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


Public Exhibition of the Conservation Facility for Mural Paintings of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, a National Treasure

Registration booth for the public exhibition of the conservation facility for mural paintings of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, a national treasure

 I participated as a staff explained in the public exhibition of the conservation facility for the mural paintings of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, which are designated as a national treasure. After the dismantling of the stone chamber from Takamatsuzuka Tumulus in 2007, the conservation facility was opened to the public twice a year. From 2017 onward, the frequency of public exhibitions of the facility, along with the mural paintings of Kitora Tumulus at Shijin no Yakata, the Kitora Tumulus Mural Experiential Museum, was increased to four times a year. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been hosting these events since the first time the facility was opened to the public.
 At the 20th public exhibition held recently, we placed the West Wall (Group of Female Figures, White Tiger, and Group of Male Figures) and the North Wall (Black Tortoise) in the area close to the exhibition corridor to provide visitors a view of the progress of the conservation of the mural paintings since they were taken out from the tumulus ten years ago; moreover, visitors can compare the paintings with the mural painting of Black Tortoise from Kitora Tumulus, which was also on exhibition at the same time. Although the event was held during winter, when the number of tourists to Asuka Village is low, it attracted approximately 1,000 visitors, including people without pre-registration. Many visitors were amazed with the progress of the cleaning of the mural paintings, and left with newly developed interests in the future restoration process and exhibitions.


Conservation of the Great Buddha of Kamakura, National Treasure

Conservation of the Great Buddha of Kamakura, National Treasure

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo was entrusted with conservation work of the great Buddha of Kamakura in Kotoku-in temple. In this work, for the first time in 55 years after the major conservation in 1959, the noble statue is enclosed by the scaffolding in order to perform recording the present condition, cleaning, metal analysis, climatic investigation, microtremor measurement, investigation of the seismic isolator, and high-resolution image photographing. With regard to the Great Buddha of Kamakura, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo was also involved in gamma-rays transmission photographing that was implemented during the major conservation in 1950s, and the sampling analysis relating to copper corrosion as well as the environmental research that were implemented in 1995. In this work, it was scheduled that the surface rust was analyzed for the first time by means of the non-destructive analysis method such as XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence analysis) and XRD (X-Ray Diffraction analysis) and further detailed damage record was taken, based on which we expect to accurately know details of the current preservation state. The scheduled work also included checking of the condition of the sliding base isolator that was installed as earthquake countermeasures at the time of the major conservation in 1959.


“Joint Research between Japan and Korea—Research on the Effect of Environmental Pollution on Cultural Properties and Development of Conservation Techniques” Research Results Presentation Session in FY2015

Joint research regarding the structural reinforcement of stone pagodas (Seven-storey stone pagoda at Myodo-ji Temple)

 Following the concluding of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques and the Conservation Science Division, National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Republic of Korea, the two organizations have been collaborating on “Joint Research between Japan and Korea—Research on the Effect of Environmental Pollution on Cultural Properties and Development of Conservation Techniques.” More specifically, they have been undertaking joint field studies of cultural properties made of stone in outdoor locations in both countries, and have been holding annual research results presentation sessions, with the venue alternating between Japan and Korea, with the aim of sharing the research results achieved in each country.
 This year’s research results presentation was held in Japan on July 8, 2015, in the Basement Level Meeting Room of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The theme for the presentation was issues relating to the structure of stone-built cultural properties. The Japanese and Korean researchers reported on and discussed their respective research results. In addition, taking advantage of the Korean researchers’ visit to Japan for the presentation, a study visit was arranged to examine the nine-storey stone pagoda and seven-storey stone pagoda, etc. at the Myodo-ji Temple in Yunoma Town, Kumamoto Prefecture (where the Japan-based joint field studies have been undertaken), and to exchange information regarding new developments in structural reinforcement methods.


Joint research between Japan and Korea: The effects of environmental pollution on cultural properties and R & D of conservation techniques, 2014 Conference

2014 Conference (National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Republic of Korea)

 The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Conservation Science Division of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Korea. Both institutes are proceeding with “Joint research on the effects of environmental pollution on cultural properties and R & D of conservation techniques.” Specifically, both institutes are conducting joint field studies of outdoor stone heritage in both countries and they are both hosting an annual conference. Researchers from both institutes are endeavoring to share their results with their counterparts.
 National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, the Republic of Korea is overseeing the research this year, so a conference was held on May 27 in a lecture hall at the Cultural Heritage Conservation Science Center. The conference was attended by OKADA Ken, KUCHITSU Nobuaki, and MORII Masayuki from the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques. The conference garnered interest, as was evinced by the almost packed venue. At the conference, lead Japanese and Korean researchers and cooperating university professors gave presentations on stone heritage, and an active discussion took place with attendees asking numerous questions and offering numerous comments. Plans are to conduct joint studies of cave tombs in the future.


