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

On-site Investigation for The Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas

Investigation at Ashmolean Museum

 In The Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas Japanese art objects in collections at museums overseas are temporarily brought back to Japan, restored and returned to their respective owners. By restoring such objects it becomes possible to increase opportunities for their exhibition and utilization and thereby deepen understanding about Japanese culture. In addition, the project provides an opportunity for people overseas to understand the Japanese conservation methods and policies.
 Researchers visited Italy (2 museums: Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale and Museo d’Arte Orientale “Edoardo Chiosonne”) and England (2 museums: Victoria and Albert Museum and Ashmolean Museum) from July 3 to 14 to select candidate paintings. Investigation was made from such aspects as art history and restoration techniques and materials. As for craft work, Takeuchi Namiko and Inokuma Kaneki, associate curators of the Tokyo National Museum, joined researchers from the Institute to conduct investigation in England ((2 museums: Victoria and Albert Museum and Ashmolean Museum) and the Czech Republic (1 museum and 3 castles: Moravian Gallery, Velké Mezirící, Vranov nad Dyjf and Lednice Castle). From these investigations, a list was made of objects that will be restored in Japan and of those that may be restored at Cologne. These objects will be restored in future projects so that they may be exhibited again.

The 16th Technical Committee of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC)

Banteai Srey site visited by many tourists

 The 16th Technical Committee of the ICC was held at Siem Reap, Cambodia on July 5 and 6. This meeting serves as an opportunity for various organizations involved in the protection of the Angkor monuments to present reports on their work. The Institute presented the results of studies to identify the microorganisms growing on the stones of Ta Nei site and to discuss the difference in the percentage of the uncovered sky (crown density) and the amount of microorganisms on the walls.
 One of the themes discussed at this meeting was “sustainable development.” As the number of tourists from outside Cambodia exceeded 670,000 in 2005, appropriate procurement of tour routes and facilities is an issue to be considered not only for the protection of the sites but also for the safety of the tourists. Pollution of the Siem Reap River due to the lack of a proper sewage system and disposal of garbage has been reported. These are problems that arise when too much attention is given only to tourism, and the indispensability of international cooperation from nations that have much experience in this field was felt.

The 8th mission of the “Safeguarding of the Bamiyan Site” project

Conservation work at Cave I

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been conducting the “Safeguarding of the Bamiyan Site” project with the Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan since 2003. This year, the 8th mission of this project was dispatched from June 9 to July 15. In this mission, joint researches with other organizations were conducted in addition to the conservation of mural paintings and archaeological investigation.
 For the conservation of mural paintings, previously executed work was continued at Caves I and N(a). At Cave I, mural paintings at risk of becoming detached were reinforced with grouting and edging. Conservation intervention on the mural paintings at Cave I was successfully completed with this mission. At Cave N(a), the mural paintings were reinforced in preparation for the removal of the soot-like black deposits on the surface of the mural paintings that is scheduled to be executed in the next mission.
 For archaeological investigation, soundings and survey were conducted in order to determine the extent of the sites requiring protection. Archaeological soundings were carried out at several places of the Bamiyan Valley and a wall possibly dating back to the Buddhist period was found at one of soundings. Surrounding valleys of Bamiyan were surveyed in an attempt to locate unknown sites, and several tombs and castles were revealed These archaeological surveys are important in understanding the Bamiyan sites, of which the Buddhist period tends to attract most attention, in the light of history that continues to the present.
 Joint researches were conducted with Kanazawa University, Oyo Corporation and Pasco Corporation on the study of Islamic ceramics, geological investigation and measurement of the caves, respectively. These collaborative researches will be continued and are expected to provide necessary and indispensable information and viewpoints for the protection of the Bamiyan Sites.

Visit of four staff members of the Shanghai Museum

Four staff members of the Shanghai Museum during their visit to the Institute

 On Friday, July 22 four members of the staff of the Shanghai Museum visited the Institute. They were in Japan to conduct investigation in relation to the establishment of new laboratories at the Shanghai Museum. After meeting with the Director General, they were led on a tour of the various laboratories within the Institute by him.

