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


June Facility Visit

 On June 13, 6 members of the Art Research Institute of Shanghai University visited the Institute as part of the investigation related to Western-style paintings in modern China and the investigation of Chinese Buddhist art. Persons in charge of these themes at the Institute spoke to them and answered their questions.
 On June 12, the director and 3 members of the Planning Division of the Science and Technology Policy Bureau at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology visited the Institute as part of a preliminary inspection of organizations related to cultural properties in preparation for drafting a plan to establish a “digital museum,” a project promoted by the Agency. After inspecting the Tokyo National Museum, they visited the Analytical Science Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques on the 5th floor, Restoration Studios of the same Center on the 3rd floor and the Kuroda Memorial Hall. Persons in charge provided them with explanations of the investigations and research conduced by the Institute and answered their questions.


Studies and discussions for the construction of the cultural property archives

An explanation was given on the “Powers Of Information,” a touch panel-type digital archive, from Professor Takano Akihiko, Director of the Research and Development Center for Informatics of Associations at the National Institute of Informatics.

 As a part of the construction of the cultural property archives, the Department of Research Programming is now preparing for participation in the cross search site of art libraries “ALC (Art Libraries’ Consortium)” and the associative search site “Imagine.”
 On June 9, Tanaka Atsushi, Yamanashi Emiko, Tsuda Tetsuei, Nakamura Setsuko and Katsuki Gen’ichiro visited Professor Takano Akihiko, Director of the Research and Development Center for Informatics of Associations at the National Institute of Informatics, and Project Associate Professor Marukawa Yuzo to exchange opinions about future efforts for the dissemination of related to cultural property.
 These two individuals were once involved in the establishment of “Imagine” and provided technical support for the launch of “Cultural Heritage Online,” a portal site operated by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Advice from these two individuals who are also versed in the field of cultural property study were highly suggestive for those engaged in the construction of cultural property archives.


Exhibition of an Anthony camera

An Anthony camera is exhibited in the former research room on the first floor of the Kuroda Memorial Hall.
Outdoor scenery is reflected upside down on the ground glass of the large-sized camera.
A slide projector, an 8 mm camera and a twin-lens reflex camera that were used by the predecessor of the Institute, The Art Research Institute, are also displayed.

 A large-sized camera that had been kept in the Image Laboratory of the Department of Research Programming has recently been completely restored and is being shown to the general public from June 5 in the former research room on the first floor of the Kuroda Memorial Hall. This camera is a studio camera modeled after a camera produced by E. & H. T. Anthony & Company in the United States and imported in the early part of the 20th century. The predecessor of the Institute, The Art Research Institute, used this camera from the time of its inauguration and early days until the post-war period in order to photograph art works and such for research. It also contributed to preserving many cultural properties in the form of recorded images. In this exhibition, the camera is displayed with its lens facing outside so that visitors can see the outdoor scenery reflected upside down on the ground glass. In addition, other optical instruments that were indispensable in research and investigation, such as an 8 mm camera and a twin-lens reflex camera manufactured in pre-war France, are exhibited. Moreover, efforts are now being made to preserve glass plate negatives photographed with such cameras. At the same time, their digitization is in progress so that they can be made public and contribute to research.


Conclusion of the statement of mutual agreement on exchange between Japan and Korea on research concerning the conservation of intangible cultural heritage with the Folkloric Studies Division of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea

Dr. Kim (right), Director of the Folkloric Studies Division of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea, exchanging the statement of mutual agreement for Japan-Korea research exchange with Miyata (left), Director of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo

 This statement of mutual agreement is based on the agreement for research exchange between the Independent Administrative Institution, National Research Institute for Cultural Properties of Japan and the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Korea that was concluded in 2005 and prescribes, in concrete terms, arrangements for research exchange in the field of intangible cultural heritage between the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of our Institute and the Folkloric Studies Division of our counterpart in Korea. The agreement was concluded with signatures at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea on June 3, 2008. From now on, the two parties will exchange researchers, provide training and other programs and hold discussions to realize future collaborative researches in accordance with this agreement. It was also decided that the results of these undertakings would be published in the form of collected papers of the joint research at the end of fiscal year 2010.


“Post-Training Course for Museum Curators”

There was a lively exchange of opinions at the Post-Training Course.

 Once a year a post-training course is held for those who have completed the “Training Course for Museum Curators” in the past with the aim of conveying the latest topics regarding conservation of materials. This fiscal year, the course was held on June 2. The following three topics were selected: indoor temperature and humidity analysis by means of computer simulation (Inuzuka Masahide), use of dichlorvos pesticide in conservation facilities for cultural properties (Yoshida Naoto) and the manual for museum conservators on preventing mold growth on cultural properties which the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is in the process of compiling (Sano Chie). There was a lively exchange of opinions between the participants and members of the Department since the topics covered serious issues the participants face in the field, including the forecast of the conservation environment, pest control and preservation of materials as well as the prevention of health hazard to the staff. Sixty-six persons participated, a number which exceeded 10% of all those who have completed the Training Course during the past 25 years. We cannot help but feel the weight of responsibility resting upon us. We will continue to provide the latest information not only at such post-training courses but also by taking advantage of various opportunities.


Seminar of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques, “Solving the Mystery of the Triangular-rimmed Bronze Mirrors with Mythical Figure and Animal Designs – Materials, Techniques, Places of Manufacture.”

In the panel discussion, there was a lively debate on new interpretations regarding the manufacture of the triangular-rimmed bronze mirrors with mythical figure and animal designs.

