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


Study of “the original” (3): fundamental principles for the restoration of cultural propertie

 The Department of Research Programming holds workshops on the theme of “the original” in preparation for the International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property which it will host next fiscal year. In December discussion was held with Director General Suzuki Norio who has been engaged in the restoration of cultural properties for many years.
 Today, the fundamental principle for the restoration of cultural properties in Japan is to conduct the minimum necessary treatment without hindering the scientific, historical and aesthetic value of cultural properties and keeping in mind the maintenance of the present condition. However, the question as to where the focus should be placed with regard to the material or the form of cultural properties or on which point in the history of a given cultural property the appearance of that cultural property should be maintained is a matter that is closely related to the fundamental question of where the essential value of cultural properties lies. It is a matter for which a standard rule cannot be laid and which requires many important decisions to be made during restoration.
 What was of interest was the comment that in Japan people have a unique sensitivity and sense of value that find beauty in the changes that passage of time brings to cultural properties – what is often referred to as “ageing” – and hope to transmit it. There was much active discussion since such a way of looking at cultural properties, not merely looking at them in their original but also placing focus on the value brought about by history, has something in common with the idea of “the original” that we wish to propose in the Symposium.

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Workshop for the publication of A Study of Exhibits from Art Exhibitions of the Showa Era (Pre-World War II Volume)

A poster for the Proletarian Art Institute (around 1930)

 As a part of the research project “Comprehensive Research on Modern and Contemporary Art,” the Department of Research Programming is working toward the publication in fiscal year 2008 of A Study of Exhibits from Art Exhibitions of the Showa Era (Pre-World War II Volume), a collection of articles on art of pre-World War II Showa period. A workshop was held on December 27 in relation to this publication. Following is a list of presenters and the titles of their presentations.
 Kita Takaomi (Aizu Museum, Waseda University): “Yabe Tomoe and the Proletarian Art Movement – Focusing on the Proletarian Art Institute”
 Adachi Gen (Graduate School, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts): “’Akujo’ and War – The World of Comics by Ono Saseo”
 Shikida Hiroko (The University Art Museum, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts): “A Study of Minimal Residences in Japan during the First Half of the Showa Period – Designing Activities of the Keiji-kobo and Its Associates”
 As the presentations were made by young researchers, their contents that covered such challenging, not-yet well studied fields like proletarian art, comics and design were fresh innovative and stimulating. Although most of the presenters and participants were contributors to A Study of Exhibits from Art Exhibitions of the Showa Era (Pre-World War II Volume), close to 30 researchers participated and held heated discussions based on the presentations. There is no question that this workshop served as a good impetus for the publication.

Workshop of the Department of Research Programming

 The Department of Research Programming holds workshops every month to give interim reports on or to present a part of the results of its research projects. On Wednesday, December 26 (from 3 pm) Tsuda Tetsuei made a presentation entitled “On the Local Production of Buddhist Statues in the 12th Century” which is a part of the research project “Cross-Disciplinary Study of Art Materials and Techniques.”
 Until now the fact that there are not many differences in expression or techniques between Jocho-style Buddhist statues, the standard sitting style of Amitabha Tathagata, made in the cities and in local areas was attributed to skills of the Buddhist sculptors who made these statues. Instead, Tsuda attributed the lack of difference to the way in which theses statues were produced. He noted the existence of local officials who had bases of their activities in both cities and local areas and who moved between the two. By so doing, and by giving directions as to how statues were to be made, they acted as key persons in the production of Buddhist statues and raised the cultural level of the local areas to that of the cities. Based on such hypothesis, Tsuda examined the statue of Amitabha Tathagata at Jogon’in temple in Shiga prefecture whose original canopy, nimbus and pedestal remain and other similar statues in nearby temples. The presentation was followed by active exchange of opinion among the participants, including indication of places where further study seems appropriate.

2nd Public Lecture of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage: “Kamigata yosebayashi – Works of Hayashiya Tomi”

A scene from the public lecture

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held a public lecture on December 12, 2007 at the National Bunraku Theatre in Osaka. Hoping to choose a theme appropriate to Osaka, the place where the lecture would be held, it was decided to choose Hayashiya Tomi (1883-1970) who was designated in 1962 as a player of kamigata yosebayashi (music played in rakugo of the Kansai area), an intangible cultural property for which measures for documentation should be taken. Details of the program can be retrieved from the web site of the Institute (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/ich/public/lectures).
 If the public lectures given from the days of the former Department of Performing Arts are counted, this would have been the 38th one, but this is the first time that the lecture was held outside Tokyo. In the future we hope to hold such lectures throughout the country.

