Throughout history, humans have produced a variety of tools, ceremonial artifacts, buildings, songs, dances, and oral traditions, among many other things. However, since the 1980s, many such cultural resources are on the verge of disappearance confronted by the phenomenon of rapid globalization. Protecting the continuation and ensuring creation of ethnic cultures, or the shared cultural assets of humanity, is a challenge that must be tackled from a global perspective.
Since its inception 40 years ago, Minpaku has been devoted to research on ethnic cultures, and to collecting ethno-cultural materials and information from around the world. Today, it is considered vital to share such information, embodied in physical objects as well as intangible information and practices, as a “cultural resources of the world,” and to ensure that it is passed on to future generations.
The staff of Minpaku will be working collaboratively with other research institutes, universities, museums, and local societies, both in Japan and around the world, to conduct international collaborative research based on diverse cultural resources held by Minpaku and its partner organizations. The results of this research will be added to the basic information already organized for each cultural resource, and will be documented and recorded. Further, this enriched information will be disseminated via the Info Museum in the form of multilingual, multimedia-compatible, digital archives that will serve as a basis for forum discussions and examination.
There are two aspects to this project: One is the conduct international collaborative research projects on specific cultural resources and the turning of the results into a body of information with multilingual content. The other is to create the system for the Info Museum, and then ensure the operations.
As the project matures, global sharing and joint use of resources will become possible, based on an alliance of international partner organizations. The staff of Minpaku wishes to make this valuable resource available to researchers, culture-bearers and the general public, so that they all can put it to use for research, education, inter-generational transmission of culture, and the acquisition of information.
Project for Database Establishment (project period: max. 4 years)
Project for Database Improvement (project period: max. 2 years)
Info-Forum Museum Database
|Toshio Asaeda Collection||Toshio Asaeda was an explorer who visited a wide range of Pacific Island societies in the 1930s, joining the travels and expeditions of American novelist Zane Grey and philanthropist Templeton Crocker. This database is based on the Toshio Asaeda Collection, a visual and audio resource housed at the National Museum of Ethnology. The database is mainly comprised of Asaeda’s photographs and notes, and is searchable by region, expedition and free text search. The regional classification is based on the countries and regions Toshio Asaeda visited, and the expedition classification is based on the names of the expeditions he participated in. We hope that this database will not only introduce Toshio Asaeda’s achievements to the world, but will also provide an opportunity to learn about Zane Grey’s travels and the Templeton Crocker Expedition, as well as the indigenous peoples of the Pacific in the 1930s, their traditional culture and their relationship with Japan.|
|Regional Cultures of China Gallery||This database features information on all of the artifacts exhibited in the “Regional Cultures of China” gallery (as of 2022). It can be viewed in Japanese, English and Chinese (simplified and traditional). Locally taken photographs have been added for some of the exhibits to provide a visual context of the people who used and produced them.|
|Maritime Culture Database for Southeast Asia and Oceania||This database contains basic information and relevant information (photos, videos, and documents, etc.) of about 3,000 items related to life in aquatic environments such as coastal and fresh water in Southeast Asia and Oceania in our collections at the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku). The database also includes a total of 33 videos of craft and boat making, fishing, and other activated related to maritime culture.
This is one of the results of the Info-Forum Museum Project “Maritime Adaptation and Material Culture in Maritime Asia-Based on the Museum Materials from Southeast Asia” (Project Leader: Rintaro Ono).
|Micronesian Ethnographic Collections at Minpaku||This database is the result of field and literature research conducted through an Info-Forum Museum Project, “An Info-Forum Database for Minpaku Micronesia Collections; Focusing on Materials Collected in the Early 20th Century” on Micronesian-related materials of the National Museum of Ethnology. The database is provided in two languages, Japanese and English.
