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


Contribution of “Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Art Bibliography in Japan” in OCLC

Screenshot of the literature published in an exhibition catalog after conducting a search on WorldCat.

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties endeavors to collect and utilize literature and materials on fine arts. To transmit information globally through the Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC), the world’s largest online library service provider, the Institute has proceeded with the project through repeated consultations with OCLC Center, Kinokuniya Company Ltd., its agent in Japan. As a result, in January 2018, approximately 50,000 items of data from articles and papers included in the exhibition catalogs were entered as “Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Art Bibliography in Japan” in the OCLC Central Index, the world’s largest corporative bibliographic catalog database. This contribution has allowed users to access bibliographic data on exhibition catalog papers including “Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Art Bibliography in Japan” by inputting any key words such as artists and works on fine art through search services such as WorldCat.org (https://www.worldcat.org/) and Art Discovery Group Catalogue (https://artdiscovery.net/).
 Published books and magazines can be accessed from general search engines or through library databases. However, articles and papers placed in exhibition catalogs that are highly specialized are not widely known. This time, reused data on articles and papers published in exhibition catalogs donated by art galleries and museums throughout Japan for the “Yearbook of Japanese Art” editing project that the Institute has been continually conducting since its early days, was provided. Although the function of accessing the entire text online from the search result directly has not been provided yet—an issue that needs to be solved—creating a possibility for discovery of any required materials for global internet users is of great significance. At this moment, the data accumulated from 1930 through 2013 were contributed, and the Institute will strengthen its information transmission by continually adding new data.
 This achievement is the result of the “project to formulate the basic grounds for sending information on cultural assets centered on fine arts and crafts both domestically and internationally,” a joint project that has been conducted with the National Museum of Western Art since 2016.


Seminar “Lecture by Ms. Kathleen Salomon, Associate Director of the Getty Research Institute” and discussion “Aiming for international information dissemination of research materials of Japanese Art”

Lecture

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties concluded an agreement with the Getty Research Institute on February 2016, concerning exchanges for researchers of both institutes and the collaboration on a project to make the digital information on Japanese art available on the Getty Research Portal. Research was commissioned by the Agency of Cultural Affairs, entitled “Research on the dissemination of Japanese art through inviting a foreign leading figure.” Thus, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems invited Ms. Kathleen Salomon, Associate Director of the Getty Research Institute to give a lecture and undertake inspections and meetings at art archives such as our institute, the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, the National Museum of Western Art, the National Art Center and the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto.
 The seminar was held on December 6th, 2017, at the Kuroda Memorial Hall of the Tokyo National Museum. Ms. Salomon introduced the developments of and the current worldwide work of the Getty Research Institute and the library and spoke about the latest international trends in the information dissemination of art research materials. And then, Ms. Masako KAWAGUCHI from the National Museum of Western Art commented on the lecture, and the discussion as the chance of thinking the challenges and prospects regarding international information dissemination in Japan was hold with Emiko YAMANASHI, deputy director of Institute, as the chair. Forty-one people, —archivists from museums, librarians from universities and research organizations, researchers of art history and so on—participated in the seminar. The report of this seminar will be published as open access on our website in the near future.


People who Supported Seiki KURODA and Masterpieces that Fostered Ryusei KISHIDA – Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Seiki KURODA (far-right in the back row) and his relatives. His birth father, Kiyokane, is on the left side of the front row while his adoptive father, Kiyotsuna, is on the right side.
Photographed at his home in Hirakawa-cho in 1904.

 On December 26th, 2017, a monthly seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems and the following researchers presented at the seminar.
• Mr. Koji CHIKAMATSU (Visiting Researcher of the Department): “Interpretation of the Documents and Letters Related to Seiki KURODA”
• Mr. Atsushi TANAKA (Visiting Researcher of the Department): “Acceptance of Classical Works of Art by Ryusei KISHIDA from 1913 through 1916”
 Mr. Chikamatsu reported on his research of letters written to a western-style painter Seiki KURODA (1866–1924), owned by the Institute. Research on the letters sent to this painter has been repeatedly reported at this seminar. Mr. Chikamatsu targeted his research on the letters written by his family members and relatives, including his birth father Kiyokane (1837–1914), his adoptive father Kiyotsuna (1830–1917), the Hashiguchi family, into which his adoptive sister married, and the Kabayama family, which adopted a child from the Hashiguchi family. Like the letters written by his adoptive mother Sadako presented by Mr. Jun TANAKA at the seminar held in August 2016, the letters reported here also showed that his relatives discussed Seiki’s change of profession from a lawyer to an artist during his stay in France.
 Mr. Tanaka presented on the paintings of Ryusei KISHIDA (1891–1916), a western-style painter, during the period that he lived in Yoyogi, Tokyo (1913–1916). In his book titled “Ryusei’s Book of Paintings and Artistic Views” (published in 1920), he referred to the great masters in Europe, such as Albrecht Dürer, Andrea Mantegna, and Jan van Eyck, saying, “It was really nice and reasonable for me to be influenced by these classical works of art.” Among them, Mr. Tanaka paid attention to Andrea Mantegna, an Italian Renaissance artist. Following a discussion of his process of accepting classical works of art based on the European book of paintings, which Ryusei may have watched, the presenter closely examined Ryusei’s process of establishing realistic expressions in his representative work, “Sketch of Road Cut through a Hill” (painted in 1915), and others.