2013 Japanese-Korean seminar held

Joint survey in Fugoppe Cave

 The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques has studied the conservation of cultural properties outdoors as part of Research on the Effects of Environmental Pollution on Cultural Properties and the Development of Restoration Techniques. This international research project has been conducted jointly with the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, South Korea. As part of the project, seminars are held annually by both institutions so that researchers from both countries can interact more closely with their counterparts. 
 This year, a seminar was held on May 21 (Tues.) in a basement meeting room at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. Presentations were given by 4 personnel from the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, South Korea: Sa Dug KIM, Sun Myung LEE, Tae Jong LEE, and Yu Gun CHUN. Presentations were also given by KUCHITSU Nobuaki, NAKAYAMA Shunsuke , and MORII Masayuki of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The conservation of cultural properties outdoors was discussed. The following day, a joint survey was conducted in Hokkaido. The status of the display and conservation of petroglyphs in the Fugoppe Cave (Town of Yoichi) and Temiya Cave (City of Otaru) was studied. Conservation of the Bangudae Petroglyphs in Ulsan is a current topic in South Korea. Korean researchers asked numerous questions about topics such as display lighting and facilities maintenance. The conservation of petroglyphs in Japan proved informative.


Study of biological deterioration in traditionally painted areas [of Kirishima Shrine]

Mold growing on areas painted oyster shell white
An on-site exposure test with a fungicide

 As part of a commissioned study on Development of Techniques to Prevent Color Paint Peeling at Kirishima Shrine and Work to Implement Those Techniques, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques has studied biological deterioration of traditionally painted areas of Kirishima Shrine. Traditional painting techniques used organic substances such as animal glue and are usually susceptible to biological deterioration by microbes like mold. If mold grows, it can seriously mar a building’s appearance. Moreover, mold degrades the proteins in animal glue that serve as a binder, causing pigments to separate from the painted surface. Metabolites also cause pigments to discolor and dissolve. As a result, the physical deterioration of painted areas accelerates.
 Kirishima Shrine has suffered damage, i.e. extensive growth of mold, in areas that were painted traditionally with oyster shell white paint or ochre paint including walls of breezeways, the covered stone stairway, and the worship hall. This year, a microbiological study was conducted to identify the mold responsible and ascertain the impact of that mold on painted areas. Temperature and humidity changes on-site were also monitored and an exposure test with fungicides was also conducted to help devise optimal control measures.
 Environmental measurements revealed that the Shrine’s air temperature is lower than the air temperature of level ground and the Shrine has a relatively high relative humidity of about 70% as an annual average. The Shrine was found to have an environment conducive to the growth of indigenous microbes. During the on-site exposure test with fungicides, several agents were found to have fungicidal action, but some of the fungicides chemically reacted with the white paint and could lead to deterioration. One hundred and thirty-three fungal strains have been isolated from damaged areas. These strains were grouped based on colony morphology and analyzed phylogenetically and physiologically. Results indicated that 3 groups had highly prevalent fungal strains (i.e. they had the most strains isolated). These groups are presumed to play a major role in microbial deterioration of traditionally painted areas of Kirishima Shrine. Plans are to perform a more detailed analysis of the isolated strains and continue exploring measures to prevent and control microbial deterioration of areas with traditional oyster shell white paint and ochre paint in conjunction with exposure test results.


