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 on Structures that Have Mural Paintings Affected by the 2016 Central Italy Earthquakes

The state of the damaged Saint Christopher (San Cristoforo) Church (exterior walls)
The state of the damaged Saint Christopher (San Cristoforo) Church (interior mural paintings)

 A 6.2 magnitude earthquake occurred with its epicenter in Norcia, Perugia in the central area of Italy on August 24th, 2016, and caused massive human and material damage in and around the area. Coincidentally, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit the central area of Myanmar on the same day, which damaged a large number of Buddhist stupas and mural paintings drawn in the Bagan remains. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) had formulated ways of conserving and restoring brick structures and mural paintings specifically for the Mae-taw-yat shrine (No. 1205) in the Bagan remains and carried out projects with an eye toward developing human resources up to that time. After the area suffered earthquake damage, however, extra items to be addressed were added, forcing the TNRICP to modify its policy partially.
 Against this background, with the aim of exchanging views and opinions about how to address issues and preservation and restoration philosophy when regarding structures that had mural painting and stucco ornaments as mixed heritage, a party visited the disaster sites in Italy from April 20th through 27th, 2017. According to local experts who were engaged in restoration activities, work was behind schedule due to enormous damage but the inspection survey proved to be productive in a number of ways in terms of how to identify the actual state of damage or establish a procedure for conservation and restoration.
 This survey was primarily targeted at churches that had religious mural paintings that were associated with the Bible. Meanwhile, in the Bagan remains, the main target is temples that have Buddhist mural paintings. Though the era, objective of production and techniques employed are different between the two, they share the same philosophy in moving ahead with efforts to save cultural assets in disaster-stricken areas. We will continue to promote research on how appropriate restoration projects targeting mixed cultural properties should be while leveraging international networks.

Facility Tour in March (1)

Visitors from Heritage Conservation Centre listening to an explanation

 On March 27th, 2017, a party of three members from Heritage Conservation Centre, National Heritage Board in Singapore visited the TNRICP for the purpose of exchanging opinions on the objectives of lacquer research and inspecting instruments used for the research, with a view to introducing analytical instruments for lacquer and related materials. They were given an explanatory tour by researchers at the Chemistry Laboratory.

Facility Tour in March (2)

Visitors from Toppan Printing listening to an explanation

 On March 27th, 2017, two employees from the overseas business promotion department at Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. visited the TNRICP to refer projects in order to contribute overseas heritage conservation. Leading researchers briefed their operations at the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation.

International Symposium: In Search of the Multiple Origins of Namban Lacquer

Proceedings of the symposium
Discussion during the symposium

 Namban lacquer, which is characterized by its unique style, was made upon the request of Portuguese , Spaniards and others who visited Japan in the latter half of the 16th century and thereafter. It was made in Makie(gold powder lacquer technique) workshops in Kyoto and exported to Western countries up until the first half of the 17th century. Namban lacquer came to be known in Japan around the late 1930s. Quite a few pieces have been brought back to Japan from around the 1970s and found their way into museums and galleries all over the country. Recent investigation has revealed that many pieces are still owned by Christian facilities and other places in Spain and Portugal. In recent years, many exhibitions focusing on Namban lacquer have been held both in and outside Japan, and many of you may have actually seen them before.
 One of the major characteristics of Namban lacquer is its appearance, that is, a Western-style vessel decorated by Japanese traditional Makie and Raden (mother-of-pearl decoration). In addition, based on multiple studies, including art-historical, historiographical, organic chemical, wood antomical, conchological, and radiological studies, of its patterns, materials, and techniques, it has become clear that this object is a characteristic cultural asset strongly reflecting the Age of Commerce by having elements from not only Europe and Japan but also various Asian regions, such as East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.
 With the aim of specifically confirming these multiple characteristics of Namban lacquer and sharing the recognition, the symposium was held at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) for 2 days on March 4th and 5th, 2017, where 12 reports were presented by 11 domestic and foreign experts and enthusiastic discussions were held. Further, the number of participants in this symposium totaled 25 persons from overseas (Europe, the US, and Asia) and 160 persons from various places in Japan, reflecting a growing interest in Namban lacquer among people in Japan and overseas.

