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


Presentations at the Institute of Conservation in the UK

A lecture underway
A post-conference workshop

 From April 8 to 10, 2015, a conference entitled “Adapt & Evolve: East Asian Materials and Techniques in Western Conservation” took place mainly at the Brunei Gallery at the University of London. The conference was organized by the Book and Paper Group of the Institute of Conservation (colloquially known as ICON) in the UK.
 The conference consisted of tours of relevant institutions in the City of London, group events (presentations and question-and-answer panels), and various workshops. MASUDA Katsuhiko (an emeritus researcher at the Institute, currently a professor at Showa Women’s University), HAYAKAWA Noriko (a senior researcher at the Institute), and KATO Masato (a head of the Resource and Systems Research Section at the Institute) reported on the results of projects such as international training in Conservation of Japanese Paper (JPC) and the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas as well as studies of the materials used to restore cultural properties. In addition, post-conference workshops were conducted after the conference. HAYAKAWA Noriko and KUSONOKI Kyoko (an associate fellow of the Institute) explained the traditional adhesives used in the field of conservation in Japan, and showed how to make starch paste and they instructed attendees in its application.
 According to the conference organizer, the conference was attended by about 300 people from around the world. During the question-and-answer session, the conference chair asked the audience about the JPC, and the answer revealed that 30 or more individuals who had completed the training were in attendance. Individuals who had completed other workshops organized by the Institute were also in attendance. Thus, the Institute plays a major role in introducing East Asian materials and techniques to Western conservation. In addition, many of the attendees asked that the Institute continue to provide information about conservation.


A survey of Selected Conservation Techniques — Ornamental metalwork, gold brocade, and loom shuttles

Making ornamental metalwork
Weaving gold brocade
Making a loom shuttle

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has conducted surveys of Selected Conservation Techniques. The Center interviews the technique holders, asking about topics such as their work process, the circumstances of their work, and how societal conditions are affecting them. SHIRONO Seiji (an artificer in the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems) photographed them at work, their tools, and other items. In April 2015, surveys on the making of ornamental metalwork., gold brocade, and loom shuttles were conducted in Kyoto.
 MORIMOTO Yasunosuke IV, the fourth-generation director of Morimoto Traditional Ornament Metalwork Co., Ltd., showed how to make ornamental metalwork and ritual decorations for temple and shrine buildings. Making ornamental metalwork involves a series of steps from shaping copper sheets to engraving a design, gold plating, and then finishing the metalwork. These processes were observed during this survey.
 At Hironobu Textiles Co., Ltd., which makes traditional textiles (such as gold brocade) for mounting, HIROSE Kenji discussed the current state of Nishijin textiles, and he showed how to make gold brocade by weaving gold thread into the weft of a fabric. A tool that is essential to weaving fabric is a loom shuttle, which is a wooden tool that is passed through a loom to weave the weft of a fabric. HASEGAWA Junichi makes loom shuttles. HASEGAWA explained the various types and uses of loom shuttles and he showed how he makes shuttles.
 Cultural properties need to be preserved, but the materials and techniques used to make those cultural properties also need to be preserved. The results of these surveys will be compiled in a report. In addition, plans are to create a calendar for overseas countries in order to publicize Japanese cultural properties and the materials and techniques used to create and preserve those properties.


Research of the mural painting fragments from archaeological sites in the Republic of Tajikistan

Photographing mural paintings unearthed at the Penjikent site
Piecing together mural painting fragments unearthed at the Khulbuk site

 From March 3 to 8, unearthed mural painting fragments were researched, pieced back together, and photographed at the Tajikistan National Museum, the Khulbuk Museum, and the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan.
 Four mural paintings (dated to the 7–8th centuries) that were unearthed at the site of the medieval fortified town of Penjikent in Sogdiana are being stored and exhibited at the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan. These are a valuable scholarly resource given the limited number of similar paintings. The painting techniques and the state of their conservation were researched and the paintings were photographed in detail in order to better understand their value in terms of art history and the state of their conservation.
 Fragments of mural paintings (dated around the 10–11th centuries) were unearthed at the Khulbuk site in the early 1980s. Since then, those fragments were simply stored in the Khulbuk Museum without any effort to piece them back together. During the research, these fragments were pieced back together and photographed. The mural painting fragments had been piled up in a wooden box for storage, so work began by transferring individual fragments to a plastic container and assigning each fragment a reference number. Fragments in each container were photographed and the condition of each fragment was recorded to provide basic information for use in conservation work.
 Fragments of mural paintings (dated around the 8th century) from the Kala-i Kakhkakha 1 site are being stored and exhibited at the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan. The current condition of them was recorded, and the fragments were visually inspected in detail.
 The results of this study should effectively facilitate future conservation of mural painting fragments in the Republic of Tajikistan.