2nd Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

A scene from the Conference

 Last year the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held a conference to discuss issues related to the protection and transmission of intangible folk cultural properties. The second session of this conference was held on December 7, 2007 in the Seminar Hall of the Institute. The theme for the 2nd Conference was “Merger of municipalities and the protection of intangible cultural properties.” Among the many types of cultural properties, folk cultural properties are most likely to be influenced greatly by merger since they are transmitted and protected within the given region. Presentations were made by municipalities that have recently experienced merger and municipalities that have succeeded in using the merger for the protection of their intangible folk cultural properties. These presentations centered on such matters as the systematization of preservation activities and collaboration with school education and were followed by overall discussions. The content of this conference is scheduled to be published in March 2008.

High school students visit the Institute

 Many people from Japan and overseas visit the Institute to see its facilities. In recent years, visits by junior and senior high school students are increasing. In December, approximately 20 students each from the Shinagawa Joshi Gakuin High School and Masuda High School in Shimane prefecture visited the Institute. At the former conservation science section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques, Inuzuka explained the characteristics of stone and soil as well as the calculated temperature changes in the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus in order to determine the method for cooling its tumulus mound. Yoshida explained X-ray fluorescence analysis which is used for non-invasive analysis of colored materials and its application on research of paintings. Since the content of the explanation was applied scientific, it may have been a bit difficult for high school students. However, in today’s society where there is a trend away from science among the young, it is hoped that their experience at the Institute may have helped in making them see how such studies as physics, chemistry and biology are applied in the field of conservation.

Investigation of damages caused by fire and advice for restoration

Ebukuro Church, Shinkamigoto-machi, Nagasaki prefecture, before the fire
Ebukuro Church, Shinkamigoto-machi, Nagasaki prefecture, after the fire
Stained glass window damaged by fire

 On request from the Board of Education of Nagasaki prefecture, an on-site investigation was conducted of Ebukuro Church at Shinkamigoto-machi, which was damaged by fire in February 2007, and advice was given concerning its restoration. Ebukuro Church, a one-story, tile-roofed, wooden structure, was built in 1882 and is considered to be the oldest wooden church in Nagasaki prefecture. It stands on a steep mountain side overlooking the ocean. With its single-layer, modified hopped roof construction, it is also considered of value from the point of view of structure. However, the building was destroyed by fire, which was caused by a short circuit, in February, 2007. Rather than rebuilding the entire church, the local parishioners expressed their wish to save as much of the structural members that could be reused as possible. The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques conducted on-site investigation and gave advice on restoration, which included impregnation of synthetic resin to members that could be reused because of comparatively less serious damage.

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

Ms. Hou Jukun of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China looking at the results of works by the trainees
Photograph taken at the completion ceremony

 The “Paper Cultural Properties,” a training course in the program for capacity building that had been held at the China National Institute of Cultural Property in Beijing for three months has been completed. During the course a total of 12 experts from Japan served as lecturers for 196 hours. Particularly during the last 4 weeks 2 technical experts from The Association for Conservation of National Treasures conducted classes with Chinese experts and the trainees learned the techniques for restoring books and scrolls, although it was for a short period. On December 27, Ms. Hou Jukun of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China attended the course completion ceremony. A certificate of completion issued jointly by the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and China National Institute of Cultural Property was given to 12 trainees from 6 provinces along the Silk Road. This program will start the third year of its 5-year plan next spring. A course on ancient architecture is scheduled to be held in spring and a course on earthen heritage in autumn.

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Chinese experts visit Japan for training in the protection of stone cultural properties

Experiment with resin treatment

 The Conservation of Stone Statues at the Tomb of the Tang Dynasty Emperor in Shaanxi Province Project and the UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust Conservation of the Longmen Grottoes Project, in which the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo participates, will both be in their final year in 2008. Since both have for their target cultural properties made of the same material, limestone, until now workshops, on-site investigations and trainings in Japan have been held actively for members of both projects jointly. From November 19 to December 16, 2 experts each were invited to Japan from the Xi’an Center for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Relics and the Longmen Academy to receive training in such matters as the restoration of stone cultural properties, evaluation methods for the effects of application of water repellant material and environmental monitoring after restoration. The results of the training are expected to be put to use in the execution of restoration work that will be conducted in the last year of the projects.