Research Council Meeting on Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives

Research council meeting on Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives

 On March 14th, a research council meeting on the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives was held as part of the research project “Research/Study and Corpus Preparation of Modern & Contemporary Art.”
 Yutaka MATSUZAWA(1922-2006), known for his work and performance based on unique concepts, developed his own thoughts and concepts by assimilating oriental religious views, cosmic views, modern mathematics, astrophysics, etc., and expressed them in the form of art. As a highly important figure, he has been well regarded as a pioneer of “conceptual art” not only in Japan but also in the world. This research council meeting was held with the objective of sharing, among concerned parties, the summary and development activities of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives, which are now being managed by the General Incorporated Foundation “MATSUZAWA Yutaka Psi Room” (Executive Director Haruo MATSUZAWA), and of confirming their value as research materials. First, the following researches and reports were presented: Ms. Yoshiko SHIMADA (Artist) “Current progress towards establishment of the MATSUZAWA Archives: March 2017”; Mr. Shuhei HOSOYA (Research Assistant, Film and Media Department of Tohoku University of Art and Design) “Current status of research on films related to Yutaka MATSUZAWA and their digitization”; Dr. Midori YAMAMURA (JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research in Japan, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) “Letters of Yayoi KUSAMA – Character of Yayoi KUSAMA as seen through the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives”; and Dr. Reiko TOMII (Art historian, Co-founder of PoNJA-GenKon) “Position of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives in archive studies” (in their order of presentation). In the discussions held following the presentations, experts of post-war Japanese art participated and opinions were exchanged on major tasks for the development of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives, on the prevention of loss of archives of post-war and contemporary Japanese artists, and on the need to have specialized institutions to house archives for artists, etc.

Workshop on Canoe Culture

Photo showing Workshop on Canoe Culture
Investigation of canoe materials at Oceanic Culture Museum

 The Workshop on Canoe Culture was held at the Institute on March 22nd, as a part of the activities on “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project in Oceania Island Countries” supported by Agency for Cultural Affairs in FY2016. In this workshop, four experts (Dr. Peter Nuttall, Ms. Alison Newell, Mr. Samual London-Nuttall, Mr. Kaiafa Ledua), who were invited to Japan from the University of the South Pacific, a base institution of the partner country, presented their research reports. They are actively promoting research to explore the possibility of exploiting the traditional techniques for voyage canoes of Oceania in the development of “sustainable transportation” using renewable energy such as wind power. At the same time, they are involved in the restoration of ancient canoes in Fiji and experimental voyage. In this workshop, they reported the present status and future prospects of such research and efforts.
 In this workshop, three Japanese experts also made research reports. Prof. Akira GOTO, Director of Anthropological Institute, Nanzan University, gave a talk on Hawaii-style outrigger canoes in Ogasawara Islands. Ms. Kyoko MIYAZAWA, a visiting researcher at Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, presented the method of visual recording of canoes. Mr. Masahiro UCHIDA, an ocean journalist and a lecturer at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, discussed the rise of the canoe and kayak culture in Japan. At the end of the workshop, a comprehensive discussion among presenters and participants was organized. The workshop has been attended by more than 20 participants mainly consisting of experts and has provided the good opportunity for heated discussions and vivid information exchanges.
 After the workshop, four invited researchers made a trip to Okinawa and visited Oceanic Culture Museum in Okinawa Ocean Expo Park, a national government park in Motobu Town. The Oceanic Culture Museum has founded as the government pavilion at the time of the Okinawa Expo 1975. The collection of ethnographic materials of Oceania is one of the world’s largest and is especially famous for canoes. While receiving a lecture by Dr. Hidenobu ITAI, curator, they investigated the canoe materials that are now almost
nonexistent in the area. In addition, in Nago city, they visited the atelier of a group restoring Sabani which is a traditional wooden fishing boat in Okinawa and could exchange valuable information.
 The culture of driving canoes used to be quite common not only in Oceania but also in the wide region of the Pacific Rim including the Japanese archipelago. After the early modern times, these cultures have disappeared one after another in various places. In recent years, the movement called “canoe renaissance” to restore such culture has been developed in various places. It includes, for example, the canoe restoration in Fiji and the restoration of Sabani in Okinawa. The workshop and the subsequent trip to Okinawa have been quite successful and have demonstrated fruitful results of the collaboration between Oceania and Japan in the reconstruction of such canoe culture.

