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


Joint program – Craftsmanship underlying the traditional sounds

Demonstration by instrument makers
Panel talk (From left) Megumi Maehara (Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties), Kaoru Hashimoto (Tokyo University of the Arts)
Conclusion of the public lecture (From left) Kazuko Tanigaito (Japan Council of Performers Rights& Performing Arts Organization), Megumi Maehara, Tamiko Tamura (DO-GU LABO for Japanese Traditional Performing Arts), Hidekazu Hashimoto (Marusan Hashimoto Co.), Tomo Ishimura (Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)
Playing nagautaTamagawa (Tama River)” (From left) Sachi Oshima, Chie Mitsui, Yuji Suzuki, Akito Tsuzuki

 On August 3rd (Fri.), 2018, the 12th public lecture of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the 24th exhibition and demonstration seminar of Tokyo samisen and koto” were held jointly by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and Tokyo Japanese Musical Instruments Association (Tohokyo) under the theme of the “craftsmanship underlying the traditional sounds.”
 In the morning, instrument makers (koto and samisen) from Tohokyo gave demonstration and explanation along with time for Q&A session and hands-on experience. Participants had a valuable opportunity to talk directly with makers and learn how to play the instruments. At the lunch time, a staff member who had been engaged in instrument manufacturing and inspection for repairs in the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage gave a panel talk by introducing specific examples. At the public lecture in the afternoon, three lecturers raised the issues concerning the craftsmanship underlying Japanese traditional sounds and reported their activities from different positions. With a commentator joining in the seminar, all those issues and problems were organized, and opinions were exchanged on clues for solution. Lastly, young promising players closed the seminar with their nagauta (ballads sung to samisen accompaniment). The seminar participants shared the issues at various levels surrounding the traditional craftsmanship with producers, researchers, and players being linked together.
 The seminar was attended by 148 participants from various communities, such as manufacturers of music instruments and their accessories, live performers from different genres, researchers, educators, and devotees of traditional performance arts. It was found that there is a great interest in the craftsmanship underlying traditional performance arts. A report will be published at the end of this year, and going forward, we will conduct multi-faceted research on this theme and continue with our studies benefitting the preservation and inheritance of craftsmanship, by utilizing the newly established network at this opportunity.


First Recording of the Live Performance of “Miyazono-bushi”

Miyazono-bushi: Performance during the actual video recording (From left: MIYAZONO Senyoshie, MIYAZONO Senroku, MIYAZONO Senkazuya, and MIYAZONO Senkoju)

 On July 30th, 2018, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage recorded a live performance of Miyazono-bushi (for the first time) at the Performing Arts Studio of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. Miyazono-bushi is designated as a nationally important intangible cultural property.
 The first MIYAKOJI Sonohachi created Miyazono-bushi in Kyoto in the early 18th century. It declined later in Kyoto, but was revived in Edo in the mid-18th century, and has been inherited until today. The musical features of Miyazono-bushi are its unique joruri (vocal part), which is heavy yet silky, and the sound of the chuzao (middle neck) shamisen (Japanese banjo), which is soft yet thick. The traditional tunes are divided into 10 classical ones and modern ones, whose themes are mostly elopements for double suicides.
 This time, a classical tune, the “Scene of KOHARU Jihee Using Kotatsu (Japanese foot warmer)” (Kotatsu), and a modern tune, “Double Suicide in Minowa” were recorded. Both were performed by MIYAZONO Senroku (lead singer: an individual certified as a Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property or what is called living national treasure), MIYAZONO Senyoshie (supporting singer), MIYAZONO Senkazuya (lead shamisen player), and MIYAZONO Senkoju (supporting shamisen player).
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continue to record the live performance of classical Miyazono-bushi tunes as well as its modern tunes, which are seldom played.