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21st Conference on International Cooperation on Conservation

A scene from the conference

 21st Conference on International Cooperation on Conservation: “Monitoring after Conservation Work” was held on December 6, 2007 with an attendance of 93 persons. Three presentations were given: Nishiura Tadateru of Kokushikan University, “Importance of Monitoring for Conservation of Remains, and Its Problems”; Nahar Cahyandaru of Borobudur Heritage Conservation Office in Indonesia, “Monitoring of the Borobudur Post Restoration”; and Kim Sa-Dug of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea, “Long-term Plan for the Conservation of Seokguram Grotto.” The presentations were followed by discussions. Various monitoring methods used ad respective sites were introduced and information was shared among the participants. We were made to realize that in order to introduce these methods to other sites it is necessary to make wider appeals about the importance of monitoring.

Conservation training program for Iraqi experts (3)

The training of x-ray radiography for archaeological artifacts (at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)

 The conservation training program, “Restoration of the Laboratories of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad,” a UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust project for Iraqi conservators from the Iraq National Museum, Baghdad, which was held for 3 months, was completed on December 12. The trainees visited Saitama Cultural Deposits Research Corporation on November 13 and 14 to see its conservation laboratory of archaeological artifacts, exhibition and storage rooms and to participate in the conservation work of pottery. From November 19 to December 3, they participated in a training program on the use of various apparatuses used in conservation, such as x-ray radiography, at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. On December 10, they delivered a presentation on the current conditions of the Iraq National Museum, Baghdad, and local museums in Iraq, and their activities in the conservation laboratories as well as on the trainings in Japan. It is hoped that the 4 trainees will employ what they have acquired in the training to contribute to the conservation of cultural heritages

Visitors from Gansu Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and Gansu Provincial Museum

Visitors listening to the Director’s explanation at the Analytical Science Section

 Staff of Gansu Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and Gansu Provincial Museum, who were in Japan upon invitation from Akita Prefectural Museum, visited the facilities of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. After listening to explanations about the Institute from the Director of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques, they visited the Analytical Science Section of the Center and looked at the exhibit on the first floor lobby. They then met the Director of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation to exchange opinions.

Contribution of materials from the late Kuno Takeshi

 The family of the deceased Kuno Takeshi, researcher emeritus of the Institute who passed away in July 2007 at the age of 87, expressed their wish to contribute photographic materials and field notes from his research. These were transported to the Institute on November 7. Kuno studied the history of Japanese sculpture and conducted active field studies. The results of his studies have been published in numerous books such as the Collection of Buddhist Statues(Gakuseisha), which is a collection of photographs of Buddhist statues throughout Japan and the Study of the History of Japanese Buddhist Sculpture (Yoshikawa Kobunkan Inc.). Photographs connected with these publications amount to 6 filing cabinets with 4 drawers of B-4 size. Reports on his investigation exceed 300. These materials will be listed so that they may be made public.

Special exhibit: Kuroda Memorial Hall – Works of Kuroda Seiki II

Kuroda Memorial Hall - Works of Kuroda Seiki II
The exhibit

 To commemorate the re-establishment of the Independent Administrative Institution, National Institute for Cultural Heritage in April 2007, the second special exhibit of works in the collection of the Kuroda Memorial Hall was held at the Heisei-kan of the Tokyo National Museum from Tuesday, November 6 to Sunday, December 2. In this exhibit 22 works were exhibited, including those that Kuroda painted during his stay at Grez-sur-Loing, a farming village near Paris that he liked to visit when he was studying in France and 4 original illustrations, “Japanese Genre Scenes,” that were used for the essay “Femmes japonaises” written by Pierre Loti (1850 – 1923) in the October 1891 issue of Figaro Illustré. This is the first time for the October 1891 issue of Figaro Illustré and the “Japanese Genre Scenes” to be exhibited at the same time. It was a good opportunity to see concretely the image of Japan that Kuroda gave to the French society.

41st Public Lecture

November 2, Emura making a presentation entitled “Eyes and Hands of Korin”
November 3, Yamanashi making a presentation entitled “Yashiro Yukio and The Institute of Art Research”
Yamanashi also spoke about Kuroda Seiki, who was honored as the father of western paintings in modern Japan, and his works.
Kuroda Seiki, the father of western paintings in modern Japan, was also a central figure in the establishment of The Institute of Art Research
November 3, Arayashiki Toru making a presentation entitled “Kuroda Seiki’s French Experience: From the Artists’ Village Grez-sur-Loing to Kuroda Memorial Hall”

