Study Groups and Achievements

Arrangement and Systematization of the Environment and Scenery

Task 3: Interpretation of Traces of Human Activity and Natural Disasters Inscribed into the Environment

In Task 3, scenery destroyed by war, occupation or natural disasters was restored through the abundant use of photography, and background to such changes was questioned. In addition to scenery, which was the target of our research task, any photographic data used as research material should also be identified as “nonwritten cultural materials.” The photographic data used in the research was created in the period between 1920 and 1930, when there was political and social tension between the photographer and the target of the photograph. Therefore, it was deemed necessary to figure out the intended notions and ideas placed in the photographs by looking into their backgrounds. Teams studying the remains of overseas shrines and concessions conducted interviews and onsite investigations, and analyzed the process of how the scenery before the invasions during war changed after the occupation and the factors that led to these changes. The team studying traces of natural disasters mainly collected photographic postcards depicting the Great Kanto Earthquake, laid them out on a map, and studied how these postcards concentrated on certain targets and how these postcards and photographic data worked to bring together images of the earthquake held by individuals into a single collective image.

In the overview of Task 3, it was proved and reconfirmed that nonwritten cultural materials as a manifestation of human culture do not exist in contrast with written cultural materials, but rather exist in a mutually complementary manner within culture as a whole. It was also decided that photographic data collected for the tasks by each team be amassed into a database and be disclosed to the public.

Overseas shrine research team:The team investigated the southeast part of Sakhalin in 2003 (12 shrines), the former South Pacific Mandate in 2004 (20 shrines), Korea under Japanese rule in 2005 (18 shrines) and the South Manchuria Railway Zone in 2006 (10 shrines). Photographs, maps and postcards of the overseas shrines were collected for the construction of a database, and survey maps were made for any of the fieldwork sites located in the former colonies to create a database for the remaining sites of overseas shrines.

Concessions research team:On-site investigations were conducted, mainly on former Japanese concessions within China – in Hankou, Shanghai, Tianjin and Qingdao. In addition, materials were collected from the Academia Historica and the Academia Sinica in Taiwan and the Archives in Shanghai. In order to disclose the results of such activities, the team held two workshops in 2007 entitled “Research on the Japanese Concessions in China” and “Japanese Companies Breaking into the Chinese Market and Their Architecture – The Case of the Prewar Spinning Industry.” The team also created a database on issues related to Japanese concessions in prewar China. The Pictures of the Battles of Ulsan (Chosun) and other materials were analyzed in relation to the nature of the Waeseong (Japanese style castles) constructed in Korea at the time of the Japanese invasion led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Natural disaster trace team:The team collected pictures and photographs of natural disasters that took place in the approximately 70 years starting from the final years of the Edo period through to the Great Kanto Earthquake, analyzed the historical characteristics of the collected materials as media for natural disasters, and published the results. The team also created two sets of databases based on the collected materials. In 2005, a symposium was held for specialists on the media during the transition period between the early and late modern periods, and in 2006, a joint workshop with Ritsumeikan University was held under the title of “Historical Natural Disasters and the City,” after which a report was prepared. A database entitled “’The One-Hundred Views of Edo’ and the Edo Earthquake” was added to the team’s website in 2007, and a database entitled “The Database of Maps and Photographs Related to the Great Kanto Earthquake” was created in 2008.

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