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December 8, 2021(Wed)

On December 8, 2021, the Yomiuri Shimbun featured an article on the launch of the Heian-kyo Site Database--a project by Prof. Keiji Yano, Deputy Director of the Art Research Center (ARC).

For more information on the database, please click here.

Kyoto Shimbun reported on Assistant Professor Hirotaka Sato (College of Letters)--a member of the Art Research Center--who has 'restored' the landscape of Yumiya-cho in the early Meiji era with a digital archive. Yumiya-cho is located in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto.

On October 21, 2021, the Kyoto Shimbun featured an article on the digital archiving of films that belonged to the late Aimi Akira, initiated by Associate Professor Shinya Saito (College of Image Arts and Sciences)--a member of the Art Research Center.

Professor Saito plans to create a database on these films as part of his project Kyoto Street Culture Archive: Memories of the Pop Culture Featuring the Streets, and their Visualization.

The crowdfunding initiative of Shochiku Otani Library in Tokyo that Professor Ryo Akama--Deputy Director of the Art Research Center--has been supporting in its digital-archiving activities was featured in the Tokyo Shimbun on October 17, 2021.

The article introduces the 10th anniversary of the crowdfunding initiative that aims at digitizing and making online available severely damaged materials in the library collection.

Nearly half of the donations for the crowdfunding initiative have been made by repeated users, and the number of young users who came to know about the library through crowdfunding has steadily increased.

August 17, 2021(Tue)


The Art Research Center (ARC), Ritsumeikan University, is pleased to announce the launch of the Sumo Digital Institute within the ARC Virtual Institute, along with the release of the online database of the Teiji Kojima Collection--a treasure trove of sumo banzuke and old sumo documents.

The ARC has been working to create a digital archive of materials related to the history of sumo collected by the late Teiji Kojima, a renowned scholar of sumo history. Along with the release of his collection in June, we decided to publish the results of our research in sumo history under the Sumo Digital Institute.

The Teiji Kojima Collection consists of approximately 1,000 paper documents and dozens of volumes of old sumo-related materials, mainly sumo banzuke, covering a total of 264 years from 1742 (mid-Edo period) to 2006. These digital images are now accessible online at any time.

In addition to browsing the digitized materials, the Sumo Digital Institute offers an online exhibition. It is an attempt to bring to light the many facets of Edo-period kanjin-zumo tournaments by picking up sumo-related articles from the Bukō nenpyō--a compilation of Edo-period events in chronological order--and linking them to sumo banzuke related to the events from the Teiji Kojima Collection, ukiyo-e prints in the Ukiyo-e Portal Database, and materials from the Early Japanese Books Database.

We hope that this online exhibition will encourage people to take an interest in the world of kanjin-zumo that is very different from today.

The exhibition not only links to the Kojima Collection but also to sumo paintings in the Japanese Collection of the Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden, available in the ARC Virtual Institute.

The ukiyo-e paintings that traveled to the Netherlands as soon as they were published are beautiful and well-preserved, retaining their original colors. We hope you enjoy them.

The Sumo Digital Institute strives to collect a wide range of visual data and literary materials about sumo from the Edo period to the modern era and make them available to the public through a digital archive. We hope to raise the public's interest in sumo by releasing these rare sumo materials. [Person in charge: Nozomu Ataka]


The Art Research Center (ARC), Ritsumeikan University, is pleased to announce the release of the Asahi Shimbun Collection of Shibai Banzuke (Kabuki Playbills), held by the Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library, in our Shibai Banzuke (Kabuki Playbills) Portal Database.

Since the Edo Period, flyers, posters, and programs of kabuki and jōruri plays have provided detailed information about actors, names of the cast, and the content of those plays at that time.

The materials, originally cataloged in the Asahi Shimbun bunko mokuroku (「朝日新聞」文庫目録), were published by the Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library in March 1970. With the permission of the library, the Art Research Center has digitized the materials and re-examined the catalog data, making the images online available through the ARC Shibai Banzuke Database System.

By the end of 2017, the ARC had released around 700 un-cataloged items from the library. This time, we added 1,443 banzuke, bringing the total number of items available in our online database to 2,129.

You can either access these materials from the Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library's website under 'Various Catalogs and Databases' or the ARC Shibai Banzuke Portal Database by selecting the holding institution 'Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library'.

Our Shibai Banzuke Portal Database also comprises banzuke held by other institutions, thus allowing you to browse and compare to find supplementary information.

Furthermore, the Shibai Banzuke Catalog of the Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library, published in October 1968, contains approximately 2,500 items other than the above, which will be digitized in our third project next year. We hope to complete a large-scale database with almost 4,600 items within three years.

Leiden-Volkenkunde.jpgAs part of our project to digital-archive overseas artworks, the Art Research Center (ARC) is pleased to announce that all of the digitized Japanese cultural materials in the collection of the Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, Leiden (the Netherlands), including ukiyo-e prints, copperplate prints, and early Japanese books, have been released with the approval of the museum. This time, the published materials comprise mainly paper-based printed and painted materials.

As is well-known, the Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnology), Leiden, is home to an extensive collection of Japanese artifacts comprising the collections of Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold, Jan Cock Blomhoff (Head of the Dutch East India Company in Dejima), and others. Since the Netherlands was the only country in Europe that traded with Japan during the Edo period, many Japanese collections have been accumulated there. Hence, many researchers of Japanese culture visit the museum to study its collection.

While the museum's collection is also available through the collection database of the Dutch Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, organized along with two other Dutch museums, the ARC's database now provides centralized access for the Japanese to the materials of Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, Leiden. For each of the materials, there is a button to access the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen directly so that explanatory data in the original database can be viewed with a single click. At the same time, the materials can be accessed via the ARC's Portal Database, allowing you to compare them with those from other institutions.

We hope that you will find this information useful.

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)

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