Self-evaluation for the fiscal year 2006

 The National Research Institutes for Cultural Properties in Tokyo and Nara conduct self-evaluation of their work based on their 5-year plan and annual plan. The results of this self-evaluation are reflected on their projects to improve the administration of both Institutes. Self-evaluation for the fiscal year 2006 was recently completed and its report is being printed now.
 The number of items related to research and projects in 2006 totaled 89: 1 for improving managerial efficiency, 40 for the Institute in Tokyo and 48 for the Institute in Nara. This number is less than that in the previous year since in this period of the 5-year plan research and projects from previous fiscal years were reconsidered, adjusted and integrated. As usual, each of the Departments and Centers of both Institutes prepared its record of performance and self-evaluation form. On May 17 and 24, the Evaluation Committee studied these and presented their comments. From this year all the Departments and Centers at the Institutes presented reports of all their projects to the Committee. Moreover, rather than evaluating project by project, the Committee was asked to present a comprehensive evaluation of the activities of the Institutes as a whole along a list of pre-established evaluation items. Taking into account the evaluation and comments made by the Committee, a summation of the self-evaluation was made. It was confirmed that all the projects had proceeded well and that the initial aims of the projects had been achieved. As for future issues, it was decided that there is a need to actively incorporate funds from outside sources, install large research apparatuses and improve our facilities.
 The gist of the results of self-evaluation was reported to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

In-house Research Seminars for 2007

National Treasures which are at a 20% or greater risk of being subjected to inland intraplate earthquake with JMA seismic intensity of 5+ or higher within the next 50 years
(○ = architectures  △ = those fine arts and craftworks indicated in red
Red and green lines indicate positions of inland active fault.)
(from presentation material for “Construction of GIS Database of Cultural Properties and Earthquake Hazard Assessment” by FUTAGAMI Yoko)

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo holds in-house research seminars. During these seminars, researchers of the Departments and Centers in the Institute present the results of their research projects along topics they themselves have established, and all the researchers in the Institute are given opportunities to freely discuss their thoughts.
 The first In-house Research Seminar was held on Tuesday, June 5. Futagami Yoko of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation presented her project entitled “Construction of GIS Database of Cultural Properties and Earthquake Hazard Assessment” in which she discussed the importance of using GIS as disaster prevention measures for cultural properties.
 The schedule for forthcoming seminars is as follows:
2nd Seminar July 10, 2007
“Study of Sotan”
(WATADA Minoru, Department of Research Programming)
3rd Seminar Oct. 2, 2007
“Development of New X-ray Detectors for Cultural Properties”(tentative title)
(INUZAKA Masahide, Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques)
4th Seminar Dec. 4, 2007
“Shelters for Buddha Images Carved on Rock Surfaces”(tentative title)
(MORII Masayuki, Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques)
5th Seminar Jan. 8, 2008
“A Study on the Iconography of Buddhist Art”(tentative title)
(KATSUKI Gen’ichiro, Department of Research Programming)
6th Seminar Feb. 12, 2008
“Ningyo Joruri Bunraku”(tentative title)
(KAMAKURA Keiko, Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage)
7th Seminar Mar. 4, 2008
(MIURA Sadatoshi, Deputy Director General)
 (Dates and contents are subject to change)

The study of a hollow dry lacquer Standing Figure of a Bodhisattva

Standing Figure of a Bodhisattva, private collection

  As a part of the Cross-Disciplinary Study of Art Materials and Techniques, a research project being undertaken by the Department of Research Programming, a hollow dry lacquer Figure of a Standing Bodhisattva (private collection in Tokyo) was investigated on Thursday, June 21. In hollow dry lacquer technique used for a Buddha statue, a clay mold is first made. Then hemp cloth is pasted to the surface of the mold after which the clay is removed from the mold to make a hollow. Finally an over-layering of lacquer stiffened with plant fibers is applied to the surface of the hemp cloth. As is already known, the manufacture of Buddha statues using this technique was popular in Japan during the Tempyo period (8th century), but there are very few existing examples today. In such a circumstance, this Bodhisattva figure is an example whose existence was not known until recently Although there are traces of gold foil applied with lacquer on its surface, which is thought to have been done after the figure was made, and traces of repair on damaged parts, the condition of its preservation is comparatively good. It is also to be noted that the figure has been transmitted in an almost complete form. From the expression of the precious chignon and the form of the face, it appears that the figure was manufactured either at the end of the 8th century or the beginning of the 9th century. However, as is the case with the investigation of hollow dry lacquer figures, it is true that a visual observation of the surface does not provide enough information as to how many layers of hemp cloth had been applied or to what degree restoration and later additions had been made. We hope to conduct X-ray photography of this figure, with the permission of the owner, in order to study the materials and techniques used so that we may better understand it.

