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


Second Meeting of the Study Group on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Asia

2nd meeting of the Study Group on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Asia

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been holding meetings on activities to safeguard intangible cultural heritage in Asia since last year. This year, on February 19, we invited Dr. Kim Sam Ki of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Division of the Cultural Heritage Administration, Korea. He gave a lecture on the system of and activities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Korea and discussions were also held with relevant persons outside our Institute. In particular, Dr. Kim introduced in detail the processes of designating intangible cultural heritage and holders of intangible cultural heritage. He also spoke about the system for training successors that is obligatory for holders of intangible cultural heritage. The participants actively voiced their opinions and raised questions. Both Japan and South Korea have led the systematization of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, and this meeting clearly showed the differences and similarities between the two nations. We learned about the validity of referring to the activities of both countries in dealing with the problems that each country has.


International Seminar Sharing Intangible Cultural Heritage in Oaxaca City, United Mexican States

International seminar “Sharing Intangible Cultural Heritage”

 This international seminar was hosted by organizations such as the International Social Science Council and National Autonomous University of Mexico and was fully supported by the Mexican government and Oaxaca City. Miyata Shigeyuki, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, was invited as the sole participant from Asia, and gave entitled The Creation of Future Intangible Cultural Heritage in Japan. Mexico is a committee country of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, a constituent country of the supplementary organization that examines the candidates registered in the representative list currently submitted by each country, and one of the countries that positively develops activities for conserving intangible cultural heritage. This seminar invited certain key people who conserve intangible cultural heritage, including the Director-General of UNESCO and Mr. Cazdanard, the chairman of assembly conference for signatory countries of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Vivid discussions were held with relevant local individuals. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage hopes to positively participate in such opportunities and widely communicate the Japanese experience.


Third Public Lecture of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Third Public Lecture by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

 On December 16, 2008, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held a public lecture in the large lecture room of the National Noh Theater. Since 2006, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has held lectures on audio recordings made by the Cultural Properties Protection Comission (currently the Agency for Cultural Affairs) in the past. This year, a recording of noh-bayashi (musical accompaniment to noh) was introduced in a lecture that focused on the changes in noh as traced by audio materials.
 It appears that the main purpose of the recordings of noh-bayashi made in 1951 was to document the performances of Kawasaki Kyuen, an o-tsuzumi player, and Ko Yoshimitsu, a ko-tsuzumi player. Both Kawasaki and Ko received the first individual recognition as holders of important intangible cultural properties (socalled “Living National Treasures”). This lecture allowed listeners to hear the consummate art of the two masters who supported noh in the Taisho and Showa periods and to learn about the significance of the recordings made by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in the past and the relationship of the recordings with the transmission of noh.
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage is planning to hold another lecture next year based on audio materials made by the Commission in the past.


Third Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

3rd Conference on Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held its third conference on the study of intangible folk cultural properties on November 20, 2008. This year’s topic was Conservation of Goods Related to Intangible Folk Cultural Properties. To conserve intangible folk cultural properties, including manners and customs, folkloric performing arts, and folklore techniques, not only must the skills be transferred, but many goods such as materials and tools, huge decorations, floats, and stalls must be appropriately secured and maintained. From this viewpoint, we listened to examples of four cases reported by relevant organizations engaged in actual maintenance and protection, and had discussions with people involved on the floor. Eager discussions were held on the difficulty of “conserving while using” (i.e. the organization of conservation activities with a view to new creation) and building a system to conserve both the tangible and intangible as a whole. The detailed agenda for this conference will be summarized and issued in March 2009.


Research at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage of Korea

 Based on the agreement for research exchange between Japan and Korea on the conservation of intangible cultural heritage, which was signed last June with the Folkloric Studies Division of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage of Korea, Hyoki Satoru of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage researched visual documents of intangible cultural heritage in South Korea for two weeks in October 2008. The purpose was to investigate the current condition of such visual documents and apply the results of this research to the management and utilization of similar documents in Japan. In South Korea, the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage actively creates visual documents of intangible cultural heritage and manages them in cooperation with various organizations including the National Archives of Korea and the Korean Film Archive. There are many points to be learned from this organizational management system. For example, the active use of visual documents made by the Institute in television broadcasting was quite impressive. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage is now creating a database of locations of visual documents on Japanese intangible cultural heritage and would like to consider sharing information with Korea.


