ROIS-DS Humanities Open Data Joint Usage Center World’s First AI Kuzushiji Recognition App “miwo” Receives Good Design Award 2022

ROIS-DS Humanities Open Data Joint Usage Center
World’s First AI Kuzushiji Recognition App “miwo” Wins 2022 Good Design Award Contribution to kuzushiji education and regional historical research using ancient documents

The world’s first AI kuzushiji recognition app “miwo” was released in August 2021 by the Open Data Joint Research Center for Humanities (hereinafter referred to as ROIS-DS CODH), Research Organization of Information and Systems Data Science Shared Research Infrastructure Facility. has received the 2022 Good Design Award (sponsored by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion).
The smartphone/tablet app “Miwo” is an app that uses the latest AI kuzushiji recognition technology that has learned a “kuzushiji data set” of about 1 million characters. So that you can read and learn about old kuzushiji materials anytime, anywhere, just take a picture of the material with a camera and press a button, and AI will convert the kuzushiji into modern Japanese characters in a few seconds. Reflecting the progress of AI-based kuzushiji recognition technology, the release of an application that can be intuitively used so that anyone can benefit from the technology was highly evaluated in the Good Design Award.
“Miwo” can be downloaded for free on the app store for both Android and iOS versions. The number of downloads of the app is already about 100,000, and the number of images recognized by AI is also increasing at a rate approaching 1 million.
[Video 2:] “Mino” is used in various places. It is not only used by people who cannot read kuzushiji to learn about the contents of ancient documents, but also by specialists who are proficient in kuzushiji for preliminary reading (quick confirmation of content) on site. Then, for the purpose of learning kuzushiji for Japanese classical literature at educational institutions, grasping the contents of materials in libraries, museums, art galleries, etc., reading and understanding ancient documents by citizens and rediscovering the history of the region. is expanding. By bridging the past and present with AI, a new movement is emerging to solve the social issue of utilizing cultural heritage.
ROIS-DS CODH will continue to improve the app with the aim of realizing a world where many people can learn kuzushiji and enjoy the classics with the support of AI.
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Awarded target: Smartphone / tablet application [Mio: AI kuzushiji recognition application]
Project name: ROIS-DS Humanities Open Data Joint Usage Center Producer: ROIS-DS CODH Kitamoto Asanobu
Director: ROIS-DS CODH Kitamoto Asanobu / Google Research Karanuwat Tallinn Designer: Kalanuwat Tallinn, Google Research
Award date: October 7, 2022
■ Related websites
Good Design Award introduction page: [Image 2

Miwo Official Homepage:
■ App design points
We have selected and designed important functions so that citizens and experts can read and learn kuzushiji materials anytime, anywhere. Some people who are interested in kuzushiji materials are not necessarily familiar with technology, so we made the user interface simple so that the app can be used without reading the operation manual.
1. By displaying kuzushiji and modern Japanese characters side by side on the image captured by the camera, it was possible to quickly check the contents of the material. You can switch between the kuzushiji material image and modern Japanese character display with the comparison slider. Also, by displaying a rectangle surrounding the characters, it is possible to see where the break in the continuous kuzushiji (continuous line) is.
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2. App users can now modify AI kuzushiji recognition results. If the AI ​​recognition result is not appropriate, the user can refer to the ROIS-DS CODH “kuzushiji data set” to make a decision and correct the AI ​​recognition result to obtain more reliable text data. can be created. With the help of the app, the user’s ability to read kuzushiji is also improved.
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■ History of application development
AI kuzushiji recognition is a technology that uses deep learning to simultaneously recognize the position and character type of kuzushiji in an image and convert kuzushiji into modern Japanese characters. In the process of researching and developing this technology, we have emphasized the policy of open science (*1), which is the mission of ROIS-DS CODH. Below is a summary of our major research results. 1. 2016: In collaboration with the National Institute of Japanese Literature, the National Institute for the Humanities, and the National Institute of Informatics, the Research Organization of Information and Systems, we constructed a data set “Japanese classic text Kuzushiji dataset” collected from classical texts, and used AI Kuzushi. We released the world’s first large-scale dataset as open data, which will serve as the basis for research on character recognition (*2).
2. 2018: Developed KuroNet, the first AI-based kuzushiji recognition model, and released the “KuroNet kuzushiji recognition service” using IIIF Curation Viewer, thereby promoting AI-based multi-character kuzushiji recognition worldwide. It was realized for the first time at a practical level.
3. 2019: Kaggle, the world’s largest machine learning competition platform, will hold the world’s first “Kaggle Kuzushiji Recognition Competition” on a humanities theme, gathering the wisdom of AI researchers and engineers around the world. We promoted open innovation (*3).
4. 2021: Released the world’s first AI kuzushiji recognition app “Miwo” for free so that kuzushiji recognition can be used anytime, anywhere.
5. 2022: “Miwo” won the Good Design Award.
■ Background of application development
It is said that there are about 10,000 people in Japan who can read kuzushiji properly, but since there are hundreds of millions of past kuzushiji materials that have been carefully preserved in Japan, AI is the only way to read and decipher a large amount of materials. help is essential. Kalanuwat Tallin (currently Google Research), who was then a specially appointed assistant professor at ROIS-DS CODH (a specially appointed researcher at the National Institute of Informatics), collected a large number of kuzushiji materials in his more than 10 years of research on The Tale of Genji. Based on the experience we have been working on, we have developed an AI kuzushiji recognition model and designed an app with convenient functions for citizens and experts to read kuzushiji materials.
(*1) Academic papers and research data are widely shared in academia and society, and a wide range of research activities are conducted openly, accelerating research activities and solving problems based on close collaboration with society. There are global expectations that academic activities will move to a new dimension (= open science). (*2) A glyph data set of characters from the Edo period was
constructed in collaboration with the National Institute of Japanese Literature/published as open data for machine and human learning.
(*3) [Press release] AI researchers and engineers around the world challenge to recognize “Kuzushiji”
-Comment from Professor Kazuaki Yamamoto, National Institute of Japanese Literature-
We have always struggled to read old Japanese literature. Experts got hold of kuzushiji dictionaries, looked them up, and managed to decipher them. Ordinary people who don’t have dictionaries don’t even know how to do it. Of course I can’t read it. The emergence of “miwo” is changing not only the field of education but also people’s awareness. Above all, it is good to be able to operate intuitively. The operation itself is fun. Free is good. Reading the operation manual is nothing but a pain, but “Miwo” freed me from that as well. At various places and on various occasions, we actually encounter things written in Kuzushiji. I sincerely hope that more and more people will pick up “Miwo” and read it on their own initiative and enjoy it.
■ Future development
Taking advantage of the Good Design Award for “MIO”, we have released a new version of “MIO”. First, we developed a new AI kuzushiji recognition model, RURI, which improved accuracy even when the background colors and patterns of characters are complex. In addition, by expanding the “kuzushiji data set” to be learned, some characters that could not be recognized before can now be recognized by the app. In addition, as an application of the AI ​​kuzushiji recognition model RURI, we will promote cooperation with the citizen-participatory transcription platform “Minna de Transcription” and the realization of a full-text search function in a large-scale digitization project of Japanese classical texts. Through such research, we will continue to work on activities to expand the number of people who enjoy Japanese classical literature and Japanese culture.
[Inquiries regarding this matter]
Inter-University Research Institute Corporation Research Organization of Information and Systems
Headquarters Public Relations Office
TEL: 03-6402-6214 E-mail:
Inter-University Research Institute Corporation Research Organization of Information and Systems National Institute of Informatics Planning Section, General Affairs Department Public Relations Team TEL: 03-4212-2164 E-mail:

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