Our Mission

Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage, Ritsumeikan University based in Kyoto and Shiga, the rich repository of cultural heritage, has been aiming at establishing a base hub for education and research in “Disaster Mitigation of Cultural Heritage and Historic Cities.” This considers preservation of arts and culture and disaster mitigation measures to protect the community that supports culture and arts as a whole. In 2003, the University established the Research Center for Disaster Mitigation of Urban Cultural Heritage to lead research activities where arts and sciences work in cooperation, with substantial external funds such as the 21st Century COE Program and the Global COE Program adopted by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

Since the UNESCO headquarter authorized the Ritsumeikan University as a UNESCO Chair in 2006, we have implemented an international training program on disaster mitigation for cultural heritage for nine consecutive years up to 2014. This has been taking on the role as an international network hub for the study.

With the completion of the Global COE Program in March 2013, the Center was reorganized into the Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage which aims at further unfolding education and research activities.

Protection of cultural heritage and the surrounding historic cities, this only can be achieved through comprehensive research by researchers who are specialized in various disciplines. This makes it possible to reflect development of technology and research outcomes into actual social policies. In addition, the multidisciplinary collaboration at both domestic and international level needs a proper place where it is supposed to be done.

Therefore the Institute aims to be a global leading education and research center that provides policies for the development of cultural and safe society both in Japan and the rest of the world.

Featured Research

■ Learning from the history of disasters and communities

By collecting historical materials related to past disasters and social responses to them, creating a “Memory map” of local community based on qualitative surveys, and developing a space-time GIS to understand the various aspects of historical disasters, we explore the history of disasters in historical and cultural cities to learn more about the regional knowledge readily available for disaster reduction initiatives in the future.

■ Develop disaster mitigation technologies of historic and cultural cities

By developing seismic design and seismic retrofitting technologies,and fire protection systems with advantages of traditional wisdom,regional history and culture, and also proposing disaster mitigation countermeasures of historic and cultural regions by assessing geo-environments,we aim to establish new disaster mitigation technologies of historic and cultural cities uniting both “historic, cultural and design values” and “disaster mitigating performance”.

■ Preventing damage of cultural heritage sites from human and animal made disasters

We systematically investigate damages to cultural heritage caused by human and animal activities including criminal acts, such as theft of traditional artifacts and arson of historical buildings, and invasion of raccoons into the temples and shrines. Further, we develop effective counter measures including action planning guidelines and hi-functioning protection systems to safeguard the cultural heritage site from the human and animal made disasters.

■ Designing disaster mitigation for historic cultural cities

We aim to make local disaster mitigation plans in historical zones and policies to effectively implement them. We contribute to designing the future of historical environments and communities through practical applications of analyzing the local characteristics and making the best use of the cutting-edge technology of disaster mitigation in the fields.

■ Contributing to the international community International Contribution

Through the UNESCO Chair Programme on Cultural Heritage and Risk Management, International Training Course (ITC) and research network, we are carrying out research and development of educational programs to enhance the capacity of disaster risk management for cultural heritage in developing countries, and promoting studies and field researches on disasters affecting cultural heritage in the international field.

Characteristic Activities

For Academic Fields
Research exchange activities
  • ①Publishing
    Organization of “Symposium on Disaster Mitigation of Cultural Heritage and Historical Cities” as an annual project and publishing of the academic journals “Journal of Disaster Mitigation for Historical Cities,” “Kyoto Historical Disaster Research” and “Annual Report” every year.
  • ②Dissemination of information on our website
    We share information about our research activities, research results and publications in our website.
  • ③Collaboration with other educational research institutes
    We develop interdisciplinary research activities in order to promote the process of inheritance, preservation, maintenance, utilization, and management of cultural heritage in collaboration with other research institutions, such as Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University, that are actively engaged in analyzing the Japanese culture using digital technology and pursuing new studies in Humanities.
For Domestic Societies
Education in the country
  • ①Publication of textbooks and lectures related to “Cultural Heritage and Disaster Mitigation”
    We provide lectures on “Conservation and Succession of Cultural Heritages,” “Historical Disasters” “Disaster Mitigation Planning for Cultural Heritage” and “Protection of Cultural Heritage from Disasters,”and published textbook titled “Cultural Heritage Disaster Mitigation Studies” which is a compilation of these resources.
  • ②Management of the academic program on “Cultural Heritage Disaster Mitigation Studies”
    This course is provided as a multidisciplinary program under a credit system in which graduate students can also participate. We provide various opportunities to learn “Cultural Heritage Disaster Mitigation Studies” to the public, Ritsumeikan students, other universities students and adult students with business experience, in order to contribute to the expansion and development of the existing academic field.
For International Societies
International education and support
  • ①Conducting the UNESCO Chair Programme on Cultural Heritage and Risk Management, International Training Course (ITC) on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage, Ritsumeikan University
    We have been authorized as the world’s first UNESCO Chair in the field of cultural heritage and risk management in the year 2006. This UNESCO initiative aimed at promoting international networking cooperation based on exchange of knowledge across the borders and research outcomes. We have more than 100 certified participants over the course of 10 years. We are continuing this training activity, and our goal is to produce around 10 graduates every year through this training.
  • ②Supporting Developing Countries’ Education on Cultural Heritage Disaster Mitigation
    As part of the Indonesian government training, we invite local government officials and conduct training through lessons and best practices in urban and community planning in Kyoto, Osaka and Shiga for three weeks by lectures, discussions, and field surveys.
For Local Community
Practical supports to local societies
  • ①Collaborating with local societies
    We collaborate with voluntary disaster mitigation organizations run by local communities or with civic organizations, such as “TOMORROW’S KYOTO Cultural Heritage Platform” for safer historical communities.
  • ②The “Children’s Map Contest for Community Safety”
    We have been organizing the annual map contest since 2007 in which elementar y school s tudents survey fami l iar areas, such as the surroundings of their house and school, and put this information on the map, giving them a chance to think about the safety and security of their community and share this information with their parents and others of the school. This event has received favorable reviews in the country. A special jury award was given to the most outstanding work of our contest in the “Exhibition of the Excellent Mapping Works by Primary and Secondary School Children,” organized by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

The four main activities

  • Research
    • Developing various research projects based on the achievement of the two former COE programs.
    • Annually publishing Journal of Disaster Mitigation for Historical Cities by assembling research articles submitted to the Symposium on Disaster Mitigation of Cultural Heritage and Historical Cities.
  • Education
    • Providing training courses for young researchers, such as the Academic Program on Cultural Heritage and Disaster Mitigation for graduate students.
    • Training researchers with practical situations through specialized courses, such as UNESCO Chai r Internat ional Training Program.
  • Collaboration with society
    • Promoting projects in collaboration with society, such as the Chi ldren’ s Map Contest for Community Safety.
    • Supporting national and local agencies for disaster mitigation projects on cultural heritage in Japan and foreign countries.
  • Collecting and disseminating information
    • Collecting and archiving historical materials and geographical information relevant to research projects.
    • Exhibiting the collected materials related to historical disasters and outcome s o f re se arch projects to the general public using the exhibition space.