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


IIC 2018 Turin Congress

Discussion during IIC 2018 Turin Congress

 The congress of the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) was held from September 10th to 14th in Turin, Italy. From Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Dr. Masahide INUZUKA of the Center for Conservation Science participated in the congress.
 The theme of this congress was “preventive conservation.” Therefore, as well as the specific topics about conservation environments, material analyses and restoration, the importance of preventive conservation, leadership required for experts, public engagement and other relevant subjects were discussed.
 In the session about preventive conservation for historic sites, Dr. Inuzuka made a presentation on the condensation problems and their preventive measures in a conservation facility for a decorated tumulus in Japan. In the poster sessions, the history of the environmental inspection of museums conducted by the Preventive Conservation Section was reported and information was exchanged with attendants from other countries.


Investigation of inner structure of Baird’s beaked whale specimen

Damaged Baird’s beaked whale specimen being X-rayed for investigation

 The Baird’s beaked whale specimen (Berardius bairdii : nickname “Tsutchy”) exhibited at the Rikuzentakata Sea and Shell Museum is a whale (total length is about 10m) that was stuffed to celebrate the meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Tokyo in 1954. The specimen was damaged by the great east Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11th, 2011. After the primary inspection of damage at the museum on May 28th, 2011, the specimen was transferred to the Tsukuba Research Department of the National Museum of Nature and Science on June 30th, 2011. Currently, the project for restoration of the specimen is in progress.
 In this project, it is important to understand the structure of the timberworks and the location of corroded nails inside the specimen. At the request of the National Museum of Nature and Science, Masahide INUZUKA and Midori HAMADA investigated the inner structure of the specimen using X-ray radiography from October 16th to 18th and from 23rd to 25th, 2016. For this research, we used the developing equipment, which is dedicated to imaging plates that were introduced to our institute in 2015. Accordingly, we proceeded with the research by confirming the X-ray transmission images each time they were obtained.
 To investigate the overall inner structure of the specimen with the total length of about 10m, we obtained 375 X-ray images in total. The information about the structure of the timberworks and the location of corroded nails inside the specimen obtained from these X-ray images will be referred to during the investigation using an endoscope and the restoration works.


Research on Asuka-daibutsu using a portable X-ray diffraction device

Research on Asuka-daibutsu using a portable X-ray diffraction device

 In Asuka-dera Temple located in Asuka village, Nara prefecture, the statue of Shaka Nyorai (the so called “Asuka-daibutsu”), which is about three meters in height, is enshrined as the principal image of the temple. According to historical sources, the statue is considered to have been made by Tori Busshi in 606. It is an important statue because it is considered to be the first Joroku Buddha in Japan. However, there are various opinions as to which part of the statue was originally made by Tori Busshi because it was damaged by fire in the early Kamakura period.
 After the opening time of Asuka-dera Temple on June 16th and 17th in 2016, research on the preserved state and production techniques of Asuka-daibutsu was conducted by experts in art history, conservation science, restoration and three-dimensional measurement. This research was managed as a part of the “Japan-South Korea Joint Research on Bronze Buddhist Statues of East Asia from the 5th through the 9th Century” (the research representative is Prof. Fujioka of Osaka University.). From the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT), Yasuhiro HAYAKAWA, Masahide INUZUKA and Mai SARAI participated in this research and conducted the investigation of materials on the surface of the statue by using a portable X-ray diffraction device (RIKEN KEIKI Co., Ltd., XRDF), which was introduced to NRICPT in the last fiscal year.
 Scaffolding was constructed around the statue, and then we carried out the measurement on the surface of the head and body of the statue (the number of measured points was 10). Together with the 3 measured points on a fragment considered to have been a part of Asuka-daibutsu, the number of measured points was 13 in total during this research period.
 The crystal structure of materials can be obtained by the portable X-ray diffraction device. The chemical compounds can be identified from the information about the crystal structure by combining the information about the elements constituting materials obtained by X-ray fluorescent analysis conducted by Osaka University and the National Museum of Korea. In this research, copper compounds existing on the surface of the statue can be identified and the comparison of chemical compounds on different measurement points will be possible.
 We are now analyzing these data in more detail, and plan to report the results of the analysis within this fiscal year.


Research of Paired Screens of “Birds and Flowers of the Four Seasons” Designated as Important Cultural Property at the Suntory Museum of Art

Research Using Image Plate Developing Equipment

 On November 10 through 12 following the first survey in August, we conducted an investigation into a pair of six-fold screens of “Birds and Flowers of the Four Seasons” (an important cultural property) at the Suntory Museum of Art. To investigate the production techniques and materials of the folding screens, we conducted research using an optical survey, fluorescent X-ray analysis, visible spectroscopy, X-ray radiography and other approaches.
 As for X-ray radiography, we obtained X-ray transmission images with imaging plates. For this research, we brought the developing equipment, which is dedicated to imaging plates and were introduced to our institute in November, to the Suntory Museum of Art. Accordingly, at the site, we proceeded with the research by confirming the X-ray transmission images each time they were obtained. These images gave us a variety of information such as types and thicknesses of the coloring materials and production techniques.
 We will summarize these research outcomes to publish a research report within FY 2015.