Study of geihoku kagura

A scene from a regular performance at Kagura Dome

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage is engaged in studies related to the conservation and utilization of intangible folk cultural properties of Japan. As an example of research associated with the actual transmission of folk performing arts and their performances, an on-site investigation was made into the activities of kagura Monzen Toji Mura at Midoricho, Akitakata-shi, Hiroshima prefecture. Midoricho (formerly Midoricho, Takata-gun, Hiroshima prefecture) is known for geihoku kagura, a type of kagura that has been transmitted in the northwestern area of Hiroshima prefecture. Presently there are 13 kagura troupes that are active, and some of their repertories and groups are designated intangible folk cultural properties of Hiroshima prefecture. However, the reason that this type of kagura is well known today is because the repertories called shinmai, which was created after the War and which incorporates new tastes, has become firmly established among the people of the area as a form of entertainment. kagura Monzen Toji Mura is a facility for relaxation and entertainment that was opened to the public at Midoricho in 1998. This and the kagura Dome, a theater especially for kagura with a capacity of 3000 people, function as symbols for the popularity of this new type of kagura.
 At kagura Dome regular performances are held every Sunday and on national holidays by kagura troupes of Midoricho. In addition, on Saturdays open rehearsals are held at Kamukura Theater, an indoor stage attached to the facility as are various kinds of kagura competitions, such as the Hiroshima kagura Grand Prix. These performances are attended by people from not only Hiroshima but also other prefectures. Moreover, since the theater is opened to the public as a place that can be used regularly for the practice of kagura and since opportunities for performances are guaranteed throughout the year, for the kagura troupes of Midoricho it serves as a site for transmitting kagura. Since many of the audience are residents of neighboring districts, it may be said that this is a facility that is firmly rooted in the area.
 Although kagura of this nature, the purpose of which performance is entertainment, may be thought to be rather new, it has been reported that kagura and bon-odori competitions have been held in areas around Hiroshima prefecture from before the War. The oldest competition that is still being held today dates to 1947 and has a history of over 50 years. In addition to popular shinmai, competitions are also held in the skills of kyumai, the traditional repertories. Thus the fact that these events support the transmission and vitalization of traditional repertories cannot be overlooked. The popularity of “kagura as entertainment” as found in Midoricho is spreading to neighboring Shimane and Okayama prefectures today.
 Of course, some issues have been pointed out for consideration, such as economic stabilization, apprehension concerning changes in the nature of kagura and the question as to whether major performing groups should be limited to kagura troupes of Midoricho or not. However, it is also a fact that such a phenomenon is effective in the transmission of culture and the formation of the identity of a given area. It may be said that this phenomenon is a very interesting example of the transmission of folk performing arts in today’s world.

Conservation of the wall paintings of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, a National Treasure

Facing the first stone of the east wall (Group of Male Figures)
Removing the facing from the second stone of the east wall (Seiryu, the blue dragon)

 With the dismantling and transporting of the first stone of the west wall on which is drawn a painting known as “Group of Male Figures” to the Temporary Restoration Facility on June 26, the dismantling of the stone chamber of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus that started in April 2007 has been completed with the exception of the floor stone. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is engaged in the work of conserving the wall paintings of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, including the restoration of the paintings, biological investigation and environmental control.
 The following sections of the stone chamber were dismantled and transported (in order): June 7th – the second stone of the east wall (Seiryu, the blue dragon); 14th – the second stone of the west wall (Byakko, the white tiger); 15th – south wall; 22nd – the first stone of the east wall (Group of Male Figures); and 26th – the first stone of the west wall (Group of Male Figures). The restoration team removed the plaster that covered the spaces between the stones and applied synthetic paper to the surface of the paintings in order to transport them safely. Materials needed as well as the timing for doing this work was carefully considered so as to reduce the risk of fungal growth. Moreover, every time a stone was taken out, the biology team investigated the microorganisms within the tumulus. As the stone chamber was dismantled piece by piece the environment team covered what was still left of the chamber with insulation in order to keep the humidity around the paintings stable.
 Stones taken into the Temporary Restoration Facility will undergo photographing, sampling and cleaning. They will then be taken into the restoration workroom. After the facing on the surface is removed, the condition of the wall paintings will be observed and recorded in order to collect information necessary for the restoration of the wall paintings which will be conducted over a long period of time.

