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


Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Properties in Nepal (Part 10)

Survey of tile-roofing specifications at Aganchen Temple
Workshop in Sankhu on the conservation of historic settlements

 As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we have continually provided technical assistance to Nepal. Already, in 2018, we have dispatched on-site research missions in February, March, April, and May.
 For the rehabilitation of the Aganchen Temple and its associated buildings in the Hanumandhoka Palace in Kathmandu, we surveyed detailed specifications and traces of transformation of the brick masonry surfaces of the inner walls whose finishing layers had peeled off. The brick masonry, all of which looks the same, differs in material, dimension, or construction method according to age. Evidence remains at places where the wall or opening was altered. Observation following the cleaning inside cracks blocked by the rubble that had collapsed from the upper section, revealed numerous clues to retrace the history of various extensions and alterations since its construction in the 17th century. The number of targets to be clarified through further research has increased, including the existence of an unknown mural painting unveiled during this process. We have further increased our awareness of this building’s great value as physical evidence to comprehend history, in addition to the highly elaborate work applied to the subsequently altered sections as a particularly important building in the palace.
 As preparations for the rehabilitation work are being made under the direction of experts dispatched from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), we are cooperating in the examination of concrete conservation methods and consultation with the relevant institutions in Nepal. Although the work has not yet begun due to various difficulties in procedures, as a united team we would like to make every effort to conserve the building’s value as a cultural heritage.
 Meanwhile, we have continued to cooperate in the conservation of historic settlements in the Kathmandu Valley. In May 2018, we organized a workshop at the historic settlement of Sankhu, inscribed in the Tentative List of World Heritage Sites of Nepal, but seriously damaged by the earthquake, for those officers in charge of public administration in each city holding jurisdiction over historic areas and settlements. Under the theme of conservation of historic water channel networks, participants from six cities discussed their current situations and issues together with urban design experts, and developed six suggestions. The outcomes will be shared with those concerned in other cities who could not attend the workshop this time. We expect the suggestions will help to conserve each historic settlement.


Conducting Training Seminars to Conserve and Restore Paper Cultural Properties for Syrian Experts and Providing Materials Related to Syrian Cultural Heritage

Training to conserve and restore paper cultural properties
Providing materials related to Syrian cultural heritage

 In Syria, the Middle East, a conflict that began in March 2011 has not ended even after seven years. The conflict has caused serious damages to both the Syrian people and their precious cultural heritage.
 Since 2017, the Japanese government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have been supporting Syria in preserving its cultural heritage. In addition to the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, academic institutions, such as the University of Tsukuba, Teikyo University, Waseda University, Chubu University, and the Ancient Orient Museum, plan to accept Syrian experts for a variety of training seminars in archaeology, and conservation and restoration of cultural properties, since February 2018.
 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) invited two Syrian specialists to Japan from May 15th to 30th, 2018, (two weeks) to conduct training seminars on conservation and restoration of paper cultural properties. At the seminars organized in cooperation with the National Diet Library and the National Archives of Japan, they learned basic restoration and conservation methods for documents and books.
 In January 2018, a news report that the ruins of the Ain Dara Temple, built in Northwestern Syria during the Syro-Hittite period, were severely damaged by an air raid was released. For this temple, TNRICP conducted a conservation and restoration project from 1994 through 1996. Project leader and Researcher Emeritus Tadateru NISHIURA provided related materials of that time. The materials were offered to the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria through the Syrian specialists invited to the seminars for utilization in the smooth restoration of the remains. In addition, valuable old photographic data on Aleppo, Damascus, and Palmyra, shot by Shin WADA in 1929 and 1930, which are now in possession of TNRICP were provided.


