ICC Programming

Digital Humanities

6705.3 - A Japanese Old Maps Online: Toward an Open Platform for Collaborative Research in the Digital Humanities

Thursday, July 6
4:50 PM - 5:10 PM
Location: Virginia C

Our current research aims at building an open-source, WebGIS-based portal site tentatively called “Japan Old Maps Online” to allow comprehensive, lateral online searching, viewing and studying of old maps created and published in Japan and now kept at libraries, museums and other places in and outside of Japan. The project also aims to revolutionize conventional foxhole-like research style into interdisciplinary and international project-oriented style through utilizing voluntary crowdsourcing.
In recent years, academic paper databases used within humanities have become digitalized and rapidly made available over the Internet. For instance, in Japan there is the National Diet Library Collection where a large number of academic materials kept at the Library have become digitalized and made available on the Internet. This collection contains old maps of Japan, which are the subjects of our research project, and in the National Diet Library Digital Collection we find 2,644 illustrated maps. Meanwhile, many other organizations and institutes are also proactively working toward making their own collections of old maps available online; these include the “Old Maps Collection” of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (which contains 300 maps). Nevertheless, currently there are no WebGIS-based portal sites in Japan that offer effective search of digitalized old maps in a comprehensive and lateral way.
Since the middle of the 2000s, digital humanities (DH) research projects involving the collaboration and uniting of researchers from both the humanities and sciences fields have begun developing even within the conventional humanities world to build archives of academic materials using Information and Communication Technology (ICT), analyze cultural contents, publish research results, focus on how the results are to be shown, and so forth. Of these, the Historical Geographical Information Systems (GIS) using geospatial information have served as a spatial turn in humanities and become central to the making of new academic fields within humanities, such as GeoHumanities and Spatial Humanities. To ensure a leaping development in the new project-based research style through interdisciplinary and international collaboration within Historical GIS in Japan, and by extension traditional humanities in Japan, it is of great urgency to build portal sites that can provide comprehensive and lateral search of old maps in Japan which are fundamental materials, while making GIS analysis possible.
In order to build a portal site of Japan’s old maps that are scattered throughout Japan and overseas, we need to first create the basis for the building and operating of the portal site (development of an open-source system), then collect data on Japan’s old maps to be used on the portal site (catalogues, metadata, digitalization and clearing of copyrights of maps kept at each organization and institute).
In regard to the system development of the portal site, the aim is not to build a new, unique system, but to uniquely build a bilingual portal site specializing in Japan’s old maps by extending from the open-source Old Maps Online that is already available for access and the World Map, HHypermap and Warp systems of the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard.
In the process of building a portal site in this case, it is necessary to employ a project-based research style joining curators of maps at libraries and museums, researchers studying or working with old maps, and ICT. Such interdisciplinary and international collaboration is the very driving force for revolutionizing conventional humanities.

Keiji Yano

Ritsumeikan University

Keiji Yano has been Professor of Human Geography and Geographic Information Science at the Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan since April 2002. Before joining Ritsumeikan in 1992, he was at the Tokyo Metropolitan University as Assistant Professor of Geography, where he also earned his Master and PhD degrees in Geography.


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Ryo Kamata

Freelance programmer
Freelance programmer

Kamata, Ryo is freelance programmer and works on website, web application and embedding system development and IT system integrations. He is also a plugin developer of WordPress, the open source CMS and speaker at WordCamp Kansai 2016 and WordCamp Tokyo 2016, the local WordPress conferences. The previous occupation is non-permanent national park ranger at Environmental Ministry of Japan. He worked on patrols, surveys, maintenance of the facilities and management of National parks.


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Benjamin Lewis

Geospatial Technology Manager
Center for Geographic Analysis, Harvard University

Ben is manager of the WorldMap Project (http://worldmap.harvard.edu), an open source infrastructure to support collaborative research around geospatial information. Ben is also leading the team developing a global registry of web map services (HHypermap) and another building a platform to support interactive exploration of billions of spatio-temporal things (BOP). Before joining Harvard Ben was a project manager with Advanced Technology Solutions of Pennsylvania (now GeographIT), where he led the company in adopting platform independent approaches to GIS system development. Ben studied Chinese at the University of Wisconsin and has a Masters in Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.


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John Kostelnick

Associate Professor
Illinois State University

John Kostelnick is an Associate Professor of Geography and Director of GEOMAP at Illinois State University in the United States of America. His research interests include geovisualization, cartographic symbolization and design, crisis and humanitarian relief mapping, and cultural mapping.


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6705.3 - A Japanese Old Maps Online: Toward an Open Platform for Collaborative Research in the Digital Humanities

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