Research on Shibetsu Icarpa and Regional Heritage

Shibetsu Icarpa implemented on the Ichani Karikariusu-iseki Ruins

 On June 17th, 2018, a traditional rite for Ainu people called icarpa was established out on the Ichani Karikariusu-iseki Ruins (nationally designated site) inside the Po-gawa River Historical Nature Park in Shibetsu Town, Hokkaido. Researchers of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage also visited the site.
 Shibetsu Icarpa is a memorial service for 23 Ainu people who were executed due to the Menashi-Kunashir rebellion in 1789, one of the resistance activities against the Wajin (the ethnic Japanese). The icarpa, organized by the Shibetsu municipal Ainu Association, was started in 2009, and it commemorated its tenth anniversary this year. For the first half of the rite, kamuinomi was established to offer sacred sake to the gods. For the last half of the rite, icarpa was conducted as a memorial service for the deceased. At the end of the rite, a song and a dance called upopo and rimse were performed.
 Shibetsu Icarpa was carried out at the Ichani Karikariusu-iseki Ruins, where a settlement had been formed most probably in the period when the Tobinitai culture had flourished from an archaeological perspective (circa 9th – 13th century). Together with Shibetsu Wetlands spreading in front of the site, it is now preserved in the Po-gawa River Historical Nature Park. Strictly speaking, the zenith of prosperity in the site is not consistent with the time when the rebellion occurred. Given that the site was run by their ancestors, it seems to have been chosen as a ritual place for reviving the traditional rite for Ainu people.
 In recent years, following the requirement of utilization of cultural properties, the case of Shibetsu Icarpa may become one of the good models in the utilization of relics. This is because utilization is realized by making good use of an intangible element of the site or “cultural space” as the land of the ancestors. That is, the historical value of the site can be considered utilized as a cultural resource in today’s cultural renaissance for the Ainu.
 On the other hand, the value of the Ichani Karikariusu-iseki Ruins does not belong to Ainu people only. In time, with Shibetsu Icarpa, “Po-gawa River Festival” is held for local citizens by organizing a variety of events such as canoeing, historic spot guide touring by curators, and Jomon kids’ village. As part of the educational program, local school children continually participate in the icarpa in an attempt to understand the local culture. Although most of the residents in Shibetsu Town do not trace their roots to the Ainu, the site is utilized as a local cultural resource for these people too. At the same time, the site also serves as a place of interaction between people who have Ainu ancestry and non-Ainu ancestry.
 Recently, one city and four towns in Eastern Hokkaido including Shibetsu Town (Nemuro City, Betsukai Town, Shibetsu Town, Nakashibetsu Town and Rausu Town) have started an activity to jointly nominate the heritage of this area as Japan Heritage. The Ichani Karikariusu-iseki Ruins is positioned as its key component. In Hokkaido, a region where people with diverse roots live in harmony, how to honor its local heritage is a difficult issue. We will continually pay attention to the movements in Eastern Hokkaido including Shibetsu Town.


Research Exchange with the National Intangible Heritage Center in the Republic of Korea

Reproduced mill and milling hut in Jeju Island
Ongoing workshop at the National Intangible Heritage Center

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been conducting research exchanges with the National Intangible Heritage Center in the Republic of Korea since 2008. During the exchange, staff members of each institution stay at the other institution to conduct research while holding joint symposiums. As part of this research exchange, Tomo ISHIMURA, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department, stayed in Korea for overseas research for two weeks from April 23rd to May 7th, 2018.
 The objectives of overseas research currently was to research the movements of anthropological and ethnological studies made by Japanese researchers in the Korean Peninsula during the colonial period and to critically redefine their significance today. In this instance, research was conducted to retrace the steps of Professor Seiichi IZUMI (1915-1970), who worked as an assistant professor at Keijo Imperial University in the Korean Peninsula until the end of the war and was involved in the establishment of Japan’s first Cultural Anthropology Department at the University of Tokyo after returning to Japan.
 During the first half of the research in Korea, Tomo ISHIMURA visited Jeju Island where Professor IZUMI conducted research in the 1930s and 1960s, in order to organize a hearing survey in the villages that Professor IZUMI had visited. The society on Jeju Island drastically changed due to the Jeju uprising that lasted from 1948 through 1954. It resulted in the replacement of most village residents. Fortunately, ISHIMURA could meet an old man who had been living in the same village since the 1930s when Professor IZUMI conducted the first research. ISHIMURA succeeded in clarifying the tangible changes in the village. Through research, Professor IZUMI defined multiple families who jointly owned a flour mill as a “molbange (mill) association” by regrading such a group of families as a unit comprising the social aggregation on Jeju Island. However, through the current research, ISHIMURA found that the use of the mill almost ceased from the 1950s to 1960s and that not only social changes but also mechanization of flour milling affected the extinction.
 In the last half of the research in Korea, ISHIMURA stayed at Jeonju, where the National Intangible Heritage Center is located. He organized the details of his research on Jeju Island to report the achievements at the workshop while expanding exchanges with the staff members at the National Intangible Heritage Center.
 Through this study in Korea, ISHIMURA confirmed that Korean society including Jeju Island drastically changed during the prewar and postwar periods and that former anthropological and ethnological research materials are significant today in understanding such changing processes.
 Last but not least, we would like to express sincere gratitude to Myung Jin LEE (National Intangible Heritage Center) and Doc Woo LEE (Kanagawa University), who supported his study during this research exchange.


