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


Study of the techniques to craft Kurume Ikat

Ikat weaving in the studio of Moriyama Torao, a second–generation crafter of Kurume Ikat

 This study examined techniques of crafting Kurume Ikat, which is designated an important intangible cultural property, by visiting members of the Society to Preserve Ikat from June 27th to 28th. Ikat is a decorative fabric woven with a weft and warp that are dyed differently depending on the pattern. The picture shows how ikat is woven by adjusting the weft and warp in order to create certain patterns on the cloth. Kurume Ikat also uses araso, a hemp fiber, to prevent dyeing of the weft and warp. Manufacture of this araso is a selected preservation technique and is thus nationally protected. Plans are to conduct additional studies of these techniques firsthand and their preservation.


Study of techniques to catch Japanese cormorants in Jyu-o town, Hitachi City

Hut on a cliff where young cormorants are caught in flight.
A young cormorant of suitable age for use in fishing

 This study examined techniques of catching Japanese cormorants (an intangible folk cultural property of Hitachi City) in Jyu-o Town, Ibaraki Prefecture from June 7th to 8th. Most of the wild Japanese cormorants used in cormorant fishing, a traditional fishing technique now found mainly in western Japan, are caught here in Jyu-o Town at a little hut located on a precipitous cliff facing the Pacific Ocean. Both the technique and the present status of its transmission were studied. The hut had been affected by the collapse of the cliff due to the huge earthquake in March but had been repaired by cormorant catchers before the spring cormorant season starts (from the end of April to the middle of May). In all, 11 cormorants were caught and sent to fishing sites around the country. Plans are to visit the site again in the autumn cormorant season and to study the techniques firsthand.


An international conference on “The Value and Competitive Power of Naganeupseong Folk Village as World Heritage” was held in Suncheon City, Jeollanam-do, South Korea

Discussions at the Conference

 An international conference organized by the Folklore Society of Korea was held on May 12th as part of efforts to designate Naganeupseong Folk Village (Suncheon City) as a world heritage site. Experts from various disciplines related to cultural properties such as history, folklore, and architecture and administration officials involved in protecting cultural properties participated in the conference. Mr. Miyata Shigeyuki from Japan was invited to give a lecture on “The present state of designation of intangible world heritage in Japan.” Naganeupseong Folk Village is not merely an amusement park but it is a place where people reside. Participants shared the perception that approaches to assessing such a “living” heritage as both tangible and intangible are essential. There was also great interest in how Japan deals with intangible properties. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to actively participate in such exchanges of opinion and publicize its experiences findings from Japan.


Reports on Preservation and Utilization of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties published

The Reports on Preservation and Utilization of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

 The Reports on Preservation and Utilization of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was published and distributed to interested persons and organizations. This report is based on a 5-year (2006–2010) project on intangible folk cultural properties that was conducted in parallel with the study and collection of data on folk techniques. The report includes three papers regarding preservation and utilization of intangible folk properties; “A study of folk techniques and a report of results,” “Publicizing and international exchange of intangible folk cultural properties—15 years of the International Festival of Folk Performing Arts,” and “An essay on organizations transmitting folk performing arts—The present state of the hozon-kai.” A PDF version of the document in its entirety will be made available on our website.


NEACH Seminar “DOCUMENTATION AND SAFEGUARDING OF INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Conference

 An international seminar is routinely held under the auspices of the “NETWORKING OF EAST ASIAN CULTURAL HERITAGE (NEACH),” an organization that consists of the 10 ASEAN states as well as Japan, China, and South Korea. Malaysia hosted the seminar in Kuala Lumpur from March 5 to 8, 2011. The theme of the Seminar was intangible cultural heritage and Mr. Shigeyuki Miyata from Japan was invited to give a lecture on “Documentation and Archiving of Japanese Intangible Cultural Heritage.” Even though some participating states were not parties to the “Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage,” participants were generally quite conscious of the need for conservation of intangible cultural heritage and an active discussion took place. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to actively participate in such conferences and publicize its experiences in Japan.


