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


Survey in the Philippines on Disaster Prevention for Intangible Cultural Heritage

Rice terrace (Hapao, Ifugao Province)
Weaving on a hand loom (Oong, Ifugao Province)

 The International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI), established in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture as one of UNESCO’s Category 2 Centres, has been conducting research and surveys on disaster prevention for intangible cultural heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region since fiscal 2016. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has continuously cooperated with the IRCI in its research projects. Recently, Tomo ISHIMURA, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department, who also serves as Cooperative Researcher at the IRCI, joined the IRCI’s field survey in the Philippines.
 The Philippines is a country prone to natural disasters. For example, the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the island of Luzon in 1991 caused catastrophic damage to Aeta, an indigenous tribe living in the area. More recently, in October 2013, an earthquake occurred near Bohol Island and damaged some historical buildings, including Santo Niño Church, the country’s oldest church in Cebu Island. The earthquake was followed by Typhoon Yolanda in November of the same year, which devastated many parts of the country, including the island of Leyte. Therefore, how to protect both tangible and intangible cultural heritage from such disasters is a major challenge.
 A field survey was conducted from January 24 to February 1, 2018, in the provinces of Ifugao and Abra, which are part of the Cordillera region in northern Luzon. Cordillera is a mountainous area where many indigenous peoples live, and therefore is home to a great diversity of intangible cultural heritage. Furthermore, many parts of this region are still underdeveloped and vulnerable to disaster risks. The project team for this survey comprised five members: Ms. Yoko NOJIMA, Associate Fellow of the IRCI; Prof. Norma RESPICIO of the University of the Philippines, specializing in textile weaving and dyeing; two officials from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Philippines; and Mr. ISHIMURA from the Institute.
 Of the two provinces, Ifugao is more famous because of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. However, this heritage site was once included on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of the declining population and abandonment of rice farming by communities. Since then, community-led activities have been conducted to revive the culture. Hudhud Chants of the Ifugao was recently inscribed on the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, along with the traditional tugging ritual practiced in the village of Hapao, Ifugao, as part of tugging rituals and games jointly nominated by Vietnam, Cambodia, Republic of Korea, and the Philippines. The survey revealed that because Ifugao is primarily located on rugged, mountainous terrain, landslides triggered by typhoons and earthquakes are serious problems for the province, often causing hazardous situations to rice terraces, houses, and roads. In recent years, however, local communities have been actively leading tourism and development programs, and the team witnessed how traditional handcrafts, such as textile weaving and wood carving, are gaining popularity. Thus, the province of Ifugao seemed to be successfully incorporating traditional culture with a modern approach by effectively taking advantage of the “brand” of the province, including UNESCO’s World Heritage or Intangible Cultural Heritage sites.
 Compared with other provinces in the Cordillera region, Abra Province is located in relatively low land, mainly over a basin along a river. From the survey, however, the team learned that deforestation and mining development in mountainous areas have exposed the province to the risks of such disasters as overflowing of rivers and floods. In response to this problem, the province has implemented the Lapat system, which incorporates a traditional resource use management system practiced by indigenous communities into the modern legal system. The project team examined how the Lapat system is helping the province achieve sustainable development. In addition, the remnants of traditional culture are still clearly visible in this province. It seemed that traditional practices, such as worshipping of a sacred stone called pinaing, or a ritual performed by a psychic medium called baglan, coexist with Christian beliefs and the knowledge of modern science to support the local identity.
 Through this field survey, the team learned how the two provinces are taking advantage of traditional culture in line with sustainable development and successfully demonstrating resilience despite their vulnerability to disasters. These examples would provide important suggestions for disaster prevention for intangible cultural heritage worldwide.

The First Recording of Heike

Rehearsal (Prof. Haruko KOMODA, who served as our adviser, in the foreground)