Myanmarese experts invited to Japan to attend training in conservation of mural paintings

Practice conserving simulated mural painting fragments

 As part of the “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, 2 mural painting conservators from the Department of Archaeology and National Museum (DoA) of the Ministry of Culture of Myanmar were invited to train in Japan from March 9 to 13, 2015. The training consisted of lectures on conservation of mural paintings and practice conserving those items, a visit to a restoration studio, and viewing of temple murals. The training further educated the Myanmarese conservators about conservation of wall paintings in Japan.
 During the first half of the training, the conservators received lectures on aspects of Japanese murals (decorated kofun [ancient Japanese tombs], mural paintings in kofun, mural paintings on plaster found in temples, panel paintings, etc.) such as their history and the materials and techniques used to make them along with examples of their conservation. The conservators also received lectures on the materials and techniques used to conserve kofun mural paintings, and they practiced conserving simulated mural painting fragments. The trainees were highly interested in learning about materials and techniques, and they actively asked questions. In addition, trainees visited a restoration studio that restores Japanese works such as paintings and books. Trainees observed actual restoration work and they talked about basic policies regarding conservation in Myanmar and Japan. During the latter half of the training, trainees visited Kyoto and Nara and they viewed surviving murals in Houkai-ji, Horyu-ji, and Yakushi-ji. Trainees discussed the conservation of mural paintings with Japanese representatives as they closely observed mural paintings that were described in the lectures. The hope is to continue cooperation in the future so that the information taught during training will benefit projects to conserve mural paintings in Myanmar.


A survey of Japanese paintings in Australia

A survey at the National Gallery of Victoria

 Japanese artworks in collections overseas play an important role in introducing foreigners to Japanese culture. However, there are few conservators of Japanese works overseas, so numerous works are not ready for exhibition, and those works are not properly conserved. The Institute conducts the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas so that these Japanese artworks can be conserved and exhibited. The program facilitates cooperation in conservation of works overseas and it conducts workshops in an effort to conserve and restore such works. The current survey examined Japanese paintings in Australia in order to identify works for future conservation by the cooperative program.
 From March 16 to 19, Institute researchers visited the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia. The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne is Australia’s oldest art museum while the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra boasts the country’s largest collection of art. During the survey, the detailed state of hanging scrolls, a hand scroll, and folding screens (8 works in total) were examined and the works were also studied from the perspective of art history. The works will be assessed in terms of art history and works in need of urgent conservation will be identified based on the results of the survey, and works will be selected for conservation under the cooperative program. In addition, information gleaned from the survey will be provided to the curating institution in order to formulate future plans to exhibit and conserve the works.


Production of a calendar: Traditional Japanese Technique to Conserve Cultural Properties

2015 Calendar: Preserving Cultural Properties: Traditional Techniques from Japan

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is studying Selected Conservation Techniques that must be preserved in order to preserve cultural properties. The center conducts interview surveys with the technique holders and the individuals from selected organizations, asking about their work process, the situation surrounding their work and their social environment and takes photographic records of them at work and their tools. Two versions of a 2015 calendar (a wall hanging version and a desktop version) for overseas were produced to inform the public of these efforts and provide information. The calendar is entitled Traditional Japanese Technique to Conserve Cultural Properties and it covers production of Japanese paper, production of sukisu bamboo screens for papermaking, plastering, dyeing with natural Japanese indigo, gathering Japanese cypress bark, Tatara smelting, and production of brushes for makie from among topics studied in 2014. All of the photographs were taken by SHIRONO Seiji of the Institute’s Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems. These visually stunning images capture an instant highlighting the aspects of traditional materials and techniques, and explanations of each photograph are provided in English and Japanese. The calendar will be distributed to foreign agencies and organizations dealing with cultural properties to promote of understanding of Japanese techniques to conserve cultural properties and Japanese culture.


