Singapore Workshop on a Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center
シンガポール シンポジウム ・日本舞台芸術リソースセンター
June 24-26, 2005
National University of Singapore

Generously funded by The Japan Foundation

Individual Presentation Abstract


The Online Japanese Historical Map Collection

Yuki Ishimatsu, Librarian, UC Berkeley

pdf version


Back to Agenda

In 1949 The University of California at Berkeley purchased The Mitsui Library from the Mitsui family of Japan. With this purchase came nearly 2,298 maps. This Japanese Historical Map Collection is currently housed in the East Asian Library at UC Berkeley. The map collection features 697 woodblock-print maps produced during the Tokugawa Period (1600-1867), including: 252 cartographical representations of Edo, 79 of Kyoto, 40 of Osaka, and 30 of other cities, as well as Japan's earliest world map. This collection also contains more than 750 woodblock-based cartographical representations of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and other cities produced during the pre-1890 Meiji Era. In the recent years, nearly 1,000 maps have been selected from this collection and David Rumsey and The Department of Library Preservation at UC Berkeley digitized the selected maps under the directorship of Peter Zhou, with the funding and project management provided by The Cartography Associates and The East Asian Library at UC Berkeley. See

In this Singapore JPARC workshop, I will introduce the digitized version of this map collection, placing particular emphasis on how the digitized images can be accessed and utilized to users' advantage. The technologies used in this project may well be applied to performing arts materials such as manuscripts or historical set designs.

There are three ways to access and view the online map collection : via Insight Browser, Insight Java Client, and GIS Browser. Because of its capability to deploy any type of web browsers with no need for plug-ins and downloads, the Insight Browser suits beginners quite well. The sophistication level of the Insight Java Client ranks higher than the Insight Browser in that the Insight Java Client requires downloading and offers a number of advanced functions, which makes this software suitable for researchers and specialized users. The most prominent feature that distinguishes the GIS Browser from the rest of the software programs lies in its capability to superimpose current geospatial data over historical maps. These cutting-edge software programs provide a high quality viewing technology that enables the retrieval of high resolution images.

Time allowing, I will highlight further the value of GIS Browser. In addition to the superimposition of current geospatial data over historical maps, the GIS functionality provides multiple viewing capabilities in which a number of maps can be distributed on the screen for comparative investigation. The rigorous comparison of geospatial data (such as provincial boundaries, roads and rivers, mountains and plains, and so on) contained in current maps versus historical maps often uncovers fascinating changes that have occurred over the years in the geographical areas in question. Through this enhanced functionality, researchers are able to interactively alter a number of maps simultaneously for geo-historical analyses. And the results of these investigations conducted through this online real-time visualization can be stored electronically for further use or for integrating into other types of GIS-based applications. Furthermore, the GIS functionality allows researchers to add their own notes to the map or to incorporate relevant documents other than maps into this digital visualization system.

The maps contained in this digitized Japanese Historical Map Collection primarily represent Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Each digitized cartographic image has its corresponding full-level bibliographic record, measurement and scaling, as well as enlargement/reduction capability. O ne major aim of the future project is to transform every historical map contained in this collection by providing it a highly sophisticated geo-structural three-dimensionality.

  The Online Japanese Historical Maps Collection:  
Yuki Ishimatsu
  (abstract modified from ANNUAL SESSION MINUTES 2005, Council on East Asian Libraries, Committee on Japanese Materials: )  
  Back to Agenda