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


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.


“Intangible Cultural Heritage and Disaster Prevention – Risk Management and Restoration Support” published

Intangible Cultural Assets and Disaster Prevention – Risk Management and Restoration Support

 A report by the 11th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties organized on December 9th, 2016 was published at the end of March. This year’s subject is “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Disaster Prevention – Risk Management and Restoration Support.” We shared efforts and initiatives and discussed what preparations are effective to protect intangible cultural heritages from disasters that have occurred frequently in recent years, or what support can be provided after they are hit by these natural disasters.
 Even without disasters, intangible cultural heritages are constantly at risk of extinction. These disaster prevention efforts and initiatives can be expected to lead to preparations for day-to-day risks of extinction or decline due in part to the falling birthrate and the aging of population or the modernization of lifestyles.
 the PDF version can be downloaded from the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.


“A Guidebook for Selected Conservation Techniques” published

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has conducted survey research on selected conservation techniques since fiscal 2014. In fiscal 2016 we published “A Guidebook for Selected Conservation Techniques” as the fruits of our activities.
 Selected conservation techniques are designated by the government as those needed to be preserved of traditional techniques and skills that are essential in order to conserve cultural assets. They include techniques and skills for “building reconstruction” to repair historical buildings and structures, “wooden sculpture restoration” to repair wooden sculptures, including Buddhist statues, and “karamushi plant (choma) production and fiber extraction” designed to produce raw materials for Ojiya-chijimi and Echigo-jofu, ramie fabric, an important intangible cultural property and UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
 These techniques can be safely referred to as intangible cultural heritage per se in the broad sense, but compared with “important intangible cultural properties,” “important intangible folk cultural properties” or “UNESCO intangible cultural heritage,” they are practically unknown among the general public and many of them face a number of issues, such as the succession of techniques. Also overseas, the notion of preserving these techniques to conserve cultural assets by means of a national system is not known widely as yet.
 Against this background, this guidebook gives a summary of selected conservation techniques designated as of fiscal 2016 and incorporates information about their owners and conservation bodies as well. On top of these, in order to publicize these selected conservation techniques both at home and abroad, it is written in both Japanese and English.
 We sincerely hope that this guidebook will be of help in preserving cultural asset conservation techniques at home and overseas. For your information, the PDF version of this publication will become available via the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.


“Research on Intangible Cultural Heritages in Korea and Japan II” published

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has promoted research-related exchange with the counterpart of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage (NRICH) of the Republic of Korea since 2008. In 2013 NRICH’s intangible cultural heritage research department was reorganized as the National Intangible Heritage Center but research exchange between the parties has continued as is and the third research exchange was launched in 2016. This publication is a report that compiles the results of the second research exchange from 2011 through 2015 and contains the following seven research theses:

  • – “A memorandum on Buddhist protocols in Korea” (Izumi TAKAKUWA)
  • – “The actual situation of the succession, instruction and education of performing arts as part of intangible cultural heritage in Japan – Centered on Kyogen and Shinto music and dance numbers” (Myung Jin LEE)
  • – “Raw materials and tools for preserving dyeing techniques” (Riyo KIKUCHI)
  • – “The reality of the Japanese system for conserving intangible cultural heritage and its management – Centered on efforts to explore research subjects to produce the results of future policy research” (Ban So Young)
  • – “‘Folk techniques’ as intangible folk cultural properties and their conservation” (Migiwa IMAISHI)
  • – “Research on selected conservation techniques in Japanese intangible cultural heritage – Centered on a case of karamushi (ramie) production technique” (李釵源)
  • – “Several issues associated with the Lunar New Year or daeboreum – To raise a question about the designation of intangible folk cultural properties” (Hiromichi KUBOTA)

 All the theses are written in Japanese and Korean so that readers in the two countries can share the results of these research activities.
 While Japan and Korea share a lot in the content of intangible cultural heritage and systems for its conservation, there are also differences in their approaches for research and conservation as well. By comparing the respective nations’ issues mutually, we believe that we will be able to understand our own cultural assets better. We hope that this publication will be used by as many of those involved in intangible cultural heritage as possible in the two countries. For your information, the PDF version of this publication will become available via the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.