Recording of kokyoku of Showa 30’s (1955-1965)

Ittyubushi “Futagosumidagawa” by UJI Bunga (1881-1975) and nisei UJI Shiyu (rokusei UJI Wabun: 1907-1986)

 The recorded tapes collected by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage are currently being digitized one after another. Digital conversion is not only a simple transfer of media to compact disc. Indices that match the recording contents must be attached after checking the recording (including collation with the authentication note for tape), otherwise, it will be inconvenient for future data utilization.
 The TAKEUCHI Michitaka old audio data (referred to as “Takeuchi collection” hereafter), which acceptance procedure was completed in 2005, included many reel-to-reel tapes of kokyoku (katobushi, ittyubushi, miyazonobushi, ogiebushi). The performances are from the Showa 30’s, and most of them do not seem to have been recorded to be sold in market.
 The photo shows a CD created from a tape of ittyubushi “Futagosumidagawa” performed by UJI Bunga (1881-1975) and nisei UJI Shiyu (rokusei UJI Wabun: 1907-1986). It is a long kokyoku with a long performance time of approximately an hour. We hope to create an environment in which all citizens have a chance to listen to antique recordings that people rarely had an opportunity to listen to.
 We will open the SP records of the “Takeuchi collection” to the public in the form of catalogs when organization of data has been completed (“Geino no Kagaku 32”, “Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage Vol. 02”).”


Participation in the 23rd International Costume Congress

The 23rd International Costume Congress

 On August 20 and 21, the 23rd International Costume Congress was held at the Hida Earth Wisdom Center (Takayama city). Approximately 200 researchers, textile-dyeing artists and designers from Korea, Taiwan and Mongolia as well as Japan participated. Kikuchi Riyo of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage attended the Congress and presented a research paper.
 The common theme of this academic meeting was “East/West Exchanges in Costume Culture.” Lectures, presentations of research papers, poster sessions and an exhibition of creative costumes were held. Participants from various countries had the opportunity to learn about studies on textile-dyeing techniques and deepened their awareness of national differences in ideas related to the conservation of techniques and attempts at reproduction.
 On this occasion, a visit was also made to the Mino-Washi Museum (Mino city) and Shunkei Kaikan (Takayama city) to collect information on traditional craft techniques. Since the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has just begun to collect information on traditional craft techniques, it will continue to expand its activities to different regions and fields of craft techniques.


Investigation of Musical Instruments in The Tokugawa Art Museum

 The Tokugawa Art Museum possesses many instruments used in gagaku and nohgaku. We investigated nohkan, ryuteki and hitoyogiri flutes in the Museum’s collection. Of the two nohkan in the collection, one named “Semiore” with a certificate of authenticity by the master Seibei VII of Fujita School of Noh is said to have been made by Shishida. Radiographs of this nohkan taken with the cooperation of researchers Otsuka and Matsushima at the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques revealed that it was made not by using the conventional method but by using a single thick bamboo material. The small inner diameter of the nohkan between the hole for the mouth and first finger hole contributes to unique, sharp sound of the nohkan. While the conventional method involves inserting a separate piece called nodo (throat) into this portion, no sign of such a piece having been fitted was discovered. This points to the existence of a different method for making nohkan. According to some researchers, nohkan with a small inner diameter is a result of some incident in repairing a broken ryuteki. Our finding suggests that this theory needs to be corrected.


Conclusion of the statement of mutual agreement on exchange between Japan and Korea on research concerning the conservation of intangible cultural heritage with the Folkloric Studies Division of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea

Dr. Kim (right), Director of the Folkloric Studies Division of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea, exchanging the statement of mutual agreement for Japan-Korea research exchange with Miyata (left), Director of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo

 This statement of mutual agreement is based on the agreement for research exchange between the Independent Administrative Institution, National Research Institute for Cultural Properties of Japan and the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Korea that was concluded in 2005 and prescribes, in concrete terms, arrangements for research exchange in the field of intangible cultural heritage between the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of our Institute and the Folkloric Studies Division of our counterpart in Korea. The agreement was concluded with signatures at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea on June 3, 2008. From now on, the two parties will exchange researchers, provide training and other programs and hold discussions to realize future collaborative researches in accordance with this agreement. It was also decided that the results of these undertakings would be published in the form of collected papers of the joint research at the end of fiscal year 2010.