The 51st “Open Lecture”

A lecture being given

 Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a two-day open lecture on November 2nd and 3rd in the seminar room of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP). Every autumn, TNRICP invites people from the general public to attend presentations given by its researchers and invited outside lecturers on the results of research that they conduct on a daily basis. This year, it was the 51st open lecture. This program is not only held as part of the Lecture Series of the Ueno no Yama Cultural Zone Festival organized by Taito Ward but is also associated with Classics Day on November 1st, 2017.
 This year’s lectures covered four topics: “Japanese paintings that were brought overseas ― Through introduction of the folding screen, “Merry making on kamo river beach at shijo” in a collection at the Grassi Museum for Ethnology in Leipzig, Germany” (Tomoko EMURA, Head of Archives Section, TNRICP); “Human bodies depicted as this impure world― Illness and dead bodies depicted in Japanese medieval paintings” (Satomi YAMAMOTO, Professor of Kyoritsu Women’s University); “Loquats painting copied from nature― Tanyu KANO and reproduction in Edo Period” (Mayumi ONO, Senior Researcher, TNRICP); and “Great poets making tofu baked and coated with miso ― Paintings of Great Poets by Jakuchu ITO” (Miho MABUCHI, Associate Professor of Kobe City University of Foreign Studies). The first two lectures were given on the 2nd and the latter two lectures on the 3rd. The audience on both days totaled 225 people and, according to the results of the questionnaire survey, nearly 90% of the audience responded “satisfied” or “almost satisfied.” Thus, the open lecture received favorable reactions.


History and Significance of Raden (Mother-of-Pearl Decoration) Craftwork in Thailand― Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Workshop hosted by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

 In Thailand in the 18th century and after, exquisite raden craftwork in which an enormous number of tiny seashell parts are finely combined, has developed. If you have already visited the Grand Palace and Wat Pho famous for Reclining Buddha in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, you may know it. The raden craftwork has been still continued, although not very extensively. However, there have hardly been any studies on the history of Thailand’s raden; its transition and social significance has not been researched not only in Japan but also even in Thailand. At the 9th seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, Prof. Tomohito TAKATA of Siam University who is specialized in Buddhism art history in Thailand gave a presentation on the history of Thailand’s raden in the early-modern and modern times.
 Mr. Takata, first of all, explained that raden works in Thailand are seen on the doors and windows in Buddhism temples, on the pedestal bowl offerings for monks, and on the sutra boxes and Cabinets, they had been donated closely related to Buddhism, and they had been made rather exclusively with strong relationship with the royal family of Thailand. Further, he chose, as the analysis subjects, the temple doors whose dates of making or construction are accurately known and divided the history of raden from the 18th to the early 20th century into three periods according to the differences in the main motifs, patterns and techniques utilized. The three periods are the 1st period (from the middle of the 18th century to the beginning of the 19th century), the 2nd period (from the first half to the middle of the 19th century), and the 3rd period (from the latter half of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century). Based on this, he further pointed out that, in the 1st period when the patterns and motifs only included tendril patterns and portrait of the deities in which external influences were hardly observed, the Buddhism values such as the three realms of existence were expressed in raden works like in other wooden sculptures and paintings. In contrast, the 2nd period characterized by appearance of the story of Ramayana as well as Chinese decorative patterns reflects diplomatic relations with China and East Asia during this era. Further, in the 3rd period when the patterns that expressed forms of medallions in raden were made, new relationship between Thailand and the West as well as an increase in power of the royal family gave influence over raden crafting.
 The workshop also included participation of Ms. Ayumi HARADA, expert in Thai art history, from Kyushu National Museum and Prof. Norihiko OGURA from Department of Crafts (Urushi-Art) of Faculty of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. Ms. Harada gave us comments on the origin of Thai raden, external relations, etc. from the expert’s point of view. Further, Prof. Ogura delivered opinions from a viewpoint of an artist. The workshop also contained active discussion about relationship with Japanese raden works of the 19th century that have been discovered successively in Bangkok in recent years. The workshop could also serve as a good opportunity to recognize significance of Thai raden that had not often been subject to academic discussions.