 Heike (or Heike-biwa) is one of Japan’s traditional performing arts wherein the blind beggar priests (biwa hōshi) musically recite Heike Monogatari (the Tale of the Heike) while playing the biwa (lute) as an accompaniment. It flourished and reached its peak in the Muromachi period. However, Heike-biwa has gradually declined in popularity since then, and now there is only one person who has officially inherited this tradition. On January 15th, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage recorded Heike at the Performing Arts Studio of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, with the help of the Heike-gatari Research Society, a study and performance group founded in 2015 under the initiative of Prof. Haruko KOMODA of Musashino Academia Musicae to promote and pass down the techniques of Heike-gatari (recitation of the Tale of the Heike) to the next generation.
 The Department recorded the following performances: the traditional piece, Koyo; the reconstructed piece, Kogo (from the sanjyu part to the beginning of the kudari part); the reconstructed piece, Atsumori (the kudoki part at the start); and the reconstructed piece, Gion Shoja. One of the most notable characteristics of the Heike-gatari Research Society is that the Society, which consists of emerging performers of the Jiuta and koto repertories, Mr. Yuji KIKUO, Mr. Naoichi TANAKA, and Mr. Shogo HIYOSHI, along with Prof. Haruko KOMODA, a leading authority in the study of Heike, has been reconstructing Heike based on objective evidence. The Department, together with the Society, will continue to archive the recordings of not only traditional pieces but also reconstructed pieces of Heike.

Public Exhibition of the Conservation Facility for Mural Paintings of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, a National Treasure

Registration booth for the public exhibition of the conservation facility for mural paintings of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, a national treasure

 I participated as a staff explained in the public exhibition of the conservation facility for the mural paintings of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, which are designated as a national treasure. After the dismantling of the stone chamber from Takamatsuzuka Tumulus in 2007, the conservation facility was opened to the public twice a year. From 2017 onward, the frequency of public exhibitions of the facility, along with the mural paintings of Kitora Tumulus at Shijin no Yakata, the Kitora Tumulus Mural Experiential Museum, was increased to four times a year. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been hosting these events since the first time the facility was opened to the public.
 At the 20th public exhibition held recently, we placed the West Wall (Group of Female Figures, White Tiger, and Group of Male Figures) and the North Wall (Black Tortoise) in the area close to the exhibition corridor to provide visitors a view of the progress of the conservation of the mural paintings since they were taken out from the tumulus ten years ago; moreover, visitors can compare the paintings with the mural painting of Black Tortoise from Kitora Tumulus, which was also on exhibition at the same time. Although the event was held during winter, when the number of tourists to Asuka Village is low, it attracted approximately 1,000 visitors, including people without pre-registration. Many visitors were amazed with the progress of the cleaning of the mural paintings, and left with newly developed interests in the future restoration process and exhibitions.

World Heritage Seminar “Process of Evaluating Nominations and Roles of the Advisory Bodies for Inscription on the World Heritage List”

Seminar in session

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties held the World Heritage Seminar with the theme of “Process of Evaluating Nominations and Roles of the Advisory Bodies for Inscription on the World Heritage List” at the Institute’s seminar room on January 18, 2018.
 This Seminar, held for the first time, is designed for local government officials in charge of matters related to World Heritage, and aims to provide information about the system of World Heritage and the latest trends as well as an opportunity for exchange of ideas. Focusing on the process of how the Advisory Bodies evaluate nominations, this year’s Seminar featured various speakers who discussed the actual details of what International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), in particular, does, from different perspectives.
 First, Ms. Asuka SAKAINO from the Institute presented a report on the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee held in Krakow, Poland, in July 2017. Ms. Yoko FUTAGAMI, also from the Institute, then provided an overview of the World Heritage Seminar, and also described the evaluation process for the World Heritage List and problems with the current situation. Another speaker featured in the Seminar was Ms. Miki OKADERA, Chief Engineer of the Fukuoka Prefectural Government, who played a critical role in the preparation of the nomination file for the Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region and addressed the evaluation by the Advisory Bodies. She talked about her journey through the entire process related to the nomination of the sites, which was examined during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee and inscribed on the list. In addition, Prof. Nobu KURODA of the University of Tsukuba shared her insights into the site mission from a professional viewpoint, based on her actual experience as one of the experts appointed by an Advisory Body to conduct a site mission in 2006. Finally, Prof. Toshiyuki KONO of Kyushu University, who was appointed president of ICOMOS in December 2017, delivered a presentation on the roles of the Advisory Bodies from the organization’s perspective.
 A total of 74 people attended the event, including officials from 29 prefectural or local government in charge of matters related to World Heritage as well as officials from the Cabinet Secretariat, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and the Subdivision on World’s Cultural Heritage of the Council for Cultural Affairs.
 The Institute will continue to host such Seminars to communicate information obtained through the study of World Heritage and provide opportunities for people to share information.