Publication of Reports and DVD Titled “Making Kizumi’s Winnowing Baskets – Kizumi, Sosa City, Chiba Prefecture”

Reports and DVD

 The technique for making wisteria winnowing baskets transmitted in Kizumi, Sosa City, Chiba Prefecture, which we had researched from September 2015, was finally published as reports and visual recording at the end of March, 2017.
 This program was conducted as part of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network Promotion Project in order to examine what kind of record would work well for the restoration of any technique lost due to disaster or for other reasons. In cooperation with holders of that technique, we recorded a series of processes from the collection and processing of raw materials to winnowing basket weaving as an almost-7-hour-long video, as well as written and illustrated reports.
 Now we are thinking of verifying the video and reports so as to explore the possibility of making better records for precious techniques. These PDF reports and DVD images are to be uploaded onto the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties around mid-June, 2017.


Workshop on Canoe Culture

Photo showing Workshop on Canoe Culture
Investigation of canoe materials at Oceanic Culture Museum

 The Workshop on Canoe Culture was held at the Institute on March 22nd, as a part of the activities on “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project in Oceania Island Countries” supported by Agency for Cultural Affairs in FY2016. In this workshop, four experts (Dr. Peter Nuttall, Ms. Alison Newell, Mr. Samual London-Nuttall, Mr. Kaiafa Ledua), who were invited to Japan from the University of the South Pacific, a base institution of the partner country, presented their research reports. They are actively promoting research to explore the possibility of exploiting the traditional techniques for voyage canoes of Oceania in the development of “sustainable transportation” using renewable energy such as wind power. At the same time, they are involved in the restoration of ancient canoes in Fiji and experimental voyage. In this workshop, they reported the present status and future prospects of such research and efforts.
 In this workshop, three Japanese experts also made research reports. Prof. Akira GOTO, Director of Anthropological Institute, Nanzan University, gave a talk on Hawaii-style outrigger canoes in Ogasawara Islands. Ms. Kyoko MIYAZAWA, a visiting researcher at Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, presented the method of visual recording of canoes. Mr. Masahiro UCHIDA, an ocean journalist and a lecturer at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, discussed the rise of the canoe and kayak culture in Japan. At the end of the workshop, a comprehensive discussion among presenters and participants was organized. The workshop has been attended by more than 20 participants mainly consisting of experts and has provided the good opportunity for heated discussions and vivid information exchanges.
 After the workshop, four invited researchers made a trip to Okinawa and visited Oceanic Culture Museum in Okinawa Ocean Expo Park, a national government park in Motobu Town. The Oceanic Culture Museum has founded as the government pavilion at the time of the Okinawa Expo 1975. The collection of ethnographic materials of Oceania is one of the world’s largest and is especially famous for canoes. While receiving a lecture by Dr. Hidenobu ITAI, curator, they investigated the canoe materials that are now almost
nonexistent in the area. In addition, in Nago city, they visited the atelier of a group restoring Sabani which is a traditional wooden fishing boat in Okinawa and could exchange valuable information.
 The culture of driving canoes used to be quite common not only in Oceania but also in the wide region of the Pacific Rim including the Japanese archipelago. After the early modern times, these cultures have disappeared one after another in various places. In recent years, the movement called “canoe renaissance” to restore such culture has been developed in various places. It includes, for example, the canoe restoration in Fiji and the restoration of Sabani in Okinawa. The workshop and the subsequent trip to Okinawa have been quite successful and have demonstrated fruitful results of the collaboration between Oceania and Japan in the reconstruction of such canoe culture.


TNRICP’s Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage Hosts 11th Seminar: “Ramie Kimono and Silk Kimono”