Visit to the Museo Egizio in Turin, and Opinion Exchange and Lecture at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI)

Mural painting exhibited at the Museo Egizio in Turin
Exterior view of the Santuario della Madonna d'Ongero

 From April 19th through April 29th, 2018, members of Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation visited the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) in Switzerland to collect information about the international scene and build a network with international institutions.
At the Museo Egizio in Turin, curators, managers for registration of works, and restorers gathered to talk about the concrete efforts made for maintenance and management of their collected items, as well as for their conservation and restoration. At the SUPSI, we delivered a lecture on the projects undertaken by the Center for professors and students of the University. In addition, guided by Ms. Giacinta Jean, Course Director in Conservation, we visited the research facilities of the University and the Santuario della Madonna d’Ongero, on whose stucco-work, study and research were conducted by the University. Ms. Giacinta Jean explained how the concept of conserving cultural properties worked in Switzerland and the current status of its conservation activities.
In the conservation and restoration of cultural properties, it is important to enrich our insight while collecting information from various areas, as well as to repeatedly exchange opinions on how to resolve problems and maintain and manage cultural properties. This is vital because such efforts will help us in retaining an objective attitude toward cultural heritage and viewing it with an open mind without allowing for subjective eyes.
Also, during these visits, we made discoveries and found research themes through opinion exchange, which we could hardly have done during the regular activities. Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation will continually reinforce international cooperative relationships, putting much effort into building a network with international institutions.


Archaeological Investigation and Risk Assessment for the Conservation and Management of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part III)

Excavated terrace structure
Ongoing precise survey

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been engaged in technical cooperation with the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) in order to draft a conservation and management plan for Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia. From March 8th through 22nd, 2018, we conducted the third archaeological investigation at Ta Nei Temple and a precise survey of its surroundings.
 The main purpose of the archaeological investigation was to further clarify the terrace structure on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered during the second investigation in December 2017. The excavation was conducted jointly with staff from APSARA.
 The investigation disclosed the fact that laterite ashlars are laid to shape the entire structure as a cross, which is 13.8 m east to west and 11.9 m north to south. In addition, numerous roof tiles were found in its vicinity, and there were many holes and dents on the laterite ashlars, which seem to have been postholes. These findings implicitly show that there once was a wooden building on this terrace structure. Since the terrace structure is located on the east-west temple axis, we will continue the investigation to clarify the connection between the two structures.
 At the same time, we also conducted a precise survey with a total station around the temple. Based on the collected data, we are preparing a detailed topographic map, which is expected to be effectively utilized for the conservation and management of the temple.
 We also provided technical guidance for APSARA staff through technical transfer during the precise survey. We will continue such technical support, in addition to academic investigations.


An investigation and consultation on Japanese paintings at Grassi Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig

Consultation on conservation plans for the paintings
Investigation of the hanging scroll

 Among overseas art collections, there are numerous Japanese art objects that play a significant role in representing Japanese culture in their regions. However, since the conservators-restorers who are specialized in these objects are rarely overseas and the proper conservation treatment cannot be undertaken on the objects, quite a few objects cannot be shown to the public. Thus, the Institute conducts the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas in order to contribute to the conservation-restoration and utilization of these objects.
 On 26th March, the Institute’s researchers and conservators visited Grassi Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig and investigated the paintings for the purpose of formulating conservation plans and selecting objects for conservation under the Cooperative Program. Two hanging scrolls and a pair of folding screens, which had been chosen based on the collection survey conducted last year, were observed to record their components and conditions in detail. After the investigation, we consulted with the Museum about future conservation plans by explaining the conditions of each object as well as details about the Cooperative Program. Moreover, there was also a discussion on the possibility of future cooperation in the techniques of conservation of painting in each country such as an exhibition of techniques seen from ethnologic perspectives.


