The second meeting of the “Festival Network” for festival and folk performing art lovers was conducted jointly with Omatsuri Japan Co., Ltd. in the basement conference room of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on Saturday, April 14th. The theme of this meeting was “Shishimai × Shishimai (Lion Dance × Lion Dance).” Four people were invited as guest speakers: Mr. Osamu KATSUYAMA from Shishieden Shishikatashu in Toyama Prefecture, Ms. Kumiko KATSUYAMA from the Lion Dance Preservation Society in Imizu Town, Toyama Prefecture, Mr. Mitsuru TOGAWA, representative of the Sanuki Lion Dance Preservation Society in Kagawa Prefecture, and Ms. Ayumi NAKAGAWA, spokesperson of the said Society and representative of the Tokyo Sanuki Lion Dance. An overwhelming number of lion dances have been passed down in these two prefectures. After the speakers talked about the passion for their local lion dances, questions and answers were exchanged actively with the audience. They commented that persistence to preserve local festivals and traditions, as well as rural depopulation and generation gap issues, could be recognized anew through the actual cases indicated by the speakers
Visit to the Museo Egizio in Turin, and Opinion Exchange and Lecture at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI)
From April 19th through April 29th, 2018, members of Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation visited the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) in Switzerland to collect information about the international scene and build a network with international institutions.
At the Museo Egizio in Turin, curators, managers for registration of works, and restorers gathered to talk about the concrete efforts made for maintenance and management of their collected items, as well as for their conservation and restoration. At the SUPSI, we delivered a lecture on the projects undertaken by the Center for professors and students of the University. In addition, guided by Ms. Giacinta Jean, Course Director in Conservation, we visited the research facilities of the University and the Santuario della Madonna d’Ongero, on whose stucco-work, study and research were conducted by the University. Ms. Giacinta Jean explained how the concept of conserving cultural properties worked in Switzerland and the current status of its conservation activities.
In the conservation and restoration of cultural properties, it is important to enrich our insight while collecting information from various areas, as well as to repeatedly exchange opinions on how to resolve problems and maintain and manage cultural properties. This is vital because such efforts will help us in retaining an objective attitude toward cultural heritage and viewing it with an open mind without allowing for subjective eyes.
Also, during these visits, we made discoveries and found research themes through opinion exchange, which we could hardly have done during the regular activities. Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation will continually reinforce international cooperative relationships, putting much effort into building a network with international institutions.
One of the sources for information regarding any exhibition or art museum is the art magazine. In recent times, there has been an increasing use of TV or the internet as an information source. However, before TV and the internet became popular and accessible to all, the art magazine, regularly published with pictures of various works of art, was a visual and immediate source for transmitting/supplying information to persons involved in the fine arts and art lovers. In the research on Japanese modern art, these art magazines play an important role as materials that reflect the details of the trends and movements in the fine arts of the time. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is a rich source of information as numerous art magazines published in the Meiji era and thereafter are in its possession. An open seminar titled “Toward Sharing Information on Art Magazines” was held on March 16th to provide an opportunity for participants to discuss the organization, publication, and sharing of such information.
In this seminar, the following three researchers specialized in Japanese modern art delivered presentations, whose titles are as shown below:
○Jun SHIOYA (Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties): “Art Magazines of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties – History of Its Collection and Publication”
○Shogo OHTANI (The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo): “Another Art Scene in the Period from the Mid-1930s to the Mid-1940s from “Nikkan Bijutsu Tsushin (Daily Art Journal)”
○Hitoshi MORI (Kanazawa College of Art): “The Art Magazine – Its Value and the Obstacles to its Production”
Mr. Shioya unveiled the Institute’s history of collecting art magazines and described the project started by its predecessor, The Institute of Art Research, in 1932, to compile the art history of the Meiji and Taisho eras and the project to publish the “Yearbook of Japanese Art” initiated in 1936. Then, Mr. Ohtani pointed out the scarcity and the significance of the art industry journal published from 1935 through 1943, “Nikkan Bijutsu Tsushin (Daily Art Journal)” (the title was changed to “Bijutsu Bunka Simbun (Art Culture Newspaper)” in 1941), by introducing its articles on reorganization of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and the inside story of the organization that led to it publicly seeking works for its exhibition. Finally, Mr. Mori presented a comprehensive view on the friction between the concepts of “fine arts” and “magazine” brought in from Western Europe and the scope of Japanese pre-modern art, after presenting an overview of modern art magazines.