A survey of Japanese paintings in the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology

Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology, Krakow (Poland)
During a survey of works in the collection

 Numerous Japanese artworks can be found in European and American collections overseas. However, there are few conservators of these artworks overseas, and many of these works cannot be shown to the public since they have not been properly conserved. Thus, the Institute conducts the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas in order to properly conserve and exhibit these works. Works in the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology were surveyed because of the museum’s fervent desire and need for help with conservation.
 Located in Krakow (Poland), the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology is home to a number of the Japanese artworks found in Eastern Europe. The Kyoto-Krakow Foundation was founded by individuals such as the film and theatre director Andrzej WAJDA. The Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology was established in 1994 with help from the foundation and private contributions and assistance from the governments of Japan and Poland. The museum’s collection centers on works collected by the art collector Feliks ‘Manggha’ JASIENSKI (1861–1929), and the collection includes a host of Japanese paintings such as ukiyo-e (woodblock) prints as well as pottery, lacquerware, and textiles.
 A survey of paintings in the collection was conducted in 2 phases of January 13–23, 2015 and February 3–6, 2015. The first phase surveyed 84 paintings. Seven of these works were selected based on their value in terms of art history and their urgent need for conservation. The second phase examined these 7 works in detail in order to determine the time needed to conserve them and appropriate methods of conserving them.
 Plans are to formulate a plan for conservation of the identified works and to conserve them under the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas in the future. The information gleaned from the survey will be shared with curators and conservators at the museum so that these works can be conserved and exhibited.


Seminar on Traditional Wooden Buildings in Myanmar

Panel discussion at the seminar

 As part of a project financed by a grant for operational expenses entitled Cooperation for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Southeast Asia, the Institute held a seminar on Wooden Buildings in Myanmar in its seminar hall on February 13.
 Starting in 2013, the Institute has conducted studies and provided trainings on the conservation of cultural properties in Myanmar. Such efforts include the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage project to safeguard the cultural heritage of Myanmar commissioned by the Agency of Cultural Affairs of the Japanese government. As a field of the cooperation is,the Institute has implemented a training program in survey techniques for the conservation of historic wooden buildings. There still is, however, a dearth of study accumulation, whether domestic or foreign, on wooden buildings in Myanmar themselves, and these buildings have yet to be fully understood.
 Raymond Myo Myint Sein, a former professor at the Department of Architecture of the Rangoon Institute of Technology, is a pioneer in research on wooden buildings in Myanmar and Zar ChiMin, an associate professor at the Department of Architecture of Technological University (Mandalay), is a spirited young researcher. At the seminar, these two invited speakers and Japanese representatives gave presentations sharing the results of previous research on traditional wooden buildings in Myanmar. Then, discussion was made on the cultural significance of those buildings to Myanmar people and topics for the future research.
 A report on the seminar featuring articles from the presenters and the details of the panel discussion waspublished, as well.


2014 surveys of partnering countries: Malaysia and Nepal

During an interview with the Director of the Sarawak Museum and other museum representatives (Malaysia)
Patan Durbar Square (Nepal)

 The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage conducted several surveys in partnering countries Malaysia and Nepal in February. The surveys had 3 goals: to gather information about the current state regarding issues with safeguarding of cultural heritage, to ascertain needs related to those efforts, and to explore the possibility for international cooperation.
 In Malaysia, Consortium research members met with the Director of the Department of National Heritage from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and other representatives. The meeting provided general information about the system for safeguarding cultural heritage at a national level. Afterwards, they toured through the historic cities of Melaka and George Town (World Heritage Sites) and the archeological site in the Bujang Valley of Kedah and examined the state of preservation of those sites. They also visited Kuching on the island of Borneo, where ethnic minorities continue to preserve their traditions. Consortium gathered informationabout the system and efforts to safeguard the area’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage, which differs from thoses in Malay Peninsula.
 In Nepal, Consortium research members observed the UNESCO Japanese funds-in-trust project initialized to preserve cultural heritage in Lumbini (World Heritage site) and the management of the conservation of traditional buildings in the Katmandu Valley. They viewed intangible cultural heritage in forms of the Hindu festival of Maha Shivaratri and Gyalpo Lhosar (celebration of Tibetan New Year), and interviewed locals. In addition, Consortium visited the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation, the Department of Archaeology and the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust to gatherinformation.


