井の中の蛙

9/23/2006

Google Books: PDF Download Feature

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 11:15 pm

The Google Books project is an exciting new chapter in the world’s digitization of printed materials together with the Gutenberg project. I have blogged at Frog in a Well – Korea about some old English-language works on Korea that are available for download in text form from the latter. On my own weblog I have expressed some frustration with the limits imposed by Google Books on the viewing of works which are not protected by copyright here.

There has been a recent piece of news about the Google Books project which was announced on the Google Books own weblog here at the end of August. Many books that can be found on Google Books, which are out of copyright (or rather, which Google has decided to treat in that manner), can now be completely downloaded in PDF format.

Some notes about this feature:

1) The downloaded work is an image PDF, usually 1-15MB in size. The text metadata for each book is not in the downloaded document. This means you cannot search for text within the document once it is downloaded, but must return to Google Books in order to search the contents.
2) Some books which a) are no longer protected by copyright b) Google recognizes as no longer being protected by allowing you to browse an unlimited number of pages from the work are strangely not available for download. For example, Miyakawa, Masuji’s My Life in Japan, published in the United States in 1907 can be fully viewed online and is not protected by copyright, cannot be downloaded as of today. The same goes for Bushido, the Soul of Japan: An Exposition of Japanese Thought by Inazô Nitobe published in 1905 (the 10th edition)
3) Many of the old books, especially those which cannot be downloaded despite their lack of copyright coverage, have huge “Image Not Available” error messages where the pages should be. Strangely, you can still search the text metadata for these books and return results. Clicking on the search result pages, however, will simply show “Image Not Available.” Other books have some pages missing but some showing.
4) As I have discussed elsewhere, some books which cannot possibly be covered by copyright are only shown in “snippet mode” and in some cases, searching their contents returns completely unexplainable and mistaken results. For example, the 1910 Highways and Homes of Japan by lady Kate Lawson is bizarrely shown only in snippet mode and as this snapshot shows, searching for “Japan” within the book gives completely wrong results.
5. The page images for tables of contents are in many cases hyperlinked. You can click directly on chapter titles in the table of contents to jump to that chapter.

How to search for books related to Japan that are out of copyright:

The easiest way is to search for something specific on the Google Books web site. However, that will return mostly results that are still protected by copyright. See this excellent summary of copyright protection at Cornell for how to determine roughly if something is protected that was published in the United States. All things published in the United States before 1923, regardless, are now in the public domain, no exceptions. There is no reason Google should restrict access to those materials insofar as it assumes visitors are viewing the content in the United States (its website says as much in its warning to those outside the US).

IN TITLE – If you want to search for something in the title, either use the “Advanced Search” link or simply precede your search with “intitle:” For example: intitle:Japan or intitle:”Jinrikisha Days in Japan”

BY DATE – To restrict yourself to the period when all books are in the public domain, you can specify a date year range using “date:” So for example: date:1800-1922. You can also specifi “Full view books” in the advanced search page to see only results in books that can be fully viewed.

So searching for books with Japan in the title, published from 1800-1922 can be found by entering: intitle:Japan date:1800-1922

Some examples of books that can be downloaded, found merely through searching for Japan in the title, some of which you might recognize:

The Awakening of Japan by Kakuzô Okakura 1904

Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan by Lafcadio Hearn 1894

The History of Japan: Together with a Description of the Kingdom of Siam, 1690-92 by Engelbert Kaempfer, Simon Delboe, Hamond Gibben, William Ramsden 1906 (at least this edition of it)

China and Japan: Being a Narrative of the Cruise of the U.S. Steam-frigate Powhatan, in the Years… by James D. Johnston 1860

Working Women of Japan by Sidney Lewis Gulick 1915

China Vs. Japan by the New York Chinese Patriotic Committee 1919

Japan by the Japanese: A Survey by Its Highest Authorities edited by Alfred Stead 1904

A Diplomatist’s Wife in Japan: Letters from Home to Home by Hugh Fraser 1899

A Handbook for Travellers in Central & Northern Japan: Being a Guide to Tōkiō, Kiōto, Ōzaka… by Ernest Mason Satow, A. G. S. Hawes 1881

