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


Investigation of the Hikone Screen

 The full-scale restoration of the Hikone Screen (collection of the Hikone Castle Museum), which took two years, was completed and the restored folding screen was exhibited to the public in a special exhibition held to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the construction of the castle. The Institute has held a joint investigation of the Hikone Screen with the Hikone Castle Museum from before the start of the restoration project. After the closing of the exhibition, photographs of the folding screen were taken and the condition of the surface that has been stabilized by restoration was investigated and documented by high-resolution digital images and near infrared images. A report on these results is in the final stage of editing for publication. New findings obtained through this investigation are expected to become valuable material not only for the study of the Hikone Screen but also for the study of the history of Japanese paintings as a whole.

Interview concerning hayashi music for ningyojoruri bunraku

 As part of the project entitled “Study of Conservation and Utilization of Intangible Cultural Properties,” the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted an interview, on November 12 at the dressing room of the National Bunraku Theatre (Osaka), of Tosha Shusaku and Mochizuki Tamekichi of the Mochizuki Tamekichi School that has been engaged in the performance of hayashi music for bunraku since 1963. Both gentlemen are veteran performers, Tosha Shusaku of the fue, mainly, and Mochizuki Tamekichi of instruments other than fue. They spoke about very interesting topics associated with hayashi music, a very important part of bunraku that supports it from behind the scenes and that has not been noted so much until now. These included the changes in hayashi music and matters related to the training the hayashi musicians undergo. We are grateful for their having spared the time in the midst of their busy schedule in order to speak to us.

Workshop, “Diagnosis of the Deterioration of Wooden Cultural Properties”

 As part of the study on countermeasures for the biological deterioration of cultural properties, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a workshop on November 19, 2007 at the Seminar Room of the Institute entitled “Diagnosis of the Deterioration of Wooden Cultural Properties.” Fujii Yoshihisa of Kyoto University spoke about the most recent techniques for diagnosis, giving concrete examples, under the title “Diagnosis of deterioration and maintenance of built cultural heritage – examples of diagnosis, countermeasures and future of diagnostic techniques.” Torigoe Toshiyuki of the Kyushu National Museum, in his presentation “A look at biological damage inside wooden sculptures – non-destructive diagnosis of deterioration by X-ray CT,” explained that CT is a very effective method for obtaining various information including detection of damage caused by insects to wooden sculptures. Finally, Tom Strang of the Canadian Conservation Institute spoke on “Examining concerns about heat treatments to control pests.” (Number of participants: 60)

Joint investigation in southeastern Korea – joint research between Japan and Korea

Conservation site of the Three-storied Pagoda of Gameunsa Site

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo conducts joint research with the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Korea to study the influence of environmental pollution on stone cultural properties and to develop restoration techniques. From November 20 to 24, Morii Masayuki and Chang Dae Suk (Tohoku University of Art and Design) investigated the present condition of the conservation of stone cultural properties, focusing on stone pagodas and stone Buddhas in southeastern Korea (Kyongju and Taegu).
 In Kyongju, investigations were made of stone pagodas including the Three-storied Pagoda of Gameunsa Site (a national treasure). This pagoda is made of tuff, which is unusual in Korea. It has been damaged much due to weathering and is being restored by dismantling by the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea. During this visit, we visited the restoration site and held discussions on restoration materials and techniques with Korean researchers. On the following day we moved to Taegu to visit the 2nd Seog-gul-am (a national treasure) where granite Buddhist statues are placed in a niche carved into a natural cliff. It has been decided that investigations will be made to clarify the mechanism of deterioration, including water leakage inside the niche and flaking of the surface of Buddhist sculptures, and that discussions will be held on conservation plans in the future.
 On November 23, we participated in the International Symposium on Conservation of Stone Cultural Properties held at the Kongju National University and spoke on the investigation that the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is conducting at Usuki Stone Buddha, a national treasure and an important historic site. We received questions and much advice from many researchers that will be of use in the future.

Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts

Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts (1)
Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts (2)

 During the conservation missions by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, within the framework of UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust, hundreds of small fragments of bark Buddhist manuscripts were found in 2003 from caves in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. They are quite invaluable as important historical witnesses of the Buddhism that once flourished in Bamiyan. The fragments are mostly as small as a few centimetres in width and length. Many are folded, making the texts illegible and creating much difficulty for the viewers. In that sense, they are not in a form that would allow displaying them to the general public.
 In November 2007, with the financial aid of the Sumitomo Foundation, 543 pieces (at initial counting) of the fragments of Bamiyan bark manuscripts were brought to Japan for conservation treatment. On this occasion, a local conservator from Kabul National Museum was also invited to the Institute, and arrived with the fragments, for conservation training. A number of fragments were safely flattened and mounted in special frames, and then returned to Afghanistan safely with the aid of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Japan.