Seminar “Lecture by Ms. Kathleen Salomon, Associate Director of the Getty Research Institute” and discussion “Aiming for international information dissemination of research materials of Japanese Art”

Lecture

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties concluded an agreement with the Getty Research Institute on February 2016, concerning exchanges for researchers of both institutes and the collaboration on a project to make the digital information on Japanese art available on the Getty Research Portal. Research was commissioned by the Agency of Cultural Affairs, entitled “Research on the dissemination of Japanese art through inviting a foreign leading figure.” Thus, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems invited Ms. Kathleen Salomon, Associate Director of the Getty Research Institute to give a lecture and undertake inspections and meetings at art archives such as our institute, the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, the National Museum of Western Art, the National Art Center and the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto.
 The seminar was held on December 6th, 2017, at the Kuroda Memorial Hall of the Tokyo National Museum. Ms. Salomon introduced the developments of and the current worldwide work of the Getty Research Institute and the library and spoke about the latest international trends in the information dissemination of art research materials. And then, Ms. Masako KAWAGUCHI from the National Museum of Western Art commented on the lecture, and the discussion as the chance of thinking the challenges and prospects regarding international information dissemination in Japan was hold with Emiko YAMANASHI, deputy director of Institute, as the chair. Forty-one people, —archivists from museums, librarians from universities and research organizations, researchers of art history and so on—participated in the seminar. The report of this seminar will be published as open access on our website in the near future.

People who Supported Seiki KURODA and Masterpieces that Fostered Ryusei KISHIDA – Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Seiki KURODA (far-right in the back row) and his relatives. His birth father, Kiyokane, is on the left side of the front row while his adoptive father, Kiyotsuna, is on the right side.
Photographed at his home in Hirakawa-cho in 1904.

 On December 26th, 2017, a monthly seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems and the following researchers presented at the seminar.
• Mr. Koji CHIKAMATSU (Visiting Researcher of the Department): “Interpretation of the Documents and Letters Related to Seiki KURODA”
• Mr. Atsushi TANAKA (Visiting Researcher of the Department): “Acceptance of Classical Works of Art by Ryusei KISHIDA from 1913 through 1916”
 Mr. Chikamatsu reported on his research of letters written to a western-style painter Seiki KURODA (1866–1924), owned by the Institute. Research on the letters sent to this painter has been repeatedly reported at this seminar. Mr. Chikamatsu targeted his research on the letters written by his family members and relatives, including his birth father Kiyokane (1837–1914), his adoptive father Kiyotsuna (1830–1917), the Hashiguchi family, into which his adoptive sister married, and the Kabayama family, which adopted a child from the Hashiguchi family. Like the letters written by his adoptive mother Sadako presented by Mr. Jun TANAKA at the seminar held in August 2016, the letters reported here also showed that his relatives discussed Seiki’s change of profession from a lawyer to an artist during his stay in France.
 Mr. Tanaka presented on the paintings of Ryusei KISHIDA (1891–1916), a western-style painter, during the period that he lived in Yoyogi, Tokyo (1913–1916). In his book titled “Ryusei’s Book of Paintings and Artistic Views” (published in 1920), he referred to the great masters in Europe, such as Albrecht Dürer, Andrea Mantegna, and Jan van Eyck, saying, “It was really nice and reasonable for me to be influenced by these classical works of art.” Among them, Mr. Tanaka paid attention to Andrea Mantegna, an Italian Renaissance artist. Following a discussion of his process of accepting classical works of art based on the European book of paintings, which Ryusei may have watched, the presenter closely examined Ryusei’s process of establishing realistic expressions in his representative work, “Sketch of Road Cut through a Hill” (painted in 1915), and others.

“The First Festival Network” Meeting

Group discussion

 For festivals brought to the brink of extinction as intangible cultural heritage nationwide in Japan, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage organized the “Festival Network” meeting to establish a network connecting successors and supporters. The first meeting was held jointly with Omatsuri Japan Co., Ltd. at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on December 9th, 2017, attracting more than 40 lovers who were interested in “Festivals.”
 During the first half of the meeting, Mr. Yohei YAMAMOTO (Omatsuri Japan), who has been working on regional revitalization by coordinating “Festivals” from a corporate perspective, Mr. Shutaro KOIWA (Japan Folk Performing Arts Association), who has been supporting national folk performing arts, and Mr. Hiromichi KUBOTA, Head of the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section, gave presentations under the theme “Challenges in Festivals.” In the last half, participants were divided into seven groups for discussion in response to the presentations. Finally, each group reported on “Challenges in Festivals,” expecting further progress at the next meeting.
 This network meeting will be ongoing as an opportunity to share opinions among successors, supporters, lovers, researchers, and others who are involved in “Festivals” in various ways.