Japan and the Japanese by Talbot Watts 1852

Hildreth’s “Japan as it was and Is”: A Handbook of Old Japan by Richard Hildreth, Ernest W. (Ernest Wilson) Clement 1907

Japan and the California Problem by T. (Toyokichi) Iyenaga, Kenoske Sato 1921

Grandmamma’s Letters from Japan by Mary Pruyn 1877

Problems of the Far East: Japan, Korea, China
By George Nathaniel Curzon 1894

8/2/2006

Asian History Carnival #6

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 9:26 am

The 6th Asian History Carnival will be hosted at Frog in a Well – Korea on August 8th! We are looking for good posts on Asian history posted around the internet in the past month or two. For more details, check out the Asian History Carnival homepage.

Please nominate postings for the carnival here. If you use del.icio.us to tag your links, another way you can nominate postings is to simply tag them “ahcarnival” (http://del.icio.us/tag/ahcarnival/) and I’ll look through the tagged postings when the time comes. The deadline for nominations is August 7th.

7/19/2006

Japanese Historical Text Initiative at UC Berkeley

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 10:49 am

A recent message on H-Japan from Yuko Okubo at UC Berkeley announced an interesting online resource: The Japanese Historical Text Initiative Here is a part of that announcement which outlines some of the materials already available:

The Japanese Historical Text Initiative (JHTI) is a rapidly expanding
database made up of historical texts written during the last 1292 years.
The original version of every paragraph in every text is cross-tagged with
its English translation, making it possible for any researcher to see, on
the same screen, both the original and English translation of any word or
phrase appearing in any JHTI text.

The texts now included are of the following types:

Ancient chronicles. These were compiled by officials of the Imperial
Court in compliance with edicts handed down by occupants of the throne.
The three oldest chronicles have been placed on JHTI: (1) the Kojiki
(completed in 712 CE) and cross-tagged with its English translation by
Donald L. Philippi, (2) the Nihon Shoki (completed in 720) with its
translation by W. G. Aston, and (3) the Shoku Nihongi (covering 697 to
791) with its translation by J. B. Snellen.

Ancient gazetteers. These texts were submitted by provincial officials in
compliance with an Imperial edict handed down during the first half of the
8th century. Only a few remain. We are inserting on JHTI the original of
the most complete extant gazetteer, the Izumo no Kuni Fudoki (submitted in
733), and linking it with Michiko Aoki’s translation. Remaining portions
of other gazetteers will be added and linked to translations by Professor
Aoki.

Ancient religo-civil code. In 927, at the close of the Great Reform period
that began in 645, a comprehensive compilation of religious and civil law
(the Engi Shiki) was submitted to the Imperial court. The first 10 books
are made up of religious (Kami) law. All other books are devoted to civil
law. The originals of the 10 Kami books have been placed on JHTI and
cross-tagged with Felicia Gressitt Bock’s translation.

Medieval stories. After the Great Reform period, and during early years of
the emerging feudal age, the most valuable historical texts were stories
written about what was said and done by powerful leaders of aristocratic
and military clans. Three are being placed on JHTI: (1) the Okagami
(covering the years 866 to 1027) with the translation by Helen Craig
McCullough; (2) the Eiga Monogatari (covering the years 794 to 1185) with
the translation by William H. & Helen Craig McCullough; and (3) the
Taiheiki (completed around 1371) with the Helen Craig McCullough
translation. Other translated texts of this type will be added later.

Medieval and early-modern interpretive histories. Between 1219 and 1712,
three great interpretive histories were written, mirroring the religious
and political interests of their authors. The originals and translations
of two are being placed on JHTI: (1) the Gukansho (completed in 1219) has
been linked with the Delmer M. Brown and Ichiro Ishida translation, and
(2) the Jinno Shotoki (completed in 1339) with the H. Paul Varley
translation. The third history of this type, the Tokushi Yoron (completed
in 1712), will soon be cross-tagged and inserted with the Joyce Ackroyd
translation.