A field survey on the safeguarding of cultural heritage in Iran

A discussion of the safeguarding cultural heritage with representatives from ICHHTO
A mosque in Isfahan where tiles have been replaced over a period of 17 years

 From January 7 to 23, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) conducted a field survey on the safeguarding of cultural heritage in Iran. The survey included 9 World Heritage sites in Iran. The survey was conducted in order to determine the current state in which Iranian cultural heritage is safeguarded and to explore the possibility of future international cooperation in this regard.
 As of 2015, Iran is a cultural colossus with 17 World Heritage sites. A tour of cultural heritage sites such as Persepolis and Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan was conducted in cooperation with Iran’s Cultural Heritage Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO). JCICC personnel were able to hear directly from site managers about site preservation and restoration efforts and current issues regarding the safeguarding of cultural heritage.
 In Tehran, JCICC personnel talked with Dr. M. TALEBIAN, the vice president of ICHHTO. JCICC personnel described projects by the Institute and they discussed the nature of future efforts to safeguard cultural heritage with Dr. TALEBIAN based on their inspection of cultural properties at different sites in Iran. In addition, JCICC personnel visited Iran’s Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT), a leading research institute in Iran. JCICC personnel toured the RICHT and discussed cultural heritage with RICHT personnel.
 Through the UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust, Japan has previously provided support for restoration of the Chogha Zanbil ziggurat and the Arg-e Bam site that were ravaged by an earthquake in 2003. Thus, Iran has already engaged in cultural exchanges with Japan. The hope is that such efforts will foster greater cooperation between Japan and Iran and allow joint studies and conservation efforts with Iran in the future.


Cooperation to safeguard cultural heritage in Myanmar(1)

An explanation on using dry rubbings to document marks left by woodworking

 The third session of training in conservation of wooden structures
 From January 13 to 23, a training session was conducted at the Bagaya Monastery in Innwa and at the Mandalay branch of Myanmar’s Department of Archaeology and National Museum (DoA). Major topics of the training were survey methods to trace the history of modifications in building structures from the period of initial construction and applied building techniques. Trainees were 10 personnel from the DoA, an associate professor from the Technological University (Mandalay), and a graduate of the university as an observer. Some trainees used CAD images when they presented the results of surveys conducted in groups. Trainees appeared to be quite adept at sketching plans in comparison to when they started the training. Such evidence of trainees taking the initiative and the effectiveness of continued training is truly a joy to behold.


Cooperation to safeguard cultural heritage in Myanmar(2)

Work underway at pagoda No.1205

 A survey of and training in the conservation of mural painting at brick temple ruins
 From January 19 to 26, emergency steps were taken to preserve collapsing portions of mural painting at pagoda No. 1205 and conditions indoors and the state of damage to the pagoda’s roof were surveyed. These efforts began last year. The survey of the roof corroborated the assumption that damage was due to rain leakage and termite nests. Plans are to explore effective countermeasures to deal with these problems in cooperation with personnel from the DoA. In addition, training on surveying and documenting restoration of mural painting was conducted at the Bagan Archeological Museum. Trainees were 5 experts in mural painting restoration from the Bagan and Mandalay branches of the DoA. Surveying and documentation are seldom done during restoration efforts in Myanmar, so this training should teach attendees about basic surveying and documentation techniques and impress upon them the importance of those steps.


Cooperation to safeguard cultural heritage in Myanmar(3)

Materials analysis using X-ray fluorescence (Bagaya Monastery)

 A survey of lacquer materials and techniques
 From January 15 to 23, surveys on lacquerware in Myanmar were conducted in Mandalay, Monywa, and Bagan. In Mandalay, a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer was used to ascertain the traditional materials in and techniques used to produce lacquer materials and glass mosaics found in wooden buildings such as the Shwe Nan Daw Monastery. In the suburbs of Monywa, interviews were conducted regarding collection of lacquer ingredients. Results of that survey furthered understanding of the characteristics of lacquer produced in Myanmar, which differs from that produced in Japan. In Bagan, the collection of the Lacquerware Museum was surveyed and lectures on materials analysis were provided to personnel from the Lacquerware Technology College and the Lacquerware Museum. The fact that trainees have a greater understanding of the need to and ways to preserve lacquerware is evident in ongoing cooperation between Japan and Myanmar.


Workshop on the Conservation of Japanese Artworks on Paper and Silk

A lecture on painting materials and techniques as part of the basic course
Practice with urgent repair of a hanging scroll as part of the applied course

 This workshop on the Conservation of Japanese Artworks on Paper and Silk is conducted annually as part of the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas. This year, the workshop was held at the Asian Art Museum, National Museums in Berlin, with the basic course on “Japanese paper and silk cultural properties” taking place from December 3–5 and the applied course on “Restoration of Japanese hanging scrolls” taking place from December 8–12.
 During the basic course, attendees received lectures, demonstrations, and practice with the components that comprise a cultural property (paper, paste, animal glue, and pigments), the techniques of creating Japanese paintings and calligraphy, aspects of mounting, and handling of hanging scrolls. The course was attended by 20 restorers, curators, and students from overseas.
 The applied course included a workshop primarily on practice restoring a hanging scroll using traditional mounting and restoration techniques. Attendees received lectures on the structure of a hanging scroll (which consists of multiple layers of paper and cloth), decisions regarding restoration of those scrolls, and handling traditional brushes and knives. Attendees also received practice performing urgent repairs. This course was attended by 15 restorers and curators.
 Over the past few years, Japanese mounting and restoration techniques have garnered attention from specialists restoring cultural properties overseas. These techniques can be used on foreign paintings and books. This workshop provided an opportunity for attendees to actually encounter mounting and restoration materials and techniques firsthand. Through these efforts, we hope to increase the understanding of tangible cultural properties such as paintings and books as well as the techniques for making Japanese paper and mounting and restoration techniques that can help to preserve those items.


The Networking Core Centers Project for the Conservation of Traditional Buildings in the Kingdom of Bhutan

Rinzin Penjore, Director of the Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan (l.) and KAMEI Nobuo, Director General of the Institute (r.),Workshop attendees (at the grounds of the National Library)
Workshop attendees (at the grounds of the National Library)

 A final mission was sent to Bhutan from December 20 to 24 to conclude the Networking Core Centers Project for the Conservation of Traditional Buildings in the Kingdom of Bhutan. This project started in 2012 commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan. A workshop was jointly organized with the Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of the Kingdom of Bhutan to sum up the project. The project sought to determine how to properly conserve traditional rammed earth buildings such as houses and to improve their ability to withstand earthquakes. Results of the studies of construction technique and structure of the buildings over the last 3 years were presented by both Bhutanese and Japanese members. The personnel involved also discussed prospects for future works that the Bhutanese side need to undertake. The workshop was co-chaired by the Director of the Department of Culture (the direct counterpart in this project) and the Director General of the Institute. The workshop was attended by relevant personnel from the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites of the Department of Culture as well as personnel from the Department of Disaster Management of the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, the Department of Engineering Services of the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement, the Bhutan Standards Bureau, and the National Library of Bhutan.
 The architectural study team conducted field surveys of about 60 houses and temples as well as ruins, abandoned villages, and new rammed earth building sites. Information on traditional construction techniques (including techniques to reinforce structures) was compiled based on the findings of those surveys and interviews with craftsmen. Standardized format for investigation and tentative building typology were reported during the workshop. The structural study team conducted materials tests, micro-tremors measurement and destructive load tests to overcome structural vulnerabilities stemming from earthquake damage. Based on the results, basic techniques for assessment of structural strength and simulations of structural analysis were presented. In addition, a medium to long-term road map was proposed to see what steps could be taken to continue those surveys in the future and also if those surveys would lead to the formulation of guidelines to determine structural stability. In the meantime, existing buildings are being lost. Methods of preserving those buildings were also discussed.
 These joint surveys over the past 3 years are merely the prelude to understanding traditional construction techniques in Bhutan, and Bhutan has a long way to go in assessing the historical value of those structures and establishing techniques to properly preserving them. Bhutan is faced with the loss of its tangible and intangible cultural heritage due to natural disasters such as earthquakes and torrential rains as well as a mounting wave of urbanization. We hope Japan is able to assist Bhutan in safeguarding its cultural heritage, and to continue assisting the people of Bhutan in the future as well.


