The Art Research Center (ARC) at Ritsumeikan University was established in 1998. Since then, the ARC’s mission has been not only to conduct historical and social research and analyses of both tangible and intangible cultural properties such as visual and performing arts and craftsmanship, but also to record, organize, preserve and disseminate the research outcomes.
With its history over a century, the university is the 3rd biggest private university in Japan in terms of student number. Based on the university’s comprehensive research competence in humanities and social sciences, the ARC has been using cutting-edge information technology to combine and/or integrate humanities and information science.
As a research center of a Kyoto-based university, the ARC focuses on researching Japanese art and culture, including temporal arts such as performing arts and plays, traditional craftworks, print culture of ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints) and woodblock-printed books, and clothing and fashion culture of kimonos and their designs. We have been putting a great deal of effort into not only researching such Japanese art and culture, but also supporting artistic creations, disseminating art to share it with the general public for their appreciation, and developing educational programs to promote the understanding of the art and culture.
Moreover, we have been forming collections of ukiyo-e, paintings, and traditional craftworks, as well as constructing databases of Japanese artworks which have been scattered around the world, by using the digital-archiving technology we have developed. Now, our collections and databases have constituted important research materials for Japanese art and culture. In the fiscal year of 2014, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan, designated the ARC as a Joint Usage/Research Center.
With the establishment of the Digital Archive Research Center for Japanese Cultural Resources, we intend to effectively serve as a hub for scholars and research organizations of Japanese Studies all over the world.
The Art Research Center was established in 1998. Since then, the Center’s mission has been not only to conduct historical and social research and analyses of both tangible and intangible human cultural properties such as visual and performing arts and craftsmanship, but also to record, organize, preserve, and disseminate the research outcomes.
Since its establishment, the center has brought together the wisdom of researchers from different fields on the premise of integration of and collaboration between the humanities and information science. Moreover, we have been conducting joint research and project-based research — a unique undertaking in humanities — through external funds such as those from the Project for Promoting Advancement of Academic Research at Private Universities.
Since the 2000s we have been engaged in a number of projects, particularly being selected to conduct the Kyoto Art Entertainment Innovation Research (FY 2002-2006), a 21st Century COE (Center for Excellence) Program designated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).
Under this project we promoted Japanese culture research that integrates information science with traditional humanities. Based on the success of this project, the Digital Humanities Center for Japanese Arts and Cultures (FY 2007-2011) was designated as a Global COE Program center by the MEXT. As a major hub for digital humanities in Japan, we have been engaging in the nurturing of young researchers while promoting international collaboration.
In order to elevate and effectively utilize the vast amount of digitized data on tangible and intangible Japanese cultural resources, the techniques required, and the networking with people at related organizations in and outside of Japan we have acquired through our research efforts and educational activities, the Center has recently applied to the MEXT to be accredited as a Joint Usage / Research Center, and was designated a Digital Archive Research Center for Japanese Cultural Resources.
On the first floor there are 3 archive storage rooms where different kinds of materials are kept. Digitalization of materials is also done on this floor. Once digitalized, the data are archived on the second floor with other resources such as books and magazine data. These data are then being utilized on the third floor for various research projects.
Besides that, the Center also has facilities for the digitalization of intangible cultural properties. While the Multi-Purpose Room (second floor) is available for all kinds of lectures and symposia, and the Reading Room (first floor) for exhibiting the Center’s collections, both can be also used for dissemination.
Mission and vision
To make the vast amount of database of resources on Japanese culture kept at the Art Research Center available to joint researchers in and outside of Japan, while providing the hitherto accumulated digital archiving and database management technologies as the basis for research project activities to promote information archiving and the circulating of joint research on knowledge.
To widely implement public recruit in and outside of Japan for Digital Humanities research projects to contribute to the creation of a broader research community than conventionally available, while utilizing the network of people at overseas Japanese culture research centers established thus far (including art museums and museums).
To develop, propose and share practical methods in regard to the passing of highly specialized cultural resources database on to future generations.
Through these undertakings, the Center aims to “become a world class research center” in the field of Digital Humanities by working with researchers at other universities and research organizations, collaborating with influential research organizations in and outside of Japan, training young researchers, effectively transmitting our research achievements, as well as giving back to the society. We look forward to continued support from everyone interested in the Center’s research efforts.