The 12th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The venue of the 12th session of the Intergovernmental Committee

 The 12th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held in Jeju, the Republic of Korea, from December 4th through December 9th, 2017, which three researchers of this Institute attended.
 As the number of agendas to be addressed at the Intergovernmental Committee has increased in recent years, the session took place over six days, one day longer than the last session. At this session, six elements were newly inscribed on the “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding,” while 33 elements were inscribed on the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” This time, Japan did not propose any elements.
 In the discussion under the Agenda 15 “intangible cultural heritage in emergencies,” the Japanese delegation introduced two cases: “disaster prevention for intangible cultural heritage,” which this Institute has been working on, and “Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage under Natural Disasters and Armed Conflicts in the Asia-Pacific Region,” which the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) has been tackling. We distributed brochures titled “Disaster Prevention for Intangible Cultural Heritage,” prepared by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Institute in March 2017.
 The issue of how to safeguard intangible cultural heritage from natural disasters has been attracting global attention. Under the circumstances, the Institute has accumulated numerous experiences on protecting cultural heritage from disasters through rescuing cultural properties after the Great East Japan Earthquake, supporting recovery from the March 11 Earthquake, and establishing the Intangible Cultural Heritage Archives. We think it is an important role for this Institute to contribute to the international community by disseminating these outcomes.

Opinion Exchange with Bagan Lacquerware Technology College and Visits to Lacquerware Production Sites in Myanmar

Visit to a lacquerware production site in Myanmar

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties conserves and restores cultural properties, as well as conducts research and study in collaboration with educational/research institutes, private and other organizations, not only at home but also abroad. As one of these activities, the Institute reached an agreement on the protection of lacquer work cultural heritage in Myanmar with the Small-Scale Industries Department of the Ministry of Co-operatives, Myanmar in 2014 while organizing a workshop on lacquerware at Bagan Lacquerware Technology College in 2016. Even after the expiration of the agreement, another workshop was held at the College in February 2017, where lacquerware was practically observed and lectures on conservation/restoration cases and scientific analyses were given, maintaining the cooperative relationship.
 On December 7th, 2017, we visited the College to decide on the policies for future cooperative programs by exchanging opinions. Its main topics were the safety and features of lacquerware sold in the Bagan area from a scientific perspective, and both parties agreed that mutual understanding should be promoted further. In addition, we visited lacquerware production sites in Myanmar for future cooperation on December 7yh and 8th, promoting a better understanding of Myanmar’s lacquerware.

The Fourth 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)

Behavior measurement by the staff of the Department of Archaeology
Hearing survey with restoration experts

 As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs (re-commissioned by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties), we dispatched experts to Myanmar for the fourth time in 2017. Two staff members from the Institute conducted structural behavior monitoring and a survey on traditional building techniques and production systems (from November 25th through December 3rd), while an outside expert tested brick materials (from December 9th through December 12th).
 In the structural behavior monitoring checked for the fourth time, no progress was found in deformation of the three monitored historical brick buildings in Bagan in particular. However, many of the resin crack gauges installed on the external surfaces of the buildings had come off due to bird and animal attacks, so they were replaced by metal disks. We also trained the local staff of the Department of Archaeology to facilitate voluntary measurements.
 Through the hearing survey with local experts who have engaged in restoration of cultural heritage for many years, we exchanged opinions on the details of traditional building techniques and production technologies surveyed in this project while confirming how to produce mortar used in past times and the materials in detail. Since we obtained all materials required for reproduction of this old mortar based on the collected information, we will analyze the mortar sampled from the structures built in the Bagan era in the past survey to compare with the reproduced mortar. We also contacted bricklayers to ask how the restoration work is implemented and their awareness of traditional building techniques and production technologies.
 At the material testing carried out in a facility of Yangon Technological University in Yangon City, we implemented bending, shearing, and compression strength tests with the prisms (four-layered brick specimens) and mortar specimens produced in the previous visit (September).
 We would like to continually accumulate useful data for better conservation and restoration of the cultural heritage structures in the Bagan area through such surveys.