Attendance of the 18th General Assembly of ICOMOS

The outside of the meeting site
The General Assembly in session

 Representative from the Institute attended the 18th General Assembly of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) that took place from November 9 to 14, 2014 in Florence, Italy. In light of the 1964 International Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (the Venice Charter), ICOMOS was founded in 1965 as an international NGO to safeguard and conserve cultural heritage. ICOMOS has over 10,000 members worldwide, and is known for its work reviewing world heritage nominations as an advisory body to UNESCO.
 The General Assembly meets every 3 years to elect the Executive Committee and to hold an international symposium. At this Assembly, Gustavo ARAOZ was reelected as President and KONO Toshiyuki, a Professor at Kyushu University, was chosen as one of the 5 Vice Presidents. In addition, an international symposium “Heritage and Landscape as Human Values” was held. The symposium featured a wide range of presentations on issues that countries commonly encounter when safeguarding heritage, such as topics related to sustainability through traditional knowledge and community-driven conservation. The year in which the General Assembly met also marked the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Venice Charter and the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Nara Document on Authenticity (the Nara Document). A panel featuring personnel involved in the adoption of these documents discussed the events leading to their adoption and subsequent developments after their adoption.
 The Institute will continue to gather and compile information on the safeguarding of cultural heritage overseas by attending international conferences like this in the future as well.


International Course on Conservation of Paper in Latin America

Practice preparing wheat starch paste
A demonstration of attaching a backing

 A Course on Conservation of Paper in Latin America was conducted as part of the LATAM program of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). The LATAM program seeks to conserve cultural heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Course on Conservation of Paper in Latin America was jointly organized by the Institute, ICCROM, and Mexico’s Coordinación Nacional de Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (CNCPC-INAH). The course was conducted from November 5 to 30 at the CNCPC-INAH, and the Course was attended by 9 experts in restoring cultural properties who hailed from the 8 countries of Spain, Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and Mexico.
 The course sought to provide attendees with basic knowledge and proficiency with regard to traditional Japanese paper, adhesives, and tools so that this knowledge and proficiency could be used to help conserve cultural properties in the attendees’ home countries. The first half of the course consisted of lectures by Japanese experts on materials and tools used in mounting and restoration techniques and then practice by the attendees. This year’s course focused on creating a work environment that provided safety during restoration work, work preparations, acquiring tools, and cleanup. During the second half of the course, lectures were given by experts from Mexico, Spain, and Argentina who had completed the Institute’s International Course on Conservation of Paper. These lecturers described actual examples in which they had used Japanese techniques to restore cultural properties in the West. Afterwards, attendees practiced using those techniques. Given the likelihood that Japanese mounting and restoration techniques can be used to conserve cultural heritage in other countries, plans are to conduct similar training sessions in the future as well.


A second investigation of Selected Conservation Techniques-Ryukyu indigo, production of sukisu bamboo screens for papermaking, and a plasterer

Ryukyu indigo (indigo paste)
Making a bamboo screen
Applying borders (chirimawari, the region between the plaster wall and surrounding woodwork) as part of the plastering process

 Following on from last month, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is continuing to investigate of Selected Conservation Techniques. The center conducts interview surveys with technique holders, asking about topics such as their work process, the situation surrounding their work, and their social environment, and takes photographic records of them at work, their tools, and other items. In November 2014, surveys and documentation activities were conducted regarding Ryukyu indigo production in Okinawa, production of sukisu bamboo screens for papermaking in Ehime, and a sakan (plaster work) in Tokyo were studied and recorded.
 Ryukyu indigo differs from other types of indigo plants on the main island of Japan. The processes of cultivating and manufacturing Ryukyu indigo also differ substantially from those used in indigo dyeing with tade-ai (Chinese indigo). Mr. INOHA Seisho is a holder of Selected Conservation Techniques, and Mr. NAKANISHI Toshio who is carrying on INOHA’s techniques. Mr. NAKANISHI explained that recent typhoons and inclement weather have affected the growth of Ryukyu indigo. Mr. NAKANISHI also described the process of manufacturing indigo.
 Ms. IHARA Keiko is a member of the National Society to Preserve Tools and Techniques Used to Produce Japanese Paper by Hand who lives in Ehime. Ms. IHARA is also certified as a traditional craftsperson by Ehime Prefecture. Ms. IHARA talked about the current state of sukisu screen production, procurement of bamboo strips and silk thread to make those screens, and the difficulty of training a successor.
 The company Nakashimasakan was working at a site in Tokyo where a traditional building was being restored. Part of sakan (plaster work) done by the company was photographed. Relating sakan (plaster work), Japanese wall, National Cultural Property Wall Technical Preservation Meeting is certified as a group holder of Selected Conservation Techniques.
 Cultural properties obviously need to be preserved, but the materials and techniques used to craft those cultural properties also need to be preserved. The research materials from this study will be compiled. In addition, plans are showcase some of these materials overseas. A calendar with visually stunning images could be used to highlight the nature of Japan’s cultural properties, how those cultural properties are created, and materials and techniques that need to be preserved.