Seminar on Art Archives in France Today – Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Inside the Library of L'Institut national d'histoire de l'art

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been making efforts to collect, organize and publish art materials accumulated since its foundation in 1930 as The Institute of Art Research, following the art archive models in Europe. After more than 80 years, the way in which European art is archived has progressed. The presentation titled “Introduction of Modern Art Materials, Museums, Libraries, Archives and Internet Resources in France and Their Utilization Cases” provided on September 5th by Mr. Tatsuya SAITO (visiting researcher) of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems was a good opportunity for us to understand the current situation in France.
 Mr. Saito, who now researches French modern art for his doctorate at Paris-Sorbonne University in Paris, daily accesses archives in France. From the viewpoint of their user, he mainly introduced the cases in public institutions, such as the Bibliothèque nationale de France, L’Institut national d’histoire de l’art, the Musee de l’Histoire de France Archives Nationales, and the Musée d’Orsay. Compared with Japan, the digital archives operated by each institution are excellent in quality and quantity in general. Particularly manuscript materials, including letters written by artists, are digitalized well. The staff of this Institute, where lots of similar materials are housed, were extremely inspired. On the other hand, as not all materials are digitalized, it is also necessary to refer to original materials. We nodded in agreement at his comment as researchers.
 At the seminar, Mr. Masaya KOIZUMI from Hitotsubashi University gave comments as a commentator while Ms. Masako KAWAGUCHI and Ms. Megumi JINGAOKA from the National Museum of Western Art and Mr. Rei KOZAKAI from the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art joined the seminar. Although the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems daily focuses on Japanese art, the staff proactively exchanged opinions with researchers in Western art about what art archives should be like.


The 28th EAJRS Conference “Digital Strategies for Japanese Studies: Theories and Practices”

The 28th EAJRS Conference: Session at Professorboligen, the University of Oslo
The 28th EAJRS Conference: Resource Provider Workshop

 The 28th European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS) Conference was held at the University of Oslo, Norway from September 13th through 16th. From the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of this Institute, Mr. Kikkawa attended the conference. EAJRS is an organization composed of librarians, professors, and museum and gallery curators who handle Japanese study materials in Europe. The 2017 conference was titled “Digital Strategies for Japanese Studies: Theories and Practices,” attracting more than 90 participants. At this conference consisting of 14 sessions, 30 presentations were made, regarding studies on the collections of Japanese materials overseas by the Chester Beatty Library, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at Columbia University, and so forth; digital archive programs by the National Institute of Japanese Literature, the National Museum of Japanese History, the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records, and the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation; the expertise on references using internet tools by the National Diet Library; and initiatives by the EAJRS Conservation/Preservation Working Group.
 At the conference, we conducted a resource provider workshop and set up a booth to introduce our research programs and archives. We exhibited our publications and digital archives with explanations. Through talks during the period, overseas experts gave us concrete advice on how information should be disseminated through the institutional repository, as well as evaluation of our publications. This was really a good opportunity for us. You can access the EAJRS site (http://eajrs.net/) to watch this conference. The 2018 conference is scheduled to be held at Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania.


Research of the Western-style Cruciform Sword Possessed by Fujisaka Shrine in Minakuchi, Koka City, Shiga Prefecture by an Expert from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and an Initial Report at the 7th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Research by Dr. Pierre Terjanian
Presentation at the Seminar of the Department

 The cruciform sword possessed by Fujisaka Shrine in Minakuchi, Koka City, Shiga Prefecture is a slender Western-style sword, which is said to have been owned by feudal lord Yoshiaki KATO (1563-1631) who served Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, the founder of the Kato family ruling the Minakuchi Domain in the Tokugawa Shogunate. This sword of excellent workmanship is formed completely differently from those used in Japan or in Asia. A survey conducted by domestic specialists in 2016 revealed that this was a rapier produced in Europe between the 16th and early 17th century and that this is the only Western-style sword handed down to the present time in Japan (reported in TOBUNKEN NEWS No. 65). However, the research conducted at that time did not address some essential problems, such as whether this sword was made in Japan or brought to Japan from Europe, and around which year it was manufactured.
 To resolve these problems, we invited Dr. Pierre Terjanian, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Curator in Charge, Department of Arms and Armor, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which boasts the world’s leading rapier collection. After conducting research in Minakuchi, Dr. Terjanian presented his considerations on this Western sword under the title “European Renaissance Rapiers and the Minakuchi Rapier” at the 7th seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems.
 According to his consideration, the copper hilt was obviously made in Japan, and the sword blade was probably made in Japan or in Asia, not in Europe. The original European rapier, on which the Minakuchi rapier was modeled, would have been manufactured between 1600 and 1630, but closer to 1630. Moreover, this sword displays less practicability.
 His view unveils a new fact utterly unknown so far that Japanese people scrutinized a Western sword from Europe and even manufactured a reproduction of it in the early 17th century in Japan. On the other hand, another fact was also found: that a unique technique was used to connect the hilt to the blade with an advanced screw structure, which has not been confirmed in European rapiers. You can understand that such a unique feature resulted from much effort and ingenious attempts by Japanese artisans of the day who worked hard to accurately reproduce an unfamiliar Western sword with the knowledge and techniques they had.
 Thus, the research of a Western-style sword handed down in Minakuchi reveals various facts about the metalwork techniques of the early 17th century and about the acceptance of foreign culture. We will proceed with further research and study, including the issue of where and how this sword was manufactured and by whom. We are planning to disclose the actual situation of this sword and its historical backdrops.