Archaeological Investigation and Risk Assessment for the Conservation and Management of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part II)

Excavated terrace structure
Survey of the current condition of the temporary supports

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been carrying out technical cooperation with the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) in order to draft a conservation and management plan for Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia. From November 28th through December 8th, 2017, we conducted an archaeological investigation and a risk assessment for the structures at Ta Nei Temple for the second time.
 The main purpose of the archaeological investigation was identifying the remains of the east approach to the temple located at its front and the remains of a structure situated on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered during the first investigation in July. The excavation was conducted jointly with staff from APSARA and with the cooperation of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
 First, we set up and excavated a trench 2 m wide from east to west and 5 m long from north to south, approximately 50 m to the east of the east gate. We discovered a hardened surface, presumably the old approach to the temple, 70 cm beneath the current ground surface. The hardened surface was composed of yellow soil covering a layer of small sandstone gravel 5 mm in size overlapped on a layer of fist-sized sandstone cobbles.
 In addition, we set up and excavated a trench 11 m long from east to west and 1 m wide from north to south on the embankment of the East Baray on the prolongation of this approach way. We found a laterite stone surface 30 cm beneath the current ground surface (Figure 1). Considering the surrounding topography and the distribution of exposed laterite, these remains can be presumed to form part of a terrace structure approximately 20 m long from east to west and 15 m wide from north to south.
 Regarding the risk mapping of the site, we examined how to renew the existing temporary supports. Wooden supports had been installed in 16 places where there were safety concerns such as potential collapse of main structures, including the central tower, the east tower, and the inner gallery. However, apart from obstructing the view of the site, these supports are in need of renovation, as in the 20 years that have passed since their installation decay of timber members and loosening of joints have become apparent. Thus, we observed and recorded the current condition of these supports, and studied improvement proposals including a change to a more durable material and the adoption of a design enabling fine adjustment.

Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 9)

Group photo of the participants of the Mayors’ Forum
Lecture by Mr. Tatsuya KUMAMOTO, cultural strategy officer of the Agency for Cultural Affairs at the Mayors’ Forum

 As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we have continually provided technical assistance for Nepal. From December 23rd through December 29th, 2017, we dispatched five experts to Kathmandu.
 The main purpose of this dispatch is to cooperate in the “Mayors’ Forum on Conservation of Historic Settlements in Kathmandu, Kavre Valley.” The Forum was hosted by Panauti municipality, which has historic settlements inscribed on the Tentative List of World Heritage sites, and attended about 100 persons to its city hall, including mayors, deputy mayors or representatives from 16 cities located in Kathmandu, Kavre Valley and around Panauti City. Since 2016, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been providing support through workshops and training seminars for professional officers (engineers) of each city holding jurisdiction over historic settlements inscribed on the World Heritage List and the Tentative List of World Heritage sites. They have already established inter-city cooperative relationships. In this Forum, the necessity of networking the municipalities holding jurisdiction over historic settlements in Kathmandu, Kavre Valley (cooperation council) was shared among the mayors by expanding the coverage further. Lectures were also delivered by Professor Yukio NISHIMURA at the University of Tokyo regarding the survey of historic settlements in Kathmandu Valley being implemented under the framework of this cooperation project, and by Mr. Tatsuya KUMAMOTO, Councilor for Cultural Strategy of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, concerning the system for preservation districts for groups of historic buildings in Japan. We succeeded in conveying the approaches to conserve historic settlements, including the current issues and inter-government cooperation, to the participants.
 To establish a system to conserve historic settlements in Kathmandu Valley, a great deal of effort is required from a variety of stakeholders. We expect that our research outcomes will be reflected more effectively and that broader technical assistance will be provided smoothly through the above-mentioned network.

