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


Exchange program in Mongolia (preliminary investigation)

Amarbayasgalant Khiid
Inspection of the Amarbayasgalant Khiid

 In preparations for the exchange program that has just started this fiscal year, we visited Mongolia from June 9 to 14. As part of this program, together with the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Institute, workshops related to the framework for the conservation of cultural properties including organizations and laws are being planned as are training programs to foster experts for the Center for Cultural Heritage of Mongolia under the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia. The meeting with the Director of the Department of Culture and Art of the Ministry was filled with a friendly atmosphere, and the Director readily agreed to the conclusion of a statement and memorandum of mutual agreement with the Institute upon inaugurating the project.
 We also inspected the Amarbayasgalant Khiid, one of the largest wooden structures of Mongolia located approximately 350 km north of Ulan Bator, the capital. This temple underwent investigations and restoration projects by Japanese experts dispatched through UNESCO from the early 1970’s to the mid-1980’s. However, it is poorly managed at present and an expert of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science told us that immediate actions were required. We confirmed that there was not only damage to the color of the building and its roof but also that the structure of the temple was suffering deterioration. Through the discussions at this meeting, the two countries have come to hold the wish to include building-related contents in the training program for experts that will be conducted from the next fiscal year on.
 After our visit, we learned that demonstrations expressing dissatisfaction with the result of the election which had been held at the end of June led to a riot in Ulan Bator and that the mobs had set fire to the Center for Cultural Heritage, the counterpart of our Institute, resulting in damage to the building, equipment and cultural properties. We express our heartfelt sympathy to the staff of the Center. At the same time, we are seeking a possibility of emergency response by sharing information with the embassy and experts in related fields.


Participation in the “UNESCO Sub-Regional Workshop on Serial Nomination for Central Asian Petroglyph Sites”

 The “UNESCO Sub-Regional Workshop on Serial Nomination for Central Asian Petroglyph Sites” was held from May 26 to 31, 2008 at Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia. Representatives of four countries in Central Asia except for Turkmenistan, namely, Kyrgyz, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, as well as of UNESCO and ICOMOS participated in this workshop, and Yamauchi of the Institute attended as an observer. Although rock art (or rock painting) sites are found over a wide area not only in Central Asia but also in the entire Eurasian continent, the said workshop limits the area to Central Asia with the aim of collectively registering all the sites in that region as a World Heritage site. In this meeting, many case examples were introduced, and problems related to research, registration operations, management and conservation were discussed. Since this is a serial nomination of heritages beyond national borders, preparation of application forms for World Heritage site is likely to require more time due to differences in the progress of works in different countries. In the workshop, it was confirmed that similar workshops would continue to be held with the goal of World Heritage site registration in 2012. As a part of the Cooperative Projects for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in West Asia, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation will participate in such workshops, keeping in mind future cooperative conservation projects, and endeavor to collect information while promoting cooperation with relevant parties and authorities in countries in Central Asia.


Preservation of the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa, Tajikistan

The southeast wall facing the courtyard with a stupa that was found by investigation
Cooperative work with young Tajik experts

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation dispatched the 3rd mission of the UNESCO/Japan Trust Fund project, Preservation of the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa, Tajikistan from April 16 to May 9. The purpose of this project is the preservation of a Buddhist monastery made of mud bricks and/or pisé. The Center has been removing sand and weeds that have accumulated since past excavations and conducting archaeological cleaning and soundings since 2006 in order to clarify the position and structure of the walls of the monastery.
 In this mission, we carefully studied the southeast wall facing the courtyard where a stupa is located, and confirmed the entrance that leads to the room where Parinirvana Buddha had been once placed. In addition, as a result of soundings at two points on the edge of the site, we were able to detect the outer wall of the Buddhist monastery and to confirm its original size. Such results provide information valuable for the conservation of Ajina Tepa. All archaeological investigations made at the site were done with young Tajik archaeologists, whose cooperation was of great help. At the same time, we believe that it was meaningful from the point of view of capacity building of local experts.