After the presentations, the three researchers held an active discussion together with Mr. Hideki KIKKAWA (Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) as the MC taking questions on the presentations from the audience and settling on the proposed ways of sharing information using art magazines as a topic. In addition, Mr. Kikkawa mentioned how there has been steady progress regarding international information sharing among art magazines, and he introduced the efforts of the Institute, such as (a) a joint project with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures to build a database of Japanese fine arts literature mentioned in European magazines; (b) providing metadata of “Mizue” published in the Meiji era for the Getty Research Portal operated by the Getty Research Institute; and (c) uploading “The Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies)” and “Yearbook of Japanese Art” on JAIRO, operated by the National Institute of Informatics.
The seminar, which functioned as a site to exchange valuable information, attracted 80 persons involved in archive operations at art museums, universities, and publishing and other companies. Related to the presentation by Mr. Mori, a book editorially supervised by him and containing information on art magazines from the Meiji era through the pre-war period of the Showa era, will be published soon by TOKYO BIJUTSU Co., Ltd. titled “Overview of Japanese Art Magazines 1867-1945” (temporary title).
On March 31st, the bereaved family of Yoshihiko IMAIZUMI (1931–2010), who was an artist and principal of an alternative art school “Bigakko,” donated the precious materials possessed by him. Mr. Imaizumi was involved in the avant-garde art movement while he was studying at the Department of Fine Arts, Nihon University College of Art. He wrote art critiques while creating paintings, and he was involved in the publication of a magazine “Keisho” in 1958. Since the foundation of the “Bigakko” in 1968, Mr. Imaizumi had been supporting the activities of avant-garde artists through widespread interactions with them until his last years. The papers donated this time include his diaries, photos, books and magazines, documents, and letters sent to him from the 1950s through the 2000s, which occupy book racks 6 m in length. Several materials are related to Yutaka MATSUZAWA, Hiroshi NAKAMURA, Natsuyuki NAKANISHI, Gempei AKASEGAWA, and Mokuma KIKUHATA, who taught at the art school. The letters exchanged with the Soviet Union in 1955 and 1957 when he was a member of the exhibition executive committee of the World Festival of Youth and Students, which was regarded as the Universiade for socialist countries, are also included. The letters enable verification of the relationships with non-American and non-Western European countries in the late 1950s. The papers are also valuable in the context of the cultural and social histories during the Cold War, in addition to art history. Members of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Institute visited his house to survey the papers before the donation by courtesy of his bereaved family. We will provide these precious materials as research data at the Library of the Institute after taking actions to conserve and organize the data for retrieval.
On March 13th, 2018, five delegates headed by Mr. Pradit Posew, the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Cultural Promotion (the Ministry of Culture, Thailand), visited Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and exchanged ideas with researchers at the Institute
In 2016, the Thai government ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, a UNESCO Convention. At present, the government is preparing an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage of the country. In 2017, the government made an nomination files to have “Khon (traditional mask dance drama of Thailand)” and “Nuad Thai (traditional massage of Thailand)” included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The former will be examined at the 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Mauritius, scheduled for November 26th through December 1st, 2018.
The objectives of their visit to Japan were to update themselves on the current condition of conservation and utilization of intangible cultural properties and heritage in Japan, which has years of accumulated experience in these activities, and to exchange ideas with Japanese experts. At this Institute, Thai and Japanese experts reported the current status of their respective intangible cultural heritage and discussed the issues common to the two countries, along with related questions and answers. Particularly, all the members recognized that how to hand down intangible cultural heritage to the coming generations is an important issue both in Japan and in Thailand.
In the course of modernization, numerous traditional cultures have disappeared in Japan. Today, Thailand is experiencing rapid economic growth and accelerating development while facing the possibility of deterioration or extinction of its traditional cultures. Thus, the balancing of economic development with the preservation of culture is an important issue there. We believe that Thai people would be able to find a better way to hand down their intangible cultural heritage to future generations by referring to Japanese experiences not only of success but also of failure in preserving cultural heritage.