Presentation of “Kariyado Folk Journal” to the Kariyado Area, Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture

“Kariyado Folk Journal”
Making a speech to introduce the published folk journal at the unveiling ceremony of the monument

 In the Kariyado area, Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture, intangible cultural heritage such as “Shishimai (Deer Dance)” and “Kagura (sacred Shinto music and dance)” have been passed down from generation to generation. In 2011, however, all residents of the area evacuated due to serious nuclear accidents caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. The succession of their folk performing arts also faced a crisis. Therefore, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted several surveys to accumulate information on Shishimai and Kagura, as well as the history and life of the area supporting such intangible cultural heritage, in order to compile it into a folk journal. In March 2018, “Kariyado Folk Journal” was finally published.
 Although the residents were allowed to return to their homes in the Kariyado area in April 2017, only some households have returned now in a year. Under the circumstances, a “Monument for the Reconstruction of the Kariyado Area Devastated by the Great Earthquake” was built, hoping for the recovery of the area. Its unveiling ceremony was held on April 21st and was attended by Hiromichi KUBOTA from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. During the ceremony, the newly published folk journal, whose number of copies is large enough to be distributed to all households in the Kariyado area, was introduced to the public. We hope that this folk journal will contribute not only to the succession of the intangible cultural heritage of the area but also to the further progress of the reconstruction of the area.


Publication of “INTANGIBLE,” a Website for Intangible Cultural Heritage Lovers

Top page of “INTANGIBLE.” The character on the left is Kobayashi, while the one on the right is Nyadeshiko.

 As part of the “Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network Promotion Project” (a project subsidized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs), the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage developed a website called “INTANGIBLE” to start its publication and operation for intangible cultural heritage lovers. Prompt relief and recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake were hindered due to very limited information on devastated intangible cultural heritage and its support. Particularly, intangible cultural heritage includes numerous assets other than designated cultural properties. To collect such diverse information, networks for the people involved and lovers were focused on.
 This website was started to share information required for the construction of such networks. To attract as many web surfers as possible, news and backstage reports on intangible cultural heritage, as well as the gallery and collection pages for lovers, have been provided. Along with the unique characters of the website, friendly pages will welcome all visitors.

http://intangible.tobunken.go.jp/


The Second Festival Network Meeting

Participants of the Second Festival Network Meeting

 The second meeting of the “Festival Network” for festival and folk performing art lovers was conducted jointly with Omatsuri Japan Co., Ltd. in the basement conference room of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on Saturday, April 14th. The theme of this meeting was “Shishimai × Shishimai (Lion Dance × Lion Dance).” Four people were invited as guest speakers: Mr. Osamu KATSUYAMA from Shishieden Shishikatashu in Toyama Prefecture, Ms. Kumiko KATSUYAMA from the Lion Dance Preservation Society in Imizu Town, Toyama Prefecture, Mr. Mitsuru TOGAWA, representative of the Sanuki Lion Dance Preservation Society in Kagawa Prefecture, and Ms. Ayumi NAKAGAWA, spokesperson of the said Society and representative of the Tokyo Sanuki Lion Dance. An overwhelming number of lion dances have been passed down in these two prefectures. After the speakers talked about the passion for their local lion dances, questions and answers were exchanged actively with the audience. They commented that persistence to preserve local festivals and traditions, as well as rural depopulation and generation gap issues, could be recognized anew through the actual cases indicated by the speakers


Delegation from the Ministry of Culture in Thailand

Exchange of ideas with the delegation from the Ministry of Culture in Thailand
Visit to the Performing Arts Studio of the Institute