“Workshop on Conservation of Traditional Houses in Bhutan”

A scene of the workshop
Old traditional house proposed as a subject to be preserved (in Haa province)

 The traditional houses in the western region of Bhutan are built with earth rammed down into a formwork, a method called rammed earth construction. These houses have become a key element of the beautiful cultural landscape of the country with lush greenery. However, unlike religious and administrative buildings such as temples and castles, they are not protected legally as cultural heritage, and precious old houses are being lost rapidly due to natural disasters, modernization, and various other factors.
 Since 2012, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been conducting architectural studies and research on buildings constructed in the rammed earth method jointly with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites, Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs in Bhutan. During the process, both sides became once again strongly aware of the value of old houses as cultural heritage and the urgency in their conservation. Therefore, on March 13th, 2018, we organized a workshop joined by Japanese and Bhutanese experts, persons in charge from the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement and local governments, and owners of traditional houses at the headquarters of the Department of Culture in Thimphu. We shared information about the survey outcomes including the chronology and the changing process of traditional house architecture, the legal framework for protection of cultural heritage in Bhutan, and how Japanese traditional houses are protected. We also exchanged opinions on specific traditional houses to be preserved and related future issues. We hear that soon after the workshop, a positive effect began to appear through a movement toward the preservation and utilization of important houses. We expect its great contribution to the consolidation of the legal system for cultural heritage, which has been stagnant in the country.


Conservation and Restoration of the Outer Walls of Brick Temples and Studies of Mural Paintings in Bagan, Myanmar

Dismantling and restoring of a damaged spire
Field study of art history and iconography

 From January 23rd to February 13th, 2018, we carried out conservation and restoration work on the outer walls of Me-taw-ya Temple (No.1205), a brick temple at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar, aiming primarily at protecting mural paintings from rain leaks. Our work during this mission focused on restoring the pinnacle’s of the temple damaged by the earthquake on August 24th, 2016, as well as conserving and restoring the stucco decorations left on the dome of pagoda. While in Bagan, we also held a workshop for young conservators at the request of the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar. In this workshop, we provided technical training on how to use restoration materials, with the aim of helping young conservators to better understand the characteristics and effects of each restoration material through actual restoration processes.
 In addition, we conducted studies on art history, iconography and the evolution of mural painting techniques in Myanmar, Since we were finished, for the time being, with the studies on mural paintings from the 11th to 13th centuries, the prime of mural paintings, in our earlier missions, we left Bagan and headed to Phowintaung Cave and Kinmun Village near Monywa to study mural paintings from the 17th to 18th centuries, which can be described as the “revival period.” Through these field studies, we were able to gather a great deal of information.
 On February 9th, we visited UNESCO Yangon Office, and explained what we, at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, have achieved so far through our conservation and restoration work as well as our studies of Me-taw-ya Temple. The officials at the Yangon Office highly commended us for our consistent project that focuses on the conservation of mural paintings and for our processes of promptly starting the restoration of earthquake-damaged areas. We and the UNESCO Yangon Office agreed to share information and develop a cooperative relationship from this point forward.
 We have now completed the restoration work in the areas severely damaged by the earthquake. From fiscal 2018 onwards, we will gradually shift our focus from the restoration of the damaged areas to the project’s original purpose, which is the conservation and restoration of the outer walls to protect mural paintings from rain leaks. We will continue to work on developing effective policies for conserving and restoring the Bagan Archaeological Site through extensive discussion with local experts.


World Heritage Seminar “Process of Evaluating Nominations and Roles of the Advisory Bodies for Inscription on the World Heritage List”

Seminar in session

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties held the World Heritage Seminar with the theme of “Process of Evaluating Nominations and Roles of the Advisory Bodies for Inscription on the World Heritage List” at the Institute’s seminar room on January 18, 2018.
 This Seminar, held for the first time, is designed for local government officials in charge of matters related to World Heritage, and aims to provide information about the system of World Heritage and the latest trends as well as an opportunity for exchange of ideas. Focusing on the process of how the Advisory Bodies evaluate nominations, this year’s Seminar featured various speakers who discussed the actual details of what International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), in particular, does, from different perspectives.
 First, Ms. Asuka SAKAINO from the Institute presented a report on the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee held in Krakow, Poland, in July 2017. Ms. Yoko FUTAGAMI, also from the Institute, then provided an overview of the World Heritage Seminar, and also described the evaluation process for the World Heritage List and problems with the current situation. Another speaker featured in the Seminar was Ms. Miki OKADERA, Chief Engineer of the Fukuoka Prefectural Government, who played a critical role in the preparation of the nomination file for the Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region and addressed the evaluation by the Advisory Bodies. She talked about her journey through the entire process related to the nomination of the sites, which was examined during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee and inscribed on the list. In addition, Prof. Nobu KURODA of the University of Tsukuba shared her insights into the site mission from a professional viewpoint, based on her actual experience as one of the experts appointed by an Advisory Body to conduct a site mission in 2006. Finally, Prof. Toshiyuki KONO of Kyushu University, who was appointed president of ICOMOS in December 2017, delivered a presentation on the roles of the Advisory Bodies from the organization’s perspective.
 A total of 74 people attended the event, including officials from 29 prefectural or local government in charge of matters related to World Heritage as well as officials from the Cabinet Secretariat, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and the Subdivision on World’s Cultural Heritage of the Council for Cultural Affairs.
 The Institute will continue to host such Seminars to communicate information obtained through the study of World Heritage and provide opportunities for people to share information.


Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 9)

Group photo of the participants of the Mayors’ Forum
Lecture by Mr. Tatsuya KUMAMOTO, cultural strategy officer of the Agency for Cultural Affairs at the Mayors’ Forum

 As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we have continually provided technical assistance for Nepal. From December 23rd through December 29th, 2017, we dispatched five experts to Kathmandu.
 The main purpose of this dispatch is to cooperate in the “Mayors’ Forum on Conservation of Historic Settlements in Kathmandu, Kavre Valley.” The Forum was hosted by Panauti municipality, which has historic settlements inscribed on the Tentative List of World Heritage sites, and attended about 100 persons to its city hall, including mayors, deputy mayors or representatives from 16 cities located in Kathmandu, Kavre Valley and around Panauti City. Since 2016, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been providing support through workshops and training seminars for professional officers (engineers) of each city holding jurisdiction over historic settlements inscribed on the World Heritage List and the Tentative List of World Heritage sites. They have already established inter-city cooperative relationships. In this Forum, the necessity of networking the municipalities holding jurisdiction over historic settlements in Kathmandu, Kavre Valley (cooperation council) was shared among the mayors by expanding the coverage further. Lectures were also delivered by Professor Yukio NISHIMURA at the University of Tokyo regarding the survey of historic settlements in Kathmandu Valley being implemented under the framework of this cooperation project, and by Mr. Tatsuya KUMAMOTO, Councilor for Cultural Strategy of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, concerning the system for preservation districts for groups of historic buildings in Japan. We succeeded in conveying the approaches to conserve historic settlements, including the current issues and inter-government cooperation, to the participants.
 To establish a system to conserve historic settlements in Kathmandu Valley, a great deal of effort is required from a variety of stakeholders. We expect that our research outcomes will be reflected more effectively and that broader technical assistance will be provided smoothly through the above-mentioned network.


Archaeological Investigation and Risk Assessment for the Conservation and Management of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part II)

Excavated terrace structure
Survey of the current condition of the temporary supports

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been carrying out technical cooperation with the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) in order to draft a conservation and management plan for Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia. From November 28th through December 8th, 2017, we conducted an archaeological investigation and a risk assessment for the structures at Ta Nei Temple for the second time.
 The main purpose of the archaeological investigation was identifying the remains of the east approach to the temple located at its front and the remains of a structure situated on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered during the first investigation in July. The excavation was conducted jointly with staff from APSARA and with the cooperation of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
 First, we set up and excavated a trench 2 m wide from east to west and 5 m long from north to south, approximately 50 m to the east of the east gate. We discovered a hardened surface, presumably the old approach to the temple, 70 cm beneath the current ground surface. The hardened surface was composed of yellow soil covering a layer of small sandstone gravel 5 mm in size overlapped on a layer of fist-sized sandstone cobbles.
 In addition, we set up and excavated a trench 11 m long from east to west and 1 m wide from north to south on the embankment of the East Baray on the prolongation of this approach way. We found a laterite stone surface 30 cm beneath the current ground surface (Figure 1). Considering the surrounding topography and the distribution of exposed laterite, these remains can be presumed to form part of a terrace structure approximately 20 m long from east to west and 15 m wide from north to south.
 Regarding the risk mapping of the site, we examined how to renew the existing temporary supports. Wooden supports had been installed in 16 places where there were safety concerns such as potential collapse of main structures, including the central tower, the east tower, and the inner gallery. However, apart from obstructing the view of the site, these supports are in need of renovation, as in the 20 years that have passed since their installation decay of timber members and loosening of joints have become apparent. Thus, we observed and recorded the current condition of these supports, and studied improvement proposals including a change to a more durable material and the adoption of a design enabling fine adjustment.