It is seven years since the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. We offer our sincere condolences on the death of victims of the unprecedented tragedy, and we express our gratitude to those who have worked in restoration assistance following the disaster. Iwate Prefectural Museum, where thousands of cultural assets that were damaged by tsunami have been treated for stabilization treatment, held panoptic exhibitions from March to May, which demonstrated to us the importance of conservation of tsunami-damaged assets. During these exhibitions, we exchanged information with specialists involved in stabilization work of damaged assets.
Two exhibitions, “Asu ni tsunagu Kesen no takaramono–Tsunami de hisai shita Rikuzentakata shiryo wo chushin ni (The treasures of Kesen that we pass on to the future generations –with a focus on tsunami-damaged assets in Rikuzentakata)” (March 3rd to 28th, 2018) and “Mirai heno yakusoku–ima katari hajimeta Kesen no takaramono” (A promise to the future–the treasures of Kesen that start to talk now)” (April 3rd to May 6th, 2018), introduced the damaged cultural assets that stabilization treatment of which was finished. During the opening ceremony, the deputy director general of our institution, Eriko Yamanashi, gave a congratulatory speech by guests, instead of the director general, Nobuo Kamei, who could not come to the museum. In the private view, the director of Center for Conservation Science, Chie Sano, gave an explanation of our study on the stabilization processing of tsunami-damaged documents. It seemed that the exhibitions were strongly motivated activities. There were descriptions of every asset’s condition before stabilization, and stabilization methods used, as well as the cultural assets that stabilization treatment of which was finished.
Through seven years of the work, stabilization treatment of 220,000 items, out of 460,000 damaged items, has been completed. However, 240,000 cultural assets are still awaiting stabilization in the museum. The number of tsunami-damaged assets is enormous. In addition, the assets have many types of problems such as unpleasant odor. We would like to contribute to the conservation of damaged cultural assets through scientific study.
The Kawasaki Ki-61-II Hien (flying swallow), possessed by the Japan Aeronautic Association, was manufactured at the Gifu Works of Kawasaki Aircraft Co., Ltd. in 1944. When World War II ended in 1945, it belonged to the Air Evaluation Department of the Imperial Japanese Army located at the Fussa Air Base in Tokyo. Although almost all Japanese aircraft were scrapped after the war, this fighter was not disposed of for some unknown reason and had been displayed at the US Yokota Air Base until 1953. This Hien is now the world’s only airframe displayed in a museum. (There have been several attempts to restore the Hien, using the wreckage retrieved from New Guinea.) This fighter was transferred to The Japan Aeronautic Association from the US forces for free in 1953. Until 1986, when it was exhibited in the Chiran Peace Museum (Minamikyushu City), the fighter was displayed all over Japan. Meanwhile, some of its parts were lost and the airframe was damaged. When necessary, temporary repairs were carried out while painting and marking distinctly different from the original ones were applied from 1965 onwards.
In recent years, the Japan Aeronautic Association has begun to recognize anew the Hien as a cultural property through joint research with the Center for Conservation Science. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (hereinafter KHI) offered full cooperation in restoration of the Hien as a commemorative project to celebrate the 120th anniversary of its foundation in 2016. In 2015, the fighter was restored at its Gifu Works for almost a year.
Prior to its restoration, it was decided that the Hien would be restored as a cultural property through negotiation between the Japan Aeronautic Association and KHI. As for individual items for restoration, KHI proposed restoration methods, which the Association checked and accepted. The restoration by KHI covered a wide range of issues, including the removal of the paint applied on the airframe surface, removal of non-original parts added after the war, and production of new replica parts such as the nose panel above the engine and the instrument panels of the cockpit.