 On March 13th, 2018, five delegates headed by Mr. Pradit Posew, the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Cultural Promotion (the Ministry of Culture, Thailand), visited Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and exchanged ideas with researchers at the Institute 
 In 2016, the Thai government ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, a UNESCO Convention. At present, the government is preparing an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage of the country. In 2017, the government made an nomination files to have “Khon (traditional mask dance drama of Thailand)” and “Nuad Thai (traditional massage of Thailand)” included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The former will be examined at the 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Mauritius, scheduled for November 26th through December 1st, 2018.
 The objectives of their visit to Japan were to update themselves on the current condition of conservation and utilization of intangible cultural properties and heritage in Japan, which has years of accumulated experience in these activities, and to exchange ideas with Japanese experts. At this Institute, Thai and Japanese experts reported the current status of their respective intangible cultural heritage and discussed the issues common to the two countries, along with related questions and answers. Particularly, all the members recognized that how to hand down intangible cultural heritage to the coming generations is an important issue both in Japan and in Thailand.
 In the course of modernization, numerous traditional cultures have disappeared in Japan. Today, Thailand is experiencing rapid economic growth and accelerating development while facing the possibility of deterioration or extinction of its traditional cultures. Thus, the balancing of economic development with the preservation of culture is an important issue there. We believe that Thai people would be able to find a better way to hand down their intangible cultural heritage to future generations by referring to Japanese experiences not only of success but also of failure in preserving cultural heritage.


The First Recording of Heike

Rehearsal (Prof. Haruko KOMODA, who served as our adviser, in the foreground)

 Heike (or Heike-biwa) is one of Japan’s traditional performing arts wherein the blind beggar priests (biwa hōshi) musically recite Heike Monogatari (the Tale of the Heike) while playing the biwa (lute) as an accompaniment. It flourished and reached its peak in the Muromachi period. However, Heike-biwa has gradually declined in popularity since then, and now there is only one person who has officially inherited this tradition. On January 15th, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage recorded Heike at the Performing Arts Studio of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, with the help of the Heike-gatari Research Society, a study and performance group founded in 2015 under the initiative of Prof. Haruko KOMODA of Musashino Academia Musicae to promote and pass down the techniques of Heike-gatari (recitation of the Tale of the Heike) to the next generation.
 The Department recorded the following performances: the traditional piece, Koyo; the reconstructed piece, Kogo (from the sanjyu part to the beginning of the kudari part); the reconstructed piece, Atsumori (the kudoki part at the start); and the reconstructed piece, Gion Shoja. One of the most notable characteristics of the Heike-gatari Research Society is that the Society, which consists of emerging performers of the Jiuta and koto repertories, Mr. Yuji KIKUO, Mr. Naoichi TANAKA, and Mr. Shogo HIYOSHI, along with Prof. Haruko KOMODA, a leading authority in the study of Heike, has been reconstructing Heike based on objective evidence. The Department, together with the Society, will continue to archive the recordings of not only traditional pieces but also reconstructed pieces of Heike.


Participation in the International Symposium “Cultural Heritage and Religion in East Asia” at Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Venue of the symposium (Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan)
During the international symposium

 The international symposium “Cultural Heritage and Religion in East Asia” was held at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, from January 8th to 9th, 2018. The participants at this symposium, co-hosted by Academia Sinica and The Australian National University, included specialists in cultural heritage studies from Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, the U.S., and the U.K. As a representative from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tomo ISHIMURA, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section, Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, was invited to present at the symposium. In his presentation titled “Intangible cultural heritage and the protection system related to religion in Japan,” ISHIMURA argued that the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties in Japan can cover some elements of intangible cultural heritage with religious associations, but not other elements, by citing the examples of the Shunie ceremony held at Todaiji Temple and the Yamahoko Junko parade held as part of the Gion Festival. As a commentator, a South Korean researcher reviewed ISHIMURA’s presentation from various perspectives, making reference to Japan’s postwar policy of separating religion from the state.
 The main takeaway from this symposium was that many East Asian countries and regions recognize religion as an important element of intangible cultural heritage and that this notion is often reflected in their heritage protection and tourism policies. ISHIMURA also learned that this has both positive and negative aspects; while religious elements of heritage are protected under such policies, these elements can lose their original forms in the process of tourism or development.
In contrast, Japan does not, in principle, apply the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties to religious elements. In reality, however, while festivals celebrated primarily by religious bodies are not easily designated as cultural properties to be protected under this act, those celebrated primarily by local communities can be designated as cultural properties. It is, in fact, often difficult to separate religious and secular elements of actual festivals.
 This symposium served as a valuable opportunity for us to reflect on what is considered “cultural heritage” in Japan, that is, what “cultural heritage” means in Japan, by comparing our country’s situation with examples of other countries.