Expert meeting for the rehabilitation of the Prambanan Temple Compounds in Indonesia

Candi Garuda, Prambanan Temple

 The investigation team that was dispatched last year conducted basic investigation of the Prambanan Temple Compounds, a World Heritage, which was destroyed by the earthquake that shook the Island of Java on May 27, 2006. The investigation included a survey of the condition of damage, history of restoration, ground property, vibration character of the structures and other issues. At a meeting of experts that was held at the site on June 29 and 30, 2007 the results of investigation, including that of the foundation and structures conducted by the Indonesian side, were discussed comprehensively. Based on this, fundamental ideas regarding the policy of restoration, including a partial dismantlement, and work procedures were decided. In addition, investigation items necessary to actually carry out restoration were discussed.
 Japan’s technical cooperation will consist of providing necessary support for drawing restoration plans, within this fiscal year, for the Prambanan Temple, which holds a central position within the entire compound and whose early re-opening to the public is desired. In concrete terms, a seismograph will be installed to elucidate the vibration character of the structure and thereby propose necessary methods for structural reinforcement. In addition, orthographic images will be made and the condition of damage of each stone, method of restoration and areas of dismantlement will be indicated on them in order to prepare a detailed plan for restoration that will make an estimation of the cost possible. For this purpose, another on-site investigation is scheduled to be made after September.

Donations received

Director General Suzuki receiving donations from Director Shimojo and President Asaki From left to right: Vice Director Yoshida and Director Shimojo of the Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association, President Asaki of the Tokyo Bijutsu Club, Director General Suzuki of the Institute, Director Nagai of the Department of Management, and Goto

 Offers of donation were made to the Institute from the Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association to fund its projects to publish the results of investigation and studies concerning cultural properties and from the Tokyo Bijutsu Club to fund research projects of the Institute.
 The Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association has donated 1,000,000 every spring and autumn since the autumn of 2001 and this is the twelfth time. The Tokyo Bijutsu Club donated 1,000,000 last autumn and this is the second donation.
 On May 28, Director General Suzuki received the donations from Director Shimojo Kei’ichi of the Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association and President Asaki Masakatsu of the Tokyo Bijutsu Club at the Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association in Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo. The ceremony was followed by an informal meeting to discuss matters related to cultural projects such as the conservation of cultural properties and the exhibition of art objects.
 We greatly appreciate the understanding that has been shown to us about the projects undertaken by the Institute and wish to make use of these donations for the promotion of our projects.

Editing the report on the investigation of Hikone Byobu, a National Treasure

 Fuzokuzu, better known as Hikone Byobu since it was transmitted in the Ii family of Hikone, is rich with its composition that provides a narrative sense and the minute descriptions found in the figures and furnitures depicted. However, not much is known about the artist or the background for its creation. In addition, several interpretations have been made as to the fact that, the six pieces that constitute the folding screen have been passed down separately even though it is called a byobu (folding screen). As this screen will be restored over a period of 2 years from fiscal year 2006 as a project subsidized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Shiga prefecture, an investigation of the screen was conducted by the Hikone Castle Museum and the Institute. High-resolution digital images, infrared and photo-luminescence images were taken, and X-ray fluorescence analysis was made. Presently, we are editing the report on the results of our investigation that is scheduled to be published on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition “The National Treasure The Hikone Screen and the Refined Beauty of Koto Ware,” which will be held at the Hikone Castle Museum from September 28 to October 26. High-resolution images will be exhibited and a symposium will be held during this exhibition. In addition, the processes of restoration and points that have been elucidated through our investigation will be made public along with the restored screen.