Removal of the paint on the airframe surface revealed the traces of the drilling tool blade that slid over the skin of the wings during manufacture, as well as traces of national markings and caution notes on various parts of the airframe. It also revealed the fact that the airframe number (construction number) was “6117.” Repainting of the national markings, which was proposed by KHI, was not implemented due to a possibility that new paint might affect the airframe surface and for the value of exhibiting the discovered traces as they are. When the Hien was exhibited at Kobe Port Terminal Hall (Kobe City) for about one month in autumn 2016, the national markings were reproduced with wrapping film at the request of KHI. The film was peeled off after being delivered to the Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum (Kakamigahara City). Although the museum had been closed since September 2016 for renovation, the disassembled Hien was displayed in the repository from November 2016 through November 2017.
After the restoration by KHI, the Japan Aeronautic Association surveyed the Hien under the supervision of the Center. This led to the removal of deteriorated rubber parts and the replacement of the fabric on the control surfaces (the rudder, the elevators, and the ailerons). Like many other aircraft of that time, the control surfaces are composed of a metal framework covered with fabric. When the fabric was replaced in 1986, it was not sewed to ribs, which resulted in creating a different appearance. Therefore, the Center researched the material of the fabric used in the WW2 era so as to provide supporting data for replacement of the fabric. This replacement was carried out from autumn 2017 through February 2018. The Center also took photos of the airframe before and after the reassembly for the record.
When the Museum was reopened after the renewal as “Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum” on March 24th, 2018, the Hien became one of the main exhibits there. According to the Museum, many visitors positively accept the unpainted national markings, and this fact indicates that the perception of aircraft as cultural property is spreading in our society.
Archaeological Investigation and Risk Assessment for the Conservation and Management of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part III)
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been engaged in 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 March 8th through 22nd, 2018, we conducted the third archaeological investigation at Ta Nei Temple and a precise survey of its surroundings.
The main purpose of the archaeological investigation was to further clarify the terrace structure on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered during the second investigation in December 2017. The excavation was conducted jointly with staff from APSARA.
The investigation disclosed the fact that laterite ashlars are laid to shape the entire structure as a cross, which is 13.8 m east to west and 11.9 m north to south. In addition, numerous roof tiles were found in its vicinity, and there were many holes and dents on the laterite ashlars, which seem to have been postholes. These findings implicitly show that there once was a wooden building on this terrace structure. Since the terrace structure is located on the east-west temple axis, we will continue the investigation to clarify the connection between the two structures.
At the same time, we also conducted a precise survey with a total station around the temple. Based on the collected data, we are preparing a detailed topographic map, which is expected to be effectively utilized for the conservation and management of the temple.
We also provided technical guidance for APSARA staff through technical transfer during the precise survey. We will continue such technical support, in addition to academic investigations.
Among overseas art collections, there are numerous Japanese art objects that play a significant role in representing Japanese culture in their regions. However, since the conservators-restorers who are specialized in these objects are rarely overseas and the proper conservation treatment cannot be undertaken on the objects, quite a few objects cannot be shown to the public. Thus, the Institute conducts the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas in order to contribute to the conservation-restoration and utilization of these objects.
On 26th March, the Institute’s researchers and conservators visited Grassi Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig and investigated the paintings for the purpose of formulating conservation plans and selecting objects for conservation under the Cooperative Program. Two hanging scrolls and a pair of folding screens, which had been chosen based on the collection survey conducted last year, were observed to record their components and conditions in detail. After the investigation, we consulted with the Museum about future conservation plans by explaining the conditions of each object as well as details about the Cooperative Program. Moreover, there was also a discussion on the possibility of future cooperation in the techniques of conservation of painting in each country such as an exhibition of techniques seen from ethnologic perspectives.
The traditional houses in the western region of Bhutan are built with earth rammed down into a formwork, a method called rammed earth construction. These houses have become a key element of the beautiful cultural landscape of the country with lush greenery. However, unlike religious and administrative buildings such as temples and castles, they are not protected legally as cultural heritage, and precious old houses are being lost rapidly due to natural disasters, modernization, and various other factors.