The Fourth Mission for the Project “Networking Core Centers for the Transfer of Technology Related to Study and Protection of Archaeological and Architectural Heritage in Myanmar” (Architectural Field)

Behavior measurement by the staff of the Department of Archaeology
Hearing survey with restoration experts

 As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs (re-commissioned by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties), we dispatched experts to Myanmar for the fourth time in 2017. Two staff members from the Institute conducted structural behavior monitoring and a survey on traditional building techniques and production systems (from November 25th through December 3rd), while an outside expert tested brick materials (from December 9th through December 12th).
 In the structural behavior monitoring checked for the fourth time, no progress was found in deformation of the three monitored historical brick buildings in Bagan in particular. However, many of the resin crack gauges installed on the external surfaces of the buildings had come off due to bird and animal attacks, so they were replaced by metal disks. We also trained the local staff of the Department of Archaeology to facilitate voluntary measurements.
 Through the hearing survey with local experts who have engaged in restoration of cultural heritage for many years, we exchanged opinions on the details of traditional building techniques and production technologies surveyed in this project while confirming how to produce mortar used in past times and the materials in detail. Since we obtained all materials required for reproduction of this old mortar based on the collected information, we will analyze the mortar sampled from the structures built in the Bagan era in the past survey to compare with the reproduced mortar. We also contacted bricklayers to ask how the restoration work is implemented and their awareness of traditional building techniques and production technologies.
 At the material testing carried out in a facility of Yangon Technological University in Yangon City, we implemented bending, shearing, and compression strength tests with the prisms (four-layered brick specimens) and mortar specimens produced in the previous visit (September).
 We would like to continually accumulate useful data for better conservation and restoration of the cultural heritage structures in the Bagan area through such surveys.


Participation and Presentation at the 19th ICOMOS General Assembly and Scientific Symposium

The General Assembly

 The 19th ICOMOS General Assembly and Scientific Symposium was held in Delhi, India from 11th to 15th December. The author took part in the General Assembly and made a presentation at the Symposium.
 During the General Assembly, the triennial elections for the Executive Committee were held. Professor Toshiyuki Kono from Kyushu University was elected as president, becoming the second Asian and first Japanese president of ICOMOS since its foundation in 1965. Professor Kono has had a leading role in several initiatives engaging current issues surrounding cultural heritage from multiple perspectives, including the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Nara+20 Conference and the ICOMOS Project on Cultural Heritage Recovery and Reconstruction. The further development of such initiatives during his three year term is highly anticipated.
 In addition, the General Assembly officially adopted the “Principles for the Conservation of Wooden Built Heritage”, redacted by the ICOMOS International Wood Committee (IIWC). This document is an updated version of the 1999 charter by the same committee. The updated version is more detailed and concrete, while at the same time placing a renewed emphasis on the intangible aspects of wooden built heritage.
 The General Assembly also saw the adoption as one of its resolutions of a proposal redacted by the Emerging Professionals Working Group, aimed at strengthening the involvement of emerging professionals in the activities of ICOMOS.
 At the Scientific Symposium, under the title “Heritage and Democracy”, speakers from different countries presented initiatives aimed at involving actively in the conservation process the local communities and other stakeholders who maintain, use and safeguard the heritage. As an example of such initiatives in Japan, the author made a presentation on the “heritage manager” system.