Debriefing Session on the Conservation Environment of Usuki Stone Buddha Statues

Usuki Stone Buddha Statues. This is a national treasure and a designated historic site (seated Amitabha Tathagata Buddha statue of the second group of Hoki stone buddhas)

 Since 2000, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has been promoting a joint research study with Usuki City to establish the conservation plan of the Usuki Stone Buddha Statues, a national treasure and a designated historic site for the next term. On November 6th, we held report presentations on the results of research for these 10 years in the Debriefing Session on the Conservation Environment of Usuki Stone Buddha Statues at the central community hall of Usuki City.
 Mr. Takeo Oku at the Agency for Cultural Affairs first made a speech on the significance of the conservation plan for the next term, followed by Mr. Shoichi Shimoyama at Kyushu University presenting a lecture on the Aso ignimbrite, on which the Usuki Stone Buddha Statues were sculpted. Then Mr. Lee Chan-hee at the Kongju National University and Mr. Kim Sa-dug at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in South Korea gave lectures about the survey on the deterioration states of stone cultural properties in South Korea and the conservation of them. Following these lectures, the researcher of our Institute made a report on the results of research, including the outline of research, the deterioration state of the surface of rock-carved Buddha statues, and the water and air environments. By reviewing the results of the survey on the causes of deterioration, the researcher also made some proposals about measures against deterioration, such as antifreeze measures during cold periods and measures for inquiline control, as well as deterioration monitoring techniques. Closing the session, the Usuki City Education Board presented draft plans about a conservation project for the next term and subsequent monitoring and maintenance, with a title called the Vision of Long-Span Conservation Plan for Usuki Stone Buddha Statues. They asked the participants for their understanding.
 Although our research continued for an unprecedented 10 years for one cultural property, we have gained a lot of results here. We hope that these results will be utilized to conserve not only the Usuki Stone Buddha Statues, but many other stone cultural properties as well.


Microtremor survey conducted on Hokke-do at Todaiji temple

Microtremor survey conducted on Hokke-do at Todaiji temple (forced vibration)

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is advancing “research on anti-seismic measures for clay and dry-lacquered statues” as part of its research project on disaster prevention plans for cultural properties. If we can find out how Shumidan and Hokke-do vibrate, we will be able to estimate how a strong quake will affect the statues of Buddha.
 We obtained the cooperation of Mie University and others, and measured microtremors in Hokke-do and Shumidan. We will analyze the results, evaluate the vibration characteristics and quake resistance of Hokke-do and Shumidan, and use the data to develop seismic countermeasures for the statues of Buddha.


Attending the East Asian Cultural Heritage Forum

Jointly announcing the Seoul Declaration and signing it

 On October 27, 2009, the East Asian Cultural Heritage Forum was held in Seoul, Korea, and from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, the Director, Mr. Suzuki Norio, Mr. Okada Ken, the Head of Project Planning/Conservation Systems Section at the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, and MORII Masayuki, a researcher at the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques, attended the forum.
 This forum was part of the events commemorating the 40th year of the foundation of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea. The directors of research organizations in Japan, China, Mongolia, and far-eastern Russia, which are conducting joint research with the Korean Institute, gathered in a hall and discussed the future of international joint research on the conservation of cultural heritage. As a result of the discussions, they agreed to make efforts to build a network of research organizations and jointly foster human resources based on the mutual understanding of characteristics that the cultural heritages of participating countries have, and jointly announced and signed the “Seoul Declaration (concerning the conservation of cultural heritages in East Asia)”.


Research on the Earthquake Resistance of Buddha Statues Enshrined in Hokke-do, Todai-ji Temple

3D measurement of Buddhist statues enshrined in Hokke-do

 In Hokke-do at Todaiji temple, a lot of Buddha statues made of dry-lacquered and clay, including “Fukuukenjaku Kannon,” are enshrined on the shumidan. It is estimated that a major earthquake will occur in the Nara Basin, so the possibility of earthquake resistance and planning of countermeasures are important for the Buddhist statues in Hokke-do. The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques measured the 3D shpae of Buddha statues and preliminary survey for stability of the Hokke-do and its shumidan.
 For 3D measurement, we adopted the simple shape measurement system based on stereo camera motion photography (currently being developed by Toppan Printing Co., Ltd.). We newly applied wireless system, so safe measurement became possible on the shumidan. As a result, measurement of the six statues was completed.
 A specialist in wood structures was invited for preliminary survey for stability of the Hokke-do and its shumidan. We hope to use the results to continue the ambient vibration survey on the shumidan and temple buildings.


Examination of Sozo Shitenno Ryuzo, National Treasure Enshrined in Kaidando of Todaiji Temple

Taking X-ray radiography
New 3D measurement system developed by Toppan Co. Ltd.