 In-depth studies on the materials and manufacturing techniques of cultural properties provide important information that contributes to their conservation and restoration as well as their historical studies. This time, the triangular-rimmed bronze mirrors with mythical figure and animal designs, which have been excavated in large quantities from early tumuli, were selected as the topic of study. There has been an ongoing dispute about whether they are Wei mirrors or Japanese mirrors. We examined how historical information, such as when they were produced, can be derived from a study of information related to their manufacture, such as their materials and shape. As lecturers, we invited Professor Fukunaga Shin’ya, who brought epoch-making progress in the study of the triangular-rimmed bronze mirrors with mythical figure and animal designs by introducing the method of categorizing such mirrors according to the shape of knob holes and the lines on the outer circumference, and Dr. Mabuchi Hisao, who reached a new interpretation regarding the material of the mirrors by measuring the lead isotope ratio of many bronze wares. Mr. Namba Yozo and Mr. Saito Tsutomu joined the panel discussion and there was a lively exchange of views. Dr. Mabuchi suggested a new interpretation regarding the time of manufacture of the mirrors. It was truly a meaningful seminar that enabled us to understand the profoundness of historical study using natural scientific methods. (Friday, June 20, 2008 at the seminar room of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo; 60 participants)

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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.


Investigation of the mural paintings of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes and the dispatch of trainees

Joint investigation in Cave 285
The investigation team (in orange uniform) and trainees (in red uniform)

 The fifth phase of the Joint Research on the Conservation of the Mural Paintings of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes is in its third year. Members of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo were sent to Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes for four weeks from June 1 to conduct the first half of this year’s Japan-China joint research. Continuing from last year, optical investigation that has been conducted until now in Cave 285, which has an inscription (A.D. 538 and 539) of the West Wei period, was continued and the conditions of the entire mural painting were examined. The condition of deterioration and preservation of the materials used for mural paintings differ depending on various conditions such as color, technique and the location of the paintings. If we understand these conditions, the results of the optical investigation will reveal much more information, resulting in new ideas about investigation and analysis. In addition, if specific materials and techniques result in different states of deterioration, that will provide much insight into future conservation and restoration work.
 Furthermore, two graduate students with a master’s degree went to the Mogao Grottoes from Japan with this investigation team. They were selected from different fields of discipline – conservation science and paintings – as trainees dispatched to Dunhuang by public announcement that has been implemented from last fiscal year. They will stay in Dunhuang for five months until mid-October and receive guidance from specialists at the Conservation Institute of Dunhuang Academy concerning diverse matters related to the protection of mural paintings.

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Meeting of experts on the project for the conservation of the stone statues of the tombs of Tang dynasty in Shaanxi

Japan-China experts meeting
A banner of "Ardent Welcome" displayed at the site of Qiaoling Mausoleum

 This fiscal year is the final year of the project for the conservation of stone statues of the tombs of Tang dynasty that has been conducted jointly with the Xi’an Centre for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage in China since 2004. For two days, on June 23 and 24, a meeting of Japanese and Chinese experts was held in Xi’an City where last fiscal year’s were reviewed and evaluated. From Japan, Mr. Nishiura Tadateru (professor of Kokushikan University, conservation of cultural properties) and Mr. Nedachi Kensuke (professor of Kyoto University, history of art) attended as experts. During the last fiscal year, of the three target mausoleums of this project, archeological investigations and maintenance work were conducted particularly for the east, west and north gates of the Qiaoling Mausoleum which is the tomb of Emperor Ruizong of Tang. This time, Japanese and Chinese experts investigated the site in the presence of many local onlookers. In addition, the great Sichuan Earthquake that struck Shaanxi province on May 12 notably enlarged the crack on the lion statue placed at the south gate of the Shunling Mausoleum, another target mausoleum. For this reason, meteorological observation instruments were installed shortly after, and they were inspected on this occasion. A Japan-China academic seminar on the protection of stone cultural properties will be held in November and the project is scheduled to be completed next March after the final meeting of the review board.

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Exchange program in Mongolia (preliminary investigation)

Amarbayasgalant Khiid
Inspection of the Amarbayasgalant Khiid

 In preparations for the exchange program that has just started this fiscal year, we visited Mongolia from June 9 to 14. As part of this program, together with the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Institute, workshops related to the framework for the conservation of cultural properties including organizations and laws are being planned as are training programs to foster experts for the Center for Cultural Heritage of Mongolia under the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia. The meeting with the Director of the Department of Culture and Art of the Ministry was filled with a friendly atmosphere, and the Director readily agreed to the conclusion of a statement and memorandum of mutual agreement with the Institute upon inaugurating the project.
 We also inspected the Amarbayasgalant Khiid, one of the largest wooden structures of Mongolia located approximately 350 km north of Ulan Bator, the capital. This temple underwent investigations and restoration projects by Japanese experts dispatched through UNESCO from the early 1970’s to the mid-1980’s. However, it is poorly managed at present and an expert of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science told us that immediate actions were required. We confirmed that there was not only damage to the color of the building and its roof but also that the structure of the temple was suffering deterioration. Through the discussions at this meeting, the two countries have come to hold the wish to include building-related contents in the training program for experts that will be conducted from the next fiscal year on.
 After our visit, we learned that demonstrations expressing dissatisfaction with the result of the election which had been held at the end of June led to a riot in Ulan Bator and that the mobs had set fire to the Center for Cultural Heritage, the counterpart of our Institute, resulting in damage to the building, equipment and cultural properties. We express our heartfelt sympathy to the staff of the Center. At the same time, we are seeking a possibility of emergency response by sharing information with the embassy and experts in related fields.


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