Program for capacity development along the Silk Road

Class by OKADA Fumio (Kyoto University of Art and Design)
Class by NAKAUCHI Yasuo (The Japanese Association for Conservation of Architectural Monuments)

 The program for capacity development along the Silk Road jointly conducted with China National Institute of Cultural Heritage(formerly the China National Institute of Cultural Property; restructured and renamed in February 2008)is now in its third year. This year the course on the protection of old buildings (first year of a two-year plan) will be held for three-and-a-half months in spring and that on the conservation of earthen structures (third year of a three-year plan) will be held for two months in autumn. This year, the spring course started a little earlier than usual, on April 3, to avoid the Beijing Olympics which will start on August 8. Twelve trainees from Xinjiang, Gansu, Qing Xiang, Ningxia, Shanxi, and Henan participate in the old buildings group. In the first year they will attend theoretical lectures and receive practical training in various types of investigations and the making of conservation plans in order to learn the basics necessary for the practical training in the work of conservation in which they will participate in the second year. The Palace Museum has provided a corner on the east side of Yihexuan within the Gugong Palace complex as a place for on-site training in the first year. During the three-and-a-half months, 10 Japanese lecturers will participate and work with Chinese lecturers.

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Expert Meeting on Cultural Heritage in Asia and the Pacific, “Cultural Heritage of Central Asia and the Japanese Contribution

A scene from the meeting
Visit to the restoration studio for mural paintings at the Institute of Archaeology, Uzbekistan

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been holding international conferences and workshops in order to promote exchange among experts engaged in the protection of cultural heritage in Asia. From the fiscal year 2007, an expert meeting will be held every year at various locations in Asia in order to construct further network among experts. For the first year, focus was placed on Central Asia and the meeting was held in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. In addition to Uzbekistan, experts were invited from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as well as from UNESCO to present reports on the present condition and issues related to activities for the protection of cultural heritage in their respective countries and to hold discussions. The meeting was followed by visits to archaeological sites, historic buildings, museums and an archaeological institute in Samarkand, and opinions were exchanged on methods for the conservation and exhibition of cultural heritage. The participants commented that it was very meaningful to learn about the different issues that Japan and other countries are faced with and to hear case studies of activities for the protection of cultural heritage. They also expressed their desire to continue collaboration and to exchange information.


Signing of an agreement for cooperation in the conservation of cultural heritage in the Republic of Tajikistan

 On March 20, 2008, an agreement and a memorandum for cooperation in the conservation of cultural heritage were signed between the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography, Academy of Science, Tajikistan and the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. According to the agreement, which is a general agreement, the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography and our Institute will cooperate in conducting activities for the conservation of cultural heritage in Tajikistan, and capacity building and transfer of technology will be conducted by means of actual work of conservation and workshops. The memorandum concerns the conservation project for the mural paintings in the collection of the National Museum of Antiquities, Tajikistan affiliated to the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography, and cooperation with regard to capacity building and transfer of technology related to that project. The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation will begin the actual work outlined in the agreement and the memorandum from the fiscal year 2008.


Investigation in Mongolia on its cultural heritage and international cooperation

Restoration of textile object at the Cultural Heritage Center of Mongolia
Interview at the Mongolian National Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage

 From February 26 to March 4, the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage conducted investigation in Mongolia to gather information related to the protection of cultural heritage and international cooperation. Two to three hours of interviews each were held at 12 major museums and organizations engaged in the protection of cultural heritage in Mongolia. When, in 1990, Mongolia became a democratic nation, the administration of cultural properties also underwent a great change. Now laws and systems for the transmission of valuable tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Mongolia, including the culture of the nomadic people, are becoming established. Plans for capacity building and the investigation and registration of cultural properties distributed throughout the nation have also begun.