Cooperation for the establishment of the Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM-CC) in Cairo

Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM-CC) under construction

 In cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been providing technical advice to the GEM-CC. In November and December, members of the Center visited the GEM-CC to discuss future strategies for the project. For the time being, the Center is providing necessary technical and machinery support prior to the grand opening of the GEM-CC (April 2008) after which time it will hold some training activities, such as workshops on particular subjects in conservation.

International Symposium for the Serial Nomination for the Silk Roads to the World Heritage

International Symposium for the Serial Nomination for the Silk Roads to the World Heritage

 On 30 and 31 October, 2007, an international symposium was organized by ICOMOS, UNESCO, Shaanxi Municipal People’s Government and Xi’an Municipal People’s Government. It aimed to introduce the cultural nature of the Silk Roads and to supply instruction and technical consultation for nomination of the Silk Roads to the World Heritage. The east end of this vast area targeted for this nomination was considered as Xi’an at this point; unfortunately, Nara was excluded from this Silk Roads in the nomination. From the side of Japan, it is considered quite essential to keep discussing, in the nomination process, the geographical and historical definitions of the Silk Roads.

Plenary Session of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor

 Plenary Session of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor was held at Siem Reap on November 28. 2007. Two meetings of the Committee are held annually. At the Technical Session, reports are made about the activities of various organizations engaged in the conservation and investigation of the site. The Plenary Session, however, is an occasion for holding more comprehensive discussions. At this meeting, oral presentations were limited to some of the large-scale projects. Most of the organizations submitted written reports of their activities and the proceedings of these reports were distributed.
 Although the target of this Committee is the Angkor Site, Preah Vihear site was frequently the topic of discussion at this meeting. This site is located on the border of Thailand and is an important site whose registration on next year’s World Heritage List is being considered. It has been recently decided that Thailand will cooperate in the preservation and maintenance of this site, and several other nations in the Committee are debating about setting up an International Co-ordinating Committee for this purpose. Under such circumstances nations concerned expressed their intent to participate. Although nothing concrete has been decided about Japan’s role, it is certain to be important and discussions will have to be made as to what can be done.

Attending the International Symposium of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies

Photograph with the major members of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies

 The International Symposium of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies was held on November 10 at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul. The theme of this symposium was “Dunhuang Studies.” Jacques Giès of Musée Guimet, Susan Whitfield of The British Library and Samosyu Kira of The State Hermitage Museum reported on the mural paintings of Dunhuang, study of the Dunhuang documents and archives; Li Zuixiong of Dunhuang Academy spoke about the conservation and scientific study of the Dunhuang mural paintings; Okada Ken of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation presented a report on the Japan-China cooperative activities for the conservation of the Dunhuang mural paintings. The meeting, thus, was an extremely significant one that comprehensively covered the Dunhuang studies and the activities of experts throughout the world on related projects. Although the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies is a relatively young association which was established 14 years ago, its members include researchers who have received degrees in Japan, China and the United States and are very positive in their approach to research Collaboration with Korea, as in other conferences like the 2007 International Symposium on Conservation of Cultural Heritage in East Asia, which was held at the beginning of November at the National Museum of Korea,and the Workshop for Paper Conservation in East Asia, which is held every year and is attended by experts from Japan, China and Korea, will increase in importance from all aspects of the study and protection of cultural heritage.

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“Paper Cultural Properties,” a training course in the program for capacity building along the Silk Road project

Practical guidance by Sakata Masayuki (The Association for Conservation of National Treasures)

 In the capacity building program held at the China National Institute of Cultural Property in Beijing, the participants began to attend classes on practical training from November. They studied under the guidance of Japanese and Chinese experts. Classes on the methods of conservation and storage of documents using recently developed neutral paper were quite unexpected but interesting for students who had expected a more restoration oriented training. Since there is some difference in the traditional restoration techniques of Japan and China, Japanese experts are continually faced with the question of how they can contribute to the conservation of “Chinese paper cultural properties.” However, rather than merely giving guidance to students, promotion of exchange of techniques between experts of the two countries is expected through such efforts.

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Visitors from the Henan Province Cultural Relics Bureau, China

Members of the Henan Province Cultural Relics Bureau looking at the exhibit

 On October 23, 5 members of the Henan Province Cultural Relics Bureau, who were in Japan on invitation from the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, visited the Institute to see its facilities and to exchange opinions. After receiving explanations about the profile of the Institute and projects for international cooperation from the Director of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, the group visited the Analytical Science Section and the Restoration Studio as well as the Radiography Lab of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques and saw the exhibit of materials on the Kitora Tumulus displayed in the lobby on the first floor. The Director of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques and persons in charge of the different facilities provided explanations and answered questions.

