Innovative Japanese Mapping Project Returns With Interactive Map of 1941 Pearl Harbor Attack

1941 Project Hidenori Watanave

Screencap of the 1941 Project online mapping tool. Solid and dotted lines indicate flight paths of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

One of Japanese mapping researcher Hidenori Watanave‘s newest interactive mapping projects documents the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The project, called The 1941 Project, puts eyewitness accounts of the attack from around the island of Oahu on an interactive map, which can be explored at

Here's what the Pearl Harbor Archive looks like at the moment. Next, I'll be adding photos of the attack itself.

December 2016, marks the 75th anniversary of the attack. Watanave has several mapping tools devoted to preserving and mapping eyewitness testimony from the war, including an interactive map of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, and the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.  Watanave is also the creator of a similar innovative mapping project that tracks the last moments of the victims of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

For the Pearl Harbor project, Watanave mapped eyewitness testimony of the attack documented in Katrina Luksovsky's book, “Ford Island December 7, 1941: A collection of eyewitness accounts from the residents closest to Battleship Row”.

Bombs and torpedos exploded right next to living quarters (on Ford Island), and warships were sunk, one by one. It must have been a terrifying experience.

The interactive map also includes public domain images found in Wikimedia Commons and the World War II database.

The sunken battleship USS Arizona, from the ‘Pearl Harbor Archive’. All black and white images have been colorized automatically using deep neural networks.

The 1941 Project mapping project, however, goes beyond Ford Island and Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor. Watanave used a new online tool developed by Japan's Waseda University, which uses neural networks to colorize images and bring to life black and white photos that were taken all over Oahu at the time of the attack.

Here, Watanave has discovered and re-colorized an image of a beached submarine that took part in the attack.

Midgit attack submarine beached on the Oahu coast. One colorized, the images contrast the beauty of the sea and sand with the color of the weaponry.

As part of the project, Watanave has included and re-colorized many striking photos of the attack on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. They can all be found on the online interactive map Watanave has created.

A Japanese Imperial Navy Zero fighter flies toward Ford Island (and Battleship Row) in Pearl Harbor. Neural networks were used to colorize images. From ‘Pearl Harbor Archive’.

Smoke billows from the battleship USS California. (Black and white image auto-colorized). From the ‘Pearl Harbor Archive’.

Colorized photo of the attack. Women fighting a fire. It's unclear where this photo was taken, and so was unable to map it.

American sailors on a parade ground at the time of the attack. Smoke billows in the background from battleships set ablaze. Judging by their expression, (the sailors) are stunned by what is happening.

Salvage operations on the USS Arizona. Image automatically colorized. ‘Pearl Harbor Archive’.

The photos capture and document how residents all over Oahu experienced the attack on December 7, 1941.

Since there are so many photos online, Watanave has just scratched the surface of mapping and documenting eyewitness accounts of the attack.

I found this photo by searching for ‘Pearl Harbor 1941′ in the LIFE Magazine archives. The photo is unattributed… does anyone know who took it? On the right is the image re-colorized using neural networks.

Apart from the project's website, researcher Hidenori Watanave's Twitter feed also includes many images taken from the project.


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