Cooperation for the establishment of the Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM-CC) in Cairo: workshop on the conservation of paper materials

A scene from the workshop
Participants in the workshop
With Dr. Nadia Lokma, Director of the Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum

 In cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been providing technical advice to the Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum. Between 24 and 28 February, the Center organized a conservation workshop on paper in Cairo for Egyptian conservators. A senior paper conservator, Sakamoto Masami, delivered a series of lectures on various manufacturing techniques of paper, both European and Japanese, their physical and chemical properties and characteristics. Following theoretical lectures on conservation and materials, some practical/technical sessions were delivered for long-scale preservation and mount-making as well as further conservation implementations.
 In Egypt, museums hold artifacts made of a wide range of extremely challenging materials, such as papyri and textiles. Since most of the participants at the workshop are experienced in the field of conservation as professional conservators, they made quite positive remarks concerning the workshop as a whole. It has become a very important key workshop in order to begin further cooperation with the Grand Egyptian Museum.


Field survey for conservation of Buddhist cave murals located in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China

Landscape of Simsim Grottoes and a group of conserved grottoes
Red organic coloring material found in Grotto 224 at Kizil (Courtesy of Cultural Heritage Bureau of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region)

 As a part of a series of research projects undertaken by the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, a number of important Buddhist sites with murals (i.e. Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang and Ajanta Caves of India) were surveyed from conservation and technical points of view. Xinjiang region is the east end of Central Asia and plays an important role in ancient trades between the East and West. At the Buddhist grottoes with earthen mural paintings at Bezeklik in Turfan, Kizil, Simsim, Kumtura and Kizil-Qargha in Kucha, field surveys were carried out on painting materials and techniques as well as the state of conservation in a cooperative project with NHK Enterprise Co. between 5 and 12 January, 2008. This mission was composed of 4 members from the Institute, 1 from the Conservation Institute of Dunhuang Academy and 1 from the Cultural Heritage Bureau of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. These Buddhist cave sites are primarily made of unstable soft conglomerate or sand/silt stones, and murals are constructed on earthen plasters with various colourants using a secco techniques. Some organic red colourants, most of which had not remained due to their chemical instabilities, were fortunately observed in some murals. Further scientific diagnoses will provide invaluable information regarding the painting techniques in the context of ancient artisans along the Silk Roads.


International Cooperation in Living Heritage,”a workshop of the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage

A scene from the workshop
Poster session at the workshop

 “International Cooperation in Living Heritage,” a workshop organized by the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (President: Hirayama Ikuo), the secretariat of which has been entrusted to the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, was held on January 9..In this workshop various topics related with international cooperation in conservation are discussed. The workshop in January, which is the second in a series of such workshops, focused on the living heritage, in other words on “heritage that is kept alive and utilized.” Over 100 experts from various disciplines participated. In the keynote lecture, Dr. Richard Engelhardt, Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific at UNESCO Bangkok, spoke on the background that led to the concept of living heritage, the importance of international cooperation in conservation that includes the local people, and the role that Japan is expected to play in conservation. Case studies were also introduced, including academic research and practical restoration projects undertaken in Vietnam by Showa Women’s University and the study on living heritage in Southeast Asia by Dr. Miura Keiko of Waseda University. In the panel discussion, topics such as what kind of problems are faced at sites, what needs to be conserved in the context of changing systems of value and how Japan can cooperate in the conservation of living heritage were discussed actively among the panelists and the audience. The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage plans to hold workshops regularly in the future and to provide support in constructing a network of experts related with international cooperation in conservation.


Completion of “Paper Cultural Properties,” a training course in the program for capacity building along the Silk Road project

Ms. Hou Jukun of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China looking at the results of works by the trainees
Photograph taken at the completion ceremony

 The “Paper Cultural Properties,” a training course in the program for capacity building that had been held at the China National Institute of Cultural Property in Beijing for three months has been completed. During the course a total of 12 experts from Japan served as lecturers for 196 hours. Particularly during the last 4 weeks 2 technical experts from The Association for Conservation of National Treasures conducted classes with Chinese experts and the trainees learned the techniques for restoring books and scrolls, although it was for a short period. On December 27, Ms. Hou Jukun of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China attended the course completion ceremony. A certificate of completion issued jointly by the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and China National Institute of Cultural Property was given to 12 trainees from 6 provinces along the Silk Road. This program will start the third year of its 5-year plan next spring. A course on ancient architecture is scheduled to be held in spring and a course on earthen heritage in autumn.