Students from Yasuda Gakuen Junior High School and High School in Sumida-ku visit the Institute

Students listening to explanations by a person in charge in the Restoration Studio

 On October 19, 10 students from Yasuda Gakuen Junior High School and High School in Sumida-ku visited the Institute as part of their study theme, “learning about the traditions of Japan.” They visited the Analytical Science Section and the Restoration Studio of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques and saw the exhibit of materials on the Kitora Tumulus displayed in the lobby on the first floor. After listening to explanations by persons in charge and having their questions answered, the group visited the Kuroda Memorial Hall where they also listened to explanations and had their questions answered by a person in charge.

Panel exhibition of the optical investigation of Hikone Byobu

Exhibition of the restored Hikone Byobu
Large panels introducing a part of the results of optical investigation

 Since the previous fiscal year, the Institute has been conducting a joint investigation and research of the national treasure Hikone Byobu with the Hikone Castle Museum. For over 100 years, this painting had been disassembled and mounted as six separate panels. Moreover, there were stains and the pigment layer was progressively flaking. Due to these reasons, two years were spent in conducting full-scale restoration as a part of the System for Protecting Cultural Properties and under the guidance of the Agency for Cultural Affairs. As a result, the painting was remounted as a folding screen. Since the restoration has been completed successfully, an exhibition of the restored folding screen was held as a part of the memorial project for the 400th anniversary of the construction of Hikone Castle. Part of the results of optical investigation conducted on this painting was also introduced in large panels during the exhibition, which was held from September 28 to October 26. Detailed images that allow one to observe the delicate and microscopic expressions brought about by extremely outstanding painting skills as well as directions for colors and under-drawings invisible to the naked eye attracted many visitors and were well-received by them. Presently, a report on the results of the investigation is being prepared for publication by the end of this fiscal year.

Study of “the original” (1)

Paul Pelliot, a French scholar on Sinology, investigating the Dunhuang documents (1908)
There were not many researchers like Pelliot who investigated the documents in the caves where they were actually discovered.

 Preparations are being made now at the Department of Research Programming for the International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property that the Department will hold next fiscal year. After repeated discussions among members of the Department concerning the theme for this Symposium, it has been decided to look at cultural properties again with “the original” as the key word. For instance, although in the world of cultural properties “the original” is always an object of admiration, as is evident in activities related with reproduction, people’s understanding of what “the original” means varies from time to time and region to region. In such circumstances, we hope to tackle the question of how we are to transmit cultural properties to others, especially from the point of view of cultural archives with which the Department is concerned.
 As a result of five discussions held before establishing the theme, it was decided to hold workshops on matters associated with “the original.” The first meeting was held on September 26 and Nakano Teruo (Department of Research Programming) presented a case study on the authenticity of documents on Dunhuang. These documents were found stacked in big piles at the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in 1900 but were later taken out of China repeatedly by adventurers and researchers from abroad. For this reason there are confusions concerning these documents, including the question of their authenticity. The group then held discussions on Dunhuang studies with Kato Masato of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques serving as a commentator. On October 3, the group discussed the differences in the concept of “the original” between tangible and intangible cultural properties, focusing on bunraku and other classic performing arts, with Ijima Mitsuru of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. In this discussion it was confirmed that in the case of intangible cultural properties the “original” is a matter that cannot be ignored in transmitting cultural properties for there is always the question of what is “the original” – is the way of the first performance in past history “the original” or is each performance considered “the original”? We hope to hold workshops on this theme from time to time and to develop them into the International Symposium next year.

Conference on The Tale of the “Lakeside,” a project report

Lakeside by Kuroda Seiki

 This fiscal year the Department plans to publish a report on the results of multi-faceted research on Kuroda Seiki’s Lakeside (Important Cultural Property, 1897, oil on canvas) as part of the Department’s research project “Research on Materials for the Study of East Asian Art.” With this purpose in view, 6 experts from outside the Institute were invited on October 12 to a conference that was held to present an interim report. Presentations were made on topics related to this widely known painting, such as the background for its creation, history of its evaluation, history of the actual creation of the painting and the present condition of the painting, followed by active discussions. Much is expected of such in-depth and multi-faceted research on one work.

Investigation of the 49th Kinki, Tokai, Hokuriku District Folk Performing Arts Festival

Ise Daikagura (Kuwana, Mie prefecture)

 Investigation was made of the 49th Kinki, Tokai, Hokuriku District Folk Performing Arts Festival that was held on October 28 at the Kamitonda Cultural Hall in Kamitonda-cho, Wakayama prefecture. This was one of the many investigations of folk performing arts festivals that are held every year in various parts of the country that the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducts from time to time. This year the operation of this festival had been reviewed and it was decided that the district would be divided into two and the prefectures in each sub-block would participate in the festival in alternating years. This year 8 groups from 6 prefectures participated. Since this was the first year in the new way, people were interested in how the festival would be operated. Fortunately, there was full-house attendance and comparatively sufficient performance time was secured in comparison with last year. Thus, the festival was confirmed to have been a success.