Publication of Reports and DVD Titled “Making Kizumi’s Winnowing Baskets – Kizumi, Sosa City, Chiba Prefecture”

Reports and DVD

 The technique for making wisteria winnowing baskets transmitted in Kizumi, Sosa City, Chiba Prefecture, which we had researched from September 2015, was finally published as reports and visual recording at the end of March, 2017.
 This program was conducted as part of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network Promotion Project in order to examine what kind of record would work well for the restoration of any technique lost due to disaster or for other reasons. In cooperation with holders of that technique, we recorded a series of processes from the collection and processing of raw materials to winnowing basket weaving as an almost-7-hour-long video, as well as written and illustrated reports.
 Now we are thinking of verifying the video and reports so as to explore the possibility of making better records for precious techniques. These PDF reports and DVD images are to be uploaded onto the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties around mid-June, 2017.

Seminar on Iranian Cultural Heritage and Exchange of Letter of Intent for Cooperation with Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization and Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism

Exchange of the letter of intent

 The Islamic Republic of Iran is famous for having the world’s most important cultural heritage sites, including Persepolis, the capital city of the Persian Empire during the Achaemenid Dynasty, and Esfahan, which had been called “half of the world” because of its prosperity.
 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) recently extended an invitation to Dr. Mohammad Hassan Talebian (Deputy Director of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran) and Dr. Mohammad Beheshti Shirazi (Head of the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism of Iran) to hold the “Seminar on Iranian Cultural Heritage” on March 29th, 2017. Together with lectures by Japanese experts, the two guests delivered interesting lectures on the historical and cultural background of Iran as well as the protection of cultural heritage.
 After the seminar, the TNRICP, the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, and the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism expressed through a letter of intent their desire for a fiveyear cooperation in various academic fields to protect the cultural heritage in Iran.

Field Survey of Traditional Houses in Bhutan and Conclusion of Research Cooperation Agreement

MOU signing ceremony in Thimphu
Investigation of traditional private residential buildings (Tshosa Village, Punakha District)

 Since fiscal year of 2011, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has been cooperating with the Department of Culture (DOC) of the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan on the study of traditional rammed earth buildings. This cooperation was triggered by the successive earthquakes in 2009 and 2011 that caused severe damage to buildings constructed with the traditional method. The urgent task of striking a balance between ensuring safety by improving the seismic capacity of both public and private buildings and protecting/inheriting the traditional method that is still widely used in housing construction, etc. has become the center of attention.
  The research programme centered on the buildings constructed with earth rammed inside the wooden formwork from the perspective of both understanding and analyzing structural performance and clarifying traditional architectural techniques. Meanwhile, a legal framework for the preservation of private residential buildings as cultural heritage was being developed. Therefore, since fiscal year of 2016, investigation efforts have focused establishing basic typological and chronological indexing of rammed earthen traditional houses under the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (“Research on the typology and chronology of rammed-earth buildings in Bhutan,” Principal Researcher: Nobuo KAMEI, Director General of TNRICP).
 In the joint field survey conducted from March 4th to 16th, 2017, a measurement survey, among others, was conducted on a total of 16 traditional houses in Thimphu and Punakha prefectures, where efforts were made to collect information for studies of the original building shape, construction period, history of modification, etc., including observation of remaining traces and interviews with residents.
 Further, during this time, a research cooperation agreement was signed by the representatives of both parties, the aim of which was to further strengthen cooperative relations between the Institute and DOC. While considering the feelings of the people of Bhutan, who are keen to continue protecting their tangible and intangible traditional culture, we will continue working on this investigative research in hopes of contributing to the clarification of cultural values of historic architectures.