Survey in the Philippines on Disaster Prevention for Intangible Cultural Heritage

Rice terrace (Hapao, Ifugao Province)
Weaving on a hand loom (Oong, Ifugao Province)

 The International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI), established in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture as one of UNESCO’s Category 2 Centres, has been conducting research and surveys on disaster prevention for intangible cultural heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region since fiscal 2016. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has continuously cooperated with the IRCI in its research projects. Recently, Tomo ISHIMURA, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department, who also serves as Cooperative Researcher at the IRCI, joined the IRCI’s field survey in the Philippines.
 The Philippines is a country prone to natural disasters. For example, the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the island of Luzon in 1991 caused catastrophic damage to Aeta, an indigenous tribe living in the area. More recently, in October 2013, an earthquake occurred near Bohol Island and damaged some historical buildings, including Santo Niño Church, the country’s oldest church in Cebu Island. The earthquake was followed by Typhoon Yolanda in November of the same year, which devastated many parts of the country, including the island of Leyte. Therefore, how to protect both tangible and intangible cultural heritage from such disasters is a major challenge.
 A field survey was conducted from January 24 to February 1, 2018, in the provinces of Ifugao and Abra, which are part of the Cordillera region in northern Luzon. Cordillera is a mountainous area where many indigenous peoples live, and therefore is home to a great diversity of intangible cultural heritage. Furthermore, many parts of this region are still underdeveloped and vulnerable to disaster risks. The project team for this survey comprised five members: Ms. Yoko NOJIMA, Associate Fellow of the IRCI; Prof. Norma RESPICIO of the University of the Philippines, specializing in textile weaving and dyeing; two officials from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Philippines; and Mr. ISHIMURA from the Institute.
 Of the two provinces, Ifugao is more famous because of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. However, this heritage site was once included on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of the declining population and abandonment of rice farming by communities. Since then, community-led activities have been conducted to revive the culture. Hudhud Chants of the Ifugao was recently inscribed on the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, along with the traditional tugging ritual practiced in the village of Hapao, Ifugao, as part of tugging rituals and games jointly nominated by Vietnam, Cambodia, Republic of Korea, and the Philippines. The survey revealed that because Ifugao is primarily located on rugged, mountainous terrain, landslides triggered by typhoons and earthquakes are serious problems for the province, often causing hazardous situations to rice terraces, houses, and roads. In recent years, however, local communities have been actively leading tourism and development programs, and the team witnessed how traditional handcrafts, such as textile weaving and wood carving, are gaining popularity. Thus, the province of Ifugao seemed to be successfully incorporating traditional culture with a modern approach by effectively taking advantage of the “brand” of the province, including UNESCO’s World Heritage or Intangible Cultural Heritage sites.
 Compared with other provinces in the Cordillera region, Abra Province is located in relatively low land, mainly over a basin along a river. From the survey, however, the team learned that deforestation and mining development in mountainous areas have exposed the province to the risks of such disasters as overflowing of rivers and floods. In response to this problem, the province has implemented the Lapat system, which incorporates a traditional resource use management system practiced by indigenous communities into the modern legal system. The project team examined how the Lapat system is helping the province achieve sustainable development. In addition, the remnants of traditional culture are still clearly visible in this province. It seemed that traditional practices, such as worshipping of a sacred stone called pinaing, or a ritual performed by a psychic medium called baglan, coexist with Christian beliefs and the knowledge of modern science to support the local identity.
 Through this field survey, the team learned how the two provinces are taking advantage of traditional culture in line with sustainable development and successfully demonstrating resilience despite their vulnerability to disasters. These examples would provide important suggestions for disaster prevention for intangible cultural heritage worldwide.


“The First Festival Network” Meeting

Group discussion

 For festivals brought to the brink of extinction as intangible cultural heritage nationwide in Japan, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage organized the “Festival Network” meeting to establish a network connecting successors and supporters. The first meeting was held jointly with Omatsuri Japan Co., Ltd. at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on December 9th, 2017, attracting more than 40 lovers who were interested in “Festivals.”
 During the first half of the meeting, Mr. Yohei YAMAMOTO (Omatsuri Japan), who has been working on regional revitalization by coordinating “Festivals” from a corporate perspective, Mr. Shutaro KOIWA (Japan Folk Performing Arts Association), who has been supporting national folk performing arts, and Mr. Hiromichi KUBOTA, Head of the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section, gave presentations under the theme “Challenges in Festivals.” In the last half, participants were divided into seven groups for discussion in response to the presentations. Finally, each group reported on “Challenges in Festivals,” expecting further progress at the next meeting.
 This network meeting will be ongoing as an opportunity to share opinions among successors, supporters, lovers, researchers, and others who are involved in “Festivals” in various ways.