Report on the 5-year Project of the Division of Intangible Cultural Properties published: “Compiled Documents on the Transmission of Intangible Cultural Properties”

An illustration from “Yokobue Saiku Shiritu Binran

 Results of a 5-year project concerning “Study of the Conservation and Transmission of Intangible Cultural Properties” that started in 2006 were reported in March 2011. The report describes 3 documents regarding the conservation and transmission of intangible cultural properties:
 “Yokobue Saiku Shiritu Binran”—a handbook on the manufacture of the Japanese transverse flute
 “Gidayu-bushi no Syurui to Kyokusetu”—Records of the Gidayu-bushi of Bunraku, with the categorization of their tunes and melodies.
 “Edo-komon Gijyutsu Kiroku”—Records of the manufacturing process and history of Edo-Komon
 A PDF version of the document in its entirety will be made available on our website.


5th Public Lecture “Inheritance of Izumi-style Kyogen (Noh farce)” in Kanazawa

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held an annual public lecture at the Ishikawa Prefecture Noh Theater on December 12, jointly hosted with the Kanazawa University integration project — Japan-China cultural heritage project. Kanazawa City has the character of a locality where Noh has flourished since the Edo Period, and the Hosho-style Yokyoku and Izumi-style Kyogen are performed. We spotlighted the Izumi-style Kyogen this time. The tradition varies greatly between Kanazawa and Nagoya, even though the style is the same Izumi. We gave a lecture on the historic background and difference in actual performance, and asked the performers to act out a kyogen based on their different traditions. Although the audience was small, unlike in Tokyo, there were many ardent listeners, and the performances were well received.


Fifth Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage holds a conference on the study of discussing various problems concerning the conservation and passing on of intangible folk cultural properties every year. We held the fifth conference with the theme of “roles of museums and resource centers in protecting intangible folk cultural properties” at the seminar room of our Institute on November 18, 2010. While the activities of museums and resource centers have become diversified in recent years, there have been more and more examples of actively struggling to protect and pass on intangible folk cultural properties, regarding them as representatives of cultures in local communities. The conference asked four museums and resource centers nationwide to report on the current status and issues they face, and there was an active discussion based on those reports. The details of the conference will be issued as a report in March 2011.


Recording of 100-ban Hosho-style Yokyoku (Noh Songs) by Master Imai Yasuo achieved

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been recording the ban-utai of Master Imai Yasuo, the eldest Noh actor to perform in a Hosho style, since 2005. This September, the 100th ban-utai was recorded. The repertory of Hosho-style Yokyoku includes 210 pieces, and the major numbers have been produced a record. The memorable recording of the 100th Noh-song “Higaki” was a secret piece of music in the penetrallia which was not played as Noh, but only the utai was handed on. Mr. Imai, who is 90 years old this year, sang quietly in a straightforward manner, performing this song about a beautiful shirabyoshi (dancing girl), who grew older, fell on bad times and made a confession before a Buddhist monk. Passing on the collective recordings of Noh-songs sung by a Hosho-style Yokyoku master in the late Showa Period has a significant meaning. The plan is to continue this recording a little more.


Survey at Joshibi University of Art and Design Museum (JAM)

Survey at Joshibi Art Museum

 As part of joint research at the Joint Research Center for Fashion and Clothing Culture, we surveyed the textiles at the JAM on July 12, 2010. This joint research started in November 2008, aiming to clarify the relationship between the Mitsui-family descendent short-sleeved (kosode) kimono owned by the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum and the associated Maruyama-school costume design. We conducted the detailed survey on the short-sleeved kimonos, which were in the possession of the now-defunct Kanebo Ltd. and now owned by JAM, focusing on those similar to the Mitsui-family descendent kosode, including the techniques, design and tailoring. We will advance a close investigation on the findings obtained through the surveys, aiming at the issue of a report in next fiscal year.