Invitation Training Program for Conservation of Nepalese Historic Settlements

Training in Gokayama Ainokura Village in Nanto City
Workshop that followed the on-the-job training

 Many historic settlements in Katmandu Valley were damaged by the Nepal Gorkha Earthquake in April 2015 and restoration efforts have continued to this day. In the process, however, the preserving historical value of historic settlements in the process of rehabilitation is inadequate. For example, traditional houses were demolished and replaced by new modern buildings. As a problem that lies in the background, even if people concerned wish to preserve historic settlements, there is no well-developed system to preserve them as cultural assets.
 Although concerned authorities of the Government of Nepal have made efforts to establish a conservation system, actual conservation practice largely depends on local administrative bodies that have jurisdiction over target settlements and are responsible for the preparation of conservation guidelines. With this in mind, we co-hosted a conference in Nepal at the end of November where we invited concerned parties from six municipalities in Katmandu Valley, which have jurisdiction over the historic districts inscribed on the World Heritage List and the historic settlements inscribed on the World Heritage Tentative List. Our objectives were to share information about the current situation and tasks for preserving these districts and settlements and to convey information on Japan’s conservation system.
 8 Nepalese experts and officers who are locally in charge of the preservation of historic settlements were invited by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties from March 4th to 12th, 2017 to attend an on-the-job training regarding the preservation system for historic settlements. All the following visitors played important role at the “Conference on the Preservation of Historic Settlements in Kathmandu Valley” in November. They visited the important preservation districts for groups of historic buildings in Hokuriku Region and Chubu Region, including Kuroshima District in Wajima city and Gokayama Ainokura Settlement in Nanto city. They also received information from local officers and concerned personnel and actively exchanged opinions by referring to their own problems and the current situations of historic settlements and districts under the participants’ jurisdiction.
 We would like to continue our technological support in hopes that an appropriate preservation system would be developed for the preservation of historic settlements in Nepal under the initiatives of the participants of this training.

Facility Tour in February

Members of JACAM receiving explanation

 On February 13th, 2017, ten members of the Japanese Association for Conservation of Architectural Monuments (JACAM) visited the TNRICP to improve future conservation and repair techniques as part of the development and training of specialists in the repair of historic buildings. The group toured the Performing Arts Studio, the Library, the Radiography Laboratory, and the Biology Laboratory and received explanations about the work being done in these areas from the researchers in charge.

Joint Study of Paintings of Buddhist Deities Cundi and Samantabhadra in the Collection of the Tokyo National Museum

Photographing the painting of Cundi

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems regularly works with the Tokyo National Museum to study Buddhist paintings from the Heian Period in its collection. Each year, high-resolution digital imaging technology belonging to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is employed to image these works from the 12th century or earlier to gather data that enables researchers to study in greater detail the techniques employed to produce the works. Such data has revealed the use of extraordinary techniques that would not have been apparent with the naked eye. Researchers from the two institutions explore how these techniques were used to create such sophisticated pictorial depictions of Buddhist deities so many centuries in the past. As part of this year’s study, a painting of Cundi (Juntei-Kannon) (Important Cultural Property) and a painting of Samantabhadra (Fugen Bosatsu) (National Treasure) were imaged on February 23rd, 2017 in high-resolution color in sections, along with all of this year’s National Treasure selections. Going forward, other optical study methods will be adopted in this joint work and the results shared with museum researchers so that the place of such paintings in art history can be assessed with an eye toward presenting the paintings to the public in the future.

The 10th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems “Study of the Western Cruciform Sword Possessed by Fujisakae Shrine in Koka City”

