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Cultural Heritage Sites Possessing Memories of Tsunamis: Database of Temples/Shrines and Stone Monuments: Enhancing the Database for the Info-Forum Museum

Research period: April 2020 – March 2022 / Project for Database Improvement (project period: max. 2 years)

Coordinator HIDAKA Shingo

Outline

Objectives

“Cultural Heritage Sites Possessing Memories of Tsunamis: Database of Temples/Shrines and Stone Monuments” was published by the National Museum of Ethnology (hereafter Minpaku) in November 2017, and the objective of this project is to enhance it as an Info-Forum Museum database. The plans for enhancement include dividing pages which currently display Japanese and English together into separate Japanese and English pages to create an environment which is more accessible to users from overseas. We also plan to introduce an auto-translate function that will convert Japanese to English and English to Japanese for the content of the items displayed in the database. This will create an environment in which overseas researchers are easily able to add information. Two workshops have been held since the original database was published at which various points for improvement were raised. These will be incorporated with the aim of making the database more user-friendly overall.

Description

We are currently planning the following enhancements:
1) Improve the user-friendliness of the management function
In order to make it easier to input addresses when registering Temples/Shrines and Stone Monuments on the database, we will enable users to: 1) autofill the entire address by selecting from a list of municipalities; 2) obtain and input the address based on GPS information embedded in the digital file of any photos being registered, using the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan’s geocoding service. With regards to this second point, we still have to explore the possibilities of using the geocoding service in discussion with the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan.
2) Bilingual (Japanese and English) versions of web pages
The current public-facing webpages written in both English and Japanese are on one Japanese site, but we plan to restructure this so that there are two separate Japanese and English sites. When we restructure the system to do this, we will also take the opportunity to renew the system’s internal structure and thereby prolong its lifespan. The site structure and featured data will be the same for the bilingual (Japanese and English) public-facing webpages, and the same explanatory notes, buttons and headings will be featured on both the Japanese and English sites, so that it is possible to switch seamlessly between the different versions of the same webpages. We will also develop a system for translating input content from Japanese to English and English to Japanese, using an auto-translate function. As for the content which has already been input, we will carry out a careful inspection of the 441 entries and 9702 items of data to check there are no inputting errors etc.
3) System restructuring
While maintaining the functions and user interface of the current system, we will completely overhaul the system’s internal structure and update each constituent component, in order to lengthen its security support period. We will decide on which version to use based on the current version of each component and the server’s OS version at the time this work is undertaken.

Expected results

Note: Results also reveal what kind of database it would be.
After this database was originally published, people were welcomed to contribute information and there was a functioned installed for increasing the number of data items, so in this sense, the database has been already fulfilling its role as a forum. However, by implementing the planned enhancements, we will be able to provide an even more user-friendly service for entering data. Through this, we believe we can achieve this database’s stated aim of having everyone living in the Japanese archipelago internalize the memory of tsunami disasters as their own. As part of the enhancement of this database, we will also host a study group, one of whose aims will be to work together with other databases cataloging the memories of disasters. This will enable us to create a forum from an academic perspective.

Outcomes from 2020

1. The state of the implementation of this year’s research

In 2020, the first year of the research, we carried out a careful inspection of the data and corrected inputting errors. This year we had planned to conduct all of the research, but we found more inputting errors and issues than expected, so we were only able to inspect about two-thirds of the data. We had also planned to hold a workshop with the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, the International Research Institute of Disaster Science at Tohoku University, and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology to discuss ways to improve this database and coordination with databases on memories of disasters, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were only able to exchange opinions individually. On the other hand, we were able to proceed as planned with improvements in the convenience of the management function, which is the basis of this database improvement project. In addition, as the next stage of our work, we exchanged opinions at workshops and other venues on the applicant’s core research project, “Rediscovering Local Cultures and Constructing a System of Representation in the Japanese Archipelago ,” as well as the specially-promoted project “From Local Historical Material Studies to Regional Historical Culture: Creation of a New Research Field for Resilient Local Communities in a Country of Natural Disasters,” in which we are a sub-contributor. For the latter, we will make a presentation at a workshop next year.

2. Overview of the research results (achievements of the research objects)

The main goal of this year’s project was to modify the database for suitability with the Info-Forum Museum. As part of this, in order to make it easier to input addresses when registering Temples/Shrines and Stone Monuments on the database, we have enabled users to: 1) autofill the entire address by selecting from a list of municipalities; 2) obtain and input the address based on GPS information embedded in the digital file of any photos being registered, using the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan’s geocoding service.

3. Records disclosing achievements (publications, public symposia, sectional meetings of academic conferences, electronic media, etc.)

・Hirofumi Teramura, 2020, ‛Cultural Heritage Sites Possessing Memories of Tsunamis: Database of Temples/Shrines and Stone Monuments‘ , “Local cultures assisting revitalization: 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake”pp.94-101, 2.Mar.2021, ISBN: 978-4-906962-90-7
・An improved version will be released standalone at the Special Exhibition “Local cultures assisting revitalization: 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake”