IIIF Discovery in Japan

Satoru Nakamura - The University of Tokyo (Japan), Kiyonori Nagasaki - International Institute for Digital Humanities (Japan)

Presentation type: Lightning talk



 In recent years, the publication of images using IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework) has been proceeding actively. This movement is also spreading to Japan, and the number of institutions in Japan who publish IIIF images has been increasing. On the other hand, though IIIF aims to collect and extract unified information as a mechanism, it is one of the current challenges that there are few systems capable of unified search and collection of IIIF images, especially in Japan. Therefore, in this research, as a part of efforts to establish the foundation to utilize IIIF for humanities research, we aim to develop the retrieval system across IIIF images published by multiple institutions, especially Japanese institutions.

System development

 We use existing open source software and related modules. This is because it aims to minimize proprietary development and customization, and to enhance the sustainability of the system. Specifically, we use Omeka S which is an open source web publishing platform and Apache Solr as a search engine.

 We collect IIIF manifests published by each institution. We target Japanese institutions that disclose IIIF images as Open Data, such as The University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, National Diet Library and National Institute of Japanese Literature. As a result of crawling IIIF manifests published by each institution, more than 500,000 IIIF manifests were collected from 13 institutions.

 Developed system consists mainly of two functions, for searching and viewing IIIF images. In the search function, the system provides facets to narrow down the search results. As facets, "Institution Name" "Database Name" "License" are provided. In the viewing function, IIIF images are displayed with Universal Viewer, which is provided through the module of Omeka S. Also, metadata extracted from each IIIF manifest is displayed at the same screen. Furthermore, the icon of IIIF manifest of this item and the link to various IIIF compatible viewers such as Mirador and Leaflet are displayed.

Use case

 In order to confirm the usefulness of the developed system, we verify whether it can be searched across IIIF images held by multiple institutions. In this case study, we target the picture scrolls "Night Parade of One Hundred Demons". In Japan, National Diet Library, National Institute of Japanese Literature, and the University of Tokyo publish the scrolls as IIIF images. As a result of searching "Night Parade of One Hundred Demons" in this system and sorting in descending order of relevance, we were able to get all of the collections of the 3 institutions in the top 6 search results. Although this is a simple function verification, we confirmed that it is possible to retrieve IIIF images published by multiple institutions. This system is expected to function as a discovery service in humanities research.


 In this research, we developed a retrieval system across more than 500,000 IIIF items released by 13 institutions in Japan. This system also helps to contribute to widely disseminating Japanese resources to the world.


  • Discovering IIIF resources,
  • Implementations of IIIF outside of North America/Europe


  • Discovery,
  • Japan,
  • Open Data