The Forefront of Research on Sesshu – The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Organizes a Workshop

Landscape “Haboku-sansui” by Sesshu (partial) owned by TNM (picture provided by TNM)

 Sesshu Toyo went to China (Ming) and made a serious career of ink brush painting. Materials on Sesshu’s entry into Ming include “Tenkai togaro ki” by Baifu Ryoshin and Sesshu’s painting “landscape” including his inscription (commonly called the Painting “Haboku-sansui” owned by the Tokyo National Museum (TNM)). Mr. Yu HASHIMOTO (Hokkaido University) presented his theory that Sesshu proactively went to Ming from the standpoint of Japan-Ming history research in his papers titled “Reexamination of Sesshu’s Travel to Ming China” (Studies in Art History 33, March 2017). Regarding “之” of “向者、大明国北京礼部院、於中堂之壁、尚書姚公、命公令画之” in “Tenkai togaro ki,” he pointed out that it was the theme of the painting drawn by Sesshu in the interior wall of lǐbu(礼部) in Beijing and assumed that it was an image of Zhôngkui(鍾馗) and as collateral evidence, and he discussed the relations between Zhôngkui and Chinese higher civil service examinations and lǐbu. Furthermore, the part “於茲長有声并李在二人得時名、相随伝設色之旨兼破墨之法兮” of Sesshu’s inscription in “Sansuizu” was read as the fact that Zhang Yousheug and Li Zai learned the traditional painting style by following each other unlike the traditional interpretation of “Sesshu’s studying under Zhang Yousheug and Li Zai.”
 In response to this discussion, Mr. Minoru WATADA, Cultural Affairs Agency, scrutinized Hashimoto’s views of “Tenkai togaro ki” and Sesshu’s inscription in “landscape” in a presentation entitled “On the Occasion of Yu HASHIMOTO’s ‘Reexamination of Sesshu’s Travel to Ming China’” at a workshop organized by the Department on August 7th. We invited Mr. Arata SHIMAO, Gakushuin University, as the moderator, Mr. Koji ITO, Kyushu University, Mr. Hitoshi YONETANI, Waseda University, Ms. Makiko SUDA and Mr. Makoto OKAMOTO, Historiographical Institute, The University of Tokyo, as commentators and views and opinions from the perspectives not only of art history but also of historiography and philological history were exchanged in the workshop.
 Mr. Watada read in the past “命公令画之” in “Tenkai togaro ki” as “之に画く” in the book titled “Sesshu and Japanese Kanga Painters (Brücke, 2013) and if it is “之を画く” as traditionally interpreted, he raised a question as to Hashimoto’s view that “之” is “墨鬼鍾馗” right before it. Many of the participants in the workshop expressed their views that there was no way to determine what “之” points to only through interpretation based on grammar and pointed out that there was room for restudy of the validity of making the theme of the painting an image of Zhôngkui. Based on the collateral evidence shown by Mr. Hashimoto and other evidence, some noted that the possibility of the theme of the painting being an image of Zhôngkui cannot be denied categorically, either. The participants concluded that seeking a possible interpretation and the theme of the painting that is appropriate for lǐbu would be future challenges to be addressed.
 Furthermore, regarding the subject of “相随伝” written in the inscriptions, Mr. Watada read it as Sesshu, considering the fact that the subject after “余曽入大宋国” was supposed to be “余,” namely, Sesshu. So he took the position of reading Sesshu’s studying under Zhang Yousheug and Li Zai as traditionally interpreted. As opposed to this, many of participants in the workshop expressed views that there was a contradiction in terms of the structure of a sentence in the traditional theory and ended up supporting Mr. Hashimoto’s interpretation. It remains unknown why Sesshu illustrated two painters, that is, Zhang Yousheug and Li Zai , but if you pay attention to “数年而帰本邦地、熟知吾祖如拙周文両翁製作楷模,” as “長有声并李在” and “如拙周文” become paired, it is safe to say that Sesshu intended to make “如拙周文” stand out. Mr. Watada pointed out that unless you make the one that did “相随伝” Sesshu, it did not agree with the description of “至于洛求師,” namely, Sesshu sought a teacher in China. Mr. Shimao, who served as the moderator, suggested clichés be distinguished in text and it was an opportunity to share the recognition that studies are needed from an extensive perspective that is not confined to reading or interpreting of historiographic materials.
Thanks to the question raised by Mr. Watada, the participants were able to share the possibility and amplitude of interpretation of historiographical materials yet again. We can look forward to future developments in research on Sesshu.