Scene from the public lecture

 In collaboration with the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum, the Tokyo National Research Institute forCultural Properties’ Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage hosted its 11th in a series of publiclectures, entitled “Ramie Kimono and Silk Kimono.”The afternoon program focused attention on ramieand silk, two fibers essential to thediscussion of Japanesetextiles. Presentations were given by individuals involved in local textile production and covered changes in the social milieu regarding ramie and silk, the transmission of production techniques, and the significance of keeping traditions alive.
 Regarding ramie (karamushi in Japanese), Yukiko FUNAKI of the Showa Village Association for Conservation of Karamushi Production Technique located in Fukushima Prefecture gave the talk “Passing on Karamushi Techniques—Efforts at Showamura.” Tomoya YOSHIDA of the Higashi-Agatsuma Town Board of Education in Gunma Prefecture presented “Passing on Hemp Techniques—Efforts in Iwashima,” in which he spoke of the importance of techniques for cultivating hemp for textile use and how to extract the fiber from the plant, as well as the difficulties of passing on this knowledge. Joining these two voices from production locales was Kumiko HAYASHI of the Okaya Silk Museum in Nagano Prefecture. Ms. Hayashi spoke about the technological innovation that supported modernization in the silk industry and emphasized the significance of keeping such activities alive.
 After these reports, Mr. Kensaku KIKUCHI, guest researcher in the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, gave the talk “Ramie Kimono and Silk Kimono in Folklore,” and Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum curator Koka YOSHIMURA explained the exhibition, using the title “The Current State of Ramie and Silk Ascertained through the Planning of the ‘Ramie Kimono and Silk Kimono’ Exhibition.” A tour of the exhibition at the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum was then conducted.
 To transmit the culture surrounding ramie and silk kimonos requires knowledge of techniques involving the actual raw materials, hemp and silk. The lecture program taught attendees about the many issues involved in carrying on traditions involving ramie and silk and aimed to raise interest in the importance of preserving not only the techniques for making kimonos, but the techniques for extracting the fibers used as the raw materials.
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will establish a forum for discussing the many problems associated with traditional textile techniques.


The 11th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

 On December 9, 2016 the 11th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties washeld on the topic titled “Intangible cultural heritages and disaster prevention—risk management andrecovery support.”The meeting featured four presenters and two commentators for a day of reports anddiscussion.
 The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and numerous smaller natural disasters in recent years have brought crisis to intangible cultural heritages, leaving many vulnerable to total demise. Significant physical and societal devastation occurs throughout Japan due to earthquakes, tsunamis, torrential rains, and other extremes of nature. While awareness is growing toward safeguarding cultural properties from disasters, little thought has been given to intangible cultural heritages. At this conference, many issues were raised regarding this situation and measures being taken were shared. Discussions arose regarding what kind of preparations are needed to safeguard intangible cultural heritages from natural disaster and what kind of support could be given after such an occurrence.
 The first report was from Iwate Prefecture, which presented findings on the current state of harm to intangible cultural heritages resulting from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the ongoing recovery process. The second report was from Ehime Prefecture, which presented a survey of the region’s history of damage due to past Nankai Trough earthquakes and the building of a disaster prevention and mitigation system network. This was followed by a report on the replication of Buddhist statues as a means of preventing the theft of cultural properties.
 Finally, there was a report on how to keep the necessary records for the repair and restoration of festival implements. In the general discussion that followed, comments were shared on efforts that are being taken in the Kansai area based on the experience of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake; examples were also shared from outside Japan. Based on such comments there was a discussion on the need to form networks, also touching upon the political issues involved in risk management.
 The content of this conference was published in a March 2017 report that is scheduled for release on the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.


DICH participates in the “Inheritance and Development of Cultural Heritage – Event to Support the Restoration of Local Performing Arts”

The event being conducted at the venue

 On November 13th, 2016, an event titled “Inheritance and Development of Cultural Heritage – Event to Support the Restoration of Local Performing Arts – Let’s talk and pass down together” was organized by the National Museum of Ethnology and held in the main hall of the Ofunato Municipal Sanriku Community Center.
 Disaster-stricken performing arts groups, supporters, administrative authorities, and researchers got together and exchanged views and opinions concerning the path that they have taken thus far, proactive measures, and know-how on receiving support and keeping equipment, tools and costumes safe.
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage (DICH) exhibited posters for the “311 Reconstruction Support and Intangible Cultural Heritage Information Network” that it has operated with more than one collaborative body since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and for the protection of intangible cultural properties from disaster.
 While support has been diminishing, disaster-affected performing arts groups continue to face harsh circumstances. Few events that bridge these performing arts groups, supporters, administrative authorities, and researchers have been held to discuss the actual situation surrounding the devastated performing arts or issues associated with support on site and on a face-to-face basis. Continuously having opportunities to form “loose networks” such as this may lead to the ideal form of protection from disaster for intangible cultural heritages both now and in the future.