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Chinese experts visit Japan for training in the protection of stone cultural properties

Experiment with resin treatment

 The Conservation of Stone Statues at the Tomb of the Tang Dynasty Emperor in Shaanxi Province Project and the UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust Conservation of the Longmen Grottoes Project, in which the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo participates, will both be in their final year in 2008. Since both have for their target cultural properties made of the same material, limestone, until now workshops, on-site investigations and trainings in Japan have been held actively for members of both projects jointly. From November 19 to December 16, 2 experts each were invited to Japan from the Xi’an Center for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Relics and the Longmen Academy to receive training in such matters as the restoration of stone cultural properties, evaluation methods for the effects of application of water repellant material and environmental monitoring after restoration. The results of the training are expected to be put to use in the execution of restoration work that will be conducted in the last year of the projects.

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21st Conference on International Cooperation on Conservation

A scene from the conference

 21st Conference on International Cooperation on Conservation: “Monitoring after Conservation Work” was held on December 6, 2007 with an attendance of 93 persons. Three presentations were given: Nishiura Tadateru of Kokushikan University, “Importance of Monitoring for Conservation of Remains, and Its Problems”; Nahar Cahyandaru of Borobudur Heritage Conservation Office in Indonesia, “Monitoring of the Borobudur Post Restoration”; and Kim Sa-Dug of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea, “Long-term Plan for the Conservation of Seokguram Grotto.” The presentations were followed by discussions. Various monitoring methods used ad respective sites were introduced and information was shared among the participants. We were made to realize that in order to introduce these methods to other sites it is necessary to make wider appeals about the importance of monitoring.


Conservation training program for Iraqi experts (3)

The training of x-ray radiography for archaeological artifacts (at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)

 The conservation training program, “Restoration of the Laboratories of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad,” a UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust project for Iraqi conservators from the Iraq National Museum, Baghdad, which was held for 3 months, was completed on December 12. The trainees visited Saitama Cultural Deposits Research Corporation on November 13 and 14 to see its conservation laboratory of archaeological artifacts, exhibition and storage rooms and to participate in the conservation work of pottery. From November 19 to December 3, they participated in a training program on the use of various apparatuses used in conservation, such as x-ray radiography, at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. On December 10, they delivered a presentation on the current conditions of the Iraq National Museum, Baghdad, and local museums in Iraq, and their activities in the conservation laboratories as well as on the trainings in Japan. It is hoped that the 4 trainees will employ what they have acquired in the training to contribute to the conservation of cultural heritages


Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts

Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts (1)
Conservation project for fragments of Bamiyan birch manuscripts (2)

 During the conservation missions by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, within the framework of UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust, hundreds of small fragments of bark Buddhist manuscripts were found in 2003 from caves in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. They are quite invaluable as important historical witnesses of the Buddhism that once flourished in Bamiyan. The fragments are mostly as small as a few centimetres in width and length. Many are folded, making the texts illegible and creating much difficulty for the viewers. In that sense, they are not in a form that would allow displaying them to the general public.
 In November 2007, with the financial aid of the Sumitomo Foundation, 543 pieces (at initial counting) of the fragments of Bamiyan bark manuscripts were brought to Japan for conservation treatment. On this occasion, a local conservator from Kabul National Museum was also invited to the Institute, and arrived with the fragments, for conservation training. A number of fragments were safely flattened and mounted in special frames, and then returned to Afghanistan safely with the aid of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Japan.


