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  • Research resources of Japanese Mokkan: Turning information on ancient wooden tablets into research data

    Hajime Baba

    Chapter from the book: Palladino C. & Bodard G. 2023. Can’t Touch This: Digital Approaches to Materiality in Cultural Heritage.

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    This paper focuses on ancient Japanese Mokkan (woodcuts) to discuss the background, current status and issues in the digitisation of cultural heritage, including matters of research, protection, and legal rights. As valuable primary sources, Mokkan are important in a wide range of academic fields, including history and linguistics. On the other hand, they are extremely fragile and fragmented. Digital technologies can support an improvement in access and study of this material. In this paper, we illustrate the current efforts to improve digitisation workflows and strengthen research capacity: we discuss open data and open access, equal and transparent inter-institutional collaboration, the application of the IIIF standard, the construction of a character database search system, and the application of Deep Learning technology.

    The issue of open data and open access is particularly challenging in Japan, where there is still a gap between the legal principles and the actual situation of cultural heritage institutions. In addition, information needs to be standardized and aggregated, but at the same time the specificity and historical characteristics of the different materials need to be addressed. In this paper, we strongly advocate for the establishment of methods for sharing cultural heritage data. In humanities research, the linkage, open access and standardization of information has become essential, not only to foster data-driven research but also to ensure wide access and dissemination of cultural heritage in Japan. For this reason, we encourage equal and open collaboration not just across cultural heritage stakeholders, but across society as a whole.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Baba, H. 2023. Research resources of Japanese Mokkan: Turning information on ancient wooden tablets into research data. In: Palladino C. & Bodard G (eds.), Can’t Touch This. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/bcv.c

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Dec. 18, 2023


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