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ARC-iJAC Activities


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In anticipation of the return of the Takayama float to the Gion Festival in 2022, a symposium was held by Asahi Shimbun, co-organized by the Art Research Center (ARC), Ritsumeikan University, on June 19, 2021.

The Takayama float boasts a long history of participating in the Yamahoko Junko parade that dates back to the 15th century. However, the float has been absent from the festival since 1826, having suffered from heavy damages caused by natural disasters.

As a result of the continued dedication and determination of the Takayama Preservation Association to revive the Takayama float, the long-cherished wish of the townspeople for the float to return to the Yamahoko Junko after nearly 200 years will finally come true.


The Symposium

At the beginning of the symposium, Mr. Junji Yamada, Head of the Takayama Preservation Association, gave an overview of the reconstruction progress of the float and expressed his joy that it is due to be completed four years earlier than expected.

Then, Prof. Keiji Yano, Deputy Director of the ARC, introduced the center's various activities concerning the digital archiving of the Gion Festival and the Takayama float (→ Gion Festival Digital Museum 2020 and 2021).


He presented CG animation of the rebuilt Takayama float, 2D and 3D maps of festival routes, old videos and photographs from the early Showa era, and 3D see-through visualization models of the festival floats, amongst others.

"As we did last year, the Art Research Center will be making its research results available to the public again from July this year through the Gion Festival Digital Museum 2021, so please look forward to it," expressed Prof. Yano.


Other distinguished guest speakers included Prof. Shoichi Inoue, Director of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies; Mr. Takashi Minamoto, film director and screenwriter; and Ms. Rieko Morita, Nihonga painter and Affiliate Professor at the Kyoto City University of Arts, with each of them sharing stories about his/her connection with the Gion Festival and the Takayama float.

Concluding the symposium, the hayashikata (Gion Festival musicians) of the Takayama Preservation Association performed ohayashi specific to the float.


"Ever since I was a kid, I have seen the festival floats passing by, accompanied by the creaking of wheels while I stood on the roadside listening to the ohayashi," Mr. Yamada reminisced. "None of us has ever experienced playing the ohayashi on the Takayama float during the festival, so we are all more than excited."

*A full video of the event is available online from July 1 - August 31, 2021 (in Japanese). To watch the video, please register via the following link:

Kuzushiji is a kind of Japanese cursive script found in early Japanese books (until the mid-Meiji Period).
Due to the different writing styles compared with modern Japanese characters, kuzushiji can be understood only by a minority of trained specialists.

The Art Research Center (ARC), Ritsumeikan University, has developed an educational transcription system with an AI-enabled deciphering support function for kuzushiji to facilitate access to early Japanese books for academic research.
The training course started on May 14, 2021, and has counted participants from 12 countries so far. It is provided free of charge. (→Click here for details on the training course.)

Professor Akama, thank you very much for your time today. You have just completed Phase 1 of the kuzushiji training course for beginners and intermediate levels. What is the purpose of your training course?

kuzushiji_cap1.JPGProf. Akama: We have developed an AI-enabled transcription support system for kuzushiji specifically for educational purposes as part of an industry-academia collaboration with Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. The company kindly provided us with the API (application programming interface) of their kuzushiji recognition system that is powered by deep learning.

Our purpose is to teach and support students and researchers in utilizing our transcription support system for their academic research projects based on the abundant materials available in the ARC's Early Japanese Books Portal Database. You can freely choose the materials you wish to transcribe from our database--with over 218,000 titles, one of the largest databases of digital-archived early Japanese books in the world.

I have held several workshops on the system, for instance, at the University of Leiden and the University of California, Berkeley. Not able to travel due to the pandemic, I hope to promote the system's usage by offering this online training course.

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The International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC), Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University, will be co-hosting the 2021 Annual Conference of the Japan Art Documentation Society (JADS) on June 19 (Sat) and 20 (Sun), 2021.

You are cordially invited to join us.

■ Date:

June 19 (Sat) 13:00 - 17:00

June 20 (Sun) 10:00 - 16:15

■ Participation method:

The conference will be held online.

*Please note that the conference will not be held on the Kinugasa Campus of Ritsumeikan University.

*Details regarding the online access to the conference and the conference proceedings (PDF) will be informed separately.

*Any change in the outline of the conference will be announced via the conference mailing list (ML). If you have not yet registered for the ML, please do so.

■ Participation fee:

Free of charge for both JADS members and non-members.

*A paper version of the proceedings will not be published this year. Please print out the PDF file of the proceedings if required.

■ Registration:

Please register via our application form.

*Upon registration, an automatic email will be sent to you with details to access the conference and the proceedings.

Application deadline: June 18 (Fri), 2021

*This conference is open to both members and non-members, except for the general meeting on the second day.

