Following our blog entry in October 2015, Digitisation of Japanese Maps at the John Rylands Library, we are pleased to announce the completion of phase three of the Japanese Maps digitisation project. Over the course of the year 28 maps have been digitised as part of 3 small-scale projects, the images are now available for viewing in LUNA.
Phase one – 24th September 2015 – Japanese Maps Project : 18 maps, 48 images. This project was supported by the University of Manchester Library Digitisation Steering Group.
Phase two – 4th January 2016 – Japanese Maps Project – Part II: 4 maps, 28 images. This project was generously funded by the Japan Foundation.
Within this group of material selected for digitisation one unusual item stands out to me the most; Tokaido bunken ezu – The Road Atlas was published in five volumes in 1690. This is vol. 4 and is only 26.5 cm wide, but has a total length of 7.8 m, and is folded like a concertina screen (26 folds), a common format in Japanese works of art at that time.
Phase three – 11th April 2016 – Japanese Maps Project – Part III: another 6 Japanese Maps, 39 images were made available online. This project was generously funded by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.
Several of the maps selected for this project are very large (approx. 1.5 m x 1.4 m), fragile and contain enormous amounts of fine detail. Some of the maps were so large it was not possible to capture the entire map in one photograph in our digitisation suite.
These maps were photographed in sections and have been digitally stitched back together in Photoshop, to allow readers to view a composite image of the entire map. Due to the combination of fine detail and the folds of the map, some of the composite images are not 100% accurate, and we invite readers to cross reference with the single images if there are any areas which are difficult to read.
This project was initiated by Dr Erica Baffelli – Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Manchester and supported by external contributors the Japan Foundation and The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. The completion of the project was celebrated at The John Rylands Library on Thursday 14th April, 2016 with an excellent lecture from Professor Kornicki, Emeritus Professor of East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge. Professor Kornicki produced the catalogue of our Japanese Collection which was originally published in the Bulletin of The John Rylands Library in 1993.
We hope that this project helps to bring some of the treasures of this collection to light and we look forward to collaborating with researchers on some of the other riches of this rare collection in the future.
Ourania Karapasia & Gwen Riley Jones