A Scene from the 10th Seminar

 Fujisakae Shrine is located in Minakuchi, Koka City, Shiga Prefecture, the predecessor of which was Yoshiaki Reisha Shrine founded in the early 19th century in order to enshrine feudal lord Yoshiaki KATO, Founder of the family, governing Minakuchi area in the Edo period. The shrine has a variety of treasures, which are said to have been possessed by Yoshiaki. The Western style sword with a black lacquer sheath, which is said to have been granted by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, is one of them. Mostly intact in form, this sword is in no way inferior to the rapiers produced in Europe from the 16th to the 17th century. Although it seems to be the only Western sword handed down to the 21st century in Japan, the rapier has been stored at the Minakuchi Museum of History and Folklore in Koka City for many years without attracting much concern so far.
 In September 2016, the rapier was investigated from art historical and physicochemical perspectives by the five members of Ms. Akiko NAGAI (Board of Education in Koka City), Mr. Toshihiko SUEKANE (Tokyo National Museum), Ms. Motoko IKEDA (Kyoto National Museum), Prof. Kazutoshi HARADA (Tokyo University of the Arts), and me, Koji KOBAYASHI. The summary and the outcomes of our study were reported at the 10th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on February 24th, 2017.
 The presentations made by the members are “Historical Background on the Western Cruciform Sword Stored at Fujisakae Shrine” by Ms. Nagai; “Study of the Substantiality and Age of the Rapier Handed Down to Fujisakae Shrine – Reconnaissance with Museum Collections, Excavated artifacts and eary modern genre paintings” by Kobayashi; “Regarding the Western Sword Housed by Fujisakae Shrine” by Mr. Suekane; “The Western Sword Possessed by Fujisakae Shrine: X-ray CT Scanning and Fluorescent X-ray Analysis” by Ms. Ikeda; and “The Western Sword Belonging to Fujisakae Shrine – Comparison with Overseas Materials –” by Prof. Harada. The outcomes of our preliminary study were presented from diversified perspectives, including the reference to historical backdrops on swords and related artifacts, the study of hilt patterns and production techniques from the viewpoint of the metalworking history, the report of the data obtained through CT scanning and fluorescent X-ray analysis, and comparison with rapiers stored overseas, in addition to topics on Fujisakae Shrine and Yoshiaki KATO.
 Furthermore, whether this Western sword was produced at home or abroad is an important issue in considering the craftsmanship in the Momoyama period and its historical evaluation. We discussed the issue by exchanging various opinions and views after the presentations, which did not result in any consensus. We recognized the importance of this sword and the necessity of its further research anew.

Workshops on Lacquerware at the Lacquerware Technology College in Bagan, Myanmar

Practical training on investigation of the lacquer objects
Practical training on observation of cross-section samples using a microscope

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation held a lacquerware workshop at the Lacquerware Technology College in Bagan, Myanmar, as part of the project ʻProtection and Conservation of Cultural Properties in Myanmarʼ Bagan is a major production area for lacquerware. The above-mentioned college is working hard to train young lacquerware specialists to pass down local traditions and techniques. A lacquerware museum is attached to the college, where many cultural properties are housed. On the other hand, they need knowledge and skills related to the conservation and restoration of their cultural properties and scientific research on materials.
 Twelve college teachers and the museum curators participated in the workshop held from February 6th to 8th, 2017. The participants were provided with practical training and lectures on investigation and scientific analysis which are essential for the basis on conservation and restoration of lacquerware. In the practical training, each participant was required to visually examine and take notes on three pieces of Japanese lacquerware and one from the museum collection, followed by a discussion about their uses, materials, techniques and condition of damage. Finally, the comments and explanations were given by the instructor. In the scientific analysis part of the practical training, the participants prepared and observed by themselves cross-section samples. Fragments detached from actual lacquerware were embedded in synthetic resin, and the well-polished samples were then observed using a microscope to understand the structure of the lacquer coating. To cover the practical training, lectures were also provided to introduce a case study of conservation and restoration, along with prevalent methods of scientific analysis.
 The aim of the workshop was to provide the college teachers and curators with experience that would help them to protect the cultural properties in Myanmar.

The Research on Conservation and Restoration Method for Outer Wall of Brick Temples in Bagan, Myanmar

Waterproof sheet covering the damaged areas
Lashing belt reinforcing the structure

 From February 5th to 28th, 2017, at Me-taw-ya (No. 1205) temple in the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar, the experiments with restoration materials and techniques were carried out in order to establish restoration methods for outer wall of brick temples, mainly aiming at protecting mural paintings from rain leakage. The previous surveys raised the issues to be resolved: the selection of appropriate restoration materials and methods considering aesthetic appearance of the monuments. Repeated discussion with the staff members of the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar, resulted in a meaningful exchange of ideas about concrete restoration methods. On the other hand, explained in detail by local experts, a study was conducted to get the information about the changes of techniques and iconography, related to mural paintings which are the principal subject of this project.
 During the field work on site, a series of significant damage was detected to the temple structure, caused by the earthquake measuring M6.8 that struck central Myanmar on August 24th, 2016. Consequently, the remedial intervention was taken on the damaged areas, partially rescheduling the first planning. In the Bagan Archaeological Site, obviously rain leakage is the crucial cause of deterioration of the brick temples and mural paintings which decorate their inside. Lashing belts were employed to reinforce the structure, along with nets and waterproof sheets to prevent collapses and water penetration, taking into account the approaching rainy season.
 The results of chemical analysis of various materials used during the construction period will provide the criteria for revising the restoration methods introduced in the past and for studying the compatibility between new and old materials. Also, a plan will be made with local experts for new restoration methods adapted to the current situation of the Bagan Archaeological Site.

