The Collecting and Sharing of Knowledge of Water-Related Place Names in Tokyo

  • Author / Creator
    Viola, Michael J.
  • March 11, 2011, 14:46 Japan Standard Time. This was the moment that marked the beginning of what is now known as the “2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami,” a catastrophe that brought about devastation throughout many regions in Japan, most notably in the north eastern region of the main island of Honshuu, and resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and the displacement of even more. While the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami were unavoidable, they were not entirely unforeseeable: similar disasters in the region have occurred in the past. People in Japan from past generations carefully recorded episodes of these catastrophes. This recorded information was meant to be passed onto future generations so that the knowledge and memory of past disasters will be preserved and be applied to the many aspects of Japanese society, so that the loss of lives and damage to towns and cities can be kept at a minimum in times of earthquakes and tsunamis. Not only was this knowledge archived in ancient texts and chronicles, but also embedded into infrastructure and, at a more subtle level, place names. However, this knowledge became “invisible” with the passage of time. This memory of past catastrophes became forgotten not as a result of the loss of the knowledge itself—much of the infrastructure and place names embedded with memories from past generations still exist—but the loss of awareness of this vast library of information, information that is literally peppered across the landscape of Japan, information that is in plain sight yet invisible. In this thesis, I will explore how this lost memory can be resurrected, preserved, and shared. I will begin with a close examination on where and how knowledge from generations past was weaved into Japanese society, into its culture, literature, mythology, infrastructure, and how this knowledge can be interpreted through collaboration and interdisciplinary research. I will then explore how this knowledge can be (re)captured, archived and shared by using digital tools to reinterpret and visualise ancient knowledge, and to present this knowledge in a format that is comprehensible to modern-day people. Ancient knowledge on earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan’s past is as relevant and important then as it is now. It is imperative that this knowledge be made known and not to be forgotten again.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2016
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Engel, Maureen (Humanities Computing)
    • Quamen, Harvey (Humanities Computing)
    • Guardado, Martin (Faculty of Extension)