About Us

Our Mission

Cultural heritage rooted in the community and the historical cities surrounding them are the result of human cultural activities spanning over a long period of time. Once lost, they cannot be recreated again. Thus, it is the duty of today’s society to conserve the cultural values inherited from their ancestors, protect them along with human lives from the threat of disasters, and pass them on to the next generation.

In order to work towards disaster prevention and mitigation without losing the original essence of cultural heritage and the associated historical cities, it is necessary to activate the local community and traditional regional resources and integrate the fields of cultural conservation in social sciences with those of engineering for the protection of human society from disasters. So far, these issues have been dealt with separately in their own ways. We intend to create a platform for both domestic and international research projects in collaborating with various research orga- nizations such as the Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University that makes the best use of information technology archiving cultural materials.

We collaborate with industrial sectors to develop new technologies while continuing to learn from traditional knowledge, promoting the development of disaster mitigation plans for historical towns and cultural heritage together with local communities, government and non-profit organizations. We also engage in actual field studies by leveraging the industry-government-academia network for risk man- agement of such as World Cultural Heritage sites in collaboration with NGO’s and international organizations, including UNESCO, ICCROM and ICOMOS-ICORP. We intend to create an education and research environment in order to make practical contributions to the societies by promoting “Cultural Heritage Disaster Mitigation Studies,” researching history and traditions to carry forward cultural values, acquiring disaster mitigation technologies that can be applied to the field, and producing work-ready practitioners and young researchers who will take charge of the new research developments.
We sincerely wish for your continued supports and cooperation.

Takeyuki Okubo,
Director of Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage

Featured Research

Learning from the history of disasters and communities

With surveying the value of cultural heritages and buildings, 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 mitigation 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 for the international societies

We have been authorized as the only UNESCO Chair in the field of cultural heritage risk management. Through our International Training Course (ITC), and the research network that it has generated, we are carrying out research, as well as developing educational programs to enhance the capacity for disaster risk management of cultural heritage. We promote the study and field research of disasters that affect cultural heritage around the world.

Characteristic Activities

For Academic Fields
Research exchange activities

  1. Publishing
    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.
  2. Dissemination of information on our website
    We share information about our research activities, research results and publications in our website.
  3. Collaboration 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

  1. Publication 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.
  2. Management 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

  1. Conducting 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.
  2. Supporting 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

  1. Collaborating 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.
  2. The “Children’s Map Contest for Community Safety”
    We have been organizing the annual map contest since 2007 in which elementary school students survey familiar 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 Chair Internat ional Training Program.
Collaboration with society
  • Promoting projects in collaboration with society, such as the Children’ 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.