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Seminar III On Passing Down Intangible Cultural Heritage (Traditional Technique): “Meiji’s Super-Techniques Handed Down to Today”

 On October 17th and 18th, 2016, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held Seminar III on Passing Down Intangible Cultural Heritage (Traditional Technique): “Meiji’s Super-Techniques Handed Down to Today” jointly with SEN-OKU HAKUKO KAN. This seminar particularly focused on Arita ware among the craft works produced in the Meiji period. On the first day, we organized a lecture and a session while on the second day, we visited the exhibition titled “Meiji Kogei: Amazing Japanese Art” held at the University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts, and the exhibition of “Arita Porcelain 400th Anniversary: The Compelling Beauty of Arita Ceramics in the Age of the Great International Expositions” at SEN-OKU HAKUKO KAN.
 On the first day, we reconfirmed the process of how Arita ware in the Meiji period has been handed down to today with an invited lecturer involved in the abovementioned exhibition. Then, we had a session together with experts from other craft fields under the title of “Utilizing Craft Works Produced in the Meiji Period Today.”
 In recent years, there have been several exhibitions that have attracted attention for elaborating on the techniques used for artifacts in the Meiji period. We can access “Craftsmanship” = “Intangible Cultural Heritage” through the artifacts of the Meiji period that have been handed down to the 21st century. We think researchers should not separate such cultural properties into tangible and intangible ones but should regard the two as complementary from now on. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continue to provide debate opportunities to increase interest in today’s intangible cultural heritage.


Research on Production of Spiderwort-dyed Paper – Start of Joint Research with Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture

Petals of Asiatic Dayflowers Are Being Picked (Photo Provided by Kusatsu City)
Extract from Asiatic Dayflowers Are Being Applied to Japanese Paper (Photo Provided by Kusatsu City)

The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage started a joint research on the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique with the Kusatsu Municipal Government in Shiga Prefecture from FY2016. Spiderwort-dyed paper is Japanese paper soaked in the extract from Asiatic dayflower petals.
Spiderwort-dyed paper was a specialty of Omi Province, Tokaido, which was also referred to in an old book titled “Kefukigusa” ‘(written in 1638). The paper is used for Yuzen dyeing and tie dyeing even today. As for Yuzen dyeing, the water-soluble feature of the blue pigment of Asiatic dayflowers has been utilized. For Yuzen, coloring is performed after drawing a fine pattern with a solution prepared by submerging spiderwort-dyed paper in water, and placing paste for fine line printing like a levee to prevent dyes from penetrating. Spiderwort-dyed paper is indispensable for colorful dyeing with silk fabrics.
However, there are only three producers of spiderwort-dyed paper left. In this joint research, with cooperation from such producers, we will organize its value as local and eventually national cultural property or heritage for utilization as basic data for future protection.
We will examine how we will be able to hand down the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique transferred from person to person to the coming generation while making comparisons with cases in other districts.


Liaison Council for “Disaster Prevention of Intangible Cultural Heritage”

Liaison Council meeting

 A meeting of the Liaison Council for “Disaster Prevention of Intangible Culture Heritage” was held at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), on August 22nd and 23rd, attended by persons in charge of cultural properties in eastern Japan.
 Since July 2014, the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage has been working on the “promotion program of the National Taskforce for the Japanese Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Under this program, with the objective of studying and promoting disaster prevention of intangible cultural heritage, for which sufficient measures have not yet been established, the TNRICP’s Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has carried out activities to collect and share information on the locations of cultural assets as the basic information in disaster prevention and to build a network among the parties concerned in cooperation with the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems. This Liaison Council meeting was held as a part of these activities by inviting persons in charge of cultural properties in each prefecture of eastern Japan. The collection of information was urged and information concerning the situations of each area and activities/challenges in disaster prevention was exchanged. On the 22nd, 11 members from East Japan Study Group of Museum Attendants Specialized in Folklore , the co-host of this meeting, also participated, bringing the total number of participants to nearly 40.
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to hold a Liaison Council meeting for people in western Japan in late autumn and a meeting of the Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties in December under the theme of disaster prevention. We will continue to make efforts to further study and promote “disaster prevention of intangible cultural heritage”.


