3rd Seminar on Traditional Restoration Materials and Synthetic Resins: “Architectural Cultural Heritage: The Examination and Repair of Urushi Coating – Current State and Issues”

Lecture at the seminar
A question and answer from the hall

 The Traditional Arts Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a seminar with the theme of “Architectural Cultural Heritage: Examination and Repair of Urushi Coating – Current State and Issues” at the seminar room of the Institute on Thursday 21st January. Currently, more than 80% of Japanese lacquer Urushi such as Johoji-urushi is used to repair the coating of architectural cultural heritage objects like the Nikko Toshogu. There is a long history and tradition in Japan for using Urushi as a coating material for architectural cultural heritage items from the past. However, Urushi has disadvantages such that it is susceptible to ultraviolet rays, wind and rain, and there are many problems in the current status and issues of repairing such heritage objects using Urushi. Tackling these problems at the seminar, Mr. Honda Takayuki of Meiji University gave us an easily understandable explanation about the deterioration mechanisms of Urushi from the standpoint of analytical chemistry. Following this, Mr. Kitano of the Traditional Arts Section showed actual examples of the Urushi coating materials used for architectural cultural heritage items in Japanese history, explained from the standpoint of coating technological history. Against this backdrop, Mr. Sato Noritake of the Nikko Cultural Assets Association for the Preservation of Shrines and Temples talked in detail about the state of various traditional coating repairs currently being executed at Nikko Toshogu from his position as an engineer who is currently repairing the coating. Finally, Mr. Nishi Kazuhiko, the Counselor in charge of buildings for the Cultural Properties Department of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, presented a lecture on the Agency’s engagement in the repair of all coatings, including Urushi, and his thoughts from the viewpoint of one who is making administrative advices. Since the lecturers were discussed about the subject of Urushi coating of architectural cultural heritage items based on the practices of science, history, restoration techniques, and administration, their stories were convincing. Various questions were asked from the hall, and resulted in a successful meeting.

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