The Japanese state and Imperial Shinto. After the Meiji Restoration of
1868, and in response to increasing pressure from Western powers, the
Japanese state adopted reforms in all areas of public life, including
religious life. After World War II the government collected and published
important religious orders issued between 1868 and 1945. This is entitled
Meiji Igo Shukyo Kankei Horei Ruisan (Collection of Religious Orders
Issued since the Beginning of Meiji) and it is being placed on JHTI, and
is being linked with translations by Brown and Okubo. In 1937, the
Japanese government published and distributed its official interpretation
of Imperial Shinto. Entitled Kokutai no Hongi (Principles of Nation-Body)
this has been placed on JHTI and cross-tagged with the English translation
by John Owen Gauntlett.

Scriptures of Japan’s New Religions. After Japan was forced to adopt a
constitution that freed religion from state control, numerous New
Religions emerged and flourished. The strongest two have amassed 10
million or more members. Their teachings are rooted in the Lotus Sutra
(Hokke-kyo) and this Sutra, thought to be the earliest of the Mahayana
scriptures, will be placed on JHTI and cross-tagged with the English
translation by Banno Kato et al and revised by W. L. Soothill and William
Schiffer et al. The Ofudesaki written by the founder of Tenri-kyo will
also be added, and linked with the translation by Iwao P. Hino.

This is an exciting project and I hope it continues to develop, adding material and ironing out problems as it does. I have only given the site a quick look but a few quick observations:

1) Searching some of the materials requires obtaining a password, which apparently is available from one of the site administrators.

2) There is a fascinating “Frequency of Appearance” feature which allows you to search a single or in all of the texts for the frequency of certain words.

3) The design of the website still needs some work. The site uses frames, which is fine, but the encoding is not set in the HEAD tag for some of the files, which renders the Japanese characters wrong in some cases unless the visitor manually chooses the correct encoding in their browser (example: their logsel.cgi file produces files without encoding, which is just lazy programming) or has the default encoding set to the appropriate Japanese encoding.

4) Some of the search pages still need work, as well as the browse function. For example, browsing the Kojiki lists the language as “Japanese and English” but only the English appears except in the footnotes.

5) Some links on the site are still broken (the search page for nihon shoki was broken at the time of writing this post)

Japan Focus Back Online

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 10:28 am

Japan Focus is easily one of the best sources of articles online about Japan and Japanese history. I include the site among those I visit each day but since early June there has only been a short “under construction” message.

Today I noticed that the e-journal is back online with an explanation for its downtime:

Japan Focus was closed by an anonymous hacker on June 2. We are now up and running with a redesigned site that offers important new features including advanced search capabilities.

I hope this was not a targeted attack and that they did not lose any content in the attack. Fortunately, they have not only restored their site after the attack but added more advanced search capabilities to access their excellent archive of articles by some of the best scholars working on Japan. If you haven’t visited the site before, you can read more about it on their about page and visitors can also subscribe to receive email updates.

4/30/2006

China-Japan Historical Struggle Reaches MIT

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 3:41 am

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
– Maya Angelou, Inaugural Poem

I had planned to blog on a John Dower web project cited by Alan Baumler, because it’s a fantastic collection of historical images, nicely curated. Now, if you follow the the link, you get redirected to an MIT Press Office Statement that explains that the exhibit is offline while Dower and Miyagawa negotiate with members of the MIT Chinese student community who objected to an image of a Chinese being beheaded, a classic piece of Japanese propaganda, one that sets the tone for the next half century. The problem, according to the articles I’ve seen (thanks to both Manan Ahmed and Ralph Luker) was a lack of “accessible historical context” clearly warning viewers of the violent and racist content of the imagery.

Perhaps they need something like my syllabus boilerplate:

Advisory
History is about real people, diverse cultures, interesting theories, strongly held belief systems, complex situations, conflicts and often-dramatic actions. In certain contexts, this information may be disturbing. Such is the nature of historical study.

I don’t see it myself: unless you happen to read Meiji Japanese and stumble across the image by accident, and are inclined to think that we need more, not less, beheadings in the world, isn’t it pretty obvious that this is old, bad, material? (the woodblock prints should be a giveaway, if nothing else) If you know anything about the history, it’s pretty obvious that it’s racist, that it leads to great tragedy, and that it’s important visual evidence. If it wasn’t obvious beforehand, then reading the attached commentary would make it pretty clear: my recollection (Alan can throw in his two cents here) is that the accompanying text was pretty clear on all these issues (Update: Alan confirms my recollection, and adds some useful thoughts, including a look at Chinese language discussions.

This raises concerns for me. Part of the value of creating an on-line exhibit is to allow the images to be used by students and teachers and researchers as evidence in their own researches. Insisting on immediate warnings and commentary (and how, technically, they’re going to make those inseparable from the image, I’m not sure, but I am nervous) will make it harder to use the material, pedagogically.

There are those who argue that nothing offensive to anyone should be published anywhere without caveats and controls; I’m not one of those. There are those who argue that “it’s only speech” excuses everything, and that we cannot have a truly free society without license to express everything, everywhere, anytime; I’m not one of those, either. There are some who say that the classroom is no place for controversy; I reject that. There are some who say that the classroom belongs to the teacher, without exception; I reject that, as well. I do think that teachers ought to be given a great deal of leeway with regard to how they present and handle sensitive topics, particularly those with track records of balanced and sophisticated scholarship, public writing and teaching, and that attacks (and it’s very clear from the MIT President’s statement that there have been some very vigorous attacks) without context and from outside the student and scholarly community which has some understanding of the issues and people, are injurious to academic freedom and accomplishment.

Even scholars are sometimes prone to put blame before understanding, but that doesn’t mean that we should privilege this. On the other hand, I have the greatest respect for John Dower as a scholar, teacher and individual: if he agrees that these images need more context, I will respect that.

I think it’s very important for scholars of Japanese history to be clear about the impact that Japan had on its neighbors and the world in its modern imperialist phase; I don’t understand attacking a scholar who is addressing precisely these issues with evidence, publications, teaching, etc.

Update: Alan Baumler found a cached version of the text, which is exceptional, and a Letter from Prof. Peter Perdue, also at MIT, defending Dower and the project. Vigorously, to say the least.

4/23/2006

Kyushu and Okinawa Studies Online Symposium

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 7:58 pm

I just got an email from Steve from Kostudies.com announcing their first online symposium complete with academic contributors. Here is more from the announcement:

Two myths dominate the story of Japan’s relationship with the outside world. The first and most common is that Japan was an isolated country, opened by the arrival of Commodore Perry. The second compares Japan to an oyster, because the foreign influence that it accepted was no bigger than a grain of sand.

In recent years, those myths have come under attack from researchers studying medieval communication between Kyushu and the Asian continent. We are delighted to announce the participation of two authors whose work details a far richer and more complex environment. Professors Batten and Wang describe a time in which pirates, diplomats, traders, monks and soldiers sailed to and from Japan.

Much of this scholarship is new. For example, Professor Batten examines the Kôrokan, the official guest-house for foreign visitors, which was located in Hakata, now located inside the modern-day city of Fukuoka. A thousand years ago, most visitors to Japan would have arrived by ship at Hakata Bay, the one and only authorized gateway to Japan. For years the site was buried underneath the city’s baseball stadium and only in recent years, after the demolition of the stadium, has the evidence been unearthed. Professor Wang also utilizes recent archaeological findings and little-known archival material to come to new conclusions about relations between Japan and the outside world.

Professor Batten approaches the topic by covering the history of Hakata from 500 C.E. into the medieval period. He has chapters focusing on war, diplomacy, piracy, and trade. Professor Batten has spent his professional career focusing on Kyushu and has had access to the latest archaeological discoveries in the area. Chapter 4 of this book, “Gateway to Japan”, available to visitors of this symposium, focuses on a single case study. By focusing on the particularly well-documented case of a Chinese junk that arrived in Hakata in 945, Professor Batten showcases many of his findings, including those on immigration, trade and official attitudes toward the outside world.

