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


The signing ceremony is held for an agreement with Myanmar’s Small-Scale Industries Department, Ministry of Co-operatives

The signing ceremony: In the foreground are Mr. U Mya Than, Acting General Director of the Small-Scale Industries Department, Ministry of Co-operatives (on the right) and Mr. KAMEI Nobuo, Director General, National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (on the left), with Mr. U Aung Phyu, Director General of the Co-operative Department, Ministry of Co-operatives behind them.

 Since Fiscal 2013, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has been implementing a technical survey in regard to traditional lacquer-ware in Myanmar. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has drawn up an agreement with the Small-Scale Industries Department of Myanmar’s Ministry of Co-operatives in regard to the protection of Myanmar’s lacquer-ware cultural heritage; the signing ceremony for this agreement was held on September 9, at the offices of Myanmar’s Small-Scale Industries Department. Attending the ceremony to affix their signatures to the agreement were Mr. U Mya Than, Acting Director General of the Small-Scale Industries Department, Ministry of Co-operatives, Mr. U Aung Phyu, Director General of the Co-operative Department, Ministry of Co-operatives, and Mr. KAMEI Nobuo, Director General, National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo.
 Through the signing of this agreement, it has been possible to clarify the goals and content of the collaborative activities in which National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is involved in Myanmar, and it can be anticipated that these collaborative endeavors will proceed smoothly and productively in the future.


Receipt of images of works depicted in the art journal The Kokka

Front cover of Issue 1426 of The Kokka

 The Kokka is an art journal that was first published in 1889. With a history of over 125 years, the journal prides itself on publication of 1430 issues. Since La Gazette des beaux-arts, which was first published in Paris in 1859, ceased publication in 2002, The Kokka became the world’s oldest surviving art journal.
 The journal’s elegant style, replete with images of works in an especially large format (the journal was initially published in royal octavo format but changed to B format after 1944), has remained the same since it was first published. The journal was founded by OKAKURA Tenshin and TAKAHASHI Kenzo, who were passionate about spurring art to develop, and the founders’ enthusiasm is apparent in the journal. The journal identified development of research into Oriental art history as one of the reasons for its publication, and The Kokka has truly become an important academic journal in the area of the history of East Asian art.
 The Kokka was edited by the Kokka-sha., and on September 25 the Kokka-sha. donated printed images of artworks featured in issues of the journal. These images were from around Issue 800 to Issue 1200 of The Kokka. Together, the mounted and organized images occupied some 45 cardboard boxes.
 Artworks featured in The Kokka were carefully selected by researchers of art history, and images of the works are a vital basis for research into the history of East Asian art. These images have been sequentially catalogued and shelved in cabinets in the Institute’s Library. Visitors are free to peruse the images in the Library, so you are invited to take advantage of these valuable materials.

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Participation in a symposium commemorating the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the PoNJA-GenKon listserve group and tours of libraries with art-related collections and archives

Day 2 of the Symposium (at the Japan Society)

 On September 12 and 13, 2014, a symposium was held to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Post-1945 Japanese Art Discussion Group/Gendai Bijutsu Kondankai (PoNJA-GenKon). The symposium (co-organized by Department of East Asian Studies at New York University [Associate Professor Thomas Looser] and PoNJA-GenKon) was entitled “For a New Wave to Come: Post-1945 Japanese Art History Now” and was held at the Drawings and Prints Study Center of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York University, and the Japan Society. PoNJA-GenKon seeks to provide a forum for experts in the English-speaking world to discuss their interest in contemporary Japanese art. PoNJA-GenKon has previously organized symposia and panel discussions in cooperation with universities, research institutes, and art museums such as the University of Michigan, the Getty Research Institute, and the Guggenheim Museum. On Day 1 of the workshop, the author of this article, Hideki KIKKAWA, delivered a presentation entitled “Seeing A Panorama of Sightseeing Art at Tama: Nakamura Hiroshi’s Notebook at Tobunken.” Panorama is a drawing of the exhibition “Sightseeing Art at Tama River Exhibition” in March 1964 by “Sightseeing Art Research Institute,”, and this drawing is now in the collection of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. KIKKAWA’s presentation used the drawing and video to describe the exhibition in detail, and the presentation also examined its significance to the art scene at the time. The symposium featured 16 research presentations by specialists and academics. A panel discussion took place each session and featured active discussions.
 The symposium was accompanied by tours of libraries with art-related collections and archives (such as C.V. Starr East Asian Library at Columbia University,Watson Library at Metropolitan Museum of Art,Archive at MoMA, and the Art & Architecture Collection at New York Public Library). The author of this article discussed research materials on Japanese art with representatives of those institutions.
 The author’s participation in the symposium and tours of facilities were made possible thanks to the Japan Foundation.