Focusing on the Micronesian cultural objects housed at Minpaku, the project has increased the basic information relating to each of these artifacts, based on field research conducted where the artifacts were originally collected, as well as research of related literature and documents. In particular, for the artifacts collected in the first half of the 20th century, which were later donated to Minpaku, we intend to learn as much as possible about the background of how each cultural artifact came to be collected by collating information from related data, the archived documents of ethnological research, and academic literature that Minpaku received around the same time. Based on the current situation of the transmission of history and local culture and education in the source community, we would like to discuss the use of this database with its members, local museums and schools.
Based on the information provided by the website visitors, the contents of the database are to be updated. If you find mistakes or if you would like to add new information, please send your information to us.
|Database on video images of ethnic cultures in the upper valley of the Senegal river
||This database was edited from video material on the ethnic cultures of the upper valley of the Senegal River. You can browse the images themselves of the Cultural Week organized in 2017 and get explanations with textual information.
The content of the database is updated from time to time based on information provided by those accessing it. If you want to correct incorrect information or add new information, please use the comment function to submit the information.
This database is not a full version. Rather, it is open to the public as a basis to be grown by users.
|Central and North Asia cultural artifact database
||The vast area of this project is divided into the three regions of Siberia and the Arctic, Mongolia, and Central Asia, and with the information on cultural assets displayed in Minpaku’s Central and North Asia exhibit at its core, the project aims to enhance information relating to material artifacts of this region housed at Minpaku and to construct a database of Central and North Asian cultural assets based on these results.
In addition to a free word search and a search by object name and item, this database also has a function for searching from panoramic movies, and a construction for accessing multimedia contents related to materials, such as a blueprint of the house (Folk dwelling model) and an article in the “Gekkan Minpaku”.
|Latin American Collection Database
||This database compiled from basic information of cultural collections of Latin America area displayed at “the Americas” exhibition in the main hall and ethnographic objects of the Andean region stored by the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku). It allows users to search the collections by object name, country, ethnic group, artists and family member of artists in three languages (Japanese, English and Spanish).|
Info-Forum Museum Object Database
|The Minpaku Kaleidoscope “Info-Forum Museum Object Database” is an integrated search engine which enables users to look for information across all the object databases created through the Info-Forum Museum project. It uses a common index to facilitate cross searching as well as associative searching, and allows users to browse information from other related databases, such as Minpaku Artifact Catalog.|
|RECONNECTING Source Communities with Museum Collections
||※ For the time being, IDs and passwords will only be assigned to authorized persons.
Watch and listen to Native American Hopi voices and storytelling as meaningful objects are reviewed from anthropology museums around the world. Enjoy an alternative to traditional anthropological writing in our multi-vocal museum catalog.
|Cultural Heritage Sites Possessing Memories of Tsunamis: Database of Temples/Shrines and Stone Monuments||
In the coastal area of Japan, there remain temples, shrines, and stone monuments which evoke memories of disasters caused by earthquakes and tsunamis. These cultural heritage sites and monuments remind us of the disasters in the past. Taking inspiration from the experiences of the Great East Japan Earthquake, we have created a database for the people living in the Japanese islands to provide information on temples, shrines, stone monuments, and inscription plates using maps and data. The database also has a feature where new information can be added by its users. We would like to develop this database with the help of the residents of the coastal area and anyone interested in this project. As a databank of cultural heritage sites related to tsunamis, we hope this database will help people prepare for disasters in the future.
|Jidai Gangu Collection Database||
This is the database for the “Gangu oyobi kanren seso shiryo”, aka the “Jidai Gangu collection”, which was donated to the National Museum of Ethnology in March 2013. Designated by Osaka Prefecture as a tangible folk cultural property, the Jidai Gangu collection is a collection of toys and materials from the Edo, Meiji, Taisho, Showa and early Heisei eras. It was amassed by collector Toshikatsu Tada from 1975 onwards through visits to flea markets and old houses from Hokkaido to Tanegashima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, and is one of the top toy collections in the country.
|Database for Popular Culture Collections from the Middle East||
This database features a selection of the National Museum of Ethnology’s Middle Eastern and West Asian artifacts. It is comprised of materials related to the nomadic society of the Arabian Peninsula collected by Motoko Katakura (Professor Emeritus at the National Museum of Ethnology), folk art from modern Iran collected by Jay Gluck, and a collection of items related to coffee amassed by Yukitoshi Shimegi.
