The new fiscal year has brought with it many changes, keeping me and our staff here busier than ever.
At NIJL, several projects that were in planning stages last year will go into full-scale operation, and we are simultaneously planning to start several new
projects as well. Based on the achievements of the institute’s core work, including research and collection surveys going back almost half a century since the institute was first located in Togoshi, as well as creating the “Database of Pre-modern Japanese Works,” we have begun to publish an image database.
This database is the core of our extensive Academic Frontier Promotion Program, known as the “Project to Build an International Collaborative Research
Network for Pre-modern Japanese Texts.” The kickoff occurred last October; since then, the traffic to our digital archive has signiffcantly increased. With the reputation of the Database spreading widely, we have started to receive requests for academic co-operation and sharing visual data from a number of domestic and overseas institutions housing early Japanese books. Expanding the new database and conducting new research based on the database will create signiffcant further progress.
This year marks the intermediate point of the decade-long Frontier Promotion Project. Thanks to the interim appraisal by the Council for Science and Technology, we have finally entered the second-half of the project. For visual data creation and visual tagging, we are adopting new methods such as social tagging, while promoting the development of unprecedented search technology that has been conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Informatics. At NIJL, we work to enhance the contents of the new database and improve its functions.
We aim to finalize an increasing number of academic exchange agreements with research societies addressing the sphere of early Japanese books, through which we hope to increase and improve collaboration with researcher communities and further significantly position our mission as an inter-university research institute. NIJL, while continuing to conduct our core work of promoting Japanese literature studies, is also expected to facilitate accessibility to pre-modern books widely among researchers in other fields, and among those who are interested in the subject from around the globe, while developing new knowledge and create additional, sustainable cultural value.
From this perspective, we intend to enhance our work in the following three areas.
The first area is interdisciplinary studies and cooperation in a cross-industrial context. Last year, we internationally published our joint research results with the National Institute of Polar Research regarding historical aurorae. We also released images from Edo era cookbooks and uploaded them to a recipe website (Ajinomoto Foundation for Dietary Culture, COOKPAD Co., Ltd. ) – both serve as excellent precedents.
The second area is regional collaboration, involving local universities we have joined with to promote the Frontier Promotion Project; local municipalities; and companies. For the network-building project that the NIJL is developing, while publishing materials and building the network of researchers remain our core tasks, the publication and utilization can greatly contribute to vitalizing the education and research of each university as well as those of local areas and cultures.
Thus we are further enhancing our collaboration across Japan.
The third is accelerating global networking. Together with the ongoing international joint research projects, we are in the planning stages of publishing an open-source journal in English that will enable us to consistently examine these achievements. This journal will serve as an important impetus for humanities studies in Japan to be shared with the world beyond individual projects.
In addition, we will be launching and promoting several projects intended to reach out to society beyond the community of researchers. From this scal year, joining the program for the visualization and sophistication of research resources led by the National Institutes for the Humanities will enable us to conduct advanced studies concerning the presentation of early Japanese books. In the special exhibition to be held in the autumn, “Japan’s Middle Ages – Prayer and Salvation,” we intend to present part of the achievements. Following through with our work last year, while expanding the joint project with the Cultural Affairs Agency, “NIJL Arts Initiative,” we will organize open workshops and present the creative efforts of artists and translators in residence. Further information will be announced on our new website, which has been completely updated this spring. Please do visit our website for occasional updates.