 As a part of the activity to disseminate the results of art historical study, the Institute holds a public lecture once a year for two days in autumn. Until last year, this lecture was hosted by the Department of Fine Arts, but with the change in the structure of the institution, the Department of Research Programming is in charge from this year. The 41st of the series of lectures was held on November 2 and 3.
 On Friday, November 2, Emura Tomoko and Nakabe Yoshitaka gave lectures on paintings of the pre-modern period, particularly on those of Rimpa School which are highly evaluated internationally. Emura in her “The Eyes and Hands of Korin” spoke about the expressions of Ogata Korin, focusing on his Flowering Plants of the Four Seasons (formerly in the Tsugaru Family collection, now in a private collection). Nakabe of The Museum Yamatobunkakan in his “Yashiro Yukio’s View on Rimpa School” spoke on the way works by artists of the Rimpa School were received and evaluated in the modern period by looking at this matter from the eyes of Yashiro Yukio, a researcher in the initial period of the study of art history in Japan.
 On Saturday, November 3, Yamanashi Emiko and Arayashiki Toru reported on the studies related to modern art and modern art history. Yamanashi in her “Yashiro Yukio and The Institute of Art Research” studied the ideal image, with concrete details, for The Institute of Art Research, the forerunner of the present Institute as conceived by Yashiro Yukio, who also became its first director when it was established in 1930. Arayashiki of Pola Museum of Art in his “Kuroda Seiki’s French Experience: From the Artists’ Village Grez-sur-Loing to Kuroda Memorial Hall” spoke in concrete terms about what Kuroda Seiki, the person who played an important role in the formation of the system of art in Japan and who was also a central figure in the establishment of The Institute of Art Research, gained through his experience during his study in France and particularly in his stay at Grez-sur-Loing outside Paris.
 It appears that interest in cultural properties is increasing year by year. We hope to continue to develop the study of fine arts and to communicate to people the abundant world of art.

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Special exhibit, “Kuroda Seiki in Photographs”

Portrait of Kuroda Seiki.,
Date unknown. 20.5 x 15.3cm

 A special exhibit entitled “Kuroda Seiki in Photographs” is being held at the exhibition room on the second floor of Kuroda Memorial Hall from November 15. At this exhibit a part of the 208 items, including photographs, donated to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo by Mr. Kaneko Mitsuo, a family member of the deceased Kuroda Teruko, the widow of Kuroda Seiki, is exhibited to the public. Although most of the materials donated are photographs that give information about the life of Kuroda Seiki, there are those that have not been made public until now. In that sense, they are valuable in providing information for a deeper understanding of the artist Kudora Seiki. Among them, 23 comparatively large photographs have been chosen. Since the original negatives of the donated photographs are already lost, prints of the original were used. The images have been reproduced to the original size while maintaining the texture of the original. This is a part of the results of a study in the development of techniques for the formation of digital images that is being executed for the purpose of the conservation and utilization of photographic materials. (Duration of the exhibit: November 15, 2007 to May 17, 2008)

Study of “the original” (2) – the question of authenticity

Hondo of the Shin’yakushiji temple in Nara (built in the Nara period)
(top) before the Meiji restoration (1897)
(bottom) today
During the restoration in 1897, the building in front of the Hondo was dismantled, causing debate about reproduction

 The Department of Research Programming holds workshops on “the original” in preparation for the International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property which it will host next fiscal year. In the November workshop emphasis was placed on architecture. Inaba Nobuko and Shimizu Shin’ichi of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation joined the discussions, the former on the 14th and the latter on the 21st. Unlike paintings and sculptures which are carefully conserved indoors, buildings are exposed to the elements or are necessarily subjected to repeated repairs and renovations because they are used as residences and facilities. In addition to such characteristic of buildings, that they are subject to change, the differences in the materials employed, be it wood or stone, call for different maintenance methods. This in turn creates differences in the concept for their conservation among different cultures in which different materials are prevalent. The question as to which form of a building in which period of its history and using what type of materials is to be handed down – in other words, the question of authenticity, is a topic for endless discussion.

Interim inspection of the paintings being restored under The Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas

 In The Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas, Japanese paintings in overseas collections are temporarily brought back to Japan for conservation. Every year, persons in charge from the collections concerned come to Japan to confirm the progress of restoration work and to select new mounting materials. Of the five items being restored this fiscal year, staff from three of the collections concerned visited the restoration studios with the persons from the Department of Research Programming who are in charge of the respective paintings.
 Following is a list of the visiting staff, their respective collections and the dates of their visit. Jennifer Price, Curator of Asian and Non-Western Art, Kimbell Museum (United States); October 16
Andrea Wise, Senior Conservator, National Gallery of Australia; October 26
Wynne Phelan, Chief Conservator, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and conservation assistant Tina Tan; November 13
 The restoration of these paintings will be completed by the end of March 2008. After being shown to the Administrative Committee of the Program, they will be opened to the public at the Tokyo National Museum.

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.

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