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


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.


Field Survey on Star Festival Dancing at Osato of Ichikikushikino City

Tanabata-odori practice (uchinarashi) at Osato

 We performed a field survey of the Star Festival Dance (Tanabata-odori) inherited by Osato of Ichikikushikino City, Kagoshima Prefecture as part of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage’s Investigation and Research on the Conservation and Use of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties study project. The Tanabata-odori is performed in 14 localities in the Osato District, and consists of dancing with drums (Taiko-odori) played by representative dancers of each locality, large decorations created by all the localities, and various processions. In this field survey, we paid special attention to the practice of continuous dancing for one week, which is called Narashi. Narashi is mainly carried out by youth groups of each locality, assisted by all the people in the district. Through this cooperation, we can clearly see the way social relationships have been maintained and restructured. On the other hand, we also need to consider that handing down traditions can be difficult, causing a large problem from the viewpoint of conserving cultural heritage.


Research on Musical Instrument Collection Heirlooms of the Kishu-Tokugawa Clan

 Since 2006, The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been participating as a research representative in the Research on Musical Instrument Collection Heirlooms of the Kishu-Tokugawa Clan, a joint research project with the National Museum of Japanese History. The Kishu-Tokugawa Clan, along with the Hikone-han, had an immense collection of Japanese traditional musical instruments at the end of the Edo Era, including many musical instruments with long histories. In July, we inserted a CCD camera into a Japanese harp and lute, observed the inscriptions written on the insides for supplementary survey, and obtained some information. Our report on this project will be presented in 2010.


Toward Recording 100-ban Hosho-style Yokyoku (Noh Songs)

Recording of a Noh song by Master Imai Yasuo

 The first time we asked Master Imai Yasuo, the eldest Noh actor of Hosho style, to record a ban-utai (singing a piece of Noh song without musical accompaniment) was in 2005. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to record a total 100 ban (pieces) of Hosho-style Yokyoku (Noh songs) (currently 180 in number), and make two recordings per month. Hokazou, recorded on June 29, brought the number of recorded tunes to 83.
 The techniques of singing Noh songs have varied somewhat depending on the historical period. Master Imai Yasuo was born in March 1921, and is still active on the stage, taking over and showing us the techniques and art of the masters of the Meiji and Taisho era.
 We consider this is a great opportunity to record his excellent skills, and to pass on Noh to future generations.


Training at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea

 Mr. Hyoki of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage received training in South Korea for two weeks from May 25 to June 8 based on the exchange between Japan and Korea on research related to the conservation of intangible cultural heritage decided upon last June with the Division of Folklore and Folklife of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea. In last year’s training, most of the surveying was conducted on the archives of important intangible cultural properties created by the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea, and research was also conducted on archives related to important intangible cultural properties in other Korean organizations. I myself did a detailed investigation on the current status of the traditional arts archive of the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts and the folk archive of the National Folk Museum of Korea. Both organizations have carefully established classifications for sorting materials and metadata in anticipation of a future coalition of archives: I felt that they taught many points that would be helpful for similar projects in Japan. During the training sessions I was able to have the opportunity to see two intangible cultural properties in the suburbs of Seoul: the Kannun Dano Festival, and the Yeongsanjae Ceremony.


Report on the 3rd Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Conservation of Goods Related to Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

Report on the 3rd Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Conservation of Goods Related to Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage holds an annual meeting where preservation personnel, administrative personnel, and researchers gather: They decide a theme every year and discuss the protection and inheritance of our intangible cultural heritage. On November 20 of last year, the Department chose the theme Conservation of Goods Related to Intangible Folk Cultural Properties and held their meeting in the seminar room of the Institute. We summarized the details of this conference, issued a report in March 2009, and distributed it to interested persons and organizations. This report can also be downloaded in PDF format from the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
http://www.tobunken.go.jp/~geino/kyogikai/03mukeikyogikai.html(link rot)


“Structure of Nohkan and Ryuteki Clarified by X-ray Radiography” Exhibited at Entrance Lobby

Clarifying the structure of Nohkan and Ryuteki using radiography

 The Institute periodically exhibits panels at the entrance lobby so that all visitors can see our research results. Starting at the end of March, we have been introducing the results of radiography study on flutes used in Noh, Nohkan. The Nohkan delivers a unique sharp tone: To do so, the inner diameter between the mouthpiece and the first ventage has been narrowed as an artifice. The subsequent crafting technique was conventionally known: An additional material called “nodo (throat)” was inserted into this portion to narrow the inner diameter. However, X-ray photography discovered several old Nohkan flutes whose inner diameter had been narrowed without inserting “nodo”. One researcher put forward the view that Nohkan was derived in the process when a broken Ryuteki was repaired by inserting a tenon. However, this theory must now be revised as a result of this X-ray photography conducted. With this exhibition, we are making preparations so that the sound from an old Nohkan can be heard, and we are also exhibitingthe X-ray photo of the Ryuteki housed in the Buddha statue in the Kamakura period. We are very happy that this exhibit allows people to actually hear Japanese traditional music.


‘Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage’ Issued

‘Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage Vol. 3’

 Accompanying the reorganization and change in name from the Geino Department to the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2006, the name of the report magazine was also changed from ‘Geino no Kagaku’ to ‘Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage’. This year volume 3 was issued. This volume examines intangible cultural heritage as a whole, not limited to Geino, and half of the included research papers and reports are not directly connected to “Geino”. As soon as preparations are finalized, the PDF edition of all contents will be posted on our Website in the same way as before.


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