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Building an Info-Forum Museum for folk performing arts in Tokunoshima

Research period: June 2014 – March 2016 / Project for Database Improvement (project period: max. 2 years)

Coordinator FUKUOKA Shota


Minpaku has a collection of visual documentation performing arts of Tokunoshima. Based on that collection, this project aims to promote understanding of the performing arts of Tokunoshima. To accomplish that it will bring together information and knowledge accumulated by related parties and researchers by making the Minpaku collection available on the Info-Forum Museum. Also, that will contribute to the transmission of performing arts by making the system accessible to their practitioners. Audio-visual recordings of past performances sometimes serve as models. Consequently, they might standardize the tradition. One objective of the Info-Forum Museum is to pluralize the documentation, historicize the recordings by accumulating information and knowledge from diverse perspectives, and situate the documentations in the process of performance and transmission of performing arts. In this way, the Info-Forum Museum will enable performers on their own initiative to become involved in the formation of knowledge, to counteract the unidirectional provision of information based on the academic authority of research institutes.


In its first year, the project will work mainly with the Education Committee of the town of Amagicho, to create a model for the Info-Forum Museum, as well as to design/develop concurrently the system. Also in the first year, negotiations with related organizations will be conducted to establish a network of collaborators. In the second year, the focus will be on enhancing data in collaboration with related organizations in Isencho and Tokunoshimacho, research institutes of various universities, and other researchers.

The following are plans for the first year:

1. Building a database for the visual documentation of the performing arts of Tokunoshima, based on inter-institutional research

A database of video clips of songs and dances performed in the 25 villages of Tokunoshima will be constructed using the Info-Forum Museum system. Primary data will be translated into English. These clips were taken from a multimedia program entitled “Songs, Dances, and Festival of Tokunoshima” produced by the research project “A Study on Visual Ethnography of Performing Arts as Human Cultural Resource,” as part of the National Institute for the Humanities’ Inter-Institutional Research “Comprehensive Research on Human Cultural Resources”. Through consultation with the Amagicho Education Committee, the database will be made accessible in Tokunoshima to assess the usability/efficacy of the system for local entities, and to explore the direction that development of the system is taking.

2. Locate additional audio-visual recordings of the performing arts of Tokunoshima, and form a network of collaborators

In cooperation with the Amagicho Education Committee and others, al search will be conducted to locate additional audio-visual recordings related to the performing arts of Tokunoshima, and to examine the challenges associated with publication of the collected materials via the Info-Forum Museum system. To advance the research, emphasis will be placed on forming a network of local communities, related organizations, and researchers. This network will identify latent needs for the Info-Forum Museum, and implement those findings in the subsequent design and development of the system.

3. Seminars to examine signification of the audio-visual recordings in the context of transmitting performing arts among the generations

Broadly, the objective of the Info-Forum Museum is to make better use in the process of creating of human culture of the materials held at present by different research institutes. Seminars will be held with the theme of the role of audio-visual recordings in the transmission of performing arts. This will allow examination of the significance of the Info-Forum Museum and identification of future development. Today, there is a high level of visual literacy among the general public. Convincing the audience of the significance of academic visual documentation, which is different from commercial films or television programs, requires an organized effort to demonstrate creative use of the materials. The Info-Forum Museum could become a channel for doing that, and that role will be elaborated through the seminars.

Expected results

Note: The results also indicate the type of database that would be generated.
The primary information in the database of this project concerns songs, dances, and associated festivals transmitted for generations in each community of Tokunoshima. For the communities, these performing arts are nothing new. However, the Info-Forum Museum system would provide opportunities to improve their performance and transmission by accumulating the knowledge and the experiences of various generations and of people both within and outside communities. It would also facilitate comparison of performances by different communities. In addition, it would enable residents and researchers outside Tokunoshima to have multifaceted information about the performing arts in Tokunoshima. Accumulation of historical materials and acquiring knowledge from people of diverse backgrounds will also inspire those involved in the folk performing arts in other regions to preserve their traditions. In these ways, the Info-Forum Museum will contribute to promoting in-depth examination of the transmission of intangible cultural heritage.

Outcomes from 2014

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

[1] Design of the database system
We were engaged in the design of a database system that meets the following requirements:
a) The main data includes video image files of performing arts and related text, photographs, audio, and video materials;
b) The system has been designed so that annotations can be added to all data.];
c) The system has been designed so that comments for discussion can be added to all data; and
d) The system has been designed so that new data can be added by users.
[2] The creation of additional data
The main data contained consists of video images taken in cultural resource projects organized by Minpaku, the Inter-Institutional Research entitled “A Study on Visual Ethnography of Performing Arts as Human Cultural Resources” of the National Institutes for the Humanities and the other projects. In order to supplement these data, it was decided to conduct research on and to take video images of folk performing arts of Isen-cho.
In Asan and Megegu districts of Isen-cho, the folk performing arts and shima-uta folk songs were researched and documented by video. In Amagi-cho, the folk performing arts and some historical sites of Matsubaraue-district and researched and documented by video..
[3] The English translation of the main data
Explanatory information is being translated into English, and about 90 percent of the information has been translated so far.
[4] Collaborative efforts with three towns on Tokunoshima
School superintendents and educational commissioners from the three towns of Tokunoshima were consulted regarding the opening of an Info-Forum Museum.
[5] Hosting of research seminars
Research seminars were hosted at Minpaku to provide information on the concept and system underlying the Info-Forum Museum and the content concerning Tokunoshima, to report on the digitalization and archiving of survey materials related to the Nihon Minyo Taikan (Comprehensive Japanese Folk Songs (Okinawa and Amami) (NHK, 1989-1993), and to report on storage and digitalization projects for materials concerning the performing arts of Tokunoshima’s three towns. Discussions on the potential development of the Info-Forum Museum were also held.

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

Although some data remains to be translated into English, most are ready for public dissemination. Exact specifications and design of the system have been determined, and a prototype version is nearly complete. As a result, when the data has been completely ported into the system it will be ready for unveiling to the general public.
The Education Commission of the three towns of Tokunoshima understand the usefulness of the Info-Forum Museum, and is now studying the installation of the required terminals. In addition, debate on the concept of the Info-Forum Museum with researchers of the folk music and performing arts of the Amami region was also held.

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

The multimedia content of the “Songs, Dances, and Festivals of Tokunoshima Island” were unveiled to the general public at the municipal facility “Amagi-cho Yui-no-Yakata.” The other results disseminated were:
Electronic media
Shota Fukuoka: “The role that video recording can assume in the handing down of musical performing arts: The performing arts of Tokunoshima Island used as an example” Research Reports on Cultural Science and Computers 2014-CH-104(10), 1-3
Verbal presentations
Shota Fukuoka: “The role that video recording can assume in the handing down of musical performing arts: The performing arts of Tokunoshima Island used as an example,” presentation at the meeting of IPSJ SIG Computers and the Humanities (Information Processing Society of Japan), Room D501 of No.3 Building of Kansai University Senriyama Campus, October 18, 2014
Shota Fukuoka: “Video recording positioned in the activities of folk performing arts,” at the symposium “Searching for the new fetal movement of folk music,” The 28th Event of the Society for Japanese Folk Music, Room 200 of [A] Building of Tokyo College of Music, December 13, 2014