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Selected Conservation Techniques
-techniques to conserve cultural properties using Urushi(lacquer)-

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(Photos: SHIRONO Seiji)

 Cultural properties show the people's lives based on the long history and rich culture. Not only cultural properties themselves but the techniques to restore cultural properties and produce materials and tools for the restoration must be preserved and handed down. In Japan, these kinds of techniques are selected as the Selected Conservation Techniques by the Government and efforts have been made to preserve and protect the important techniques. As of July 2015, 71 Selected conservation Techniques are selected and 57 bearers and 31 conservation bodies of the Techniques are recognized. Selected Conservation Techniques could roughly be categorized into two types; those related to tangible cultural properties such as buildings, arts and crafts and those related to intangible cultural properties such as drama, music and craftsmanship. The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has started a survey on the Selected Conservation Techniques since 2014, in order to gather the information on each technique, its process, and the present problems. As a result of the survey, a calendar and a survay report have been published to share our information with the related organizations.
 This exhibition focuses on the Selected Conservation Techniques related to Urushi to introduce how the tangible cultural properties are conserved by the intangible techniques. Urushi trees used to be grown throughout Japan. However, as the amaount of Urushi imported from overseas increased, the low price foreign Urushi spread out in Japan. Today, the domestic Urushi accounts for only a few percent among all the Urushi distributed in Japan. In addition, since the whole Urushi industry declined due to the change of lives, the conservation and restoration of cultural properties using Urushi are facing a serious crisis. Makie is an artifact that represents Japan, and there are a large number of Urushi objects left in museums both within and outside Japan. We believe it is the duty of the Japanese to inherit the conservation and restoration techniques relating to Urushi.
 Today, several techniques related to Urushi are selected as the Selected Conservation Techniques; the technique to make the tools for tapping, the technique to tap the sap, the technique to refine the sap, the technique to make the filtrating paper and the technique to make the brushes for coating and Makie. The bearer or conservation body of each technique is recognized under the Law. Every technique is highly specialized that needs to be surveyed and documented to promote the sharing of information.
 We highly appreciate the related organizations and peole who cooperated on our survey.


Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation,
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties


©Independent Administrative Institution National Institutes for Cultural Heritage Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties