Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage


Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems – Unexpected Interaction between a Japanese-style Painter and Philosophers

Sketch of by Gaho HASHIMOTO (Source: “Collection of Gaho’s Rough Sketches” edited by Shuho HASHIMOTO)

 Gaho HASHIMOTO (1835-1908) is a renowned painter, who tries to innovate the modern Japanese-style painting together with Hogai KANO. Mr. Junichiro TANAKA (Ibara Municipal Denchu Art Museum) gave a presentation titled “Expressions in Figures by Gaho Hashimoto – Over the Possessed by Toyo University,” which has not been referred to so much among his works, at the research meeting held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on June 27.
 The , where the four sages of Socrates, Buddha, Confucius and Kant are depicted on a hanging scroll, is now housed at Toyo University, but it is a very rare one among Gaho’s works. This scroll was painted at the request of Enryo INOUE (1858-1919), who is the founder of the University and a philosopher in the Meiji period. The four sages directly reflect Enryo’s perspective of philosophy, regarding them as the greatest philosophers of all ages and countries. This scroll has been used for the Philosophy Hall Ceremony organized at Philosophy Hall (Four Sages Hall) located in Nakano, Tokyo for many years. However, there are still unclear points about the scroll, including when it was painted and its background. We are curious about the sources on which Gaho was based to depict the unprecedented motif of Socrates and Kant in the authentic Japanese-style painting. Anyway, it is true that this is a unique work which implies unexpected interaction between a Japanese-style painter in the Meiji period and philosophers of the world.

Optical Study of the Ryukyu Paintings

On-going optical study of the Ryukyu paintings at Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum

 We conducted an optical study of the Ryukyu paintings at Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum on June 20-23, 2017. In order to investigate the depiction techniques and coloring materials, high-resolution color imaging and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry were applied for ten paintings held by the Okinawa Prefectural Museums and the Okinawa Churashima Foundation. Ryukyu-koku no zu, an important cultural property, held in Okinawa Prefectural Library was also investigated.
 Many of the Ryukyu paintings have disappeared due to the warfare of World War II, and sufficient research has not been performed. We have conducted optical studies of the Ryukyu paintings located inside and outside Okinawa Prefecture since 2008. Optical study of the Ryukyu paintings will continue to be conducted in the future and the results will be published. We believe that the study is of great help in deepening the understanding of the Ryukyu paintings.

Visit to Earthquake Remains Conserved in Taiwan

Damaged Guangfu Junior High School exhibited in the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan
Projection mapping focused on the fault exposure in the Chelungpu Fault Preservation Park

 A fault exposed in a paddy field due to the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes attracted much attention, calling for the necessity of its preservation (as a result, it is designated as a natural monument by Mashiki Town today). As a good example of disclosing and utilizing such preserved fault exposure, the Nojima Fault Preservation Museum (where the fault exposed due to the Hyogoken-Nanbu Earthquake, which triggered the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, is preserved) established in 1998 is well-known in Japan. In 1999, the Jiji Earthquake occurred in Taiwan. We visited a museum constructed following the Nojima Fault Preservation Museum with further development near Taichung, the damage of which was specifically serious. The 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan works well as a disaster prevention museum, which shows earthquakes with a focus on the effectiveness of quake resistance and quake-freeness by conserving a damaged junior high school building with a shelter constructed as the exterior walls of the museum for disclosure. On the other hand, the Chelungpu Fault Preservation Park is a scientific museum, where an exposed fault section confirmed during the survey is directly exhibited inside the housing. The museum also shows the mechanism of an earthquake and the history of past quakes. Particularly, by means of project mapping focusing on the fault surface, they visually show the history of complicated strata in sequence, which is difficult to understand from the current plane of stratification. Application of such an approach is expected in various fields also in Japan, including explanations about remains at archeological sites besides the exhibition of the strata.

Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 5)

Reporting the outcomes of the project conducted last year at the Department of Archaeology
Measurement survey for the buildings around Aganchen Temple in Hanumandhoka Palace

 Under the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we continually dispatched personnel to Nepal. This time (from May 29 through June 27), fourteen members visited there, including outside experts and additional assistants budgeted separately.
 In the Nepal, we mainly conducted an excavation survey around Shiva Temple in Hanumandhoka Palace in Kathmandu (reported in the following title), a measurement survey and photographic recording for buildings around Aganchen Temple in the Palace, a boring survey to confirm the ground composition and soil bearing capacity around the two temples, and a strength test of brick wall specimens together with technical officials from UNESCO.
 In addition, we reported the outcomes of the surveys conducted last year to about 20 technical staff members from the Department of Archaeology in Nepal and UNESCO Office in Kathmandu, and presented our project report to the Director General of the Department. We also organized a cooperation conference with administrative officials with jurisdiction over heritage settlements in the Kathmandu Valley so as to discuss the preservation of such historic settlements in the future and the operation of the conference while distributing reports of the Kick-off meeting held last November to the persons concerned. For your reference, the above reports (Japanese and English versions) are uploaded to our website. Please access the URLs below.

(Project Report for FY 2016:
http://www.tobunken.go.jp/japanese/publication/pdf/Nepal_TNRICP_2017_j.pdf
(Proceedings of Conference on the Preservation of Historic Settlements in Kathmandu Valley on 30th November 2016 [English version only]:
http://www.tobunken.go.jp/japanese/publication/pdf/Conference_%20Kathmandu_2016.pdf

Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 6)

Unearthed lower podium
Exchanging opinions on how to record unearthed remains

 As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we conducted an excavation survey around Shiva Temple in Hanumandhoka Palace in Kathmandu from June 2 through 22, 2017. This survey was jointly implemented by the Department of Archaeology in Nepal and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
 Shiva Temple, which is said to have been constructed in the 17th century, is an about 5 meters square multi-storied tower. However, due to the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake in Nepal, its upper structure completely collapsed with the brick-stacked podium remaining. This survey mainly aimed to confirm the composition and the condition of the podium foundation to support the weight of the upper structure before its restoration.
 As a result of the survey, we found that the podium foundation was a large brick-stacked structure approximately 180 cm deep from the current surface, which maintained a stable condition. In addition, we also discovered the lower podium buried in the surrounding ground. Thus, there is a possibility that this Shiva Temple may have undergone more complicated processes than originally expected.
 During the excavation survey, Nepalese and Japanese experts also exchanged opinions on the methods of measurement and photographing the remains. We are thinking of sharing more technical information between the two countries while continuing the academic research toward the complete restoration of the collapsed historic structure.

Field survey for the “Training course on the first-aid of mural paintings” (the Republic of Turkey)

Current state at St. Theodore Church
Presentation of case examples at Gazi University

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted a field survey from June 12 to 24, 2017. During this survey visit, we also held meetings with Turkish parties concerned in preparation for the “Training course on the first-aid of mural paintings” to be held in the Republic of Turkey in the fall of 2017 or later. The main purposes of this past survey visit were to further improve our understandings of the current state of mural conservation in Turkey and also to determine the sites suitable for the hands-on session that will be a part of the training course. The mural paintings at about 15 locations, including churches in Trabzon on the Black Sea coast and cave churches scattered around the Göreme district in Cappadocia, were surveyed and valuable information was acquired to enrich contents of the training course.
 During our visit to the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties, Faculty of Fine Arts, Gazi University, and the Regional Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration in Nevşehir that have provided continuous cooperation in advancing the project forward since last fiscal year, presentations on case examples of the conservation and restoration of murals in Turkey were given and we had meaningful opportunities to exchange views regarding the topics of the program with lecturers who will engaged in the training course.
 The first training course is scheduled to be held in October for Turkish specialists who are engaged in conservation of the cultural properties. We will proceed with the preparation of the training course so that it will become a good opportunity to consider and realize further improvement of protecting cultural properties from a new perspective.

Historical Position of “Hakubai-zu byobu” by Goshun – A workshop is organized by the Dept. of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

How a workshop is being conducted

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties organized a workshop on May 30, 2017, when Takuyo YASUNAGA (a researcher of the Dept.) gave a presentation on research titled the Historical Position of “Hakubai-zu byobu” by Goshun (housed by the Itsuo Art Museum).
 After working as a disciple of Buson YOSA, Goshun (1752-1811) inherited Okyo MARUYAMA’s painting style. Goshun is known as a painter who established a painting school called the Shijyo school. One of his representative paintings, “Hakubai-zu byobu (the folding screen of white plum blossoms)” (an important cultural property) is a fantastical piece of work in which a small earth mound and three white plum trees that spread their branches are drawn on a pair of six-panel folding screens to which a coarse-grained fabric made from pale blue-dyed yarns is applied. These screens are estimated to have been produced between 1787 and early years of the Kansei era (1789-1801) based on a technique called tsuketate he employed in drawing the branches of plum and a style of calligraphy for his signature. They are one of the examples that were created when Goshun changed his painting style from a Buson style to the Okyo counterpart.
 As the initial step, YASUNAGA analyzed the expressions and materials of the painting meticulously, thereby shedding light on issues of incorporating an Okyo style in a painting on the subject of plum. He then went on to point out that a Nanpin style based on the learning of Buson’s paintings and an influence of Chinese paintings were identified in its unusual background expression on the fabric made from pale blue-dyed yarns. Furthermore, with respect to the use of a quite special base material that appears to be a cloth made from kudzu, YASUNAGA extrapolated the base material of the work through a comparison with some examples that use such cloth by other artists than Goshun. He also indicated that the use of such cloth was possibly associated with interaction between Goshun and men of letters in Ikeda. After his presentation, he was bombarded by questions about the use of this special base material and lively discussions were conducted on the possibility of its identification.

Development of the record of ukaibune building

Mr. Douglas Brooks (left) and Mr. Seiichi NASU (right)
Ukaibune under construction

 Ukai, or a fishing method which uses trained cormorants to catch river fish, conducted in the Nagaragawa River in Gifu Prefecture is now famous as a representative tourist attraction of the prefecture. The ukai fishing conducted in the goryoba, or the Imperial Fishing Ground, is called goryo ukai, which has an important role of serving the caught ayu (sweetfish) to the members of the Imperial Family. Moreover, the technique has been designated as an important intangible folk cultural asset of Japan. Thus, ,ukai is historically and culturally significant. One of the essential elements to support the ukai fishing technique is the cormorant fishing boat called ukaibune that is helmed by the usho, the cormorant fishing master. There is a fear, however, that the technique of building ukaibune will not be handed down to the future generations, as at present, there are only two funadaiku, or boat builders, capable of building this type of boat.
 Under these circumstances, a project has started, in which Mr. Douglas Brook, a U.S. citizen, researcher of Japanese boats and funadaiku, who has experience in building tarai bune (tub boat) of Sado and sabani (small sail fishing boat) of Okinawa, has become an apprentice to 85-year old Mr. Seiichi NASU, one of the two remaining ukaibune builders, and is working with his master to build an ukaibune. The Gifu Academy of Forest Science and Culture and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties participate in this project, the former providing a place for boat building and the latter producing a video record.
 The building of ukaibune began on May 22, 2017 and is scheduled to be completed in about two months. Agility and gracefulness are required in particular of ukaibune when compared to other wooden boats in general, and therefore, sophisticated techniques are required. It is a major target of this project to accurately and completely record the technique to help hand it down to the future generations.
 It is somewhat paradoxical that a non-Japanese is learning and mastering this traditional Japanese technique that is on the verge of extinction. We believe, however, that recording the intangible technique by positively taking advantage of this opportunity is one of the roles our institute should play since the conservation of cultural properties is our mission.

Research on the great Torii of Itsukushima Shrine after restoration

Research on the great Torii of Itsukushima Shrine

 The Center for Conservation Science has studied restoration materials for cultural properties.
 The great Torii of Itsukushima Shrine is located on the coast. Since it is exposed to the wind, the rain and the waves, we have to select restoration materials with high weathering performance, which can also save restoration time.
 Based on the above, we studied which fillers and surface-finishing agents were the most suitable for use in the great Torii from 2010 to 2016. After a small pillar of the great Torii was partially restored last year, we researched it on May 25.
 We are going to observe the progress and cooperate with conservators for restoration planning.

Investigation of the Causes of Odors from Paper Materials Damaged by the Tsunami

Installed equipment

 We have been conducting a joint project with the Iwate Prefectural Museum to determine the methods to stabilize the paper materials damaged by the tsunami in the City of Rikuzentakata, Iwate. In Iwate Prefecture, many documents and other paper materials were damaged by the tsunami that hit the area in 2011. We have already stabilized approximately 90,000 paper materials, but it is still unclear when we will be able to complete the work of stabilizing all the damaged materials. The joint study conducted up to last fiscal year has enabled us to estimate almost all causes of the odors emitted from the paper materials. In this fiscal year, therefore, we have been working on establishing the methods to eliminate the odors from the stabilized materials, and also on a plan to keep records of the stabilization processes to determine how to improve them and what conditions cause paper materials to develop odors. On May 17, we visited the Iwate Prefectural Museum to discuss plans for this fiscal year as well as to install some equipment, together with our co-investigator, Mr. Hideo AKANUMA, in the conservation and restoration laboratory for tsunami-damaged cultural properties of the Rikuzentakata City Museum, which is located next to the Iwate Prefectural Museum. In this laboratory, we tentatively installed the equipment to monitor water temperature and oxygen concentration levels, and also installed surface temperature/humidity measuring equipment to check the temperature and humidity of the laboratory as well as to identify the transfer of temperature inside it. We plan to conduct joint investigations in June and July, each for a period of approximately one week.

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Mission for the Project “Networking Core Centers for the Transfer of Technology Related to Study and Protection of Archaeological and Architectural Heritage in Myanmar” (Architectural Field) Part 1: Material Testing and Structural Behavior Monitoring

Process of shaping the collected brick samples
Installation of targets for deformation monitoring

 The 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chauk on August 24, 2016 caused considerable damage to the Bagan Archaeological Zone in Myanmar, mostly to the brick buildings constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties rushed eight experts from various fields related to the conservation and restoration of historical buildings on two successive missions: the first in September 2016 and the second in October through November of the same year. The missions identified the state of the damage in the cultural heritage and studied its causes and mechanisms. The findings from these missions were published in March 2017 as the Report on the Project “Study on the Earthquake Damage in the Bagan Archaeological Zone, Myanmar.”
 In this fiscal year, we are undertaking the above-mentioned technical assistance project (subcontracted by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) as part of the “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, with the aim of providing information and technical advice to help improve the quality of the restoration work currently conducted by local authorities, while continuing to examine the appropriate measures to conserve and restore the damaged cultural heritage buildings. As the first field study for this project, we dispatched a group of three experts to the heritage site from May 17 to 25, 2017, during which the group collected brick samples to use for tests, including for material composition or mechanical strength testing, and also started the monitoring of structural behavior.
 By taking into account the types of buildings, year of construction, parts where bricks were used, dimensions of structural members, and other factors, the group collected a total of 24 pieces of damaged structural members as brick samples from the six buildings affected by the earthquake. The collected samples were shaped at the site into a form suitable for tests. In addition, to conduct material testing in Myanmar, they consulted with representatives from the Myanmar Engineering Society (MES) and visited its testing facility.
 As for the monitoring of structural behavior, the group installed crack gauges and targets for deformation monitoring on the three buildings (two temples and one pagoda) where typical crack and deformation patterns had been found during the study conducted in the previous fiscal year, and then measured their initial values. By continuously monitoring the progress of damage and deformation, we expect to be able to accumulate data over time that will be useful not only for assessing risk levels, but also for developing maintenance plans for the conservation and restoration of the cultural heritage buildings.

Facility Tour in April

Saudi Arabian experts who are being given an explanation in the Performing Arts Studio

Six Saudi Arabian experts

 The party visited the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties as it wanted to make an inspection of a variety of institutes that represent Japan. The Head of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage gave them an explanation of our work.

Joint Research on Buddhist Paintings in the Heian Era with the Tokyo National Museum

A highly detailed color digital image filming of the Painting of “Sahasrabhuja” or “Senju-kannon”

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has continuously conducted joint research with Tokyo National Museum (TNM) on Buddhist paintings in the Heian era housed by the TNM to date. We have taken pictures of a piece of work a year by employing highly detailed digital image technology that the TNRICP has and accumulated data that allow you to identify techniques in details. Starting in this fiscal year, the parties signed a memorandum titled “Joint Research on Buddhist Art through Optical Surveys” to launch a joint research project anew. In the new project, we will employ multiple optical methods ranging from near infrared image to luminescence image, to X-ray fluorescence spectrometry of pigments and X-ray image. These data enable you to identify unexpected techniques that have yet to be noticed visually from various perspectives and researchers of both institutions will jointly look into how they are associated with sophisticated painterly expressions represented by Buddhist paintings in the Heian era. On April 27th, 2017, we performed a color split filming of the whole picture of the national treasures: the Painting of “Mahamayuri” or “Kujaku-myo-o” and the Painting of “Sahasrabhuja” or “Senju-kannon.” The image data obtained thereby will be shared with researchers of the TNM and both parties will study its significance in an art historic sense and make preparations for making it pubic down the road.

Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems organizes a workshop – “Oishii seikatsu”: Look at Japanese culture in the transitional stage to the tertiary industry

A scene of the venue of the Japan World Exposition (Osaka, 1970)

 “Oishii seikatsu” (delicious life) is an advertising catchphrase hammered out by Seibu Department Store in 1982. While a high-speed growth era in which people sought material affluence was brought to end, in an era represented by this catchphrase where people try to build an individualistic lifestyle, how did artists respond to the trend? At a workshop organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) on April 25th, 2017, Ms. Midori YAMAMURA (Special Researcher of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) gave a presentation titled “‘Oishii seikatsu’: Look at Japanese culture in the transitional stage to the tertiary industry,” which was an attempt to explore the society and the origin of culture in the 1980s.
 According to Ms. YAMAMURA, artists who emerged from the end of the 1980s to the 1990s were greatly influenced by the Japan World Exposition held in Osaka in 1970. Artists participated in the World Expo, which excited enthusiasm in a great many Japanese people, through designing pavilions or exhibiting a piece of art. Meanwhile, those contemporary artists who were critical of the event’s stance of accepting the information industry or urbanization ended up becoming further alienated from people at large. A younger generation of artists, however, began conducting production activities by snuggling up to an everyday sense of ordinary people in the city. It is safe to say that the “Saison culture” based on a cultural strategy spelled out by the Saison Group, a distribution powerhouse centered on Seibu Department Store, which disseminated art, music, play or cinema that was in the forefront of the era between the 1970s and 1980s, played a role in fostering those artists’ flexible sensitivity.
 The workshop invited Mr. Yuji MAEYAMA of the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, who made a remark on the cultural context in the 1970s to 1980s. Due in part to the fact that many participants underwent the same era, opinions and views were exchanged passionately, going beyond the framework of specialty. The content of the presentation is scheduled to be complied in the First Chapter of the book titled Japanese Contemporary Art After 1989 to be published by REAKTION BOOKS.

“Intangible Cultural Heritage and Disaster Prevention – Risk Management and Restoration Support” published

Intangible Cultural Assets and Disaster Prevention – Risk Management and Restoration Support

 A report by the 11th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties organized on December 9th, 2016 was published at the end of March. This year’s subject is “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Disaster Prevention – Risk Management and Restoration Support.” We shared efforts and initiatives and discussed what preparations are effective to protect intangible cultural heritages from disasters that have occurred frequently in recent years, or what support can be provided after they are hit by these natural disasters.
 Even without disasters, intangible cultural heritages are constantly at risk of extinction. These disaster prevention efforts and initiatives can be expected to lead to preparations for day-to-day risks of extinction or decline due in part to the falling birthrate and the aging of population or the modernization of lifestyles.
 the PDF version can be downloaded from the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

“A Guidebook for Selected Conservation Techniques” published

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has conducted survey research on selected conservation techniques since fiscal 2014. In fiscal 2016 we published “A Guidebook for Selected Conservation Techniques” as the fruits of our activities.
 Selected conservation techniques are designated by the government as those needed to be preserved of traditional techniques and skills that are essential in order to conserve cultural assets. They include techniques and skills for “building reconstruction” to repair historical buildings and structures, “wooden sculpture restoration” to repair wooden sculptures, including Buddhist statues, and “karamushi plant (choma) production and fiber extraction” designed to produce raw materials for Ojiya-chijimi and Echigo-jofu, ramie fabric, an important intangible cultural property and UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
 These techniques can be safely referred to as intangible cultural heritage per se in the broad sense, but compared with “important intangible cultural properties,” “important intangible folk cultural properties” or “UNESCO intangible cultural heritage,” they are practically unknown among the general public and many of them face a number of issues, such as the succession of techniques. Also overseas, the notion of preserving these techniques to conserve cultural assets by means of a national system is not known widely as yet.
 Against this background, this guidebook gives a summary of selected conservation techniques designated as of fiscal 2016 and incorporates information about their owners and conservation bodies as well. On top of these, in order to publicize these selected conservation techniques both at home and abroad, it is written in both Japanese and English.
 We sincerely hope that this guidebook will be of help in preserving cultural asset conservation techniques at home and overseas. For your information, the PDF version of this publication will become available via the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

“Research on Intangible Cultural Heritages in Korea and Japan II” published

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has promoted research-related exchange with the counterpart of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage (NRICH) of the Republic of Korea since 2008. In 2013 NRICH’s intangible cultural heritage research department was reorganized as the National Intangible Heritage Center but research exchange between the parties has continued as is and the third research exchange was launched in 2016. This publication is a report that compiles the results of the second research exchange from 2011 through 2015 and contains the following seven research theses:

  • – “A memorandum on Buddhist protocols in Korea” (Izumi TAKAKUWA)
  • – “The actual situation of the succession, instruction and education of performing arts as part of intangible cultural heritage in Japan – Centered on Kyogen and Shinto music and dance numbers” (Myung Jin LEE)
  • – “Raw materials and tools for preserving dyeing techniques” (Riyo KIKUCHI)
  • – “The reality of the Japanese system for conserving intangible cultural heritage and its management – Centered on efforts to explore research subjects to produce the results of future policy research” (Ban So Young)
  • – “‘Folk techniques’ as intangible folk cultural properties and their conservation” (Migiwa IMAISHI)
  • – “Research on selected conservation techniques in Japanese intangible cultural heritage – Centered on a case of karamushi (ramie) production technique” (李釵源)
  • – “Several issues associated with the Lunar New Year or daeboreum – To raise a question about the designation of intangible folk cultural properties” (Hiromichi KUBOTA)

 All the theses are written in Japanese and Korean so that readers in the two countries can share the results of these research activities.
 While Japan and Korea share a lot in the content of intangible cultural heritage and systems for its conservation, there are also differences in their approaches for research and conservation as well. By comparing the respective nations’ issues mutually, we believe that we will be able to understand our own cultural assets better. We hope that this publication will be used by as many of those involved in intangible cultural heritage as possible in the two countries. For your information, the PDF version of this publication will become available via the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Publication of 『Report of the Optical Study for the Ryukyu Paintings 』

『Report of the Optical Study for the Ryukyu Paintings』

 The 『Report of the Optical Study for the Ryukyu Paintings』was published by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in March 2017. The Ryukyu paintings refer to paintings drawn in the Ryukyu islands during the Ryukyu dynasty era, although they have not been definitively defined. The paintings were largely influenced by Chinese and Japanese paintings, but the depiction and coloring are different from those paintings. Many of the Ryukyu paintings disappeared during World War II, and sufficient research has not been performed.
 We have conducted an optical study of the Ryukyu paintings located inside and outside Okinawa Prefecture since 2008. In this report, high-resolution color images and the results of coloring materials by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry were analyzed for eleven paintings held by the Okinawa Prefectural Museums and the Okinawa Churashima Foundation.. It is the first time that an optical study of Ryukyu paintings has been conducted, and we believe that publishing the results of the study is of great help in deepening the understanding of the Ryukyu paintings. We hope that this report will be widely used for research on the painting and art history of Japan. Although this report is not for sale, it can be viewed at prefectural libraries throughout the country.

A workshop on insect damage to wooden cultural properties organized in Isfahan, Iran

A scene from the workshop
A field survey on the damage situation of a historic building

 Structures of historical buildings in Iran are mainly made of bricks or clay walls. However, wood is also used for making its roof frame, beams, window frames and so on. Damage of termites is found extensively in the central to southeastern parts of Iran, including Isfahan according to a preliminary survey conducted last fiscal year, and it is the major issue of the conservation of historical buildings in these regions. Termites are notorious as an insect pest for wooden materials. Their damage used to be widely found in Japan as well, but preventive measures have been gradually established to date. In order to support for establishing appropriate measures for conserving wooden built heritage and historical objects in Iran by sharing such knowledge, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) and Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) co-organized a workshop on insect damage to wooden cultural properties in Isfahan from April 17th through 19th, 2017.
 From Japan, Mr. Masahiko TOMODA and Mr. Hiroki YAMADA of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation of TNRICP, Mr. Yukio KOMINE of the Center for Conservation Science of TNRICP and Mr. Kazushi KAWAGOE, Senior Researcher of Institute for Environmental Culture, participated in the workshop. From Iran, more than 20 experts got together from various parts of the nation, including Yazd, Tehran and Gilan, as well as Isfahan. On Day 1 and Day 3, presentations were given from both sides on materials and structures of historical buildings in both countries, and actual cases and monitoring surveys of insect pest damage to them. On Day 2, to discuss specific measures and others, all participants visited historical buildings to conduct a survey to identify termite damage and a test to install IGRs (Insect Growth Regulators) that does not affect the environment badly.
 We heard that after the workshop, ICHHTO began preparation for establishing a new laboratory engaged in research on the prevention of termites in Isfahan. We believe that this workshop was able to contribute to conserving Iran’s valuable cultural heritage in any way.

After Returning the Gold Picture Screens

How the screens are being loaded

 In the wake of a gas fumigation incident due to an erroneous agent in 2010, five gold picture screens became discolored. Based on the method that was determined as a result of discussing a policy for addressing the issue among parties concerned, including the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), these gold picture screens’ surface had been stabilized since 2012. They were finally returned to the Ekingura (Konan City, Kochi Prefecture) on April 17th, 2017 (carried out of the TNRICP on April 14th). With the screens’ safety as top priority, as a treatment to stabilize the surface, the following measures were taken: 1) The screens were dismantled to perform cleaning to remove the agent on the paper; 2) Prevention of the exfoliation of a paint layer, repairing of the paper, mending of a rupture of the paper, replacement of the lining paper and retouching of the repaired places; and 3) replacements of the foundation, osoigi frame support, karakami lining paper and metallic materials and reconstruction into a 2-panel folding screen. Each screen was packaged in order of a gas barrier bag, a screen bag and a cardboard box and delivered by a land vehicle specifically designed to transport art objects.
 In the presence of the Kumamoto Art and Culture Promotion Foundation, to which they were returned, the five screens were stored in a treasure house safely and the Ekingura Management Committee, the Akaoka Gold Picture Screen Preservation Association and those parties concerned in Kochi Prefecture and Konan City appeared to be pleased. Though it was unfortunately rainy, when the truck arrived and the screens were carried in, it stopped raining as if the parties’ wishes came true. The TNRICP will give advice on a preservation environment for the gold picture screens from this point onward.

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