Participation in IFLA World Congress in Wroclaw

Centennial Hall, the main venue of the IFLA World Congress
Presentation by Ms. Salomon

 The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) held its 83rd World Library and Information Congress from August 19 to 25, 2017 in Wroclaw, a city in western Poland. IFLA, founded in 1927 in Edinburgh, Scotland, is an international organization for libraries and a member of the International Committee of the Blue Shield. Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, IFLA has approximately 1,400 member institutions from over 140 countries, and holds an annual world congress. At this year’s world congress, 248 sessions, including conferences, meetings and workshops, took place based on various topics and types of libraries such as national, academic and public libraries. As the first delegate from the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, I, Tomoko Emura from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, participated in the Congress, joining workshops and meetings on art libraries and other topics relevant to our archives to share information and network with other participants from around the world.
 A session for the Art Libraries Section, Discovering Art and Architecture: Open-Access Tools for Art History Research, was held in the Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw on August 22, where four speakers from the Netherlands, Italy, the United States and Hungary presented various measures to expand the sharing of art-related documents and research materials to facilitate further studies. Ms. Kathleen Salomon from the Getty Research Institute explained, in her presentation titled A Virtual Library for Art History: The Getty Research Portal, that the Portal added our institute to the list of contributors in May this year and now provides access to digitized copies of the magazines and exhibition catalogues from the Meiji era owned by our institute. She also explained that other rare books in non-English languages are widely accessible from the Portal. Having seen no other participants from Japan or other Asian countries in the Art Libraries Section or the standing committee, I received the impression that international initiatives on art-related documents and materials are led by people in the U.S. and Europe, but also found that many Japanese artworks and documents are owned by institutions all over the world. Further, I realized that our institute would be able to play an instrumental role in supporting research activities and promoting a better understanding of Japanese culture more widely around the world by providing archive functions and information more effectively to the international community. Our challenge for the future is to foster international cooperation while maintaining our specialized expertise at a sufficient level.


Analysis of the Painting of Kujaku-myo-o and the Painting of Fugen Bosatsu (owned by the Tokyo National Museum) by X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry

Analysis of the Painting of Kujaku-myo-o by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (Tokyo National Museum)

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the Tokyo National Museum (TNM) have jointly conducted an optical analysis of Buddhist artworks owned by TNM. As part of this collaborative research, we conducted an analysis of coloring materials by employing X-ray fluorescence spectrometry for the Painting of Kujaku-myo-o (Skt: Mahamayurividyarajni) and the Painting of Fugen Bosatsu (Skt: Samantabhadra) for two days from August 2 to 3, 2017. The two pieces of artwork are paintings on silk drawn in the Heian period (12th century) and designated as a National Treasure.
 Through X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, the types and quantities of elements that constitute matter can be identified in a non-destructive and non-contact manner. In recent years, in particular, high-performance portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometers have become widespread, and highly accurate data have become safely obtainable. The types of pigments or the compositions of metals, such as gold and silver, can be identified by the analysis of paintings, such as these two artworks.
 Through this collaborative research, we have obtained high-definition color, fluorescent, and infrared images of five Buddhist paintings drawn in the Heian period so far, including the two pieces for this analysis. Using X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, we have studied these images in detail and examined the colors and descriptions used in the artworks comprehensively.
 Although a great deal of research has been conducted on the Painting of Kujaku-myo-o and the Painting of Fugen Bosatsu from the perspective of art history, with this spectrometric technique, yet-to-be-discovered facts are expected to be uncovered. In addition, given the fact that experts from more than one realm ranging from art history to analytical chemistry and image formation have taken part in this collaborative research, there are likely to be new developments in the research of Buddhist paintings in the Heian period through cross-sectoral analysis and studies. For this reason, we will continue to promote cooperation among researchers in conducting research and moving ahead with the analysis of other Buddhist paintings in the same era as well.


Art and Gender: Two Decades of Progress Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Ticket for the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts exhibition “Floating Images of Women in Art History: from the Birth of the Feminism toward the Dissolution of the Gender”

 The study of art history from the perspective of gender, which signifies the social and cultural constructs relating to male/female differences, developed in the West in the 1970s and ’80s. In Japan, gender was chosen as a theme by the Japan Art History Society in the ’90s, leading to exhibitions at art museums throughout the nation, attracting attention. Now, two decades later, we look back on the development and progress of gender studies. Ms.Reiko KOKATSU traced the footsteps in her presentation titled “The Gender Perspective: Its Introduction and Current Status in Japanese Art History Studies and Art Exhibitions.”
 Ms. KOKATSU, who was involved in the planning of the 1997 “Floating Images of Women in Art History: from the Birth of the Feminism toward the Dissolution of the Gender” exhibition at the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, is also party to the ensuing “gender debate” that the exhibition helped to ignite. What emerged from the debate was the perspective of whether “art” exists as a separate world, cut off from real-world society. Ms. KOKATSU says such differences in perspective are prevalent in art circles even today. One example of coordinated movement by society and art might be the involvement of art historians in the protests against the “gender-free bashing” that became a social problem from 2004 to ’06.
 After the presentation, Ms.Midori YAMAMURA (Special Researcher, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) spoke about the current state of gender studies in the USA. Ms.Maki KANEKO (University of Kansas) and Ms. Ryoko MIZUNO (Japan Women’s University) were also in attendance, with Ms.MIZUNO presenting some examples of the gender perspective in Japanese classical art studies. A multifaceted exchange of views took place in relation to art and gender.
 For a summary of KOKATSU’s presentation, please refer to Vol. 12 of Gender History issued in 2016. 


Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems – Unexpected Interaction between a Japanese-style Painter and Philosophers

Sketch of by Gaho HASHIMOTO (Source: “Collection of Gaho’s Rough Sketches” edited by Shuho HASHIMOTO)

 Gaho HASHIMOTO (1835-1908) is a renowned painter, who tries to innovate the modern Japanese-style painting together with Hogai KANO. Mr. Junichiro TANAKA (Ibara Municipal Denchu Art Museum) gave a presentation titled “Expressions in Figures by Gaho Hashimoto – Over the Possessed by Toyo University,” which has not been referred to so much among his works, at the research meeting held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on June 27.
 The , where the four sages of Socrates, Buddha, Confucius and Kant are depicted on a hanging scroll, is now housed at Toyo University, but it is a very rare one among Gaho’s works. This scroll was painted at the request of Enryo INOUE (1858-1919), who is the founder of the University and a philosopher in the Meiji period. The four sages directly reflect Enryo’s perspective of philosophy, regarding them as the greatest philosophers of all ages and countries. This scroll has been used for the Philosophy Hall Ceremony organized at Philosophy Hall (Four Sages Hall) located in Nakano, Tokyo for many years. However, there are still unclear points about the scroll, including when it was painted and its background. We are curious about the sources on which Gaho was based to depict the unprecedented motif of Socrates and Kant in the authentic Japanese-style painting. Anyway, it is true that this is a unique work which implies unexpected interaction between a Japanese-style painter in the Meiji period and philosophers of the world.


Historical Position of “Hakubai-zu byobu” by Goshun – A workshop is organized by the Dept. of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

How a workshop is being conducted

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties organized a workshop on May 30, 2017, when Takuyo YASUNAGA (a researcher of the Dept.) gave a presentation on research titled the Historical Position of “Hakubai-zu byobu” by Goshun (housed by the Itsuo Art Museum).
 After working as a disciple of Buson YOSA, Goshun (1752-1811) inherited Okyo MARUYAMA’s painting style. Goshun is known as a painter who established a painting school called the Shijyo school. One of his representative paintings, “Hakubai-zu byobu (the folding screen of white plum blossoms)” (an important cultural property) is a fantastical piece of work in which a small earth mound and three white plum trees that spread their branches are drawn on a pair of six-panel folding screens to which a coarse-grained fabric made from pale blue-dyed yarns is applied. These screens are estimated to have been produced between 1787 and early years of the Kansei era (1789-1801) based on a technique called tsuketate he employed in drawing the branches of plum and a style of calligraphy for his signature. They are one of the examples that were created when Goshun changed his painting style from a Buson style to the Okyo counterpart.
 As the initial step, YASUNAGA analyzed the expressions and materials of the painting meticulously, thereby shedding light on issues of incorporating an Okyo style in a painting on the subject of plum. He then went on to point out that a Nanpin style based on the learning of Buson’s paintings and an influence of Chinese paintings were identified in its unusual background expression on the fabric made from pale blue-dyed yarns. Furthermore, with respect to the use of a quite special base material that appears to be a cloth made from kudzu, YASUNAGA extrapolated the base material of the work through a comparison with some examples that use such cloth by other artists than Goshun. He also indicated that the use of such cloth was possibly associated with interaction between Goshun and men of letters in Ikeda. After his presentation, he was bombarded by questions about the use of this special base material and lively discussions were conducted on the possibility of its identification.


Joint Research on Buddhist Paintings in the Heian Era with the Tokyo National Museum

A highly detailed color digital image filming of the Painting of “Sahasrabhuja” or “Senju-kannon”

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has continuously conducted joint research with Tokyo National Museum (TNM) on Buddhist paintings in the Heian era housed by the TNM to date. We have taken pictures of a piece of work a year by employing highly detailed digital image technology that the TNRICP has and accumulated data that allow you to identify techniques in details. Starting in this fiscal year, the parties signed a memorandum titled “Joint Research on Buddhist Art through Optical Surveys” to launch a joint research project anew. In the new project, we will employ multiple optical methods ranging from near infrared image to luminescence image, to X-ray fluorescence spectrometry of pigments and X-ray image. These data enable you to identify unexpected techniques that have yet to be noticed visually from various perspectives and researchers of both institutions will jointly look into how they are associated with sophisticated painterly expressions represented by Buddhist paintings in the Heian era. On April 27th, 2017, we performed a color split filming of the whole picture of the national treasures: the Painting of “Mahamayuri” or “Kujaku-myo-o” and the Painting of “Sahasrabhuja” or “Senju-kannon.” The image data obtained thereby will be shared with researchers of the TNM and both parties will study its significance in an art historic sense and make preparations for making it pubic down the road.


Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems organizes a workshop – “Oishii seikatsu”: Look at Japanese culture in the transitional stage to the tertiary industry

A scene of the venue of the Japan World Exposition (Osaka, 1970)

 “Oishii seikatsu” (delicious life) is an advertising catchphrase hammered out by Seibu Department Store in 1982. While a high-speed growth era in which people sought material affluence was brought to end, in an era represented by this catchphrase where people try to build an individualistic lifestyle, how did artists respond to the trend? At a workshop organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) on April 25th, 2017, Ms. Midori YAMAMURA (Special Researcher of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) gave a presentation titled “‘Oishii seikatsu’: Look at Japanese culture in the transitional stage to the tertiary industry,” which was an attempt to explore the society and the origin of culture in the 1980s.
 According to Ms. YAMAMURA, artists who emerged from the end of the 1980s to the 1990s were greatly influenced by the Japan World Exposition held in Osaka in 1970. Artists participated in the World Expo, which excited enthusiasm in a great many Japanese people, through designing pavilions or exhibiting a piece of art. Meanwhile, those contemporary artists who were critical of the event’s stance of accepting the information industry or urbanization ended up becoming further alienated from people at large. A younger generation of artists, however, began conducting production activities by snuggling up to an everyday sense of ordinary people in the city. It is safe to say that the “Saison culture” based on a cultural strategy spelled out by the Saison Group, a distribution powerhouse centered on Seibu Department Store, which disseminated art, music, play or cinema that was in the forefront of the era between the 1970s and 1980s, played a role in fostering those artists’ flexible sensitivity.
 The workshop invited Mr. Yuji MAEYAMA of the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, who made a remark on the cultural context in the 1970s to 1980s. Due in part to the fact that many participants underwent the same era, opinions and views were exchanged passionately, going beyond the framework of specialty. The content of the presentation is scheduled to be complied in the First Chapter of the book titled Japanese Contemporary Art After 1989 to be published by REAKTION BOOKS.


Research Council Meeting on Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives

Research council meeting on Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives

 On March 14th, a research council meeting on the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives was held as part of the research project “Research/Study and Corpus Preparation of Modern & Contemporary Art.”
 Yutaka MATSUZAWA(1922-2006), known for his work and performance based on unique concepts, developed his own thoughts and concepts by assimilating oriental religious views, cosmic views, modern mathematics, astrophysics, etc., and expressed them in the form of art. As a highly important figure, he has been well regarded as a pioneer of “conceptual art” not only in Japan but also in the world. This research council meeting was held with the objective of sharing, among concerned parties, the summary and development activities of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives, which are now being managed by the General Incorporated Foundation “MATSUZAWA Yutaka Psi Room” (Executive Director Haruo MATSUZAWA), and of confirming their value as research materials. First, the following researches and reports were presented: Ms. Yoshiko SHIMADA (Artist) “Current progress towards establishment of the MATSUZAWA Archives: March 2017”; Mr. Shuhei HOSOYA (Research Assistant, Film and Media Department of Tohoku University of Art and Design) “Current status of research on films related to Yutaka MATSUZAWA and their digitization”; Dr. Midori YAMAMURA (JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research in Japan, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) “Letters of Yayoi KUSAMA – Character of Yayoi KUSAMA as seen through the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives”; and Dr. Reiko TOMII (Art historian, Co-founder of PoNJA-GenKon) “Position of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives in archive studies” (in their order of presentation). In the discussions held following the presentations, experts of post-war Japanese art participated and opinions were exchanged on major tasks for the development of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives, on the prevention of loss of archives of post-war and contemporary Japanese artists, and on the need to have specialized institutions to house archives for artists, etc.