Post-Seminar Course for Museum Curators

A scene from the Post-Seminar Course

 The Post-Seminar Course for Museum Curators is held once a year to curators who have completed the Seminar Course for Museum Curators that is held for two weeks every July in order to give them information about the most recent conservation techniques. This year, it was held on October 29 and 62 of the approximately 540 people who completed the past 24 Seminar Courses participated. During the Post-Seminar Course, 3 participants were asked to speak on the results of their respective museum’s work to improve the museum environment that was conducted in cooperation with the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. Two researchers of the Institute provided supplemental comments and explanations. For the participants this was one of the few opportunities to learn about the actual situation at other museums. They listened with much interest, overlapping what they heard with their own work, and actively took part in discussions and exchange of opinions. For us, too, it was a joy to realize that the Seminar Course for Museum Curators and other activities of the Institute have born fruit. We hope to continue to communicate information related to the conservation environment.

Workshop on the joint research between Japan and Korea, 2007

Investigation of the Gorinto pagoda at Taimadera temple(Nara prefecture)

 The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Technique of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties holds a joint research on the effect of environmental pollution on cultural properties and development of conservation techniques with the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea. In this research, investigation is made of stone cultural properties, particularly on the conservation of stone Buddhas. As a part of the project, a workshop is held once every year in alternating locations so that researchers may be able to discuss their investigation more closely.
 This year, the workshop was held on Thursday, October 13 in the conference room on the basement floor of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. Researchers were invited from Korea and gave lectures on such topics as the diagnosis of deterioration and conservation environment of stone cultural properties and case studies on the removal of graffiti. Meaningful discussions were held by everyone on the conservation of stone cultural properties.
 Following the workshop, all the participants visited the Kansai district to investigate the conservation condition of stone cultural properties and their surrounding environment. In spite of the bad weather, we were able to investigate and discuss many stone cultural properties within the limited time allowed. We hope to continue this type of joint research in the future and that we may be able to hold deeper exchange of research between Japan and Korea.

Conservation training program for Iraqi experts (2)

Cleaning an object after vacuum freeze drying method

 The four Iraq experts who arrived on 19 September, 2007 received several basic lectures on conservation science and practical training on conservation of wooden objects at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. They stayed in Tokyo from the end of September to the end of October and joined the practical training of conservation for waterlogged wooden objects from 29 October to 9 November at Shizuoka Research Institute for Buried Cultural Heritage.
 At Shizuoka, the Iraqi experts experienced lifting fragile wooden objects during archaeological excavations at Sumpu site. They also studied conservation methods such as stabilization using PEG and vacuum freeze-dry method, cleaning, adhesion, and filling at the Shimizu Office of the Shizuoka Research Institute for Buried Cultural Heritage.
 They will receive practical training on using various conservation equipments at the Institute in Nara. At the end of this training program, they will conduct a presentation of their works on 10 December, 2007 in Tokyo.

The third mission of Japan-Indonesia Cooperation Safeguarding Project of Prambanan World Heritage Site, a part of the“Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage” of the Agency for Cultural Affairs

Investigation in the upper part of Garuda Temple where dismantling has started
Members of the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, and the Archaeological Heritage Preservation Office Yogyakarta

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation cooperates in the project to support the rehabilitation of the Prambanan Temple Compounds, a World Heritage Site, that was damaged in the earthquake which struck central Java on May 27, 2006. With the completion of the construction of the scaffolding for Garuda Temple, undertaken by Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects fund of Japan, the third mission was dispatched from October 22 to November 4, 2007. In this mission investigation centered on Garuda Temple, whose partial dismantlement has begun. In addition to checking the condition of damage of the upper part of the temple and the inner structure, documents related to past restorations were collected and studied, and interviews were held. Hangsa Temple, which is similar in structure to Garuda Temple, was chosen and monitoring by seismometer was started to elucidate the dynamic characteristics of the structure. These investigations were undertaken with the cooperation of the Archaeological Heritage Preservation Office Yogyakarta and Gadjah Mada University.
 Now geometrically modified images of each of the sides of the temple are used to indicate the condition of damage of each stone, the method of restoration and areas of dismantlement in order to prepare a detailed plan for restoration that is within a standard which will make the estimation of the cost possible. Methods for structural reinforcement based on the results of analysis of the structural characteristics of the temple will be examined and a plan for restoration will be made during this fiscal year.

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