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Guides to the Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 Disasters: Navigational Guide

A navigation and reference guide to the Japan Disaster Archive, a digital collection documenting the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011

About this Guide

For a new site visitor, the multiple features of the JDA and sheer volume of archived items may seem overwhelming. This guide aims to help users navigate through the archive and take advantage of its participatory functions.

In reviewing the instructions on navigation in the right column, please note that all screen shots can easily be magnified by clicking on the image.

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Searching the Archive

The archive can be searched by keyword, media (tweets, visual and moving images), geo-referenced location, and time or time sequence.   It is currently possible to search the archive in English, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese.  In many cases translational tags are appended to individual entries, the majority of which are in Japanese.  

For a basic search, simply type a keyword into the search box on the upper left. To search for multiple keywords, place a comma between the words. It is also possible to use Boolean Operators for your search:

Operator Search examples Results
AND aid AND donations Returns records with all search terms
OR    building OR architecture Returns records with at least one of the search terms
NOT Fukushima NOT Dai-ichi Excludes records containing the search terms after NOT

For all items except the testimonials and Tweets, the search engine will search through the title, description, and tags that were provided by the JDA staff, volunteers, and contributors. It will search through the full text of the testimonials and tweets.

When searching for tags, make sure to include quotes around phrases with more than one word, for instance: "cherry tree"
Without the quotes, the search engine will not return results.

Limit search field

To search for tags only, begin typing "tag" before your keywords. A popup in the search bar will allow you to select the "tag" field. To search for all fields, simply type in your keyword, or being typing "text" and select it in the popup.

Limit media format

To search by media format, click “Explore” and select categories from the drop-down list on the right of the search bar. You can also click on “Advanced Search” to specify the media, location, time range, user, and search field on one screen.

Advanced search

The advanced search allows you to specify the keywords, media type, tags, user, dates, and location of geotagged items. To select multiple media formats, hold the Control key (Windows) or Apple key (Mac), then click on the preferred media. To specify the time range, click on the Start/End date fields. A calendar will pop up, allowing you to select specific dates. To limit by geographic location, hold the Shift key and drag your cursor around the map to create a box around the area.

When you are ready to search, click on the "go" button at the bottom of the screen.

Contributing to the Archive

Using the Contribution Form

The archive is open to new contributions of both websites and testimonials. To contribute use the “Add to the Archive” function to suggest additional websites that should be harvested and preserved by the Internet Archive, or to submit a testimonial about experiences during or after the disasters, (at present we do not allow users to submit individual tweets to the archive).

New materials contributed to the site are reviewed by archive staff for relevance and possible duplication, tagged and made searchable through the Japan Disaster Archive search engine. The search engine depends on the descriptions provided by the content contributor, however, so it is important to provide a thorough description if you are adding new items to the archive. The more information provided, the better the chance that new data will turn up in another user’s search.


Using the Bookmarklet

The bookmarklet streamlines the process of submitting new websites to the archive, or adding outside material to your collection.

1. To use the bookmarklet, access and drag the “Add to JDA” button onto your browser's bookmark toolbar. Make sure you are logged in to the archive.

2. When you are on a website with content you wish to add to one of your collections, click on the "Add to JDA" link on your browser toolbar. A content submission form will appear.

3. Pick the collection you wish to add the content to and fill in relevant fields.  If you have not yet made any collections, a new collection will automatically be generated.

4. If you would also like the content to be added to the public archive, check "Add to Archive." If you do not check “Add to Archive,” the material will only be added to the indicated collection and will not be searchable in the public archive.

5. Finally, click "Add Media" to complete the process of adding the content to your collection and/or the archive. 

Creating and Using the Collections Feature

The “My Collection” feature allows users to organize materials discovered in the archive into a miniature “exhibition” of materials under a certain topic or theme. By curating a collection, you are establishing connections between the items according to your own criteria, and offering others a new perspective on the disaster. You might organize items by theme, place, time, or any other criteria you can imagine. You can also use the function to save items of personal interest to make it easier for you to access them later on.

While anyone can add materials to the archive, only registered users may create curated collections of the archived items. Registration is easy, simply sign into the site using the “Sign in” link in the upper right. Search for items of interest, then drag any item to the "my collection" box on the right. If you click "Save Collection," then “Go to Collection” and click on the pencil icons, you will be able to edit the title and description of your collection. Your collection will stay up permanently, until you choose to delete it.  


It is possible to share individual collections with others by using the privacy setting. Click on the “Archive Settings” pencil to set the collection to “Public”  or “Limited.” Choosing the “Public” setting means that other users will be able to see your collection. Choosing “Limited” means your collection will not show up in search results or be publicly viewable unless you change the settings.  To edit or delete a collection, click on the pencil icon next to “Collection Description.” This will allow you to edit the title of your collection, edit the collection description, or delete the collection entirely.