A study on Yashiro Yukio’s view of Asian art

A photograph taken during a field trip to China by Yashiro Yukio and his team in 1940. It is clear that at that time there was an advertisement for Jintan on a gate in Beijing.
Yashiro Yukio (right) and Odaka Sennosuke in the early days of The Institute for Art Research. On advice from Yashiro, Odaka pursued the study of East Asian art and made field studies throughout Asia in the 1930s. (from Naki Sennosuke wo Shinobu)

 A meeting of The Japan Art History Society was held for three days, from May 25 to 27, at the Kyushu University, Kyushu National Museum and Chikushi Jogakuen University. On the first day I presented a paper entitled “An Aspect of Modernism in Asia as Seen from the Trademark for Jintan.”
 The name Jintan in the title, of course, is a trade name; it is a product that is still being sold on market (Originally, it was sold as a portable medicine for all purpose and from the 1920 as a breath care product. It is now sold as a non-medical product.) From the time of its first sale in 1905, the image of a the name Jintan on the breast of a gentleman with a beard in full regalia has been known throughout the nation by means of advertisement on newspapers and billboards as a trademark for this product. Moreover, from the very beginning there was an attempt to expand its market not just domestically but also to mainland China, which shares the same kanji culture. As a result, but the end of the Second World War the company had branches throughout Asia and were engaged in advertising activities in different districts that were no less active than in Japan. Thus, in my presentation I explained, through the visual image presented by the advertisement for Jintan, how the company tried to present its product and how, on the other hand, people of Asia viewed this product. By selecting this topic as an aspect, I discussed the issues related to the study of art history and administration associated with fine arts from the 1910s to the 1930s from the point of view of “modernism in Asia.”
 In my presentation, I placed focus on the study of Asian art that Yashiro Yukio (the director of The Institute of Art Research, the forerunner of this Institute, in its early years), Odaka Sennosuke (1901-33; a researcher in the Institute) and others conceived and the investigations that they conducted in different areas. The reason for doing so was that since one can already find a Jintan advertisement in the photographs taken by these researchers I thought that it is possible to verify, in the overlap of pre-War economic activities and studies on the humanities, the concept of “Asia” that the Japanese had at that time. For this presentation, I consulted the 75th Year of the History of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (tentative title), which will be published during this fiscal year, and the collection of research on Odaka Sennosuke, who is now being re-evaluated as a researcher of Asian Buddhist art. From this point, my presentation was not merely a presentation of a private study but also a report on one of the present circumstances concerning this Institute’s research on “art history.”

Opening of the Special Exhibit: Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas and restoration plan for fiscal year

Exhibition of screens restored
Panel exhibitions showing the process of restoration

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is engaged in the cooperation of the conservation of Japanese art objects that are in the collection of art galleries and museums overseas and in conducting joint research concerning conservation of such objects with their respective institutions. On April 20, 5 paintings and 1 craftwork whose restoration was complete at the end of March 2006 were introduced to the Administrative Committee of the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas. In addition, a special exhibition was held from May 15 to 27 at the Thematic Exhibition Room on the first floor of Heiseikan of the Tokyo National Museum so that this project may be more widely known. These objects are: Struggles of Genji and Heike Clans (a pair of folding screens; Osterreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Austria), Screens Illustrating Views of Kyoto and its Environs (a pair of folding screens; Royal Ontario Museum, Canada), Scenes from the Hogen Monogatari Tales (a folding screen; Naprstk Museum, Czech Republic), Meikocho (a folding screen; National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic), Female Ghost (by Utagawa Toyoharu, a hanging scroll; ibid) and Makie Decoration Cabinet with Landscape and Human (Museo National de Artes Decorativas, Spain).
 In fiscal year 2007, 5 paintings (4 new ones and 1 whose restoration will be continued from last year) and 4 craftworks (2 new ones and 2 which will be continued from last year) are being restored in Japan. These are: Kyoto Festivals (Hie Sanno Screen, a pair of folding screens; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA), A Shinto Painting of Yuima (a hanging scroll; Kimbell Art Museum, USA), The Buddha and the Sixteen Protectors (a hanging scroll; National Gallery of Australia), Birds and Flowers (by Hagetsu Tosatsu, a pair of folding screens; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia), and The Descent of the Amitābha Trinity (Amida mit Seishi und Kannon, a painting on canvas; Museum Rietberg, Switzerland; second year of restoration), Large Box for Writing Implements (hakubako) (Ferenc Hopp Museum of East Asian Art, Hungary), Cabinet with Mounting, European influenced shape(Osterreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Austria), The Writing Desk with Flower Design with Nagasaki raden technique (National Museum in Krakow, Poland; second year of restoration), and The Cabinet with Drawer for Inro with Chinese landscape by Nagasaki raden technique (Museo D’Arte Giappone “Edoardo Chiosonne,” Italy; second year of restoration). In addition 2 craftworks are being restored at the overseas restoration studio at Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst in Cologne, Germany. These are: Mondlaute Japanese (Gekkin, (Museum für Vökerkunde Wien, Austria) and Ornamental Coffer with Flower and Bird Design, makie and raden technique(Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Germany)