The 30th General Assembly of ICCROM

Appearance of the site
Deliberation under way

 The staff members of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) participated in the 30th General Assembly of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties (ICCROM) held in Rome, Italy, from November 29th to December 1st, 2017. ICCROM was founded based upon the decision at the 9th Session of the UNESCO General Conference in 1956. It is an intergovernmental organization with its headquarters located in Rome since 1959, especially characterized by covering a wide range of cultural properties, regardless of whether they are movable or immovable. It is well known as one of the three Advisory Bodies for the World Heritage Committee and is in a cooperative relationship with TNRICP over many years especially through training activities for preservation and restoration of cultural properties made of paper and urushi lacquer.
 The General Assembly of ICCROM is held biannually. During the latest General Assembly, Dr. Webber Ndoro nominated by the Council to be a candidate for Director-General was elected to serve as the new Director-General starting January 1st, 2019. As Dr. Ndoro is the first Director-General from Africa, it is expected that ICCROM’s projects in Africa will be further activated during his term of office for a period of 6 years.
 Further, as has happened in the past, an election was also held due to the expiration of the term of office for about one-half of the Council members. As a result of the election, the Council members from Belgium, Egypt, Sudan, Switzerland, and Germany were reappointed, while new Council members were elected from China, Dominica, Lebanon, Poland, Swaziland, the U.S., Portugal, and Russia.
 In the thematic discussion, various cases were introduced under the theme of “Post-conflict Reconstruction – Recovery and Community Involvement.” From Japan, Prof. Toshiyuki KONO of Kyushu University made a presentation on reconstruction efforts of buildings in Japan after World War II.
 TNRICP intends to continue working on collecting information on the international trends regarding preservation of cultural properties and widely transmitting the activities carried out in Japan.


Special Lectures at Kanazawa University

Special lecture by Associate Fellow

 On November 24th, three Associate Fellows from the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) held special lectures for the Forum for Cultural Resource Studies at the Center for Cultural Resource Studies of Kanazawa University. TNRICP and Kanazawa University entered a cooperative research agreement in 2014 and the TNRICP’s staff members have been cooperating in training, field survey, etc. for the “Graduate Program in Cultural Resource Management”, the University’s Leading Graduate School program that develops specialists in preservation of cultural properties.
 The special lectures on the day concerned the areas of expertise of the Associate Fellows and the TNRICP’s activities, which included the following three: “An Introduction to Heritage Science” (Mariya MASUBUCHI), “Struggle to Conserve Nepalese Cultural Heritage Damaged by the Gorkha Earthquake” (Hiroki YAMADA), and “Origin and Characteristics of the Japanese Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties” (Asuka SAKAINO). Students showed keen interest in the lectures, which were followed by an active Q&A session.
 It is our pleasure that, through these lectures, we could contribute to the educational program for students aiming to become specialists in preservation of cultural properties and, at the same time, it was a valuable experience for the TNRICP’s staff members who had not often had opportunities to speak to students. We will continue maintaining and further developing exchanges with Kanazawa University and other academic organs by utilizing the expertise of our staff members.


Participation in the 21st session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention and the 12th extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee

Deliberation under way

 On November 14th and 15th, 2017, the 21st session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention and the 12th extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee were held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) dispatched two staff members.
 The General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention is held biannually during the period of the ordinary session of the General Conference of UNESCO, where the Committee members of the World Heritage Committee are elected. Although the World Heritage Convention sets the term of office for the Committee members to six years, with the aim of expanding the opportunity for many countries to become a Committee member, the Operational Guidelines invite the Committee members to consider voluntarily reducing their term of office to four years and discourage from seeking consecutive terms of office. At this General Assembly, 12 countries retired from the Committee members after serving for four years and, as a result of the secret ballot among the States Parties participating in the session, the countries of Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, China, Guatemala, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Saint Christopher-Nevis, Spain, and Uganda were newly elected.
 It is the normal practice of the World Heritage Committee sessions to update the World Heritage List and to decide on the site and date for the next World Heritage Committee session. However, at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee that was held in Krakow of Poland this year, there was no Committee member that officially expressed its interest in hosting the World Heritage Committee session for the next year. Therefore, it was decided that, concurrently with the re-election of Committee member countries at the 21st session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, the 12th extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee was to be held to invite a country that wishes to be a hosting country and to decide the site and chairman of the Committee session. As a result of adjustment at the extraordinary session, it was decided that the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee would be held in Manama of Bahrain from June 24th to July 4th, 2018.
 TNRICP will continue to collect the latest information on recent trends concerning the World Heritage Convention and to disseminate it widely among parties concerned in Japan.