Since 2012, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been conducting architectural studies and research on buildings constructed in the rammed earth method jointly with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites, Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs in Bhutan. During the process, both sides became once again strongly aware of the value of old houses as cultural heritage and the urgency in their conservation. Therefore, on March 13th, 2018, we organized a workshop joined by Japanese and Bhutanese experts, persons in charge from the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement and local governments, and owners of traditional houses at the headquarters of the Department of Culture in Thimphu. We shared information about the survey outcomes including the chronology and the changing process of traditional house architecture, the legal framework for protection of cultural heritage in Bhutan, and how Japanese traditional houses are protected. We also exchanged opinions on specific traditional houses to be preserved and related future issues. We hear that soon after the workshop, a positive effect began to appear through a movement toward the preservation and utilization of important houses. We expect its great contribution to the consolidation of the legal system for cultural heritage, which has been stagnant in the country.
Right: Collection’s call label
The Library of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA, held a symposium on February 20th to commemorate the opening of the Yoshida Yoshie Collection―a collection of materials on Yoshida Yoshie donated to the library. Kikkawa from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties took this opportunity to visit the UCLA Library system’s sections and units related to special collections (archives). Accompanied by Tomoko Bialock, Japanese Studies Librarian of the university, Kikkawa made a tour of the East Asian Library (second floor of the Charles E. Young Research Library), Special Collections (basement of the same library building), Conservation Center (Powell Library), and the Southern Regional Library Facility. During the tour, Kikkawa met with specialists in charge of conservation treatments, creation of finding aids, digitization of individual items, and long-term preservations, who explained to him how to select, accept and conserve special collections and how to allow library users to access them, by using the Yoshida Yoshie Collection as a case study. He also discussed and exchanged information with each specialist about the situation surrounding special collections in Japan in the field of art. Through the tour of the UCLA Library, a library of one of the largest universities in the U.S., which accepts an enormous number of special collections in a variety of genres, including those on politicians, historians and literary figures, Kikkawa learned firsthand about its sophisticated system of accepting materials into special collections, and about the job specialization that allows each staff member to exercise his or her expertise. This visit provided him with an opportunity to realize once again the differences between the U.S. and Japan in terms of structural factors, including the arrangement of staff and the budget size allocated to special collections. A report of this visit will be presented and shared with relevant individuals and parties at a seminar to be held in May by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems.
Consultation and Lecture at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures in the UK
The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures in Norwich, UK is one of the hubs for the study of Japanese arts and cultures in Europe. The Sainsbury Institute and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties have been jointly engaged since 2013 in the Project to Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art. As part of the project, researchers of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems annually visit the Sainsbury Institute to offer consultation on the project and deliver a lecture. In the FY 2017, three researchers, Jun SHIOYA, Takuyo YASUNAGA, and Tomohiro OYAMADA, stayed in Norwich from February 13th through 16th, 2018 for that purpose.
As for consultation, we discussed the measures to be taken for the development of this project with Dr. Simon KANER, Head of the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage, and the staff members at the Sainsbury Institute, Mr. Akira HIRANO, Ms. Keiko NISHIOKA, and Ms. Miwako HAYASHI. Specifically, we talked about the English translation of the “Year Book of Japanese Art” (published annually by this Institute), improvement of the quality of basic information available on the names of Japanese writers included in the database, and so on.
On February 15th, a lecture by Jun SHIOYA was held at the Weston Room of Norwich Cathedral. This was organized as part of the monthly seminar for general audience held on the third Thursday by the Sainsbury Institute. A researcher from this Institute annually delivers a lecture there since 2014. Jun SHIOYA made a presentation titled “Respect, Curiosity and Taboo – Differing Visual Expressions of the Meiji Emperor,” which was interpreted by Dr. Kaner. Based on the book titled “Art History of the Imperial Court 6” (published by Yoshikawa Kobunkan), for which Jun SHIOYA served as a representative author, he discussed the development and the limits of the visual expressions of the emperor in modern Japan by introducing a discussion on the portraits of the Meiji Emperor by Ms. Keiko MASHINO. These portraits are placed in the book while referring to the lese majesty, which was believed to have been committed by a journalist named Gaikotsu MIYATAKE, and the caricature of the Meiji Emperor in Europe. The seminar attracted an audience of around 80 people, including researchers such as Mr. Toshio WATANABE, Emeritus Professor at University of the Arts London and Professor at the University of East Anglia, and Dr. Barak KUSHNER, Associate Professor at the University of Cambridge, in addition to regular local participants. During the Q&A session after the lecture, a lot of questions were asked by the participants, which indicated high interest in Japanese cultures in the UK.