Using the Map Feature

To search items by location, you can switch to the map screen and do a keyword search in the toolbar, or search by date and time by using the scroll bar directly below. You can also use the Advanced Search feature to limit the time and space of your search.

To add map layers, click on the gray icon on the right of the map. The “layers” tab will let you select additional types of information that you would like to display on the map, and the "legend" tab will tell you how this information is color-coded. Photographs, videos, tweets, and other data that contain geodata can all be linked in that way.  

Using the Presentation Editor

The presentation editor is a tool that allows you to develop nonlinear, interactive presentations and freely create pathways through the items in your collection.

  1. Log in to the archive and create a collection of items that would be in your presentation.
  2. Access your own or others’ presentations by clicking the “View Presentation” link at the top of your collection. To begin creating your presentation, click on “Edit Presentation.”
  3. To view a presentation, advance through the slides using your arrow key (→) or the navigation panel on your browser. Some presentations may require you to click on links within the frame to advance.

Below are some of the tools that allow you to build frames, or slides in your presentation.

On the Dashboard

  • Upload Content: Select if you would like to add files from your computer that are not in the archive. The content will show up under Media > Misc in the right panel of the frame editor.

  • New Frame: Select to add a new frame to your presentation. Frames can include items in your collection, additional uploaded content, links to outside sources, and links between frames. At any time click on the existing title and type in your new title. The title is for your reference and does not appear in the presentation.

  • In-frame Navigation Only: While the default setting allows viewers to advance through the frames using the arrow key, selecting ”In-frame navigation only” restricts their navigation options to clicking through links within the frame. This helps maintain nonlinear pathways through the presentation.

  • Reorder frames: To change the order of the frames, click on the frame you would like to move and drag to the desired location.

On the Editor Screen

Presentation screenshot.jpg

1. Top panel

  • Save, View, Delete: Click on these buttons to save or delete your frame, or preview the frame and its links. The Back button will return you to the dashboard.

2. Right panel

  • Media: To add content to your presentation, drag and drop items displayed under the Media panel to the frame.      

  • Images: Drag and drop images into the frame. You can resize by clicking on the image and dragging the edges/corners. Adjust the opacity (i.e. how opaque or transparent) by clicking on the image and moving the dial under the “Edit” tab in the bottom panel. Images can link to other slides or outside URLs, using the “Links” tab in the bottom panel.

  • Tweets: Drag and drop Tweets into the frame. The text can be edited under the “Text” tab in the bottom panel. By default, Tweets will link to their item page in the JDA.

  • Websites: Drag and drop websites into the frame. A text box is generated with the title of the site, and will link to the archived website (newer website submissions may not have been archived yet). The source will automatically be noted at the bottom of the presentation.  The text can be edited under the “Text” tab in the bottom panel.

  • Video: Add video by clicking on the title you would like to include. It will automatically fill the frame. You have the option to loop the video or mute it; the in and out points can be adjusted by inputting the times manually in the form 0:00.  Adjust the opacity using the dial. At this time their size or location in the frame cannot be adjusted.

  • Audio: Add audio by clicking on the title you would like to include. It will not show up in the frame. As with video, you can loop the file and adjust the in and out points manually. At this time you cannot adjust the volume.

  • Text: Comments and annotations that you input in this field shows up under the frame in view mode. Here you have the option to bold, italicize and hyperlink.

  • Misc: This section will list content you uploaded from your computer, using the “Upload Content” option in the Dashboard. Drag and drop items into the frame, and edit using the bottom panel.

3. Bottom panel

  • Edit: Add shapes, and change their opacity, color, and layer order, along with the background color.

  • Links: To link to outside URLs, click on an item in the frame, and type in a URL in the Link address box.

  • Linking frames: To link items to other frames, click on the item, then “Links” and the “Link address” field, then select a frame in the set that appears below.

  • Text: To add a text box, click on Add Text. Edit the text in the box below.

  • Intrxn: “Hover text” refers to the text that shows up next to your mouse in view mode when the user mouses over the link; this can be used to indicate where the user would go if they clicked (i.e. “image of temporary housing floor plans”). For any text link, you are able to adjust the color and opacity of the text when the viewer mouses over it.

  • Meta: This section automatically displays the metadata associated with the selected item in the frame.

Demo Videos

Below are demo videos for Japanese speakers created in 2012, suggesting possible approaches to the archive by user type. The interface has changed since then, but the videos still convey the variety of functions and participatory concept behind the archive.   

North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
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