Information retrieval on traditional Japanese musical instruments

Page from the database on traditional Japanese musical instruments

 Data on traditional Japanese musical instruments can now be retrieved from the “Database on Traditional Japanese Instruments Designated as Cultural Properties” (ed. Department of Performing Arts, March 2006, in Japanese), which was introduced in TOBUNKENNEWS Vol. 25. From 2001 questionnaires on traditional Japanese musical instruments were sent to museums throughout Japan and boards of education of the prefectures, cities, towns and villages. This database is based on replies to those questionnaires from the boards of education and information obtained from the web sites of prefectures and cities. It is composed of 4 items: type of instrument, name of instrument, designation, name of prefecture. Categorization of the type of instruments is based on the Sachs-Hornbostel system and classified into chordophones, aerophones, idiophones, membranophones and excavated instruments. With regard to the names of instruments, it is possible to retrieve information by part agreement search, for example by inputting tsuzumi instead of kotsuzumi or fue instead of ryuteki (fue used in gagaku). There are 6 kinds of designation: by nation, prefecture, city, ward, town and village. However, recent changes due to the merger of cities, towns and villages are not reflected on the database. Data will be updated from time to time so that it will be possible to confirm the location of traditional instruments.

Scientific research on an original copy of Cruydt-Boeck

Observing a microscope image of the cloth binding of the original copy

 Cruydt-Boeck is a herbal written by Rembertus Dodonaeus (1517-1585), a Belgian naturalist. An original copy of its second edition in Dutch (1618) was imported to Japan during the Edo period. It is known that Noro Genjo and others wrote the first herbal in Japanese from 1741 to 1750 by order of Tokugawa Yoshimune based on a translation of Cruydt-Boeck. It is also said that Ishii Toko, Yoshida Masayasu and others made a complete translation by order of Matsudaira Sadanobu in 1823.
 Of the several copies of the original said to have been imported, the one in the collection of the Waseda University Library was separated into 7 volumes after being imported and then re-bound as a book. The first of the 7 volumes is being restored by Okamoto Koji, a book restorer. In the process of restoration, it was found that a very sophisticated Western style of bookbinding was used for the original copy and that there is a possibility that it is one of the oldest books made in this style in Japan. Thus, on request from Mr. Okamoto, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo set off to conduct a scientific analysis of the binding materials in cooperation with other institutes in order to obtain information that will enable us to determine the period at which it was made bound. To this day, image scanning analysis by Kato Masato of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques has revealed that paper used for a book published in France in the latter half of the 18th century was used for the inside cover. In addition, attenuated total reflection analysis by Sasaki Yoshiko of the Kyoto Institute of Technology points to a great possibility that domestic hemp was used as binding thread. Furthermore, UV-visible reflection spectroscopy by Yoshida has shown that the cloth binding, which is thought to be Jouy print, was dyed with indigo. Since the original copy is severely damaged, extreme care is taken to research the various materials. For this reason, it will require much more time before we can obtain the above-mentioned results. We hope to continue work so as to clarify the history of this original copy little by little by selecting analytical methods most appropriate for each material.