Conservation and Restoration of the Outer Walls of Brick Temples and Studies of Mural Paintings in Bagan, Myanmar
From January 23rd to February 13th, 2018, we carried out conservation and restoration work on the outer walls of Me-taw-ya Temple (No.1205), a brick temple at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar, aiming primarily at protecting mural paintings from rain leaks. Our work during this mission focused on restoring the pinnacle’s of the temple damaged by the earthquake on August 24th, 2016, as well as conserving and restoring the stucco decorations left on the dome of pagoda. While in Bagan, we also held a workshop for young conservators at the request of the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar. In this workshop, we provided technical training on how to use restoration materials, with the aim of helping young conservators to better understand the characteristics and effects of each restoration material through actual restoration processes.
In addition, we conducted studies on art history, iconography and the evolution of mural painting techniques in Myanmar, Since we were finished, for the time being, with the studies on mural paintings from the 11th to 13th centuries, the prime of mural paintings, in our earlier missions, we left Bagan and headed to Phowintaung Cave and Kinmun Village near Monywa to study mural paintings from the 17th to 18th centuries, which can be described as the “revival period.” Through these field studies, we were able to gather a great deal of information.
On February 9th, we visited UNESCO Yangon Office, and explained what we, at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, have achieved so far through our conservation and restoration work as well as our studies of Me-taw-ya Temple. The officials at the Yangon Office highly commended us for our consistent project that focuses on the conservation of mural paintings and for our processes of promptly starting the restoration of earthquake-damaged areas. We and the UNESCO Yangon Office agreed to share information and develop a cooperative relationship from this point forward.
We have now completed the restoration work in the areas severely damaged by the earthquake. From fiscal 2018 onwards, we will gradually shift our focus from the restoration of the damaged areas to the project’s original purpose, which is the conservation and restoration of the outer walls to protect mural paintings from rain leaks. We will continue to work on developing effective policies for conserving and restoring the Bagan Archaeological Site through extensive discussion with local experts.
Conservation and Restoration of Contemporary Art ― Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
Although many people once had an image of gendai bijutsu (contemporary art) as being difficult to understand and tended to avoid it, it is now becoming familiar even to Japanese people as they start to refer to it as “gendai art,” which seems to sound more approachable. It has become normal for art museums to exhibit and store works of contemporary art. However, the materials and techniques used in contemporary art vary tremendously from one piece of work to another, and art museums are now finding it increasingly difficult to effectively conserve and restore them using their traditional expertise. To discuss such issues concerning the conservation and restoration of contemporary art, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a seminar on January 30th, featuring the following speakers: Ms. Ayako OGAWA, Project Researcher, The National Museum of Art, Osaka; and Mr. Yuichiro Taira, Project Associate Professor, Arts & Science LAB., Tokyo University of the Arts.
In her presentation titled “The Conservation and Restoration of Contemporary Art in Art Museums,” Ms. Ogawa addressed the issues facing art museums. The National Museum of Art, Osaka (NMAO), which she works for, actively collects and exhibits time-based media works (artworks that employ a temporal form of expression) including video recordings, installations, and performances, which do not simply fit into the framework of museums. Just days before this seminar, the exhibition Travelers: Stepping into the Unknown started at the NMAO (from January 21st to May 6th, 2018). Providing examples from this exhibition, including a work by Robert Rauschenberg and a performance-based work by Allora & Calzadilla, Ms. Ogawa outlined a range of tasks involved in hosting such artworks, from receiving to exhibiting.