The 12th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The venue of the 12th session of the Intergovernmental Committee

 The 12th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held in Jeju, the Republic of Korea, from December 4th through December 9th, 2017, which three researchers of this Institute attended.
 As the number of agendas to be addressed at the Intergovernmental Committee has increased in recent years, the session took place over six days, one day longer than the last session. At this session, six elements were newly inscribed on the “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding,” while 33 elements were inscribed on the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” This time, Japan did not propose any elements.
 In the discussion under the Agenda 15 “intangible cultural heritage in emergencies,” the Japanese delegation introduced two cases: “disaster prevention for intangible cultural heritage,” which this Institute has been working on, and “Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage under Natural Disasters and Armed Conflicts in the Asia-Pacific Region,” which the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) has been tackling. We distributed brochures titled “Disaster Prevention for Intangible Cultural Heritage,” prepared by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Institute in March 2017.
 The issue of how to safeguard intangible cultural heritage from natural disasters has been attracting global attention. Under the circumstances, the Institute has accumulated numerous experiences on protecting cultural heritage from disasters through rescuing cultural properties after the Great East Japan Earthquake, supporting recovery from the March 11 Earthquake, and establishing the Intangible Cultural Heritage Archives. We think it is an important role for this Institute to contribute to the international community by disseminating these outcomes.


“Summit Conference on Winnowing Baskets ― Discussion of Weaving Techniques”

Demonstrations of winnowing basket-making technique
From the top: Oidara winnowing basket, Kizumi winnowing basket, and Ronden/Kumanashi winnowing basket

 On November 13th, “Summit Conference on Winnowing Baskets ― Discussion of Weaving Techniques” was held at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) and over 80 people concerned participated from all over the country.
 The winnowing basket is a farm tool to sort and carry grain. Although it was an essential tool in everyday work up until the high economic growth period, the demands then sharply dropped because of modernization of people’s way of life. As a result, the weaving technique is also facing the crisis of inheritance. Therefore, with the aim of holding a discussion on how to pass on such basket weaving techniques to future generations, among the winnowing basket weaving techniques that are the nationally designated as important intangible folk cultural properties (folk technique), we invited successors of the Oidara winnowing baskets from Akita City of Akita Prefecture, the Kizumi winnowing baskets from Sosa City of Chiba Prefecture, and the Ronden/Kumanashi winnowing baskets from Himi City of Toyama Prefecture to hold demonstrations and panel discussion.
 The objective of this summit was to share current situations and to promote mutual exchange among various people who are concerned with winnowing baskets, including creators, sellers, users, fans, and researchers. With regard to inheritance of folk technique, although an investigative approach including research and recording is important, what these studies can contribute to actual succession of technique is very little. In order to inherit technique from one person to another, maintaining demands in the era is indispensable and, for that sake, it is important to change technique in line with the times in a flexible manner. In search of the solution, it is necessary to address the challenge by gathering, as extensively as possible, the wisdom of people who are concerned with winnowing baskets.
 At the panel discussion, the current severe conditions in technique succession were introduced and many participants presented opinions on what efforts the sellers are making, what problems they are facing, what features of the winnowing baskets attract users most, etc. We would like to develop a network of the participants that was created through this summit, while continuing to discuss and work on inheritance of techniques of winnowing basket making.
(Details of the summit are scheduled to be published in the form of a report and will be also disclosed on the website at the end of the fiscal year.)


The Survey of Disaster Prevention for Intangible Cultural Heritage in Fiji

Village N in the eastern part of Viti Levu Island, where the on-site survey was conduced
Hearing survey with local residents

