The 2017-2018 academic year saw the 150th anniversary of Japan’s 1868 Meiji Restoration, an epochal political revolution that sparked Japan’s remarkable modernization, dramatic cultural transformation, and rapid emergence onto the global stage. To mark this historic date, colleagues across the University of British Columbia in the Centre for Japanese Research, the Department of History, the Department of Asian Studies, the Asian Library, and the Museum of Anthropology partnered to present the UBC Meiji at 150 Project. Over the course of the year, the Meiji at 150 project convened over 60 scholars of Japanese studies from around North America, Japan, and Europe to situate Japan in global history and to interrogate the place of the Meiji Restoration in Japanese history, historical pedagogy, and cultural studies. All told, the Meiji at 150 Project reached thousands of individuals around the globe through its various events and initiatives, centering the study of Japanese history in the UBC university community and solidifying UBC’s position as the premier institution for Japanese studies outside of Japan.
Digital Meijis: Re-visualising Modern Japanese History at 150 grew out of one aspect of this larger project, the Meiji at 150 Digital Teaching Resource. Curated and edited by Tristan Grunow and Naoko Kato, the Meiji at 150 Digital Teaching Resource and this companion volume were designed to present and widely disseminate research on the Meiji Period in a public format designed for easy adoption in the Japanese studies classroom. By pairing digitized materials and documents with historical narrative and interpretive analysis, the “visual essays” contained within encourage readers to review and rethink modern Japanese history through images. At the same time, thousands of digitized documents, woodblock prints, photographs, newspapers, maps, and other visual materials dating to the Meiji Period from across UBC’s extensive archival collections have been collated in the Meiji at 150 Digital Teaching Resource and made freely available to scholars and the general public. We hope scholars looking for new illustrations and historical documents to introduce into their classroom teaching or research will find these resources useful.
Digital Meijis, the Meiji at 150 Digital Teaching Resource, and the UBC Meiji at 150 Project would not have been possible without the financial, technical, and personal support of many institutions and individuals.
The generous financial support of the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver, The Japan Foundation, Toronto, the UBC Faculty of Arts, and the UBC Development Office allowed us to involve nearly three dozen scholars of Japanese history, art history, photography, and literature from around the world in our various events and programs, from the public lecture and workshop series to the Meiji at 150 Digital Teaching Resource visual essays. Without this support, we would not have been able to invite the prominent scholars whose presence ensured the success of the Meiji at 150 Project.
The Centre for Japanese Research at the University of British Columbia and director Shigenori Matsui offered vital logisticial and institutional support for all Meiji at 150 events. Sue Choi and Ziqi Wang provided indispensable on-site support, logistical coordination, travel and accommodations arrangements, and publicity efforts. Yoko Nagao managed financial matters, patiently processing scores of reimbursement requests and accounting for countless receipts and forms. Jacqueline Waite at North South Travel made booking travel arrangements for dozens of visitors to campus as smooth as possible.
The preparation of the Meiji at 150 Digital Teaching Resource presented new challenges and a new host of people whose contributions deserve much recognition. Nurlaila Jamil prepared metadata for digitized materials and laid the groundwork for the website.
The editors would also like to thank the following individuals in the UBC Library system for their assistance along the way:
Asian Library: Shirin Eshghi
Digital Initiatives: Bronwen Sprout, Eirian Vining, Larissa Ringham, Robert Stibravy
Rare Books and Special Collections: Katherine Kalsbeek, Krisztina Laszlo, Chelsea Shriver
Scholarly Communications: Leonora Crema, Stephanie Savage, Zachary Foote
Technical Services: Susan Andrews, Tomoko Kitayama, Anne Lama