Participation and Presentation at the 19th ICOMOS General Assembly and Scientific Symposium

The General Assembly

 The 19th ICOMOS General Assembly and Scientific Symposium was held in Delhi, India from 11th to 15th December. The author took part in the General Assembly and made a presentation at the Symposium.
 During the General Assembly, the triennial elections for the Executive Committee were held. Professor Toshiyuki Kono from Kyushu University was elected as president, becoming the second Asian and first Japanese president of ICOMOS since its foundation in 1965. Professor Kono has had a leading role in several initiatives engaging current issues surrounding cultural heritage from multiple perspectives, including the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Nara+20 Conference and the ICOMOS Project on Cultural Heritage Recovery and Reconstruction. The further development of such initiatives during his three year term is highly anticipated.
 In addition, the General Assembly officially adopted the “Principles for the Conservation of Wooden Built Heritage”, redacted by the ICOMOS International Wood Committee (IIWC). This document is an updated version of the 1999 charter by the same committee. The updated version is more detailed and concrete, while at the same time placing a renewed emphasis on the intangible aspects of wooden built heritage.
 The General Assembly also saw the adoption as one of its resolutions of a proposal redacted by the Emerging Professionals Working Group, aimed at strengthening the involvement of emerging professionals in the activities of ICOMOS.
 At the Scientific Symposium, under the title “Heritage and Democracy”, speakers from different countries presented initiatives aimed at involving actively in the conservation process the local communities and other stakeholders who maintain, use and safeguard the heritage. As an example of such initiatives in Japan, the author made a presentation on the “heritage manager” system.

Facility tour in November (1)

Briefing at the Kuroda Memorial Hall

 Thirteen members from School of Letters, Kyushu University, including students and a tour leader
 On November 1st, the visitors toured in the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) with the intention of learning how books and materials are stored and utilized. They received briefings at the Library and at the Kuroda Memorial Hall from the staff in charge.

Facility tour in November (2)

Briefing at the Restoration Studio (Paper)

 Nine members from Department of Cultural Properties Management of Korea National University of Cultural Heritage
 On November 7th, with the intention of obtaining fundamental information on the studies of the preservation of cultural properties in Japan, the visitors toured in TNRICP. They received briefings at the Chemical Laboratory II, the Restoration Studio (Paper), etc. from the staff in charge.

Facility tour in November (3)

Briefing at the Library

 Four members from the Japan-China Economic & Cultural Promotion Organization and the Tiananmen Area Management Committee of Beijing City People’s Government
 On November 20th, the visitors toured in TNRICP with the intention of learning restoration of cultural properties, data management for cultural properties, etc. They received briefings at the Library and other sites from the staff in charge.

Facility tour in November (4)

Briefing at the Biological Science Section

 Three members from the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
 On November 22nd, the visitors toured in TNRICP to receive briefings on the facility and research projects of TNRICP. They received briefings at Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, etc.

The 51st “Open Lecture”

A lecture being given

 Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a two-day open lecture on November 2nd and 3rd in the seminar room of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP). Every autumn, TNRICP invites people from the general public to attend presentations given by its researchers and invited outside lecturers on the results of research that they conduct on a daily basis. This year, it was the 51st open lecture. This program is not only held as part of the Lecture Series of the Ueno no Yama Cultural Zone Festival organized by Taito Ward but is also associated with Classics Day on November 1st, 2017.
 This year’s lectures covered four topics: “Japanese paintings that were brought overseas ― Through introduction of the folding screen, “Merry making on kamo river beach at shijo” in a collection at the Grassi Museum for Ethnology in Leipzig, Germany” (Tomoko EMURA, Head of Archives Section, TNRICP); “Human bodies depicted as this impure world― Illness and dead bodies depicted in Japanese medieval paintings” (Satomi YAMAMOTO, Professor of Kyoritsu Women’s University); “Loquats painting copied from nature― Tanyu KANO and reproduction in Edo Period” (Mayumi ONO, Senior Researcher, TNRICP); and “Great poets making tofu baked and coated with miso ― Paintings of Great Poets by Jakuchu ITO” (Miho MABUCHI, Associate Professor of Kobe City University of Foreign Studies). The first two lectures were given on the 2nd and the latter two lectures on the 3rd. The audience on both days totaled 225 people and, according to the results of the questionnaire survey, nearly 90% of the audience responded “satisfied” or “almost satisfied.” Thus, the open lecture received favorable reactions.