 The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques is studying anti-seismic measures for clay statues as part of its research project on disaster prevention plans for cultural properties. This winter, some investigations were conducted for the purpose of planning anti-seismic measures for Sozo Shitenno Ryuzo (standing clay statues of the four guardian kings), a national treasure enshrined in Kaidando of Todaiji temple.
 These clay statues were previously examined by the Nara National Museum in 2002 when they were exhibited in a special exhibition. In the present investigation, a 3D measurement system developed by Toppan Printing Co. Ltd. was used and X-ray radiography was conducted. Since to use the 3D measurement system it was not necessary to move the statues that are exhibited in a crowded location, it was possible to obtain information on parts that were considered difficult to measure until now.
 We will continue to make use of these measurement results to execute anti-seismic analysis for clay statues.


Seminar on the joint research between Japan and Korea: Conservation environment for stone heritage

Participants at the seminar of the Japan-Korea joint research
Investigation for making a deterioration map at the stone pagoda of Bulguksa temple

 The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques is conducting joint research on environmental impact Institute (USA) spoke on energy conservation for museums with consideration for storage and display environment and Mr. Shiraishi Yasuyuki of the University of Kitakyushu spoke on comprehensive assessment system building environmental efficiency (CASBEE) and its case studies. Reports on concrete endeavors on this matter were also given by the Kyushu National Museum and Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore. A total of 141 people participated in the seminar and held active discussions. on cultural properties and development of restoration techniques together with the Conservation Science Division of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea. Currently, research is being conducted to find the causes of deterioration of stone heritage in an outdoor environment, including Buddhist images carved on natural cliff, and restoration materials and techniques are being developed and evaluated. In addition, a seminar is held once a year alternately in Japan and Korea.
 This year’s seminar was held on November 6, 2008 in the lecture hall of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea. Director Suzuki Norio and 5 researchers from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, attended. Kuchitsu Nobuaki and Morii Masayuki of the Institute and Yamaji Yasuhiro of Beppu University presented case studies of the conservation of stone heritage in Japan. Before the seminar, visits were made to conservation sites in Kyongju – stone pagoda of Bulguksa temple and the three-storied pagoda of Gameunsa temple site – and discussions were held with Korean researchers on restoration materials and techniques. A visit was also made to the Museum of Kyungpook National University in Taegu to investigate the objects excavated from Dae-gaya.
 We hope to continue such joint research and to increase interaction between Japan and Korea.


Participation in International Symposium on Conservation Science for Cultural Heritage in Seoul

Keynote lecture by ISHIZUKA Takeshi, the Director of Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques

 Three members of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques -ISHIZUKA Takeshi, HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro and MORII Masayuki – participated in the “2008 International Symposium on Conservation Science for Cultural Heritage” that was held at the Seoul Educational Cultural Hall from September 29, 2008 to October 1.
 The National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea, which hosted this symposium, has received a large research and development budget allocation in the conservation science area from the government of South Korea since 2006. The symposium was held partly to announce this achievement. Presenters for this symposium included 24 people from 7 other countries and 29 people from Korea, and active discussions took place in many fields.


Development of an information system using GIS to protect cultural properties against disasters and investigation of cultural properties damaged by the Iwate – Miyagi Nairiku Earthquake in 2008

Damaged stone fence of Nuruyu-Bansho in Hanayama village built by the Sendai Clan (designated as a historic site)
Prediction of damages to cultural properties based on the Disaster Prevention System for Cultural Properties. Areas framed in light blue experienced strong tremor (JMA seismic intensity 5 lower or more); light blue circles indicate cultural properties (buildings) located in these areas; blue squares indicate actually damaged cultural properties.

 Since 2003, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has been engaged in a 5-year plan entitled “Disaster Prevention for Cultural Properties”. Included in the plan is the development of Disaster Prevention System for Cultural Properties (nationally designated cultural properties) based on a geographical information system (GIS). Several earthquakes have occurred in Japan since 2003 causing extensive damages. In 2008, also, an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 occurred around 8:43 a.m. on June 14, with its epicenter in southern Iwate prefecture (the Iwate – Miyagi Nairiku Earthquake in 2008). Many people fell victim to this earthquake, mainly due to landslides in mountainous areas. It also caused extensive damages to buildings and infrastructure. Damages induced by the earthquake to cultural properties designated by the national government have been reported at 30 locations in Iwate, Miyagi and Akita prefectures (according to investigation by the Agency for Cultural Affairs on August 20, 2008).
 Immediately after the earthquake, the Institute used its Disaster Prevention System for Cultural Properties in order to identify areas strong motion areas by the earthquake and cultural properties designated by the national government (buildings) located in these areas (in the figure, areas framed in light blue experienced JMA seismic intensity of 5 lower or more, and light blue circles indicate cultural properties in these areas). It was later found that a relatively small number of buildings (9 out of 30) had suffered damages, mostly minor ones. However, since some damages were discovered in areas remote from those where possible damages had been predicted, it is believed that improvements should be made to the system, including those related to methods for prediction.
 On July 31 and August 1, more than one month after the earthquake, an investigation was conducted of damaged cultural properties mainly in Miyagi prefecture. Among those properties that suffered severest damage is the stone fence of Nuruyu-Bansho in Hanayama village, which was built by the Sendai Clan and is designated as a historic site. Since the damage occurred at the same place which had been restored after heavy rain several years ago, it is hoped that the condition and cause of damage as well as past restorations would be investigated more in detail for future restoration work.