Training at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea

Listening at the survey on important intangible cultural property at the inheriting hall (Ms. Han Sang Soo, an important intangible cultural property holder in embroidery)

 Mr. Hyoki of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage visited the Division of Folklore and Folklife of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea from June 28 to July 8. His visit was in the framework of exchange between Japan and Korea on research related to conserving intangible cultural heritage. He received training on how to protect intangible cultural heritage in South Korea. In the past two years, training sessions and surveying had been conducted on the status of archiving the records on intangible cultural heritage in Korea. This year, we investigated the way the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea is performing intensive data management on the recordings produced by the relevant organizations. We also examined the guidelines on creating standard data of cultural property recording projects. We carried out our investigations by listening to the people involved. We also conducted a survey on the current status and issues of the inheriting instructor system that is a feature of the system for protecting intangible cultural properties in Korea. We listened to the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea and the holder of intangible cultural property (conservation society of Pilbong peasant music).


Investigation on Filmon Sound Belt

Filmon Sound Belt

 The Filmon Sound Belt is a special storage medium (a kind of record) developed in prewar Japan. The shape is an endless tape made of synthetic resin (approximately 13 m long), and it is said that the tape can record sound for up to 36 minutes. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage owns five such sound belts. Since a special player is needed to play them and very few players now remain, it has not been possible to even check what is recorded on them up to now.
 Since last year, the Department has been researching the Filmon sound Belts jointly with the Theatre Museum of Waseda University (Collaborative Research Center for Theatre and Film Arts). The Theatre Museum stores the players in a playable state, so digitizing the sounds played back by the players is also included in the investigation plan.
 At present, we have confirmed there are a total of more than 100 sound belts in existence when including those stored in the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Theatre Museum and those owned privately. Unfortunately, quite a few of these sound belts are hard to play back since they have deteriorated noticeably through age, but we are now working to obtain playback sound from as many belts as possible.


‘Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage’ Issued

 The ‘Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage’ volume 4 was issued in March 2010. This year volume includes the three reports which relate directly to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage: “Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Now in Its Implementation Phase” by Mr. Miyata Shigeyuki, “Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region, Classification of Items Listed on the Representative Lists and the Function of Specialized Institutions” by Ms. Matsuyama Naoko, and “Challenges of Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage – Visiting various regions in Japan and Asia-Pacific countries” by Mr. Hoshino Hiroshi. The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage went into effect on April 20, 2006. The understanding and handling of cultural heritage vary depending on the countries that ratified the convention because of the circumstances of each country, and so this situation is fraught with versatile and complicated issues. The reports show a portion of these circumstances. As with the previous volumes, the PDF version of all pages will be made public on our website.


Report issued on Symposium by the International Workshop on the Conservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage: “Current status and issues on protection measures in Asia-Pacific region countries”

 On January 14, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held a symposium entitled “Current status and issues on protection measures in Asia-Pacific region countries” in the seminar room of the Institute with 11 Japanese and overseas conservation specialists. A report on the symposium has been issued recently. View the following page for the PDF version:
http://www.tobunken.go.jp/~geino/ISSICH/IS2010.html


Survey on intangible cultural heritage protection status in Asia-Pacific region

Activity to pass on textile dyeing technique at Bhutan Textile Art Museum
Activity to pass on traditions at Tonga College of Education (ceremony of “Kaba”)
Activity to pass on traditions at Tonga College of Education (creation of tapa cloth)

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage is surveying the protection status of intangible cultural heritage in the Asia-Pacific region in the framework of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. In February, we dispatched a mission to Thailand, Bhutan and other Pacific nations (Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, Fiji and Palau) to listen to the persons in charge of intangible cultural heritage in governments and relevant organizations and exchange opinions. Thailand was strengthening its domestic structure for protecting intangible cultural heritage in anticipation of ratifying the Convention, and Bhutan started to record its intangible cultural heritage and create a database after ratifying the Convention and has made preparations for drafting a domestic law. The Pacific nations are keen to conclude the Convention, but have major issues in improving their domestic structures to implement the Convention. We plan to continue surveying what issues the Asia-Pacific region countries face and how we can have exchange and cooperation in the field of research on protecting intangible cultural heritage under the Convention.