“Education for International Understanding” class at Itabashi First Junior High School.

During the class 1
During the class 2

 On November 13, 2014, SEKI Yuji, Vice chairperson of the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (“JCIC-Heritage”) and a Professor at the National Museum of Ethnology, gave a lecture as part of a class on “Education for International Understanding” at Itabashi First Junior High School in Itabashi Ward, Tokyo.
 Itabashi First Junior High School is home to “volunteer efforts in support of schools.” JCIC-Heritage was invited to participate in the efforts by a regional volunteer coordinator, and JCIC-Heritage responded by sending a representative to give a lecture in connection with “Education for International Understanding.” This was JCIC-Heritage’s first invitation from a junior high school. Professor SEKI, who spent his childhood in Itabashi Ward, was asked to give the lecture.
 Professor SEKI’s lecture, titled “International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage,” lasted 50 minutes and was attended by 150 or so students.
 In the first half of the lecture, Professor SEKI explained what cultural heritage is and he then used pictures of Japanese castles and Kabuki performances to describe tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Professor SEKI then explained why cultural heritage needs to be protected, what will happen if it is not protected, the importance of international cooperation to protect that heritage, and the forms of international cooperation in this field, and he used slides to give clear explanation.
 In the latter half of the lecture, Professor SEKI talked about his experiences with international cooperation to protect cultural heritage in Peru and he showed pictures of sites in Peru.
 JCIC-Heritage will continue to educate and enlighten the public about international cooperation to protect cultural heritage, and JCIC-Heritage plans to inform the public about the importance of international cooperation.


Investigation of Selected Conservation Techniques—brushes for Makie, dyeing with true indigo, and gathering Japanese cypress bark

Production of brushes for Makie
Dyeing with natural Japanese indigo
Gathering Japanese cypress bark

 Cultural properties must be protected and passed on to future generations as the shared heritage of humanity. If the materials and tools for producing cultural properties, and the techniques for restoring them, are not handed down and used, it will be impossible to keep cultural properties in good condition. Japanese conservation and restoration techniques for cultural properties are recognized for their usefulness and used in practice, even outside Japan. Traditional techniques that are essential for preserving cultural properties, and must themselves be conserved, have been selected by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as Selected Conservation Techniques. Individuals and groups possessing such techniques (holders) are also certified. At present, 71 techniques have been certified, as well as 57 individual and 31 group holders.
 The Japanese Center for International Cooperation in Conservation carries out studies relating to Selected Conservation Techniques, and widely disseminates information both inside and outside Japan. The center conducts interview surveys with technique holders, asking about topics such as their work process, the situation surrounding their work, and their social environment, and takes photographic records of them at work, their tools, and other items. In October 2014, surveys and documentation activities were conducted regarding production of brushes for Makie by Mr. MURATA Shigeyuki at the Murata Kurobei Shoten in Kyoto, dyeing with natural Japanese indigo by Mr. MORI Yoshio at Konku in Shiga, and gathering of Japanese cypress bark by Mr. ONO Koji at Awaga Shrine in Hyogo. The three cases investigated were traditional, specialized techniques in three different fields (lacquer, dyeing and architecture), but the point of commonality is that all of these individuals are keeping traditions alive through intelligence and skill—working earnestly with natural materials, and coping with changes in the environment. The results obtained through these surveys will be accumulated and used as research materials on cultural properties. At the same time, by distributing media overseas such as calendars incorporating images with high visual impact, we plan to internationally disseminate information on the nature of Japanese culture, and on materials/techniques for creating and conserving cultural properties.


to page top