Presentation Meeting of the Results of Japan-Korea Research Exchange on Intangible Cultural Heritage

Presentation meeting of the results of the research exchange

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), has been conducting a joint study on intangible cultural heritage with the National Intangible Heritage Center of the Cultural Heritage Administration of the Republic of Korea. As a part of this project, the “presentation meeting of the results of the Japan-Korea research exchange on intangible cultural heritage” was held at the National Intangible Heritage Center located in Jeonju-si, Korea, on August 30th, where the results of the joint study were presented. Six persons, including mainly staff members of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, attended the presentation meeting from the TNRICP.
 Representing the Institute, Researcher Riyo KIKUCHI gave a presentation titled “Japan-Korea Research Exchange (2012-2016) on Protection and Handing Down of Intangible Cultural Heritage,” which was followed by a proposition titled “Approach of the Future Study Exchange” presented by Hiromichi KUBOTA, Head of the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section. In response to the above, two presenters from the Korean side presented a report and a proposition. Subsequently, there was a comprehensive discussion by all the participants.
 Through the joint study, it has been clarified that there are some similarities and differences between Japan and Korea in terms of approaches to intangible cultural heritage. At the presentation meeting, it was decided as a policy that both parties would be able to exchange information concerning common problems and challenges and to promote discussion based on mutual understanding of these similarities and differences.
 For example, it was explained that Korea is now very interested in how to promote intangible cultural heritage and the major issue is how it can be supported by the public sector such as the National Intangible Heritage Center. On the other hand, today in Japan, although the involvement of the public sector in the field of intangible cultural heritage is not as notable as in Korea, we consider it one of the Institute’s missions to carry out studies that can contribute to cultural handing down and inheritance. In this regard, we believe that we will be able to devise a better approach for both the parties by addressing the common challenge of “how to hand down intangible cultural heritage” though the exchange of opinions and discussion on each possible approach. This should also be one of the merits of a joint study carried out between the two countries.
 It is our hope that, on the basis of the results of this presentation meeting, the research exchange between the two countries will be further accelerated, bringing about constructive discussion.


World Heritage Inscription of the Ruins of Nan Madol in the Federated States of Micronesia and Japan’s International Cooperation

A man-made island built with megalith in Nan Madol
Discussing plans to conserve and manage the ruins with a staff in charge from the National Government of the Federated States of Micronesia.

 The Ruins of Nan Madol in the Federated States of Micronesia were inscribed on the List of World Heritage (and simultaneously on the List of World Heritage in Danger) at the 40th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held from July 10th to 17th, 2016. The ruins are composed of 95 man-made islands of various sizes built with gigantic stones such as basalt and are among the largest ruins of megalithic culture in the Pacific region. Inscription on the List of World Heritage had been a long-cherished dream of the island nation.
 In 2010, the nation asked Japan to extend international cooperation in protecting these ruins through the UNESCO office for the Pacific region. In response, the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (Consortium) conducted a field survey of the partner nation in February 2011 and published the findings in the “Survey Report on the Present State of Nan Madol, Federated States of Micronesia.” Since then, the Consortium, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT) and the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties have taken the initiative using subsidies from the Japan Foundation and other organizations in implementing projects to develop human resources and transfer technology to protect the ruins. During the course of the implementation, we were able to secure the participation and cooperation of individuals, including Professor Osamu Kataoka of Kansai Gaidai University, who has studied the ruins over many years, and various organizations from governmental, industrial and academic sectors, such as the Institute of Industrial Science of The University of Tokyo, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, NPO Pacifika Renaissance, and Windy Network Corporation.
 One of the Consortium’s ideals is to build a common base for a broad range of domestic parties involved in the protection of cultural assets to join hands and work together, so that Japan may be able to work on international cooperation through concerted efforts. The project to provide the Ruins of Nan Madol with cooperation to protect them is the perfect showcase of this ideal. Moreover, the fruits of such effort most probably led to its inscription on the List of World Heritage.
 Having said so, however, the Ruins of Nan Madol were also simultaneously inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. This means that many parts of the ruins have continued to collapse. In addition, plans and systems to protect them are not yet adequate, so it indicates that Nan Madol will still need the assistance and cooperation of a large number of experts in the future.


A study tour for a preservation society for folk performing arts in a disaster-affected area

Members of the Kariyado Shishimai preservation society and Haramamuro lion dance and stick performance preservation society

 A folk performing art called shishimai has been handed down in the Kariyado area in Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture. It is a unique folk performing art that has both features of three-lion dances, which are common in the Kanto area, and deer dances or shishiodori, which are seen in the Tohoku area. However, this area has been classified as a restricted residence area due to the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant accident and the residents had to evacuate separately to various places. As a result, shishimai was performed only twice in five years after the disaster. At present, even a meeting is not easy because some members of the shishimai preservation society have been moved to the Kanto area.
 Still, hoping to find a way to somehow keep it alive, the head of the society proposed a study tour for the members, which the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage assisted. On June 18th, the society members visited Shishi Museum in Shiraoka City, Saitama Prefecture. They looked around lion masks, or shishigashira, in and out of Japan with a detailed explanation about the display and a lecture by Director Yuichi Takahashi. They then visited the head of the Haramamuro lion dance and stick performance preservation society in Kounosu City at his home to have an exchange between the two preservation societies. The lion dance in Haramamuro is performed by three lions, which is typical in the Kanto area, and has some points in common with the one in Kariyado. They watched a video of both performances and asked the head about measures to pass down the lion dance and the challenges they faced.
 Whether intangible cultural heritages will be maintained or not in the evacuation areas due to the nuclear disaster is a serious problem that can affect continuance of local communities. While much of their future is uncertain, we think that it is important to support them so as to contribute to the preservation even a little.


The Canoe Summit was held at the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts, Guam 2016

Introducing the crews at the Canoe Summit
Demonstration of canoe navigation

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT) held the first Canoe Summit at the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam on 26th of May, 2016. The summit was part of the “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project; Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in the Island Countries of Oceania” scheme, which has been commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan.
 The Festival of Pacific Arts is held once every four years, and was attended this year by 27 Pacific countries and regions. The festival gathers artists, specialists on Pacific cultures, and community leaders. During the two weeks of the festival, a wide range of issues relating to Pacific culture were discussed and traditional dances and crafts were performed.
 During the festival, NRICPT held the “Canoe Summit” in partnership with the Anthropological Institute of Nanzan University, the Traditional Arts Committee, Guam, and the Tatasi (Seafaring) subcommittee, Guam, with the support of UNESCO and the Organizing Committee of the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts, Guam. About 100 people attended the summit, and specialists and crews who are involved in activities aiming to preserve the cultures of Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia introduced their traditional navigation systems and discussed their cultural revival activities.
 The canoe is a symbol of Pacific culture and has important value as an aspect of intangible cultural heritage. It has recently been reevaluated as an important form of sustainable transport. However, a more pressing issue is how regional traditional cultures can be protected from the threat of globalization and natural disasters caused by global warming. Some attendees of the Summit felt that sharing information about the revival of canoe culture throughout the entire Pacific region was a very important contribution to ensure that the richness of Pacific culture will be passed on to the next generation.


Publications related to post-earthquake reconstruction of intangible cultural heritage and disaster prevention

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage published the Report on the Study Project on the Preservation and Utilization of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties: Issues Regarding Reconstruction of Intangible Cultural Heritage from Disasters at the end of the last fiscal year. The publication is not only a report on the project but also a summary of what was discussed at the 3/11 Reconstruction Assistance: Intangible Cultural Heritage Information Network Conference. The Conference has been held every March since 2013 to discuss the reconstruction of intangible cultural heritage affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake with participants from various fields. Many of the issues, which reflect conditions that vary from year to year, are ongoing and the content of the publication may contribute to preventing cultural properties from being affected by a future natural disaster.
 The department also published a booklet titled Cultural Heritage in the Region and Disaster Prevention, which summarizes the outline of the Project for Collecting, Organizing and Sharing Information about Regionally-designated Cultural Properties and of the Research and Study Project on a Dynamic Record for Preserving Cultural Properties. Especially for the project for collecting information on regionally-designated cultural properties, it is important as the first step to identify the location information of the properties by working with local governments. The publication spells out such significance and puts together how to move the project forward.
 Issues Regarding Reconstruction of Intangible Cultural Heritage from Disasters is available in PDF format on the department’s website.