International Workshop on the Conservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage: “Current status and issues on protection measures in Asia-Pacific region countries”

 On January 14, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held an international workshop on the protection of intangible cultural heritage at the seminar room of the Institute under the framework of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Administrators and conservation specialists from nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region (Indonesia, South Korea, China, Fiji, Philippines, Bhutan, Vietnam, Mongolia and India) participated in this workshop. Members of the Ainu Old-Style Dance Performance Alliance Conservation Association along with Mr. Miyata from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage joined the workshop, and gave a presentation on the current status of and issues relating to the protection of intangible cultural heritage. At the comprehensive discussions we discussed the role of the community in the protection of intangible cultural heritage. On January 15, we visited Miura City, Kanagawa, which was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage site last year.


Public Lecture of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Lecture by Ms. Kiyoe Sakamoto, Professor at Japan Women’s University

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held a fourth public lecture on Wednesday, December 16 at the Hall of the Edo-Tokyo Museum.
 These past several years the public lecture sessions have used a theme of listening to audio recordings which have been recorded by the Cultural Properties Protection Commission (currently the Agency for Cultural Affairs) as part of its activities on the protection of cultural properties. This year we took up the second dan “Kikaigashima” of “Heike Nyogonoshima”, recorded in March 1949, under the title “Oral tradition of Gidayubushi”.
 Performers Toyotake Yamashironoshojo (1878-1967) and Tsurusawa Seiroku IV (1889-1960) were certified as the holders of important intangible cultural properties for Ningyo Jorur (Japanese puppet show) Bunraku Dayu (singer) and Ningyo Joruri Bunraku Shamisen, when the system started in 1955; in other words, they were living national treasures. The many recordings they left are approved as superbly normative performances even today. “Kikaigashima-no-dan (Shunkan)” is one of those recordings as well.
 In the first half of the lecture session, we considered the meaning of the recordings and the relationship they currently have with oral tradition, and in the second half we enjoyed the consummate art of both performers, listening to half of the entire recording.


Fourth Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

4th Conference on Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage holds a conference on the study of discussing various problems concerning the conservation and inheritance of intangible folk cultural properties every year. We held the fourth conference with the theme of “inheriting intangible folk cultural properties and their relationship with children” at the seminar room of our Institute on November 19, 2009. The declining birthrate and a growing proportion of elderly people have also greatly affected the inheritance of folk cultural properties. In such circumstances, however, various kinds of assistance are given in cooperation with various organizations such as schools and museums so that children become familiar with local traditional events and festivals and can participate in them. At the conference, advanced examples of such activities were reported, and active discussions were held thereon. The details of the conference will be issued as a report in March 2010.


Photos of Kabuki Taken by Umemura Yutaka

Photos of Kabuki Taken by Umemura Yutaka

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage is proceeding with arranging Kabuki photos taken by Mr. Umemura Yutaka and donated in autumn 2007.
 The photos include snapshots of actor interviews in 1955 and later as well as the photos of backstage staff. They are highly valuable materials for studying the history of performance art.
 The arrangement of these materials started in 2008, and some of the achievements were reported in Volume No. 3 of the Study Report on Intangible Cultural Heritageas an introduction of materials.
 Because the number of photos is enormous, we are now currently focusing on the photos of Kabuki actors playing on stage, and proceeding with arrangements, while confirming the performance dates and actors chronologically. We have arranged 1,041 photos as of this October, and will complete the arrangements of monochrome stage photos in the Showa 30s (1955-1964) within this year, together with the work finished in the previous year and shown in the above-mentioned report.


Recording a Story Told by Master Storyteller Kanda Shori

Recording a Story Told by Master Storyteller Kanda Shori

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been recording live performances of historical narratives told by master storytellers Ichiryusai Teisui and Takarai Bakin since 2002 (the former Department of Performing Arts). We asked both masters to perform continuous performance of long stories, opportunities for which are less frequent in recent years. Starting this year, master storyteller Kanda Shori has also assisted us. Shori also excels in performing long, continuous stories. From his large repertoire, he selected Tokugawa Tenichibo (a samurai story) and Banzuiin Chobei (a townsman story). The first recording was conducted on September 29.


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