Mr. Taira’s presentation was titled “Is Contemporary Art Such a Special Thing in the History of Art Conservation and Restoration?” and challenged the idea of how Western art and ancient Japanese cultural properties should be conserved or restored. The works of video art created from the 1960s to 1980s, most notably those of Nam June Paik, use cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors. Today, liquid crystal displays (LCDs) have become the dominant type of display, making it almost impossible to find a replacement CRT monitor. However, even if the material identity of the original work is lost after restoring it with an LCD instead of a CRT monitor, the core identity of the work, or its “DNA,” could be clearly communicated to the audience. Mr. Taira presented an argument from a broad perspective, even taking into account the ritual of Shikinen Sengu (a periodical transfer of god to a new shrine building) in Ise Shrine and other methods of passing down cultural properties that date back to ancient Japan. His argument extended beyond the topics of contemporary art and provided an opportunity for us to rethink how best to restore cultural properties, for which people have different approaches to inpainting, reworking, and hypothetical restoration depending on each property.
While most presentations delivered at the Department’s seminars usually cover topics related to art history, this particular seminar was devoted to the topics of conservation and restoration of art, which attracted many people from other departments. After the presentations, participants exchanged their views from different professional perspectives.
Contribution of “Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Art Bibliography in Japan” in OCLC
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties endeavors to collect and utilize literature and materials on fine arts. To transmit information globally through the Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC), the world’s largest online library service provider, the Institute has proceeded with the project through repeated consultations with OCLC Center, Kinokuniya Company Ltd., its agent in Japan. As a result, in January 2018, approximately 50,000 items of data from articles and papers included in the exhibition catalogs were entered as “Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Art Bibliography in Japan” in the OCLC Central Index, the world’s largest corporative bibliographic catalog database. This contribution has allowed users to access bibliographic data on exhibition catalog papers including “Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Art Bibliography in Japan” by inputting any key words such as artists and works on fine art through search services such as WorldCat.org (https://www.worldcat.org/) and Art Discovery Group Catalogue (https://artdiscovery.net/).
Published books and magazines can be accessed from general search engines or through library databases. However, articles and papers placed in exhibition catalogs that are highly specialized are not widely known. This time, reused data on articles and papers published in exhibition catalogs donated by art galleries and museums throughout Japan for the “Yearbook of Japanese Art” editing project that the Institute has been continually conducting since its early days, was provided. Although the function of accessing the entire text online from the search result directly has not been provided yet—an issue that needs to be solved—creating a possibility for discovery of any required materials for global internet users is of great significance. At this moment, the data accumulated from 1930 through 2013 were contributed, and the Institute will strengthen its information transmission by continually adding new data.
This achievement is the result of the “project to formulate the basic grounds for sending information on cultural assets centered on fine arts and crafts both domestically and internationally,” a joint project that has been conducted with the National Museum of Western Art since 2016.
Participation in the International Symposium “Cultural Heritage and Religion in East Asia” at Academia Sinica, Taiwan
The international symposium “Cultural Heritage and Religion in East Asia” was held at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, from January 8th to 9th, 2018. The participants at this symposium, co-hosted by Academia Sinica and The Australian National University, included specialists in cultural heritage studies from Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, the U.S., and the U.K. As a representative from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tomo ISHIMURA, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section, Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, was invited to present at the symposium. In his presentation titled “Intangible cultural heritage and the protection system related to religion in Japan,” ISHIMURA argued that the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties in Japan can cover some elements of intangible cultural heritage with religious associations, but not other elements, by citing the examples of the Shunie ceremony held at Todaiji Temple and the Yamahoko Junko parade held as part of the Gion Festival. As a commentator, a South Korean researcher reviewed ISHIMURA’s presentation from various perspectives, making reference to Japan’s postwar policy of separating religion from the state.
The main takeaway from this symposium was that many East Asian countries and regions recognize religion as an important element of intangible cultural heritage and that this notion is often reflected in their heritage protection and tourism policies. ISHIMURA also learned that this has both positive and negative aspects; while religious elements of heritage are protected under such policies, these elements can lose their original forms in the process of tourism or development.
In contrast, Japan does not, in principle, apply the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties to religious elements. In reality, however, while festivals celebrated primarily by religious bodies are not easily designated as cultural properties to be protected under this act, those celebrated primarily by local communities can be designated as cultural properties. It is, in fact, often difficult to separate religious and secular elements of actual festivals.
This symposium served as a valuable opportunity for us to reflect on what is considered “cultural heritage” in Japan, that is, what “cultural heritage” means in Japan, by comparing our country’s situation with examples of other countries.
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.
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
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”
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.