Birth of Digital Humanities: Kansai University launches Open Research Center for Asian Studies
Osaka, Japan, (Feb. 6, 2018) — Kansai University, Osaka, Japan, has launched an open access digital platform to serve as a global hub for accessing digital archives of valuable collections of hand written letters, cultural artifacts, and documents tracing the history of languages and culture in East Asia.
“The roots of Kansai University (KU) can be traced back to the Hakuen-Shoin — a private school specializing in Chinese literature opened by Togai Fujisawa in 1825,” said Keiichi Uchida, director of KU-ORCAS, who is fluent in Mandarin, and an expert on cultural interaction in East Asia. “The Kansai University Open Research Center for Asian Studies is built on the legacy of the Hakuen- Shoin. KU-ORCAS will be a digital global hub for research on East Asian culture.”
Uchida and his colleagues are building an open access platform with digital archives of historical information on East Asian culture.
“We are going to digitize humanities,” Uchida said. “We hope that access to information on classic literature, objects, and documents on East Asia will lead to new research methodology and breakthroughs in the understanding of the proliferation of religions, such Christianity to China and Japan.”
KU-ORCAS is the result of many years of projects to digitally archive the vast resources accumulated by Kansai University over the last 150 years. “Since 2005 we have digitally archived only 6000 items from the more than 150, 000 items in the KU collection,” says Uchida. “One of the issues with these digitized items is that they do not adhere to an international standard for digitizing archives of historical documents. So, users experience inconvenience in finding and interpreting the documents. Here, in the KU-ORCAS project we will use the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) standard proposed by Stanford University to enable different institutes to efficiently cross check and compare collections.”