Cooperation for the establishment of the Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM-CC) in Cairo

Conservation Center for Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM-CC) under construction

 In cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been providing technical advice to the GEM-CC. In November and December, members of the Center visited the GEM-CC to discuss future strategies for the project. For the time being, the Center is providing necessary technical and machinery support prior to the grand opening of the GEM-CC (April 2008) after which time it will hold some training activities, such as workshops on particular subjects in conservation.


International Symposium for the Serial Nomination for the Silk Roads to the World Heritage

International Symposium for the Serial Nomination for the Silk Roads to the World Heritage

 On 30 and 31 October, 2007, an international symposium was organized by ICOMOS, UNESCO, Shaanxi Municipal People’s Government and Xi’an Municipal People’s Government. It aimed to introduce the cultural nature of the Silk Roads and to supply instruction and technical consultation for nomination of the Silk Roads to the World Heritage. The east end of this vast area targeted for this nomination was considered as Xi’an at this point; unfortunately, Nara was excluded from this Silk Roads in the nomination. From the side of Japan, it is considered quite essential to keep discussing, in the nomination process, the geographical and historical definitions of the Silk Roads.


Plenary Session of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor

 Plenary Session of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor was held at Siem Reap on November 28. 2007. Two meetings of the Committee are held annually. At the Technical Session, reports are made about the activities of various organizations engaged in the conservation and investigation of the site. The Plenary Session, however, is an occasion for holding more comprehensive discussions. At this meeting, oral presentations were limited to some of the large-scale projects. Most of the organizations submitted written reports of their activities and the proceedings of these reports were distributed.
 Although the target of this Committee is the Angkor Site, Preah Vihear site was frequently the topic of discussion at this meeting. This site is located on the border of Thailand and is an important site whose registration on next year’s World Heritage List is being considered. It has been recently decided that Thailand will cooperate in the preservation and maintenance of this site, and several other nations in the Committee are debating about setting up an International Co-ordinating Committee for this purpose. Under such circumstances nations concerned expressed their intent to participate. Although nothing concrete has been decided about Japan’s role, it is certain to be important and discussions will have to be made as to what can be done.


Attending the International Symposium of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies

Photograph with the major members of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies

 The International Symposium of the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies was held on November 10 at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul. The theme of this symposium was “Dunhuang Studies.” Jacques Giès of Musée Guimet, Susan Whitfield of The British Library and Samosyu Kira of The State Hermitage Museum reported on the mural paintings of Dunhuang, study of the Dunhuang documents and archives; Li Zuixiong of Dunhuang Academy spoke about the conservation and scientific study of the Dunhuang mural paintings; Okada Ken of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation presented a report on the Japan-China cooperative activities for the conservation of the Dunhuang mural paintings. The meeting, thus, was an extremely significant one that comprehensively covered the Dunhuang studies and the activities of experts throughout the world on related projects. Although the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies is a relatively young association which was established 14 years ago, its members include researchers who have received degrees in Japan, China and the United States and are very positive in their approach to research Collaboration with Korea, as in other conferences like the 2007 International Symposium on Conservation of Cultural Heritage in East Asia, which was held at the beginning of November at the National Museum of Korea,and the Workshop for Paper Conservation in East Asia, which is held every year and is attended by experts from Japan, China and Korea, will increase in importance from all aspects of the study and protection of cultural heritage.

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“Paper Cultural Properties,” a training course in the program for capacity building along the Silk Road project

Practical guidance by Sakata Masayuki (The Association for Conservation of National Treasures)

 In the capacity building program held at the China National Institute of Cultural Property in Beijing, the participants began to attend classes on practical training from November. They studied under the guidance of Japanese and Chinese experts. Classes on the methods of conservation and storage of documents using recently developed neutral paper were quite unexpected but interesting for students who had expected a more restoration oriented training. Since there is some difference in the traditional restoration techniques of Japan and China, Japanese experts are continually faced with the question of how they can contribute to the conservation of “Chinese paper cultural properties.” However, rather than merely giving guidance to students, promotion of exchange of techniques between experts of the two countries is expected through such efforts.

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