POSTPONED: Mapping Medieval Japan

Saturday, April 25 at 12:00pm

This is a past event.

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Please check our website for more information. 

Maps have long been a crucial element in historical studies: they not only help us to determine locations but also to analyze connections and conflict among people, and to understand how people interacted in physical space that often influenced, even dictated, their interactions. Maps enable us to understand the changing layouts of cities over time, the ways in which people cooperated or fought over resource use, or patterns of trade and transport on both land and sea. Recent advances in mapmaking—3-dimensional mapping and the use of GIS data, for example—have helped us to locate and to visualize some of these processes and interactions. In this two-day seminar on maps and mapmaking, participants will pay special attention to the use of maps in pre-modern Japanese history, and will have the opportunity to learn to make their own maps using computer-based mapmaking tools.  

This event is co-sponsored by the USC Libraries and the USC Project for Premodern Japan Studies. 



Day 1

"Mapping Maritime Networks: Geospatial Analysis of Trade Goods in the Medieval Inland Sea"
Michelle Damian, Monmouth College

"The Sacred (and Economic) Geography of Medieval Kii"
Philip Garrett, Newcastle University

"The ABCs of Medieval Kyoto's Urban Plan: Axes, Boundaries, and Cosmograms"
Matthew Stavros, Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies

"Map Your Data with Japanese Historical Gazetteer: Dataset and Tools"
Gotō Makoto and Kameda Akihiro from Kokuritsu Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan (Rekikhaku)/ National Museum of Japanese History

Day 2:
"Introduction to Mapping Tools"
Presentation prepared by Andrzej Rutkowski (USC Libraries) and presented by Kate Vavra-Musser (Spatial Sciences Institute)

Speaker Bios: 
Michelle Damian is an Assistant Professor of History at Monmouth College, IL (USA). After completing an MA in maritime archaeology from East Carolina University and a PhD in Japanese history from the University of Southern California, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University. She has published chapters in several edited volumes and articles in Education About Asia, and is currently working on her manuscript about maritime trade networks in medieval Japan. She is also on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit Museum of Underwater Archaeology

Philip Garrett is the Lecturer in Japanese History at Newcastle University, in the city founded by the Roman emperor Hadrian on the northeast coast of England. He read for the BA and M.St in Japanese at Oxford University before moving to Cambridge to research early medieval Japanese history for the PhD. His primary interest is in the intersections of kinship, law, space, and the sacred in medieval Japanese society, and his current work explores these through the lives and lawsuits of monks and local families connected to the temple complex Kōyasan. He has a secondary interest in earthquake and tsunami history. At Newcastle, he is a member of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology and Degree Programme Director for History.

Andy Rutkowski is the Visualization Librarian at the University of Southern California Libraries (USC Libraries). Previously he worked at the University of California Los Angeles holding a joint appointment in the Digital Library Program and in Collections, Research, and Instructional Services at Charles E. Young Research Library. He was the inaugural Interdisciplinary GIS Library Fellow at USC Libraries. He is interested in how GIS applications and methods can be applied to traditional library collections and archives in order to improve discoverability of collections as well as provide richer context and meaning to materials. He is also interested in the role that GIS and mapping can help play in community building and providing spaces for discussion, dialogue, and engagement around a variety of topics and issues.

Matthew Stavros is a historian of early Japan and the author of Kyoto: An Urban History of Japan’s Premodern Capital (U Hawaii P, 2014). His teaching and publications focus primarily on the material culture of premodern Japan and eastern Asia, with special interest in cities, buildings, and monuments. Matthew trained in architectural and urban history at Kyoto University and read history at Princeton University where he earned a PhD. He is the director of the Kyoto Consortium of Japanese Studies and, although currently detached from the institution, tenured senior lecturer at the University of Sydney. Matthew is a native of Michigan and a citizen of Australia and the United States. For more details, please see

Kate Vavra-Musser is a third-year PhD student in the population, health, and place doctoral program with the USC Spatial Sciences Institute and teh Department of Preventative Medicine in the Keck School of Medicine.  She is interested in global environmental and environmental health issues.  Kate received her BS in ecology and evolution in 2009 and her MS in global health and environment in 2015. 

Event Type

Lecture / Talk / Workshop


Students, Alumni, Faculty/Staff


University Park Campus

Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture
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