Organized by: Japan Art Documentation Society (JADS) and the MEXT International Joint Usage / Research Center International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC), Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Supported by: 記録管理学会 、情報処理学会人文科学とコンピュータ研究会、情報知識学会、人文系データベース協議会、全国大学史資料協議会、全国美術館会議、全国歴史資料保存利用機関連絡協議会、専門図書館協議会、デジタルアーカイブ学会、日本アーカイブズ学会、日本アートマネジメント学会、日本デジタル・ヒューマニティーズ学会、日本ミュージアム・マネージメント学会

For inquiries, please contact:

Organizing Committee for the 2021 Annual Conference of the Japan Art Documentation Society
jads_conf2021■ (Please change "■" to "@")

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On June 10, 2021, the ARC-iJAC-funded research project of Professor Eriko Hata (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Shizuoka Eiwa Gakuin University) on the primary sources related to the legend of Urashima in the collection of Itoi Bunko Library in Maizuru City was featured in the evening edition of the Kyoto Shimbun.

The article reported on a different and unexpected turn from the commonly known story on the legend of Urashima Taro from the Edo period that is introduced in an easy-to-understand way by Prof. Hata's research group investigating the Itoi Bunko Library in Maizuru.

IMG_0762_1.JPGThe Art Research Center (ARC), Ritsumeikan University, held a Joint Digital Archiving Technical Workshop with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) and the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, on Digitizing Hanging Scrolls.

The first of a bilingual video series, this workshop served as a prototype for providing cross-cultural online training to young researchers in various skills and methods of digital-archiving Japanese artworks while promoting research exchange between Japan and the UK.

Via a live stream, Professor Ryo Akama, College of Letters, Ritsumeikan University, explained step-by-step how to master the skill of digital archiving with Japanese hanging scrolls as a practical example.

IMG_0805_1.JPGFrom the set-up of the shooting location and adjusting the lighting to advising on handling the artworks, taking photographs effectively, and recommending various equipment and accessories, Professor Akama led through the entire process of digital-archiving hanging scrolls, followed by a Q&A session.

While Japanese graduate students at the venue obtained hands-on experience in executing a digital archiving project independently, the photographs taken were shared immediately with the UK counterparts to discuss the quality and accuracy of the results under the guidance of Professor Akama.

In line with the ARC's mission to disseminate know-how in digital-archiving Japanese art collections worldwide, the workshop video will serve as an educational resource and reference material for future digitization projects.

This project is funded by the International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC) and is part of SISJAC's Digital Japan Project.

SISJAC's report of the workshop→

*Please note that this was a non-public event.

On June 5, 2021, the research project on old colour photographs of Kyoto during the occupation period by Associate Professor and ARC member Naomi Kawasumi (College of Letters, Ritsumeikan University) was featured in the newspaper Kyoto Shimbun.

The article introduced how Prof. Kawasumi, a researcher in the field of Digital Humanities (DH), has deciphered colour photographs from the occupation period using overlay maps, which allow to see what buildings and houses were like before and after the war by overlaying old maps on current ones.

The article includes a photo of the Kyoto Hotel from about 70 years ago and a photo taken by US military in 1948 from near the west side of the Sanjo Bridge.

edited4.pngThe 2nd Ritsumeikan University - Tsinghua University International Academic Symposium on Saturday, May 22, 2021, focused on Japan-China Cultural Exchange and New Coordinates for the Humanities.

The symposium was jointly organized by the School of Humanities, Tsinghua University, China, and the International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC), Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University, supported by the Program for Asia-Japan Research Development Research on Creation and Development of Asian Arts Studies, Ritsumeikan University.

In his opening remarks, Professor Yoshio Nakatani--Chancellor of the Ritsumeikan Trust--stressed that the symposium was an excellent opportunity to promote research, academic exchange, and friendship with Tsinghua University and Chinese scholars.

Furthermore, Professor Yuping Ni--Associate Dean of the School of Humanities, Tsinghua University--expressed his hope to deepen the partnership and comprehensive cooperation between both universities, emphasizing the significance of humanities, besides natural sciences, in times of crisis and complex challenges such as the global pandemic.

During the symposium, research teams of both universities presented their perspectives and research activities in digital humanities.


Professor Takaaki Kaneko introduced the ARC Model of Digital Archiving, the center's representative databases, and how its online research environment facilitates born-digital style research.

He also explained powerful tools developed by the ARC to aid digital humanities research, such as the educational transcription system with an AI-enabled deciphering support function for the Japanese cursive script known as kuzushiji.

Furthermore, Professor Keiji Yano introduced the construction of a WebGIS-based portal database of maps and a system to compare Rakuchū rakugai-zu byobu--folding screen paintings of scenes in and around Kyoto--with maps of the present and the past.

edited6.pngConcluding the symposium, Professor Koichi Hosoi--Director of the Art Research Center--expressed his anticipation for the birth of new international joint research styles on diverse topics fueled by digital technology as both universities join efforts in digital humanities research.

Many people from Tsinghua University, Ritsumeikan University, and other universities and research institutions attended the symposium and engaged in lively discussions.

"I am very impressed that so many people are studying Japanese culture through databases and digital archives," commented Chancellor Nakatani on attending the symposium and expressed his anticipation for many new research findings to emerge from these archives.

edited1.jpgProfessor Takahiro Nishibayashi, who led the planning and organization of the symposium, expressed his gratitude to all the speakers, participants, and staff involved. "Taking the humanities as a starting point, I strongly hope that research exchange between both universities will be further deepened and involve other fields such as digital humanities," said Professor Nishibayashi.

The second joint academic symposium marked a meaningful occasion to reinforce the collaboration between both universities while highlighting the advance in humanities research on both sides with the progress in digital technology.

We look forward to further strengthening our partnership with Tsinghua University by expanding the scope of our research exchange to other research fields in the future.

*To prevent the spread of COVID-19, this event was held online via Zoom.

第二回 立命館大学-清華大学 国際学術シンポジウム   第二回 立命館大学-清華大学 国際学術シンポジウム

第二届 立命馆大学-清华大学国际学术研讨会   第二届 立命馆大学-清华大学国际学术研讨会

The Art Research Center (ARC) is pleased to announce that the 2nd Ritsumeikan University - Tsinghua University International Academic Symposium on Japan-China Cultural Exchange and New Coordinates for Humanities will be held on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

Date and time: May 22 (Saturday), 2021 14:00 - 18:20

Format: Online via Zoom (with simultaneous interpretation in Japanese and Chinese)


School of Humanities, Tsinghua University

Graduate School of Letters, Ritsumeikan University

International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC), Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Supported by: Program for Asia-Japan Research Development "Research on Creation and Development of Asian Arts Studies", Ritsumeikan University

Participation: Free of charge

How to register: Please send us an e-mail with the subject line "「【申込】清華大学・立命館大学国際学術シンポジウム」" and your name, affiliation and e-mail address to:

We will send you the link for Zoom after we receive your application.

For inquiries, please contact:

Art Research Center, Kinugasa Campus, Ritsumeikan University.

Tel: 075-465-8476 (Mon-Fri 9:00-17:30)

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Professor Ryo Akama (College of Letters, Ritsumeikan University)--Deputy Director of the Art Research Center--was a guest speaker in the academic exchange webinar Scenic Views and Supernatural Beings: New Themes in 19th-century Ukiyo-e Prints, held on April 20, 2021.


Together with Hollis Goodall, Curator of Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA) and advisor to Scripps College, Claremont, Professor Akama discussed new themes in the ukiyo-e prints (woodblock prints) of the 19th century, with particular focus on the growth in prints featuring demons, ghosts, monsters, and other supernatural creatures.This event was organized by JAPANHOUSE Los Angeles, a project of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to showcase and foster awareness of Japanese culture.

Professor Akama constructed and manages the Art Research Center's extensive Ukiyo-e Portal Database that comprises over 560,000 ukiyo-e prints.

More than 400 people from 10 countries attended this webinar.

For more information, please visit the JAPANHOUSE Los Angeles website:

bgimage03.jpgThe Art Research Center (ARC) is delighted to announce that the restoration of the third volume of the Shuten-doji picture scrolls is completed.


beforerestoration1.JPGPreviously in private possession in the US and Europe, where it escaped the fires of World War II, a set of five volumes of damaged picture scrolls depicting the folktale of Shuten-doji returned to Kyoto for the first time in 130 years.

The tale of Shuten-doji, a mythical demon leader, thought to be residing in Mount Oe northwest of Kyoto, has often been featured in noh and kabuki plays.

The picture scrolls are estimated to date back to around 1650 when the production technology of picture scrolls was at its most advanced level.

ARC's Crowdfunding Project

image03.jpgEntrusted with its restoration, the ARC started a crowdfunding project two years ago for the third volume of the picture scrolls which depicts the most dramatic scenes of the folktale but was particularly damaged and considered difficult to restore. We have since been able to beautifully revive this picture scroll thanks to our many supporters.

Oka Bokkodo Co., Ltd., a Kyoto-based company with over a century of experience preserving cultural heritage, was in charge of its restoration.

_DSC3629.jpgTo mark the project's completion, Iwataro Oka--company director of Oka Bokkodo Co., Ltd.--handed over the restored picture scroll to Professor Ryo Akama, Deputy Director of the ARC.

In the next step, the ARC will digital-archive the third volume and make it publicly available in the center's database.

We express our deepest gratitude to Oka Bokkodo Co., Ltd. and all the supporters of the Shuten-doji crowdfunding project.



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