Evaluation Seminar 2017: Workshops on conservation of Japanese lacquerware (urushi objects)

Group photo with the contributors after the seminar

 Workshops on Conservation of Japanese Lacquerware (urushi objects) have been held since 2006, with the cooperation of Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Museen Köln (Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne), Germany. The workshops introduce the knowledge and techniques required for the preservation and utilization of lacquerware overseas. In these past 10 years, 179 professionals and students in total had participated from 17 countries. In order to measure the outcomes of the past workshops, this year, an evaluation seminar was held at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) on November 8th and 9th, 2017.
 Prior to holding the seminar, a questionnaire survey targeting all former participants was conducted. Contributors to the seminar were gathered from the respondents of the questionnaire, and 4 specialists and professors in conservation and restoration were invited from 4 countries (Belgium, Germany, Greece and the USA). On the first day of the seminar, the contributors presented their conservation projects and/or educational activities in conservation, which were undertaken after they participated in the workshops. The presentations provided the opportunity to share their situations and challenges on how the acquired knowledge and skills were applied to their work. The second day started with reporting the results of the questionnaire survey from TNRICP, followed by an in-depth discussion with the contributors. Issues on conservation of lacquerwares overseas and how we can support to address such issues by providing the workshops were considered.


A Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 8)

Instructing how to use a 3D scanner to the local staff
Target installed on the external wall of the building for displacement measurement

 Staff members have ongoingly been dispatched to Nepal under the project regarding the above subject that has been entrusted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Field surveys were conducted by six experts from October 29th to November 10th and by two experts from November 20th to 26th.
 First, with regard to a group of buildings surrounding Aganchen Temple in Hanumandhoka Palace in Kathmandu, following the survey in June, recording current conditions and detailed measurement for preparation of a restoration scheme were performed. Concurrently with this, the structural engineer team mainly consisting of members of the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, carried out measurements by 3D scanners. As there are some areas inside the Palace where entry of foreigners are restricted due to religious reasons, we instructed local staff members from Department of Archaeology, Government of Nepal, regarding how to use the surveying instruments and conducted the measurement works in cooperation with them. Although entry prohibition imposed a restriction on implementation of the survey, it seems to have served at the same time as a good opportunity for promoting transfer of skills.
 Next, for the interior walls that had already been surveyed, the finishing layers were peeled off and specifications as well as conditions of the underlying brick wall were examined. This process is not only necessary in order to accurately identify the damage conditions of the brick walls but also very important in order to clarify the transition of the building. Especially, for the places that may have to be torn down for reasons such as very severe damage, observation with utmost care and deliberation was needed as this survey might become the last opportunity to survey and record historical evidences.
 Further, with the aim of continuously monitoring any possible adverse effects on the buildings adjacent to the work area throughout the restoration work, we installed the targets for displacement measurement and glass plates for the fixed-point observation of wall inclination at various spots, and measured the initial values.
On the other hand, we have also worked on documentation of the excavated artifacts from the excavation research that was conducted near the Shiva Temple inside the Palace in June. Further, instructions and advices were given to the staff of Department of Archaeology on the methods of documentation.
 Two years and a half have passed since the earthquake that caused extensive damages to cultural properties as well and restoration projects led by teams of various countries have finally become active. We also would like to continue supporting the above-mentioned restoration project in which restoration specialists from Japan participate while working on transfer of skills to the local engineers.