Conservation of the mural paintings of the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, a National Treasure (with focus on the conservation of paintings)

Mural paintings that have been dismantled, transported to the Temporary Restoration Facility and are waiting to be restored

 With regard to the conservation of the mural paintings of the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, it was decided in 2005, from the point of view of prevention of damage due to microorganisms, to temporarily dismantle the stone chamber and to remove the paintings for restoration. Discussions were held concerning various issues such as the method for dismantling the stone chamber and transporting the stones, method for treating the mural paintings and the stones, and the construction of a restoration facility. From April 2007, the work of dismantling the stone chamber, transporting the stones to the restoration facility and the restoration of the paintings started. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is involved in this project for the conservation of the mural paintings especially from the aspects of environmental control, biological measures and restoration of the paintings. In this month’s report, measures taken with regard to the paintings will be introduced.
 Various influences that may occur to the paintings when transporting the stones from the tumulus to the restoration facility were discussed in detail.
 The surface of the paintings is first reinforced by using cellulose derivatives and/or protected by using a special type of paper. Once transported to the Temporary Restoration Facility built for the purpose, the stones are cleaned in the preparation room to remove dirt and grime from the surface. Although the environment inside the facility is in a condition not favorable for fungal growth, sterilization with ethanol is also done. Once cleaning is completed, the stones are taken to their respective positions within the restoration room. Main work of the restoration of the paintings begins after the stones have been moved into the restoration room. Presently, paper applied for protection is carefully being removed. The painting surface is being carefully observed and ways of cleaning the painting surface and methods of restoration are being discussed.
 As of May 31, 7 stones have been moved into the Temporary Restoration Facility and are waiting full-scale restoration.

Joint research on the mural paintings of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes and the dispatch of trainees

Photographing in Cave 285 of the Mogao Caves

 The fifth phase of the Joint Research on the Conservation of the Mural Paintings of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes is in its second year. Staff of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo was sent to Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes for three weeks from May 8 to conduct the first half of this year’s joint investigation. Investigation that was begun last year was continued at Cave 285, which is considered very important because of the inscriptions of the years 538 and 539 found there and of its traditional Chinese subjects in addition to its Buddhist art. Photographs were taken and analysis using digital microscopes and visible spectroscopy were conducted. Moreover, additional sampling was done not only from the walls of Cave 285 but also from those of Caves 268, 272 and 275, which are considered the earliest extant examples, to determine the period of the caves by radio-carbon dating in a joint study with Nagoya University. Various preparations were also made for the latter half of the joint investigation, which is scheduled for this summer, and for the joint research that will be conducted with the staff of the Dunhuang Academy who will be visiting Japan after autumn. Furthermore, three graduate students went to the Mogao Grottoes from Japan with this investigation team. They were selected from different fields of discipline – namely conservation science, restoration of paintings and management of cultural heritage – as “trainees dispatched to Dunhuang” by public announcement. They will stay in Dunhuang until mid-September and receive guidance from specialists at The Conservation Institute of Dunhuang Academy concerning diverse matters related to the protection of mural paintings. This training is expected to continue for three more years and will open the way for young Japanese specialists, who have little chance to directly study the conservation of mural paintings. We expect them to contribute to conservation in the future both in Japan and overseas.


Featuring the Monthly Report on the website

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties will feature reports on the activities of the Institute every month on its website. The aim of this Monthly Report is to provide the most recent information concerning the various activities undertaken by the Institute as a whole or by its individual Departments and Centers. For example, in this issue a report is made of investigation conducted by researchers on damages caused to cultural properties by the earthquake that shook the Noto Peninsula on March 25 within a month of the disaster. There is another report on the various activities undertaken to conserve the mural paintings of the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus.

Special issue on the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo in Nihon no Bijutsu

Nihon no Bijutsu No. 492, Cultural Properties and Technology: The Work of the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo

 Nihon no Bijutsu No. 492, Cultural Properties and Technology: The Work of the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (2007, Shibundo, 1650 tax inclusive) has been published (in Japanese). This book discusses various matters related to cultural properties by referring to actual cases of investigation and research employing technology. These matters include: scientific investigation of cultural properties, conservation environment and deterioration, assessment of restoration materials and techniques as well as their improvement and development, conservation of modern heritage, international cooperation and scientific technology in the conservation of cultural properties, cultural properties that are not tangible and their techniques as well as methods for their documentation.

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