A study of the revived lion dance in the Town of Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture

Myung Jin LEE (left) presenting results of a survey of Kagura in Tohoku

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and South Korea’s National Intangible Heritage Center have been conducting Research Exchanges between Japan and South Korea in relation to the Safeguarding and Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage. As a result, Myung Jin LEE of the Research and Documentation Section visited Japan for 30 days starting on August 11. LEE conducted a joint study on the Sugisawa Hiyama Bangaku (the Town of Yuza, Yamagata Prefecture) and Hayachine–Take Kagura and Koda Kagura (the City of Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture). LEE reported the results of this study during a presentation, entitled Kagura Traditions in the Tohoku Region that took place in the Institute’s seminar hall on September 8. Basically, Kagura is sacred and ritual performing arts to invite gods. Kagura performed in the Tohoku Region often includes dramas or acrobatic feats. Bangaku is also one of the local names for Kagura.
 LEE’s presentation began with a basic description of the characteristics of mountain asceticism in the Tohoku region and the relationship between Kagura and mountain asceticism. LEE then compared the 3 Kagura traditions. LEE discussed topics related to preserving intangible cultural heritage, such as specific examples in which traditions were maintained and passed down as well as involvement of preservation societies and government bodies, in detail. LEE also described conditions in South Korea for comparison. In addition, LEE discussed characteristics of Kagura traditions in the Tohoku region as folk performing arts, and LEE suggested that the traditions may be comparable to “gut” (shamanistic rituals) and the “Mask Dance” in South Korea. The presentation was quite meaningful in that it described the current state of and issues with preservation of intangible cultural heritage from the perspectives of preserving cultural practices and folklore studies.


An expert on historical buildings from the Islamic Republic of Iran is invited to Japan

eminar on Iranian cultural properties
Tour of the Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center

 As part of the “New Century International Educational Exchange Project” of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, an Associate Professor from the University of Isfahan in the Islamic Republic of Iran was invited to visit Japan from August 26 to September 5. The professor, Mehrdad HEJAZI, has been closely involved in conservation of a site in Bam; Bam suffered massive damage from an earthquake that struck in 2003. Japanese researchers on Iran in various fields such as archaeology and linguistics assembled in conjunction with HEJAZI’s visit, and a seminar on historical buildings in Iran was conducted. During the seminar, HEJAZI delivered a presentation on issues involved in and prospects for conservation of culturally significant buildings in Iran. HEJAZI discussed numerous aspects of Iranian cultural properties with the assembled researchers.
 Japan is often plagued by natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. Similarly, earthquakes have caused severe damage to culturally significant buildings in Iran, where such buildings are constructed of brittle, sun-dried bricks. During his visit, HEJAZI gained further insight into concepts and projects to conserve historical buildings in Japan. HEJAZI toured the Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center, the world’s largest earthquake resistance testing facility, and he also toured the Kyu-Yubikan, a historic building in the City of Osaki, and culturally significant buildings in the inner bay area of the City of Kesennuma; both locations in Miyagi Prefecture were damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake. These events allowed a profound discussion of techniques for conservation of culturally significant buildings and disaster prevention measures for those buildings.
 The invitational program proved fruitful, laying the groundwork for further cultural exchanges between Iran and Japan.


International course on Conservation of Japanese Paper conducted in 2014

Practice restoring Japanese paper in a cultural property

 An International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper was conducted from August 25 to September 12. This course was co-organized by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and ICCROM. The main purpose of the course is to provide the person who work with cultural properties with the skills and knowledge necessary to conserve and restore paper cultural properties from Japan. Ten conservators from New Zealand, Taiwan, Denmark, the UK, Serbia, France, Cuba, the US, Australia, and Thailand were invited to attend this year’s course from among 69 applicants.
 Lectures covered topics such as basic science related to restoration materials and cultural properties from an academic perspective. In addition, participants practiced restoring Japanese paper to make a finished scroll and Japanese-style book binding. Folding screens and hanging scrolls are typical forms of Japanese cultural properties, and participants studied the construction of these objects and they practiced handling them. Participants visited the Mino region in Gifu Prefecture and they learned about the process of hand-making Japanese paper, ingredients of that paper, and the historical background behind its manufacture. In addition, participants visited a traditional restoration studio and shops selling traditional tools and materials in Kyoto. An active discussion took place on the final day of the course. Participants exchanged opinions on the use of Japanese paper in their respective countries, and some participants asked technical questions about conservation. Through this course, Japanese techniques can help to conserve cultural properties overseas. Plans are to conduct similar courses in the future.


Survey of Traditional Rammed Earthen Buildings in Bhutan

A survey in the Village of Tenchekha, where the population is decreasing
A craftsman explains human-based units of measurement