Structural investigation of Kote-e (plaster reliefs) and Statues at the Izu-no-Chohachi Art Museum

The investigation conducted at the Izu-no-Chohachi Art Museum

 For research on materials and structures of cultural properties, non-destructive and non-contact methods are required frequently. Therefore, investigation techniques using X-ray play an important part. With X-ray radiography, one of the techniques using X-ray, it is possible to investigate the inner structure and the layer of materials, both of which cannot be visually confirmed, in a non-destructive and non-contact way by using the difference in X-ray transmission levels resulting from a difference in density and thickness of the material composing cultural properties.
 The latest research was conducted on works of Chohachi Izu, a kote-e (plaster relief) artist who was active from the late Edo period to the early Meiji era. Chohachi left a large number of statues and kote-e works – paintings drawn with plaster using a trowel, a tool used by plasterers to plastera wall. To investigate the techniques for producing these works, we conducted an investigation into the inner structures of these works using X-ray radiography on the second floor of the Izu-no-Chohachi Art Museum in the town of Matsuzaki, Kamo-gun District, Shizuoka Prefecture, on May 19 and 20, 2015. As a result of our research, we identified the layered structure of a kote-e work sets in frames, the inner structure of statues and their production techniques.


A seminar on conditions for conservation of cultural properties: Controlling and Predicting Conditions for Conservation of Cultural Properties

The seminar underway

 For the conservation of cultural properties, it is important to maintain properly environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, light, and air quality. Environmental conditions of temperature and humidity in facilities that exhibit and store cultural properties have been improved remarkably with the progress of technology of air-conditioning units. On the other hand, from the viewpoint of the change of climate conditions surrounding cultural properties on loan transported between regions of different climates and of the energy saving, the debates for discussing temperature and humidity conditions is recently being held more and more actively not only in Japan but also internationally.
 The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques studies how the influence of temperature and humidity on cultural properties and methods to predict and control temperature and humidity levels. A seminar on Controlling and Predicting Conditions for Conservation of Cultural Properties was held on February 9, 2015. Researchers in conservation (MABUCHI Hajime of the Mie Prefectural Museum and KOTAJIMA Tomoko of the Tokyo University of the Arts) and experts in architecture (GONDO Takashi of the Kajima Technical Research Institute, KITAHARA Hiroyuki of Total System Laboratory Co., and ABUKU Masaru of Kinki University) were invited to do presentations at the seminar. The latest information on conditions for conservation of cultural properties was shared and discussed at the seminar. This information included examples of temperature and humidity control with air-conditioning units in museums, examples of the new systems that have been developed and installed, examples of studies of temperature and humidity levels and air quality in display cases, and comparisons of the measured temperature and humidity levels and those predicted by using computer simulations (attendance: 29 individuals).


A Study on Conservation of Painted Panels on the Outer Walls of the Yomeimon Gate of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine

On-site study of painted wall panels of the Yomeimon Gate
Positioning of a device for X-ray imaging

 As part of the Study of Traditional Techniques and Materials Used in Cultural Properties, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques is currently conducting a study in line with restoration of the paint pigments on the Yomeimon Gate of the Toshogu Shrine. Large Panels with a Relief Sculpture of a Peony Design that were created in 1796 are currently installed on panels on the east and west walls of the Yomeimon Gate. According to historical documents, however, the walls had contained paintings produced by a technique known as “tung oil sprinkled with Makie” in much earlier years, such as 1688 and 1753. During restoration of these Panels in 1971, the east wall was removed, revealing a painting of 3 Zebra Finches Perching atop a Japanese Plum Tree on a Crag with Bamboo Grass that is thought to have been produced in 1753. The painting was studied by the Department of Conservation Science at the time. In addition, X-ray imaging at the time also revealed a painting of Nesting Cranes in a Pine Tree atop a Crag with Bamboo Grass beneath the panels on the western wall. However, the wall panel overlaying it was not removed, so the actual painting was not visible. The current study removed the overlaying panel on the western wall in order to restore its paint. Its removal revealed the painting beneath for the first time in 218 years or so. However, the painting had deteriorated markedly, as was evident from its discoloration and peeling. Thus, the Center examined the painting’s materials and its deterioration in cooperation with the Nikko Toshogu Shrine and the Association for the Preservation of the Nikko World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples in order to prevent further deterioration. In addition, X-ray imaging was done so that researchers in the history of painting could verify that traces of paintings from earlier periods were beneath the painting (Photos 1 & 2). Results of this study will help to reveal the state of paint pigments that have adorned the Yomeimon Gate since the Nikko Toshogu Shrine was completed in 1636. Results will also help to maintain the works in somewhat better condition.


Conservation Science No. 49 published

Conservation Science No. 49

 The latest edition of the research bulletin Conservation Science issued by the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques and Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo was published on March 31, 2010. This bulletin includes the latest research results of various projects conducted by our Institute. It includes research information on the conservation of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus and Kitora Tumulus and other basic studies and investigation results concerning conservation science. Please visit our website to read the entire text (PDF version):
http://www.tobunken.go.jp/~hozon/pdf/49/MOKUZI49.html


31th International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property

A scene from the International Symposium

 The 31th International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property was held in the Seminar Room of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo from February 5 to 7, 2008. The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques was in charge of this year’s symposium on the “Study of Environmental Conditions Surrounding Cultural Properties and Their Protective Measures.” Lectures were given by 7 experts from abroad and 8 experts from Japan.
 Presentations by Japanese experts focused mainly on environmental and biological control at Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, whose dismantlement was conducted this fiscal year. Experts from abroad spoke on the wall paintings of Lascaux Cave where they are faced with similar problems, and we were able to have a meaningful exchange of opinions. There were also exchange of information and opinions on conservation measures at other decorated tumuli, international activities in the conservation of cultural properties and non-destructive methods of examination.


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