Professor Wang’s focus is on diplomatic relations and a series of important embassies sent from the Japanese islands to Sui and Tang China. Wang explains in detail the rigorous criteria of the Chinese and Japanese courts in the selection of diplomats and how the two prepared for missions abroad. He journeys with a party of Japanese diplomats from their tearful farewell party to hardship on the high seas to their arrival amidst the splendors of Yangzhou and Changan and the Sui-Tang court. One of his central ideas, outlined in the introduction is that the traditional view of China’s tributary system is oversimplistic. He argues that it was not a unilateral tool of hegemony but a more complex situation in which multiple partners were able to modify the rules depending on the times and circumstances.

3/9/2006

A Break With Tradition

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 7:07 am

I’m going to break with Frog In A Well tradition this once, and comment here on something that has almost nothing to do with Asian history. I could easily make comparisons and connections, mind you, but my focus is not on that at the moment. I am also going to be somewhat less restrained than usual.

It has been pretty widely reported, at this point, that a warehouse associated with The Holocaust History Project (THHP) was deliberately firebombed a few days ago. This is just the latest, if you’ll pardon the term, salvo in a pattern of harassment towards THHP and its supporters which includes cyber-attacks via virus/worm/zombie and personal harassment and cyberstalking.

Orac has organized a bloggerly response to this: linking to THHP in a mass show of support. I think that’s great, obviously, but I feel increasingly, since I heard about this event, that it’s not enough.

This was perpetrated by an organized group, with high levels of technical skill and the intent to do harm. That the result was only “property” damage ignores the fact that the attack was clearly intended to deprive THHP of vital resources — economic and archival — and to terrorize THHP supporters into abandoning their educational mission. Educational mission: just like my own educational mission, just like the educational mission of many of my readers. This attack is an attack on all clear-thinking, fair-minded scholars and teachers.

I want to ask a question, and I want other bloggers to ask this question, and I want newspapers to ask this question, and I want politicians to ask this question, until we have a very, very good answer: Where is the FBI, Homeland Security, national media?

Why is this not being treated as a terrorist event?

I know, as Dave Neiwert points out that there’s no direct evidence yet. But shouldn’t the presumption be in favor of a vigorous response?

2/24/2006

Asian History Carnival Coming Soon!

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 8:51 pm

I will be hosting the third edition of the Asian History Carnival on Sunday, March 5. Deadline for nominations of posts — anything about Asian history written since the last edition in mid-December — is Saturday, March 4th.

You can send nominations to me (jonathan at froginawell dot net) or use the handy Blog Carnival Submission Form.

Spread the word!

1/10/2006

On-line Japanese history resources

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 3:02 am

While looking for a supplement to the anemic textbook offerings on Tokugawa Japan (none of the stuff is out of copyright, probably, which is why it’s not in the document set), I came across this great collection of links to history resources. (via Early Modern Resources) I still haven’t found what I’m looking for (quick document readings for world history students) but it’s a likely source for something especially visual materials.

Update (1/23/06): I didn’t think I’d find much in the David Rumsey Map collection, because it seemed to be heavily European maps, and I was right: a few interesting maps of Japan produced by Europeans, but not much compared to the wealth of material for Western historians. Then, as I was about to give up, I noticed the link to the Japan collection Yes, the UC Berkeley East Asian Library collection of historical Japanese maps (and a few other images) has been digitized and is available under Creative Commons license. There’s a lot of mid-to-late Tokugawa and Meiji era stuff, in particular: right up my alley.

Here’s a good illustration of the image quality and flexibility of the service: the very center of a 1710 map of the world:

11/7/2005

Korean History Weblog Launch

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 4:26 am

Today we are launching our new collaborative Korean history weblog. You can read more about the goals of the site here.

I’m going to start it out with a series of postings this week on early Western perceptions of Koreans in the late 19th century and colonial period. I’ll later post a summary of some of the work out there on Japanese perceptions of Korea during the same period for comparison.

Since a lot of postings will discuss Japanese imperialism and colonial Korea, there may be some cross-posting. Since we won’t cross-post everything however, you might want to pay the Korean history weblog a visit on occasion.

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