 This year will be the third year since the “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project, Preservation of Traditional Buildings in the Kingdom of Bhutan,” which was commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, started in partnership with the Bhutanese Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. Bhutan has many rammed earthen buildings such as residences, and this project aims to preserve those buildings and improve their safety. The Institute has been conducting surveys and studies of traditional Bhutanese construction techniques from the perspectives of architectural history and structural mechanics. The surveys and studies include surveys to examine traditional methods of construction and analyses of the structural strength and earthquake resistance of those buildings. From September 18 to 27, 2014, a fifth field survey was conducted in cooperation with the Institute’s Bhutanese counterpart, the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) of the Department of Culture under the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs.
 Prior to this survey, the DCHS had been asked to prepare several test pieces of rammed earth in accordance with instructions regarding the ratios of materials in those pieces. Cores were taken from the prepared test pieces to examine their strength. Results of the inspection verified that walls made of lime and rammed earth provided structural reinforcement. In the past, the strength of these walls depended entirely on the craftsman’s gauging of the size of soil particles and the optimum moisture content of soil. For the inspection, however, DCHS staff members received guidance in operational procedures from the Institute so that these aspects could be quantified by laboratory testing. In addition, the Institute’s structural study team measured microtremors to simulate behavioral characteristics of a temple near Thimphu.
 The architectural study team surveyed several residences and ruins that preserve the old style of architecture in a rural community within Paro Dzongkag. This survey aimed to ascertain changes in structural forms and determine their relationship to wall construction techniques. Interviews were also conducted with craftsmen and technicians who are experienced in rammed earth construction in order to gain knowledge. Possible ways to improve methods of construction were discussed with these craftsmen and technicians.
 Bhutan experienced heavy rains during the survey. A building that was surveyed last year was found to have already collapsed and new damage to a building that was visited just a few days prior was noted. These examples reveal how fragile these buildings are if they are not properly maintained and these examples highlighted the need to preserve these traditional buildings.


Conservation and exhibition of wall paintings unearthed at the Hulbuk site in the Republic of Tajikistan

Conservation work (Wall painting fragments are laid out on a mounting board)
During the ceremony to showcase the conserved wall paintings

 From September 11 to October 2, wall painting fragments that were unearthed at the Hulbuk site were conserved and exhibited at the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan. These wall paintings were presumably produced in around the 10th to 11th century and few similar paintings exist. Thus, these paintings are scholarly materials with considerable value in terms of the art history of Tajikistan and other countries in Central Asia. Since 2010, the Institute has been extensively restoring these wall painting fragments with the cooperation of the Institute of History, Archeology, and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan. As of last year, work was done to piece the fragments back together and then reinforce and stabilize them.
 This year, the fragments were mounted to facilitate their safe exhibition. First, a backing was created and then attached to the back of the wall painting fragments. Fragments were then arranged on a mounting board 91 cm wide × 182 cm tall based on line drawings done when the fragments were excavated. Seventeen wall painting fragments were re-assembled to depict a single image. Decorative mortar matching the texture of the wall painting fragments was added around those fragments. Nuts and bolts were used to fix the fragments in place. This construction allows the fragments to be safely removed from the mounting in the future so that they can be transported to other museums for exhibitions.
 After the exhibition, a ceremony was held to showcase the conserved paintings. The ceremony was attended by personnel from the Institute as well as Saidmurod BOBOMULLOEV, Director of the National Museum of Antiquities, Rahim MASOV, Director of the Institute of History, Archeology, and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences, and KAMADA Takashi, Japanese Ambassador to Tajikistan. Plans are to continue exhibiting the wall painting fragments in a hall at the National Museum of Antiquities, where other items unearthed from the Hulbuk site have been assembled.
 This conservation project was undertaken in part with a Sumitomo Foundation grant for Projects to Preserve and Conserve Foreign Cultural Properties.


International Symposium held on The Silk Roads as a World Heritage Site: Tracing the origins of Japan’s international cooperation in cultural heritage

A lecture underway
A panel discussion underway

 The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (JCIC-Heritage) held an international symposium (co-organized with the Agency for Cultural Affairs) on “The Silk Roads as a World Heritage Site: Tracing the origins of Japan’s international cooperation in cultural heritage,” which took place at the Iino Hall on September 27. The decision was made this June to inscribe the “Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor” on the list of World Heritage Sites. The symposium covered topics related to this inscription, including previous support from Japan for inscription of the Silk Roads as a World Heritage Site, the significance of the listing, and the relationship between the Silk Roads and Japan.
 During the first half of the symposium, YAMAUCHI Kazuya, the Head of the Regional Environment Section of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, delivered a keynote lecture entitled “Japan’s Contribution to the Inscription of the Silk Roads as a World Heritage Site.” In addition, Xiaofei WANG, Director of the Cultural Heritage Bureau at Turpan Prefecture was welcomed from China and Dmitriy VOYAKIN of Archaeological Expertise LLP was welcomed from Kazakhstan to lecture on efforts and resources to nominate world heritage sites in their respective countries. A panel discussion on “The Silk Roads and Japan” took place during the latter half of the symposium. Panelists were 4 experts on the Silk Roads (KURANAKA Shinobu of Daito Bunka University, SAITO Kiyohide of the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara, MORIMOTO Kosei from Todaiji Temple, and YOSHIDA Yutaka of Kyoto University), and the discussion was chaired by MAEDA Kosaku, Vice Chairperson of JCIC-Heritage. Panelists talked about the links between the Silk Roads and Japan in terms of their own areas of expertise.
 The symposium had 300 attendees and provided an opportunity to inform a large audience of Japan’s considerable contribution to the inscription of the Silk Roads on the list of World Heritage Sites.


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