservation of Noh and Traditional Kyoto Dance to film and digitally archive their performances for more than 20 years.

With the changes in the global environment in 2020, the world of classical performing arts has also entered a phase of exploring new methods for disseminating performances.

To address the issue of how to promote classical Japanese performing arts to the world amid a global pandemic, the Katayama Family Foundation for the Preservation of Noh and Traditional Kyoto Dance and the ARC have been conducting practical research on the topic "Study on the Effective Promotion of Noh Theater to the Global Audience (能楽の効果的な世界にむけた発信に関する研究)".

This research project is one of the FY 2020 Adopted Joint Research Projects (International Joint Research to Utilize the Center's Facilities and Equipment) of the International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC).

The video represents one of the research achievements of this project.


Noh "Yoroboshi" / performed by KATAYAMA Kuroemon and others

Noh "Sessho-seki" / performed by MIKATA Shizuka and others

Click here to access the official YouTube channel of the Katayama Family Foundation for the Preservation of Noh and Traditional Kyoto Dance.

title.jpgThe Annual Conference of the Japan Art Documentation Society (JADS), hosted by the Japan Art Documentation Society (JADS) in cooperation with the MEXT International Joint Usage / Research Center International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC), Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University, took place on June 27 (Sat) and 28 (Sun), 2020.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the event was held online for the first time this year and more than 130 members and non-members of the JADS participated.

As part of this year's annual conference, a symposium on 「芸術文化資源デジタル・アーカイブの国際的共同利用 -- オンライン環境での知的生産システムとそのツール」 (The International Joint Usage of Digital Archives for Arts and Cultural Resources -- Intelligent Production Systems and their Tools in an Online Environment) was held.

hosoi_sensei.jpgThe symposium began with a welcome speech by Prof. Koichi Hosoi, Director of the Art Research Center (ARC), who introduced the international research activities of the ARC-iJAC in the field of digital humanities.

Following his opening remarks, three presenters proposed activities and tools for the next generation of digital research environments in light of the role of digital archives until now which only had a focus on reference information. In this context, they discussed ways and future directions to construct an online knowledge cycle for arts and cultural resources.

Among these three speakers, Mitsuhiro Tsuda, a researcher at the Art Research Center, publicly presented the concept and utilization of the ARC Research Space and ARC Database for the first time and explained their role in effectively building relationships between digital resources and intellectual activities.

akama_sensei.jpgIn supporting the activities of the Japan Art Documentation Society (JADS), the ARC-iJAC aims to contribute to the establishment of such an online knowledge cycle which may enable researchers, curators and librarians not only to "browse" information, but also archive the "relationships" between these resources and produce new knowledge by "editing" and "re-archiving" them in the future.

On February 25, 2020, Ritsumeikan University and the University of California, Berkeley ("UC Berkeley") held an event commemorating the conclusion of signing a research cooperation agreement.

This follows after the Art Research Center ("ARC") at Ritsumeikan University, one of the pioneers in digital humanities, was designated as the International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC) by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in October last year. With such recognition, the ARC strives to push internationalization of research activities that transcends disciplines and geographic boundaries.

For almost 15 years, a research team of the ARC, led by Prof. Ryo Akama (College of Letters), has been steadily expanding their partnership with the UC Berkeley in the field of digital archiving. The collaboration began when the ARC digitized a collection of sugoroku, Japanese board game sheets, for the UC Berkeley's C.V. Starr East Asian Library (EAL) which boasts one of the world's largest collections of Japanese cultural resources. Subsequent joint projects also include the creation of digital archives of old and rare books, copperplate prints and Kadenshū manuscripts, amongst others.

Since adopting the ARC model of digital archiving based on the three pillars of (1) database creation, (2) its publication, and (3) utilization of digital resources, the EAL has been able to speed up digitization and dissemination of its research resources. Furthermore, this collaboration has enabled the ARC to share Berkeley's famous collections as its portal databases. Through this, the ARC aims to facilitate the establishment of a sustainable "digital ecosystem" wherein researchers can create their own databases from the ARC's portal databases and publish research which in turn may serve as a basis for new research endeavors around the world.

In recent years, both universities have expanded their collaboration from database creation to student exchange activities to promote research and knowledge exchange. Moreover, Prof. Akama recently held a workshop at the UC Berkeley on his latest research about "An Online Education System for Transcribing Japanese Cursive Texts from the Edo Period with AI Assistance".

As the cooperation agreement with the UC Berkeley is a comprehensive one with no restrictions on research fields, Ritsumeikan University highly hopes to advance joint research in fields well beyond digital archiving as well.

The commemoration ceremony held at the UC Berkeley was attended by Ritsumeikan University's Vice Chancellor Yoko Matsubara, the ARC's Director and Deputy Directors, Prof. Koichi Hosoi (College of Image Arts and Sciences), Prof. Akama, Prof. Keiji Yano (College of Letters) and Prof. Keiko Suzuki (Kinugasa Research Organization). Meanwhile, the UC Berkeley was represented by the Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, the Director of the Center for Japanese Studies, and the Director of the Center for East Asian Studies, amongst others.

Prof. Akama and other ARC delegates are hopeful that the conclusion of the collaboration agreement with the UC Berkeley would open doors to other future partnerships with US universities that have displayed an interest in digital archiving.

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■ Photos: Ritsumeikan faculty chat with UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor; presentations at UC Berkeley's C.V. Starr East Asian Library; meeting with the Director of the Center for Japanese Studies (CJS), UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley (English)