Study Meeting on Production of Recorded Videos for Intangible Cultural Properties

Having a discussion while watching the recorded video

 On February 22nd, 2016, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held a study meeting titled “Production of Recorded Videos for Intangible Cultural Properties,” where Takeshi ABE (Tohoku Institute of Filmed Cultural Properties) was invited as a guest speaker. He has been engaged in production of recorded videos for intangible cultural properties of Iwate Prefecture in Tohoku District. The meeting was held as one of the efforts of the “preparation of dynamic records for cultural properties protection” project that was governed by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo as a part of the promotion program of the National Taskforce for the Japanese Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network under the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage.
 In this meeting, the current state of folk performing art in the disaster-affected areas was reported based on the activities of Mr. Abe in Iwate Prefecture after the Great East Japan Earthquake and a discussion was held on how to utilize the recorded video for disaster prevention and mitigation.
 Today, due to the development of digital equipment, ordinary people who are not professional photographer can easily take moving pictures and a possibility to accept those pictures as a part of the records in a flexible manner was also discussed.
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held the Sub-conference on Video Recording of Intangible Fork Cultural Properties over the years from 2003 to 2007. Based on what was discussed there, the Conference on the Study of Intangible Fork Culture Properties was heled and relevant reports such as “Guidance on the production of recorded videos for intangible fork cultural properties” have been published. Based on the discussions held so far, it is considered necessary to address new challenges that have arisen and also to include intangible traditional techniques in local areas into our continuing discussion in the future meetings on production of recorded videos.


The 10th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

Scene from the general discussion

 The 10th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was held on December 4th, where reports were presented and discussions were held on the topic titled “Outward-facing intangible cultural heritage―Transmission of attractiveness and external power” by four presenters and two commentators.
 There have been a number of cases reported where, in the process of restoration after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the attempt taken by the severely afflicted areas to bring in “external power” has resulted in contributing to inheritance of culture. Through the attempt, I-turn & U-turn migrants, tourists, and other new groups of people who had never been involved in cultural inheritance activities in a community came to take part in those activities (expansion of successors) and came to transmit patrimonies to new audience and supporters (expansion of receivers). In this regard, when having intangible folk cultural properties “face outward” in a variety of forms, what kind of structures and methods will be needed? And, what kind of challenges and visions will there be? Discussion was exchanged this time on “external power” and inheritance of culture not by limiting the target to disaster-stricken areas, but by covering various regions across Japan that are declining because of depopulation, aging, and urbanization.
 From the reports on four regions, namely Aomori, Yamagata, Hiroshima, and Okinawa and through the subsequent discussion, a wide variety of topics were posed including not only specific ones such as how to create methods and structures for transmitting attractiveness, but also how to address “tradition” and change, and what meaning it has for a region to make efforts to hand the culture on to the next generation. It was especially impressive to know that all these four regions had never relied on external power from the start in their efforts to hand down culture, but rather the successors and community people surrounding them had continued to choose their own path through numbers of discussions on the ideal way of cultural inheritance and through trials and errors. The Conference this time gathered more participants than in past years, including many who were actually engaged in cultural inheritance activities in an organization working on conservation of intangible cultural heritage. It not only indicated a rising interest in the issue of having intangible cultural heritage “face outward” but also renewed our recognition of how serious the patrimony issue is for the parties concerned.
 The report of the Conference was published in March 2016 and was posted on the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.


The 10th Public Lecture Held by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Stage performance at Public Lecture

 On December 18th, the Department held the Public Lecture under the title of “Melody and Accent of Japanese Music―from the Medieval Period through the Early Modern Period―” (at Heiseikan Auditorium). With the focus on Noh (Noh chant; a medieval performing art) and Nagauta (long epic song; an early-modern performing art), the lecture was delivered jointly with Professor Kiyoe Sakamoto of Japan Women’s University, a Japanese language scholar, on the correspondence relation as to how Japanese language accent had its influence over the melody of songs. Then, the participants all enjoyed a stage performance of Noh chant “Matsukaze (wind blowing through the pine trees)” in which the melody of the Momoyama period was restored and a stage performance of Nagauta “Tsuru Kame (crane and turtle)”. It was clearly understood that influential relation varied by category, changed over different time periods, etc. A total of 285 participants were present. Many feedbacks were obtained, which especially mentioned that the content consisting of a lecture combined with stage performances by a Noh player and a Nagauta player was very interesting.


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