History and Significance of Raden (Mother-of-Pearl Decoration) Craftwork in Thailand― Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Workshop hosted by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

 In Thailand in the 18th century and after, exquisite raden craftwork in which an enormous number of tiny seashell parts are finely combined, has developed. If you have already visited the Grand Palace and Wat Pho famous for Reclining Buddha in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, you may know it. The raden craftwork has been still continued, although not very extensively. However, there have hardly been any studies on the history of Thailand’s raden; its transition and social significance has not been researched not only in Japan but also even in Thailand. At the 9th seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, Prof. Tomohito TAKATA of Siam University who is specialized in Buddhism art history in Thailand gave a presentation on the history of Thailand’s raden in the early-modern and modern times.
 Mr. Takata, first of all, explained that raden works in Thailand are seen on the doors and windows in Buddhism temples, on the pedestal bowl offerings for monks, and on the sutra boxes and Cabinets, they had been donated closely related to Buddhism, and they had been made rather exclusively with strong relationship with the royal family of Thailand. Further, he chose, as the analysis subjects, the temple doors whose dates of making or construction are accurately known and divided the history of raden from the 18th to the early 20th century into three periods according to the differences in the main motifs, patterns and techniques utilized. The three periods are the 1st period (from the middle of the 18th century to the beginning of the 19th century), the 2nd period (from the first half to the middle of the 19th century), and the 3rd period (from the latter half of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century). Based on this, he further pointed out that, in the 1st period when the patterns and motifs only included tendril patterns and portrait of the deities in which external influences were hardly observed, the Buddhism values such as the three realms of existence were expressed in raden works like in other wooden sculptures and paintings. In contrast, the 2nd period characterized by appearance of the story of Ramayana as well as Chinese decorative patterns reflects diplomatic relations with China and East Asia during this era. Further, in the 3rd period when the patterns that expressed forms of medallions in raden were made, new relationship between Thailand and the West as well as an increase in power of the royal family gave influence over raden crafting.
 The workshop also included participation of Ms. Ayumi HARADA, expert in Thai art history, from Kyushu National Museum and Prof. Norihiko OGURA from Department of Crafts (Urushi-Art) of Faculty of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. Ms. Harada gave us comments on the origin of Thai raden, external relations, etc. from the expert’s point of view. Further, Prof. Ogura delivered opinions from a viewpoint of an artist. The workshop also contained active discussion about relationship with Japanese raden works of the 19th century that have been discovered successively in Bangkok in recent years. The workshop could also serve as a good opportunity to recognize significance of Thai raden that had not often been subject to academic discussions.

“Summit Conference on Winnowing Baskets ― Discussion of Weaving Techniques”

Demonstrations of winnowing basket-making technique
From the top: Oidara winnowing basket, Kizumi winnowing basket, and Ronden/Kumanashi winnowing basket

 On November 13th, “Summit Conference on Winnowing Baskets ― Discussion of Weaving Techniques” was held at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) and over 80 people concerned participated from all over the country.
 The winnowing basket is a farm tool to sort and carry grain. Although it was an essential tool in everyday work up until the high economic growth period, the demands then sharply dropped because of modernization of people’s way of life. As a result, the weaving technique is also facing the crisis of inheritance. Therefore, with the aim of holding a discussion on how to pass on such basket weaving techniques to future generations, among the winnowing basket weaving techniques that are the nationally designated as important intangible folk cultural properties (folk technique), we invited successors of the Oidara winnowing baskets from Akita City of Akita Prefecture, the Kizumi winnowing baskets from Sosa City of Chiba Prefecture, and the Ronden/Kumanashi winnowing baskets from Himi City of Toyama Prefecture to hold demonstrations and panel discussion.
 The objective of this summit was to share current situations and to promote mutual exchange among various people who are concerned with winnowing baskets, including creators, sellers, users, fans, and researchers. With regard to inheritance of folk technique, although an investigative approach including research and recording is important, what these studies can contribute to actual succession of technique is very little. In order to inherit technique from one person to another, maintaining demands in the era is indispensable and, for that sake, it is important to change technique in line with the times in a flexible manner. In search of the solution, it is necessary to address the challenge by gathering, as extensively as possible, the wisdom of people who are concerned with winnowing baskets.
 At the panel discussion, the current severe conditions in technique succession were introduced and many participants presented opinions on what efforts the sellers are making, what problems they are facing, what features of the winnowing baskets attract users most, etc. We would like to develop a network of the participants that was created through this summit, while continuing to discuss and work on inheritance of techniques of winnowing basket making.
(Details of the summit are scheduled to be published in the form of a report and will be also disclosed on the website at the end of the fiscal year.)

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