Seminar on Environmental Management at Museums for Iranian Researchers

On-going lecture at the Institute

 In March 2017, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) exchanged a letter of intent with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) so as to commit its cooperation in various academic fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage for the next five years.
During the survey conducted in Iran in October 2016, Iranian experts consulted us about serious air pollution in the capital Tehran, which resulted in damage to cultural properties. They said that even metal products displayed and housed in the National Museum of Iran were eroding.
 Thus, we invited two researchers, one from the National Museum of Iran and the other from the, RICHT for a seminar and a study tour of the Institute, expecting the improvement in exhibiting and housing environments at Iranian museums.
 We provided lectures on the museum environment and air pollution at the Institute, in addition to a study tour at the Tokyo National Museum (TNM) so as to inspect its display and storage environments and to the Great Buddha of Kamakura.
We will continually provide cooperation next year for Iranian museums, aiming at enhancement in their exhibiting and housing environments.


Seminar on “Challenges and Issues to Wall Painting Conservation” in the “Human Resource Development Project toward the Improvement of the Conservation and Management System for Mural Paintings in the Republic of Turkey”

Group photo with trainees
Survey at Tagar Church (St. Theodore Church)

 As part of the above-mentioned program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we provided a seminar titled “Challenges and Issues to Wall Painting Conservation” from October 30 through November 2, 2017. The seminar held at Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli University attracted 30 conservators and restorers from 10 national conservation and restoration centers in Turkey.
 This seminar aims to review the existing emergency procedures, which are important in conserving mural paintings in Turkey, as well as to establish the protocol. For this first seminar, we delivered introductory lectures on “Mural Painting Techniques and Main Causes of Deterioration,” “Principles in Conservation and Restoration” and so on. An opportunity provided to exchange opinions on lectures between lecturers and trainees resulted in motivating the members to work on challenges together in a united effort.
 On the last day of the seminar, we visited Tagar Church (St. Theodore Church), where on-site training is planned from the next year, to check the conservation state of the mural painting in the church based on the knowledge learned from the lectures delivered to date. We discussed how emergency procedures should be as important steps in conserving and managing mural paintings unlike general conservation and restoration projects, eliciting a variety of views from them.
 At present, a system to conserve and manage mural paintings well has not been established fully in Turkey. It is important for us to proceed with this program in step with the Turkish government.
 Before starting this seminar program, we visited the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties, Faculty of Fine Arts, Gazi University to exchange opinions for enhancement of the seminar program. Four training courses will be provided by 2019. We hope to build up a practical and feasible system for experts engaged in conservation activities for cultural properties by all the members attending these seminar courses.


Workshop for the Conservation of Historic Textiles in the Republic of Armenia: “Textile Art and Conservation: Knotting the Past and the Present”

Ongoing workshop
Completion Ceremony

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties organized a workshop for the conservation of historic textiles titled “Textile Art and Conservation: Knotting the Past and the Present” jointly with the Ministry of Culture in the Republic of Armenia from September 11th through 20th, 2017. This workshop was implemented based on the agreement on cooperation in the cultural heritage protection area concluded between them in 2014.
 In the Republic of Armenia, numerous organic substances such as fibers have been unearthed from archaeological sites. However, they do not have sufficient knowhow to preserve such artifacts. In addition, several religiously and historically valuable items, including ritual clothing and accessories, handed down since ancient times are stored in the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin, which is registered as a world cultural heritage site. Among them, however, some are seriously damaged, so it is necessary to restore them in the proper manner for smooth transfer of precious cultural heritage to the succeeding generations.
 For this workshop, Dr. Mie ISHII, a visiting researcher from the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, and Ms. Midori YOKOYAMA from the NHK Culture Center Saitama were invited as lecturers. The first half of the workshop was conducted at the Scientific Research Center for Historical and Cultural Heritage while the second half took place at the Museum of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Thirteen trainees from seven institutions handling cultural heritage such as museums attended the seminar. This first workshop was designed to learn basic knowledge and techniques on textiles. We will continue this cooperative relationship to enable them ultimately to preserve and restore their cultural heritage by themselves.


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