|The Cultural Resources of Indigenous Peoples in Northern North America||
This database, compiled from basic information of cultural resources related to Indigenous Peoples in Alaska (USA), Canada, and Greenland, has as many as about 3,000 objects stored by the National Museum of Ethnology, Japan.
|“Culture of Japan” Exhibition Database||
This database catalogues the collections displayed at the “Culture of Japan” exhibition in the main hall of the National Museum of Ethnology.
|The George Brown Collection||
This database provides information on about 3,000 objects in the ethnographical collection of the Rev. Doctor George Brown, a pioneering Methodist missionary in the Pacific Islands from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. In 1985 and 1986, the National Museum of Ethnology purchased the George Brown Collection from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
|Material Culture in Taiwan and Neighboring Islands||
This database has been published as the result of a project to survey and research artifacts related to Taiwan, and allows users to browse and search for items in Japanese, Chinese and English. Comprised mainly of everyday household items, clothing and crafts, the database features a free text search function and an index of indigenous ethnic group and artifact names. This is to encourage and enable use of the database by the general public and members of the source community, as well as scholars involved with research into indigenous ethnic groups. The interface has been designed to allow users to browse and search the database on smart phones and tablets. The aim of this is to support use on portable devices, which are expected to develop further in the future.
|Songs and Dances in Tokunoshima||
※ For the time being, IDs and passwords will only be assigned to authorized persons.
|Database of People / Objects Concerning HOYA Museum Attached to the Japanese Society of Ethnology||
The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) in Osaka possesses a collection of ethnographic objects, about 21,000 in number, received in 1975 from the Historical Archives of the Ministry of Education (now integrated to the National Institute of Japanese Literature). The accumulation of this collection started in the 1910s under the initiative of SHIBUSAWA Keizo, who served as Japan’s first Minister of Finance after World War II and as President of Kokusai Denshin Denwa Co. Ltd. (now KDDI). This collection has been expanded while being passed into the hands of various organizations, such as the Attic Museum, led by Shibusawa, and the Japanese Society of Ethnology (now the Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology). Because the collection materialized into its final form at the museum attached to the Japanese Society of Ethnology in Hoya (now Nishi-Tokyo), Tokyo, we named it “Hoya Museum” Collection.
Info-Forum Museum Resources
|People Who Gathered at the Hoya Museum:
Their Biographies and Contribution to the Collection
|Edited by Taku Iida||cover page|
|Collections Review on 24 Items Labeled “Hopi” in the Tenri University Sankokan Museum
Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 2
|Edited by Atsunori Ito||cover page|
|Collections Review on 186 Items Labeled “Hopi” in the National Museum of Ethnology
Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 3
|Edited by Atsunori Ito||cover page|
|Collections Review on 446 Silverworks and Relating Items Labeled “Hopi” in the Museum of Northern Arizona
Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 4
|Atsunori Ito, Kathy Dougherty, and Kelley Hays-Gilpin||cover page|
|Collections Review on 38 Silverworks Labeled “Hopi” in the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 5
|Edited by Atsunori Ito, Candice Lomahaftewa, and Chip Colwell||cover page|
|Collections Reviews on 17 Silverworks Labeled “Hopi” in the History Colorado Center, a Silverwork in the Portland Art Museum, and a Silverwork Labeled “Hopi” in National Museums Scotland: Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 6, 7, 8 (National Museum of Ethnology Info-Forum Museum Resources 6)||Atsunori Ito, Candice Lomahaftewa, Ramson Lomatewama, Kelley Hays-Gilpin, and Henrietta Lidchi||cover page|
|Collections Review on 97 Items Labeled “Hopi” in the Little World Museum of Man: Reconnecting Source Communities with Museum Collections 9 (National Museum of Ethnology Info-Forum Museum Resources 7)||Edited by Atsunori Ito, Candice Lomahaftewa, Merle Namoki, Kelley Hays-Gilpin, and Takao Miyazato||cover page|