Conservation and restoration of the wall paintings of Kitora Tumulus, a special historic site

Wall paintings of Kitora Tumulus (painting of the astronomical chart on the ceiling) after having detached the northern half

 The National Research Institute of Cultural Properties, Tokyo is engaged in research project for the conservation of the Kitora Tumulus, a Special Historic Site. This is a project that has been entrusted to the Institute from the Agency for Cultural Affairs. In this project, the interior of the stone chamber is inspected regularly and its wall paintings on the plaster are being detached.
 Particularly, the painting of the astronomical chart on the ceiling has been detached sequentially ever since a part of the painting had fallen and was found on the floor in July 2007. Initially, only small areas of the painting where the risk of exfoliation was very high were detached. However, with improvement in the tools used to detach paintings, it is now possible to detach a square piece of the wall painting about 10 cm on a side. As a result, the northern half of the astronomical chart has been detached as of the end of June 2008. The paintings will continue to be detached on a regular basis. As for the painting of the astronomical chart on the ceiling, our goal is to detach the entire painting within this fiscal year.


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.


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.


Investigation of cultural properties damaged by the 2007 Niigata-ken Chuestu-oki Earthquake

Main hall of Daisenji temple destroyed by the earthquake

 An earthquake of magnitude 6.8, maximum JMA seismic intensity 6+ hit the Chuetsu district of Niigata prefecture at 10:13am, July 16, 2007. In addition to large scale damage including total or partial destruction of houses and the severing of infrastructure that occurred in Kashiwazaki city and its vicinity near the epicenter, many cultural properties were also damaged. The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held an on-site investigation concerning the damage caused by the earthquake to cultural properties in order to obtain information about the condition of and factors for damage and to provide advice on emergency measures and future restoration plans. Investigation was conducted on September 4 and 5 at museums and built heritage in Nagaoka and Kashiwazaki cities.
 A museum in Nagaoka was first investigated. Fortunately, much damage was not observed on the exhibited and stored objects including flame-style earthenware. An interview with a curator revealed that a reconsideration of methods of exhibition and storage based on the experience of the earthquake in 2004 had produced good results even though large quake was experienced in the city.
 On the following day, investigation was conducted in Kashiwazaki, closest to the epicenter. The condition of overall damage was quite tragic, beyond comparison from that in Nagaoka, and the same was true of cultural properties, For example, the main hall of a temple had been totally destroyed.
 Large earthquakes have occurred frequently in 2007, beginning with the 2007 Noto Peninsula Earthquake. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo will continue to conduct research on protecting cultural properties from disasters and to make efforts, through actively publicizing information, so that many more people would be aware of disaster prevention.


Conservation of the wall paintings of Kitora Tumulus, a Special Historic Site

Detaching the painting from the ceiling

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is engaged in the conservation project for the wall paintings of the Kitora Tumulus, a Special Historic Site. This is a project that has been entrusted to the Institute from the Agency for Cultural Affairs. In this project, the inside of the stone chamber is inspected regularly to protect the wall paintings from microorganisms and the wall paintings on the plaster are being detached from the stone walls.
 At the Kitora Tumulus, paintings of the four guardian gods of directions and the twelve horary signs on the side walls have already been detached; only the ceiling and the painting of the constellations remain at the site. In July a part of the painting of the constellations had fallen and was found on the floor. Investigations that followed revealed that there are several tens of places where the risk of exfoliation is high. Thus, the painting is in a very serious condition. So the Institute has started to detach the paintings from places where there is great danger of its becoming falling.


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.


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