Information Technology

(Re)Inventing Tokyo

Faculty: Sam Morse, Trent Maxey, and Tim Van Compernolle
Staff: Paul Chapin, Andy Anderson, and Scott Payne
Technology Used: Google Maps API

The  "(Re)Inventing Tokyo" course of Professors Sam Morse and Trent Maxey focuses on the portrayals of Tokyo and its reinventions in art, literature, and politics from the end of the Edo period to the present day.  It examines the changes that took place as the city modernized and Westernized in the Meiji era, became the center of modern urban life in Japan before the Second World War, and rebuilt itself as part of the country’s economic miracle in the postwar era.

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(Re)Inventing Tokyo

The (Re)Inventing Tokyo project uses Google maps to allow students to easily examine the physical changes in the city over time and add images of their own choosing to the map to illustrate the ideas examined in the course.  Students can examine individual builds, natural features or entire neighborhoods.  New locations can be added to the map by simply dragging the location icon on the right to the map and then filling out the form that pops up.



(Re)Inventing Tokyo
The layout of the city over time can be shown using the year sliders.  Each slider corresponds to a map of the city for that year.  By decreasing the opacity of the map, it's possible to overlay the current map with the old one.  This allows students to see both maps at the same time and compare the changes that have occurred over time. For example, in this image, the change in the coast between 1892 and the present is clearly evident.  The 1892 map was set at approximately 50% opacity.  By increasing the opacity of more than one map at the same time, relative changes become evident.

Once a new location has been added to the map, clicking on the icon for that location brings up an interface that allows students to add images, a description and notes for the location or individual images, and even create a blog associated with each image.

The images themselves are taken either from the Digitool image database maintained by the Amherst College Library, or from a special Flickr account that was created for the course.



tokyo4The tool also includes an image viewer for presenting images in class presentations.  The viewer provides the ability to pan and zoom an image. Simply clicking on an image will cause the image to be centered and zoomed at the location of the mouse click.

(Re)Inventing Tokyo has now evolved into the Cityscapes Project.