English Version of the Proceedings of the 30th International Symposium “Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage”

A page from “Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Vietnam and the Community Involvement in the Recent Years” by Nguyen Kim Dung

 The English version of the Proceedings of the 30th International Symposium “Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage: International Cooperation and the Role of Japan” that was held from February 14 to 16, 2007 has been posted on our website. The symposium was held in response to the enactment of the “Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage” in April, 2006. Those who wish can see this report at:
http://www.tobunken.go.jp/~geino/e/kokusai/06ICHsympo.html (link rot)
Japanese version can be found at:
http://www.tobunken.go.jp/~geino/kokusai/06ICHsympo.html (link rot)


Kabuki photographs by Umemura Yutaka

 Umemura Yutaka (June 15, 1923 – June 5, 2007) was a photographer who was in charge of the gravure pages of the magazine Engekikai. Last December, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage received negatives and photographs left by the deceased from his widow. Currently we are engaged in sorting out these materials to see how many there are. We hope to complete procedures for their official donation to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo.
 Photographs by the deceased is said to have been first published in Engekikai in 1947, but the oldest negatives and photographs donated date to around 1962. More than 10 cartons of materials were transported to the Institute. They are valuable documents of a photographer who continued to take pictures of the kabuki world in the latter half of the 20th century.


A 78-rpm record concert

A scene from the record concert

 A public record concert was held on March 28 at the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Department has been collecting sound sources related to traditional performing arts from the days when the present Department was named the Department of Performing Arts. Among these sources are a great number of valuable 78-rpm records. This record concert was held as an opportunity to have the public consider the issues surrounding the transmission of traditional performing arts by listening to these records, particularly of noh and kyogen, made from the Taisho to the early Showa periods. Due to the size of the room, the number of participants was limited to 21, but everyone was greatly impressed by the diversity of expression heard in these old records.


Completion of the recording of Midori no Hayashi Gokanroku

Kodan by Ichiryusai Teisui

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has been engaged in the recording of actual kodan performances since 2002 with the cooperation of Ichiryusai Teisui and Takarai Bakin.
 We have asked Ichiryusai Teisui, a Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property, to record two long, serial kodan pieces: jidaimono (story of historical figures) and sewamono (story of the common people). The recording of Midori no Hayashi Gokanroku, a sewamono, was completed on February 13, 2008. This was the twenty-first recording session for Ichiryusai Teisui, and it took 7 years to complete the project since the first session was held on June 11, 2002.
 Midori no hayashi refers to thieves. Midori no Hayashi Gokanroku is a grand story of the lives of five chivalrous thieves like Robin Hood told one after another; their deeds leading to their execution are recounted.
 As for jidaimono, Tenmei Shichidan was completed on December 26, 2005. Now Sengoku Sodo is being recorded.
 Recording of a new, long sewamono is scheduled to begin next fiscal year.


Training Course for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage of the ACCU International Partnership Programme for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage

 The Training Course for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU), was held from January 21 to 26. Administrative officials engaged in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage were invited from various Asian nations The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo took part in the project as a co-organizer from the time of its planning. Furthermore, Miyata of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage participated as a lecturer during the Course and gave two lectures: “Mechanism for Safeguarding and Inventory-Making of ICH in Japan” and “Introduction to ICH Activities by National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo.”: There were many questions from the participants on not only the system of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Japan but also on the activities of the Institute, showing the increasing interest in these themes.