 The International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI), one of the Category 2 centres under the auspices of UNESCO, located in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture has been conducting a research survey on disaster prevention for intangible cultural heritage in the Asia-Pacific region since 2016. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of this Institute has continually cooperated in its program. Mr. Tomo ISHIMURA, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department, joined the on-site survey conducted by IRCI in Fiji as its collaborative researcher.
 Fiji is an island nation in the Pacific region. Many of its areas suffered tremendous damage due to a direct hit of Tropical Cyclone “Winston” in March 2016. This on-site survey was implemented in two villages with particularly serious damage in the eastern part of Viti Levu Island, where the capital is located. Interviews with local residents about intangible cultural heritage and disasters were made there. The hearing survey was conducted by four members from September 23 through October 3, 2017: Ms. Yoko NOJIMA, Associate Fellow from IRCI, Ms. Elizabeth EDWARDS from the Fiji Museum, Ms. Ilaitia Senikuraciri Loloma from the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, and Mr. Ishimura from the Institute.
 Although most buildings had been destroyed by the cyclone in both villages, houses were being reconstructed with the aid of the Fijian government and overseas NPOs. However, most of the new houses were built with lots of modern construction materials such as galvanized plates and concrete blocks. Regrettably, traditional-style wooden thatched houses called bures disappeared completely.
 Interviews with local residents disclosed the fact that much of their traditional knowledge was related to disaster prevention, including one heralding a cyclone. For example, they said that they had regarded trees bearing too much fruit as a warning sign of a cyclone. It was particularly true when a branch of the bread tree bore multiple fruits. In recent years, however, people have made light of such knowledge without utilizing it fully.
 The hearing survey also revealed the fact that the number of traditional bures had gradually decreased since the 1960s. Most of them disappeared due to the damage of Tropical Cyclone “Bebe” in 1972, and they were completely eradicated after the hit of Tropical Cyclone “Kina” in 1993. On the other hand, some people said that bures were optimum to ward off the heat and the cold and that it was comfortable to live there. They also said that there were few people who were capable of building bures these days.
 This on-site survey tells us that disasters change our traditional lifestyles and that intangible techniques are also apt to be lost accordingly. We understand that these tendencies are also greatly affected by globalization and modernization, not just resulting from disasters only.
 Based on these findings obtained through the on-site survey, we would like to seek the best way to maintain a good balance between “Reconstruction” and “Protection of Culture”.


Cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) in Its Seminar

On-site seminar in the Performing Arts Studio

 The Cultural Heritage Protection Cooperation Office of the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) (Nara City) conducted the “Training Course on Cultural Heritage Protection in the Asia-Pacific Region 2017: Recording, Conservation and Utilization of Cultural Properties at Museums” from October 10 through November 3, 2017. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of this Institute cooperated on this program by delivering a lecture titled “On-Site Seminar: How to Record Intangible Cultural Heritage” at the Institute on the afternoon of October 30, 2017. The lecturer was Mr. Tomo ISHIMURA, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department.
 This seminar attracted six trainees from the Pacific region, who were experts engaged in practical affairs at museums (three from Fiji, two from Papua New Guinea, and one from the Solomon Islands). In the first half of the seminar, the Japanese system to protect intangible cultural properties was explained while in the last half, how to record intangible cultural heritage was presented concretely. Particularly, focus was placed on image recording by using videos recorded actually by the Department (Kodan storytelling, a technique to make winnowing baskets from Japanese wisteria in the Kizumi area, and others recorded as videos) as visual aids.
 Although there is a wide variety of intangible cultural heritage in the Pacific region, from which the trainees came, it seems that records have not been sufficiently prepared yet. They recognized the significance of video recording well since most of the intangible techniques require manual movements in particular, which cannot be fully covered with written records in many cases. We felt that they had much interest in recording while answering their specific questions, including one referring to “how oral traditions have been recorded in Japan.”
 We realized that it would be meaningful to utilize the research outcomes accumulated by the Department for the protection of cultural heritage not only at home but also abroad.


Publication of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Archives

Map screen of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Archives
Individual screen of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Archives

 As part of the “Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network Promotion Project” (commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs), the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems have been working on the “Project to Collect, Organize and Share Cultural Properties Designated by the Local Governments.” The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage is now compiling a database of intangible cultural heritage information collected throughout Japan while establishing archives of its related data as one of its missions.
 We have already published our “Intangible Cultural Heritage Archives” subject to Wakayama Prefecture as its pilot version (http://mukeinet.tobunken.go.jp/group.php?gid=10027). You can learn the name of each intangible cultural property, its place of publication and overview, as well as view its photos and videos, by searching it with a map, classification, date of performance and keyword. We have disclosed the information and images on intangible cultural properties located in Wakayama Prefecture, which were collected thanks to the Wakayama Prefectural Board of Education.
 We will expand the same data collection and publication to all prefectures while accumulating and disclosing related records as much as possible.