International Symposium: In Search of the Multiple Origins of Namban Lacquer

Proceedings of the symposium
Discussion during the symposium

 Namban lacquer, which is characterized by its unique style, was made upon the request of Portuguese , Spaniards and others who visited Japan in the latter half of the 16th century and thereafter. It was made in Makie(gold powder lacquer technique) workshops in Kyoto and exported to Western countries up until the first half of the 17th century. Namban lacquer came to be known in Japan around the late 1930s. Quite a few pieces have been brought back to Japan from around the 1970s and found their way into museums and galleries all over the country. Recent investigation has revealed that many pieces are still owned by Christian facilities and other places in Spain and Portugal. In recent years, many exhibitions focusing on Namban lacquer have been held both in and outside Japan, and many of you may have actually seen them before.
 One of the major characteristics of Namban lacquer is its appearance, that is, a Western-style vessel decorated by Japanese traditional Makie and Raden (mother-of-pearl decoration). In addition, based on multiple studies, including art-historical, historiographical, organic chemical, wood antomical, conchological, and radiological studies, of its patterns, materials, and techniques, it has become clear that this object is a characteristic cultural asset strongly reflecting the Age of Commerce by having elements from not only Europe and Japan but also various Asian regions, such as East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.
 With the aim of specifically confirming these multiple characteristics of Namban lacquer and sharing the recognition, the symposium was held at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) for 2 days on March 4th and 5th, 2017, where 12 reports were presented by 11 domestic and foreign experts and enthusiastic discussions were held. Further, the number of participants in this symposium totaled 25 persons from overseas (Europe, the US, and Asia) and 160 persons from various places in Japan, reflecting a growing interest in Namban lacquer among people in Japan and overseas.


Joint Study of Paintings of Buddhist Deities Cundi and Samantabhadra in the Collection of the Tokyo National Museum

Photographing the painting of Cundi

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems regularly works with the Tokyo National Museum to study Buddhist paintings from the Heian Period in its collection. Each year, high-resolution digital imaging technology belonging to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is employed to image these works from the 12th century or earlier to gather data that enables researchers to study in greater detail the techniques employed to produce the works. Such data has revealed the use of extraordinary techniques that would not have been apparent with the naked eye. Researchers from the two institutions explore how these techniques were used to create such sophisticated pictorial depictions of Buddhist deities so many centuries in the past. As part of this year’s study, a painting of Cundi (Juntei-Kannon) (Important Cultural Property) and a painting of Samantabhadra (Fugen Bosatsu) (National Treasure) were imaged on February 23rd, 2017 in high-resolution color in sections, along with all of this year’s National Treasure selections. Going forward, other optical study methods will be adopted in this joint work and the results shared with museum researchers so that the place of such paintings in art history can be assessed with an eye toward presenting the paintings to the public in the future.


The 10th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems “Study of the Western Cruciform Sword Possessed by Fujisakae Shrine in Koka City”

A Scene from the 10th Seminar

 Fujisakae Shrine is located in Minakuchi, Koka City, Shiga Prefecture, the predecessor of which was Yoshiaki Reisha Shrine founded in the early 19th century in order to enshrine feudal lord Yoshiaki KATO, Founder of the family, governing Minakuchi area in the Edo period. The shrine has a variety of treasures, which are said to have been possessed by Yoshiaki. The Western style sword with a black lacquer sheath, which is said to have been granted by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, is one of them. Mostly intact in form, this sword is in no way inferior to the rapiers produced in Europe from the 16th to the 17th century. Although it seems to be the only Western sword handed down to the 21st century in Japan, the rapier has been stored at the Minakuchi Museum of History and Folklore in Koka City for many years without attracting much concern so far.
 In September 2016, the rapier was investigated from art historical and physicochemical perspectives by the five members of Ms. Akiko NAGAI (Board of Education in Koka City), Mr. Toshihiko SUEKANE (Tokyo National Museum), Ms. Motoko IKEDA (Kyoto National Museum), Prof. Kazutoshi HARADA (Tokyo University of the Arts), and me, Koji KOBAYASHI. The summary and the outcomes of our study were reported at the 10th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on February 24th, 2017.
 The presentations made by the members are “Historical Background on the Western Cruciform Sword Stored at Fujisakae Shrine” by Ms. Nagai; “Study of the Substantiality and Age of the Rapier Handed Down to Fujisakae Shrine – Reconnaissance with Museum Collections, Excavated artifacts and eary modern genre paintings” by Kobayashi; “Regarding the Western Sword Housed by Fujisakae Shrine” by Mr. Suekane; “The Western Sword Possessed by Fujisakae Shrine: X-ray CT Scanning and Fluorescent X-ray Analysis” by Ms. Ikeda; and “The Western Sword Belonging to Fujisakae Shrine – Comparison with Overseas Materials –” by Prof. Harada. The outcomes of our preliminary study were presented from diversified perspectives, including the reference to historical backdrops on swords and related artifacts, the study of hilt patterns and production techniques from the viewpoint of the metalworking history, the report of the data obtained through CT scanning and fluorescent X-ray analysis, and comparison with rapiers stored overseas, in addition to topics on Fujisakae Shrine and Yoshiaki KATO.
 Furthermore, whether this Western sword was produced at home or abroad is an important issue in considering the craftsmanship in the Momoyama period and its historical evaluation. We discussed the issue by exchanging various opinions and views after the presentations, which did not result in any consensus. We recognized the importance of this sword and the necessity of its further research anew.


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