Holding the seminar “Ancient Wooden Architecture in Mainland Southeast Asia: Reading the Features of Lost Buildings from Archaeological Evidence”

One of the lectures of the seminar

 The seminar “Ancient Wooden Architecture In Mainland Southeast Asia: Reading The Features Of Lost Buildings From Archaeological Evidence” was held on 13 February 2017. In this seminar, experts from
Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Japan made presentations on the developments on this field in each country, shared information and exchanged opinions.
 In their presentations, the lecturers explained the different efforts being carried out in each country in order to determine the features of already lost wooden buildings from the remaining archaeological evidence. In Myanmar, large postholes shaped as wells and surrounded by bricks have been unearthed at the Bagan Royal Palace site. In Thailand, foundation stones, unearthed roof tiles, and traces of wooden members remaining in masonry walls and pillars have been used as hints to deduce the features of the wooden posts, walls and roof structures that existed in the sites of Sukhothai and the Phitsanulok Royal Palace. In central Vietnam, foundation stones, ornamental eave-end tiles and burned wooden members have been excavated from several Lin Yi sites, and reconstruction proposals of wooden structures have been developed on the basis of postholes found at the Champa site of My Son. Regarding northern Vietnam, the features of the foundation works and unearthed roof tiles at the Thang Long Imperial Citadel site were introduced, and a comparative analysis between earthenware architectural models and existing ancient buildings was made.
 A question and answers session was held after each presentation, and at the end of the seminar a panel discussion with the participation of all the presenters was held, including the Japanese approach among the discussion topics.
 The results of the fruitful exchange of information carried out during this seminar will serve as a basis for future cooperative research efforts, directed at furthering the understanding of the wooden built heritage of Southeast Asia.

Facility Tour in January

Mokwon University students receiving explanation

 On January 13th, 2017, eight third-year students from Department of Microbial and Nano Materials, Mokwon University in Republic of Korea visited the TNRICP to learn microbial control techniques to preserve cultural properties. They were given an explanatory tour by researchers at the Biological Laboratory and the Performing Arts Studio.

Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems – Preliminary Research on the Theory behind Genpei Akasegawa’s ‘Model 1,000 –Yen Note’

“First Public Hearing in the ‘1,000-Yen Note Trial’— Evidence, Courtroom and Deeds” (1,000-Yen Note Incident Colloquium Secretariat, 1966), TNRICP collection
Scene of the seminar

 On January 31st, 2017, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information of Systems Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties hosted a seminar led by guest researcher Daisuke KAWAI entitled “Preliminary Research on the Theory Behind Genpei AKASEGAWA’s ‘Model 1,000-Yen Note.’”
 Genpei AKASEGAWA (1937–2014) was a multifaceted figure who was active as an avant-garde artist, manga creator, illustrator, writer (of both novels and essays), and a photographer. Mr. KAWAI gave a talk covering the period from the January 1963 creation of AKASEGAWA’s printed exhibition invitation that was a single-sided reproduction of Japan’s 1,000-yen note to the conclusion of “1,000-Yen Note Trial” in 1970 in which he AKASEGAWA was ultimately unable to overturn the charge of violating Japan’s currency counterfeiting law. KAWAI analyzed AKASEGAWA’s own writings and looked at how AKASEGAWA’s concept of the “Model 1,000-Yen Note series” was formed. KAWAI pointed out that AKASEGAWA’s “Model” concept was his way of attempting to legitimize his work of art in a historical and theoretical context. KAWAI pointed out features of AKASEGAWA’s later writings and creative activities that continued to espouse the “Model” concept.
 Mr. Hirokazu MIZUNUMA of the Chiba City Museum of Art participated in the seminar as a commentator, offering a different view of “art” from that held by the artists involved in the 1,000-Yen Note Incident. He also discussed the court trial through the lens of relational art. The result was a lively exchange of views.

Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held its monthly workshop onJanuary 12nd, where the following presentations were given:
 - Building dynamic websites utilizing WordPress and resulting effects – the web version of ‘The Articleson the Deceased’ and ‘TheAnnals (General News) of theArtWorld’ used as examples” byTomohiro OYAMADA, Research Assistant at the Department
 -“The significance of Christian art paintings in Gyokuyo KURIHARA’s art works” by Tai TADOKORO , Associate Fellow at the Department
 In his presentation, OYAMADA reported actual improvements made on the website of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. The Institute has been publishing the “Year Book of Japanese Art,”a data book that summarizes trends in the art world in Japan, since 1936. On the other hand, the Institute has also made data accumulated in editing the book, including those on exhibitions and literature, available to the public on the Internet. As part of this effort, in April 2014, the Institute published database improved by using WordPress software. The database covers “The Articles on the Deceased,” a compilation of brief descriptions of the deceased who had careers in art, and “The Annals of the Art World,” which summarizes events in the art world for each year. As a result of this effort, the number of visitors to the website has significantly increased. In the presentation, OYAMADA made a comparison of the website designs before and after the improvement, and reported the effects of their new functions based on specific analysis results.
 TADOKORO made a presentation on the work of Gyokuyo KURIHARA (1883-1922), who had a successful career as a female painter in Tokyo in the Taisho period. Gyokuyo focused on painting under the theme of Christianity from 1918 to 1920. Among the works of art during the period, “Asazuma Sakura (Christian girl Asazuma with cherry blossoms),” presented at the 12th Bunten exhibition in 1918, is said to be one of her representative works. The painting visualizes a story that developed in the Edo period involving Asazuma, a prostitute at Yoshiwara, who was arrested for her Christian faith under the anti-Christian edicts and executed under cherry blossoms in full bloom as her dying wish. In his presentation, TADOKORO discussed Gyokuyo’s reason for painting “Asazuma Sakura” and the position of the painting in her works. He further gave an in-depth discussion of the significance of Christian art paintings for Gyokuyo. For the entire collection of Gyokuyo’s art works, please see TADOKORO’s other disquisition entitled “Initial Research on Gyokuyo KURIHARA” in The Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies) No. 420 (issued in December 2016).

TNRICP’s Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage Hosts 11th Seminar: “Ramie Kimono and Silk Kimono”

Scene from the public lecture

 In collaboration with the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum, the Tokyo National Research Institute forCultural Properties’ Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage hosted its 11th in a series of publiclectures, entitled “Ramie Kimono and Silk Kimono.”The afternoon program focused attention on ramieand silk, two fibers essential to thediscussion of Japanesetextiles. Presentations were given by individuals involved in local textile production and covered changes in the social milieu regarding ramie and silk, the transmission of production techniques, and the significance of keeping traditions alive.
 Regarding ramie (karamushi in Japanese), Yukiko FUNAKI of the Showa Village Association for Conservation of Karamushi Production Technique located in Fukushima Prefecture gave the talk “Passing on Karamushi Techniques—Efforts at Showamura.” Tomoya YOSHIDA of the Higashi-Agatsuma Town Board of Education in Gunma Prefecture presented “Passing on Hemp Techniques—Efforts in Iwashima,” in which he spoke of the importance of techniques for cultivating hemp for textile use and how to extract the fiber from the plant, as well as the difficulties of passing on this knowledge. Joining these two voices from production locales was Kumiko HAYASHI of the Okaya Silk Museum in Nagano Prefecture. Ms. Hayashi spoke about the technological innovation that supported modernization in the silk industry and emphasized the significance of keeping such activities alive.
 After these reports, Mr. Kensaku KIKUCHI, guest researcher in the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, gave the talk “Ramie Kimono and Silk Kimono in Folklore,” and Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum curator Koka YOSHIMURA explained the exhibition, using the title “The Current State of Ramie and Silk Ascertained through the Planning of the ‘Ramie Kimono and Silk Kimono’ Exhibition.” A tour of the exhibition at the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum was then conducted.
 To transmit the culture surrounding ramie and silk kimonos requires knowledge of techniques involving the actual raw materials, hemp and silk. The lecture program taught attendees about the many issues involved in carrying on traditions involving ramie and silk and aimed to raise interest in the importance of preserving not only the techniques for making kimonos, but the techniques for extracting the fibers used as the raw materials.
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will establish a forum for discussing the many problems associated with traditional textile techniques.

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