August: Tour of Facilities

In front of the main gate of Tobunken

 From the Federated States of Micronesia, Mr. Marcelo K. Peterson, Governor of Pohnpei State, and Mr. Esmond B. Moses, a member of the Congress, visited the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage with Mr. Shoji Sato, the Executive Director of the Association for the Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC) (a former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Federated States of Micronesia) as a guide, and exchanged opinions on the protection of cultural heritage/traditional culture, and so forth. Mr. Osamu Kataoka (Researcher of the Intercultural Research Institute, Kansai Gaidai University) and Mr. Kanefusa Masuda (Senior Researcher of the Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage, Ritsumeikan University) joined us to have an in-depth discussion over diverse topics, including the conservation and utilization of Nan Madol, which is a ruined city on Pohnpei island and a World Heritage Site officially recognized by UNESCO in 2016.


“Cormorant Fishing Boat Project” : Completion and Launch Ceremony

The completed boat and the Project members
The launch ceremony also featured the rite of “funa-kabuse,” in which the boat is capsized three times to pray for its safety on the water.

 The “Cormorant Fishing Boat Project,” which has been underway at the Gifu Academy of Forest Science and Culture from May 22, has been successfully completed. The 13-meter-long cormorant boat was displayed at a launch ceremony on July 22.
 The aim of this Project was to record and inherit boat-building techniques while actually engaging in building a cormorant boat, with the participation of American boat builder Douglas Brooks, under the guidance of boat builder Seiichi Nasu (86) of Mino City, Gifu Prefecture (also refer to our May 2017 Activities Report). Also participating were American naval architect Marc Bauer and Gifu Academy furniture student Satoshi Koyama. The boat-building process was open to the public in the shelter structure built within the Academy premises. Tobunken served in the roles of research and documentation, taking video records of virtually the entire building process. Going forward, we will be editing and assembling the records in a way that will be useful for acquiring the necessary building techniques, and plan to co-author written and video reports with Mr. Brooks by the end of the next fiscal year.
 While the Project itself has come to a conclusion, the utilization, transmission, and dissemination of cormorant boats and their building techniques will continue across many fields. The cormorant boat built in the Project will be purchased by Yui no Fune, an organization that offers guided boat tours of Nagara River, and will be used to introduce river boat culture to the general public. Meanwhile, at Gifu Academy, work is underway to explore how smaller, more manageable boats can be made using the traditional techniques learned in the Project. Since techniques will not be handed down if there is no demand for them, there is a need for flexible thinking to devise boats that meet contemporary needs and interests.
 The transmission of living techniques requires not only the compilation of academic records but also efforts to utilize them in contemporary ways and to make them more widely known to the general public. Tobunken intends to continue working with organizations and experts in a wide range of disciplines to explore better ways of transmitting these techniques.


Development of the record of ukaibune building

Mr. Douglas Brooks (left) and Mr. Seiichi NASU (right)
Ukaibune under construction

 Ukai, or a fishing method which uses trained cormorants to catch river fish, conducted in the Nagaragawa River in Gifu Prefecture is now famous as a representative tourist attraction of the prefecture. The ukai fishing conducted in the goryoba, or the Imperial Fishing Ground, is called goryo ukai, which has an important role of serving the caught ayu (sweetfish) to the members of the Imperial Family. Moreover, the technique has been designated as an important intangible folk cultural asset of Japan. Thus, ,ukai is historically and culturally significant. One of the essential elements to support the ukai fishing technique is the cormorant fishing boat called ukaibune that is helmed by the usho, the cormorant fishing master. There is a fear, however, that the technique of building ukaibune will not be handed down to the future generations, as at present, there are only two funadaiku, or boat builders, capable of building this type of boat.
 Under these circumstances, a project has started, in which Mr. Douglas Brook, a U.S. citizen, researcher of Japanese boats and funadaiku, who has experience in building tarai bune (tub boat) of Sado and sabani (small sail fishing boat) of Okinawa, has become an apprentice to 85-year old Mr. Seiichi NASU, one of the two remaining ukaibune builders, and is working with his master to build an ukaibune. The Gifu Academy of Forest Science and Culture and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties participate in this project, the former providing a place for boat building and the latter producing a video record.
 The building of ukaibune began on May 22, 2017 and is scheduled to be completed in about two months. Agility and gracefulness are required in particular of ukaibune when compared to other wooden boats in general, and therefore, sophisticated techniques are required. It is a major target of this project to accurately and completely record the technique to help hand it down to the future generations.
 It is somewhat paradoxical that a non-Japanese is learning and mastering this traditional Japanese technique that is on the verge of extinction. We believe, however, that recording the intangible technique by positively taking advantage of this opportunity is one of the roles our institute should play since the conservation of cultural properties is our mission.


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