After my recent completion of the partial markup of The Tale of Genji, I decided to further look into the Japanese text markup and to research into whether there were any encoded versions of The Tale of Genji available online. The results were more successful than expected. Although I only found one digital edition of Genji available online, it came from a source that was created with the purpose of providing a broad database for the dissemination of various classic Japanese texts in a western context. Due to both Universities being of American origin, I am using the term western or west to primarily refer to an American context as I do not know the level of Japanese material available in Europe available at this time. In 1995 The University of Virginia and the University of Pittsburgh, jointly announced their project to create the Japanese Text Initiative (JTI), a service that tagged classical Japanese texts in Standard Generalised Markup Language according to TEI guidelines. As the project website outlines, pre 1960 only Arthur Waley’s translation of The tale of Genji , Sei Shonagon’s Pillowbook and a collection of Noh Plays (a classical musical drama form, with its origins dating back to the fourteenth century) were widely available in the west. By the 1990’s a much wider selection of texts was available due to growing interest, hence the commencement of this markup project. The availability of classical Japanese Literature had the potential to be of great assistance to those who wished to study it- it is projects like the JTI that have allowed this potential to flourish.
The initiative used markup according to the University of Virginia’s predefined principals used for other language materials. Unfortunately though, there is very little information on what these predefined principals actually are. They do however, make clear their project scope stating the intention to:
1) Make JTI searchable in Japanese and English
2) To, when possible, base an electronic edition on an authoritative print edition and to not place copyrighted text online where permission has not been expressly given.
3) In the short term to markup most or all of J. Thomas Rimer’s A Reader’s Guide to Japanese Literature.
4) In the long term to add pre- twentieth century Japanese works.
Examining the University of Virginia’s hosting website for these digital edition they have been successful in both their short and long term goals. They did cite some issues with TEI in their markup process however, particularly with Noh plays. The TEI could not adapt to some of the Japanese elements in the texts, as a result these elements were left un-coded. However, I think it important to consider the constraints of older versions of TEI, items that were not encoded in the initial markup may be plausibly encoded with TEI P5.
In their encoded version of The Tale of Genji you can see the results of a collaborative, thoroughly researched, academically produced digital edition. The text is available in its original form, its modern form and its Romaji (when the Roman alphabet is used to phonetically translate Japanese) form. They clearly state the precedence of having a version called the ‘original form’ (which is necessary due to no known original copy being in existence). They utilized a manuscript edited by Fujiwara no Teika – which is widely considered to be the most reliable among older texts. They then amended that the text according to four implemented rules: To use a selection of Genji manuscripts and prioritise certain elements for inclusion in their final digital text; they did not incorporate any amendments made by later scribes; they emended any omissions or ungrammatical sentences; finally they emended and differences in the hiragana used if a symbol had since been dropped from the hiragana lexicon. All decisions in the editorial documentation were made available as an accompaniment to the text. The same was true of all the text included on the site.
Although TEI.2 is now out of date by the current standard, the JTI is still a thoroughly comprehensive website with a wide array of Japanese Texts. I believe their description of including an English version is somewhat misleading due to in fact being the Romanised version in Japanese, meaning that one has to have an in-depth knowledge of the Japanese Language to make full use of the source, however, it does illustrate the project’s faithfulness to accuracy of representation in it depiction for the digital text.