2nd Public Lecture of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage: “Kamigata yosebayashi – Works of Hayashiya Tomi”

A scene from the public lecture

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held a public lecture on December 12, 2007 at the National Bunraku Theatre in Osaka. Hoping to choose a theme appropriate to Osaka, the place where the lecture would be held, it was decided to choose Hayashiya Tomi (1883-1970) who was designated in 1962 as a player of kamigata yosebayashi (music played in rakugo of the Kansai area), an intangible cultural property for which measures for documentation should be taken. Details of the program can be retrieved from the web site of the Institute (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/ich/public/lectures).
 If the public lectures given from the days of the former Department of Performing Arts are counted, this would have been the 38th one, but this is the first time that the lecture was held outside Tokyo. In the future we hope to hold such lectures throughout the country.


2nd Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

A scene from the Conference

 Last year the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held a conference to discuss issues related to the protection and transmission of intangible folk cultural properties. The second session of this conference was held on December 7, 2007 in the Seminar Hall of the Institute. The theme for the 2nd Conference was “Merger of municipalities and the protection of intangible cultural properties.” Among the many types of cultural properties, folk cultural properties are most likely to be influenced greatly by merger since they are transmitted and protected within the given region. Presentations were made by municipalities that have recently experienced merger and municipalities that have succeeded in using the merger for the protection of their intangible folk cultural properties. These presentations centered on such matters as the systematization of preservation activities and collaboration with school education and were followed by overall discussions. The content of this conference is scheduled to be published in March 2008.


Interview concerning hayashi music for ningyojoruri bunraku

 As part of the project entitled “Study of Conservation and Utilization of Intangible Cultural Properties,” the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted an interview, on November 12 at the dressing room of the National Bunraku Theatre (Osaka), of Tosha Shusaku and Mochizuki Tamekichi of the Mochizuki Tamekichi School that has been engaged in the performance of hayashi music for bunraku since 1963. Both gentlemen are veteran performers, Tosha Shusaku of the fue, mainly, and Mochizuki Tamekichi of instruments other than fue. They spoke about very interesting topics associated with hayashi music, a very important part of bunraku that supports it from behind the scenes and that has not been noted so much until now. These included the changes in hayashi music and matters related to the training the hayashi musicians undergo. We are grateful for their having spared the time in the midst of their busy schedule in order to speak to us.


Investigation of the 49th Kinki, Tokai, Hokuriku District Folk Performing Arts Festival

Ise Daikagura (Kuwana, Mie prefecture)

 Investigation was made of the 49th Kinki, Tokai, Hokuriku District Folk Performing Arts Festival that was held on October 28 at the Kamitonda Cultural Hall in Kamitonda-cho, Wakayama prefecture. This was one of the many investigations of folk performing arts festivals that are held every year in various parts of the country that the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducts from time to time. This year the operation of this festival had been reviewed and it was decided that the district would be divided into two and the prefectures in each sub-block would participate in the festival in alternating years. This year 8 groups from 6 prefectures participated. Since this was the first year in the new way, people were interested in how the festival would be operated. Fortunately, there was full-house attendance and comparatively sufficient performance time was secured in comparison with last year. Thus, the festival was confirmed to have been a success.


Updating of data on traditional Japanese instruments

 Data that can be retrieved from the database on traditional Japanese instruments (accessible from the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage since May) has been doubled and renewed. The database is based on information obtained through questionnaire survey on traditional Japanese instruments conducted since 2001. In addition to replies from the boards of education of the prefectures and municipalities, responses from museums throughout Japan have been included. Until now the data centered on instruments designated as cultural properties, but with this addition of data from museums, it has become possible to retrieve information about outstanding instruments and unusual instruments held by museums in various parts of Japan. Items and method for retrieval have not changed, but there are more data on instruments like shamisen, koto and tsuzumi., making formation retrieval more interesting.


2nd Ordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

2nd Ordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

 The 2nd Ordinary Session of Intergovernmental Committee on the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held from September 3 to 7 at Plaza Heisei of the Tokyo International Exchange Center. At this meeting discussions were held on the Operational Directives related to the implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was started during the 1st Extraordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Committee held in May at Chengdu, China. Concrete results were obtained on many issues including, for example, the concrete schedule toward the first inscription of the Representative List of the Intangible cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2009. At this meeting, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo acquired qualification as an official observer, and Inaba from the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation and Miyata from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage attended the entire meeting.


to page top