Let’s read historical documents in cooperation with friends and AIs!
Read historical materials with open collaboration
In Japan, there are many historical materials written and published before and during the Edo period. Literatures, letters, diaries, official documents etc. and other materials, categorized according to their content and form, are all valuable clues to know our past. The materials that records past natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods are helpful for preparing future disaster.
To make use of these historical materials, we need to first change the "kuzushi-ji" or cursive letter to modern letter or type. This make it easier to handle historical materials as data. This work is called "transcription," or "honloku" in Japanese. Transcription of historical materials has been regarded as the work done by experts trained in Japanese history, Japanese literature or related field. However, enormous number of historical materials remained to the present day. It is not possible to transcribe all of them only by the experts.
"Minna de Honkoku" is a project to promote the transcription of historical materials with a large number of participants. This project was started in 2017 by Research Group for Historical Earthquakes, Kyoto Universityas a project to transcribe historical earthquake documents. "Minna de Honku" have already transcribed six million characters of historical materials with participation of 5,000 people.
Development of "Minna de Honkoku" has been carried out mainly by Rekihaku, National Museum of Japanese History, Earthquake Research institute, the University of Tokyo, and Research Group for Historical Earthquakes, Kyoto University. The platform was renewed in July 2019.
Would you like to join us in the activities to transcribe historical materials?
"Minna de Honkoku" supports your reading of historical material
Reading historical materials is a difficult task for modern people. But you don't have to worry. "Minna de Honkoku" provides various functions to help transcribe them.
Automatic letter recognition of cursive letters by AI
In order to read historical materials, you need to understand "kuzushi-ji" or cursive letters that are not used today. But don't worry! AI programs developed to recognize cursive letters will help you reading them.
Collaboration with the community
Reading historical materials alone is a hard task. If you encounter difficult letters or sentences, you can use ask community for help. Other participants will review and revise the letters you read.
Japanese editing environment for the transcription
We provide an editor that works on a web browser with supports for special Japanese notation such as vertical writing, rubi, and repeating or ditto marks. All transcription tasks can be performed in the browser.
Automatic character recognition of cursive letters by AI
In order to read historical materials written before the Edo period, it is necessary to have the ability to transcribe "kuzushi-ji" or cursive letters that are very different from the typeface we are currently using. But don't worry! "Minna de Honkoku" adopts two types of AI programs that can automatically recognize cursive letters. You can use AIs developed by Toppan Printing Co., Ltd.and bythe Humanities Center for Open Data in the Humanities (CODH).
Recognition results of a cursive letter “shika” (dear).
Recognition results of a cursive letter “kami” (god).
Link to KuLA, the cursive character learning support app!
KuLA, Kuzushiji Learning App, was developed mainly at Osaka University in 2016. It has been downloaded more than 120,000 times by those interested in history and archives. "Minna de Honkoku" contains more than 3,000 letter images from KuLA. You can learn how to read "kuzushi-ji" with the it’s exam function like a game.
Are you interested in reading historical materials? Would you like to contribute to historical research with open collaboration?