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

Regarding the Materials Related to UENO Naoteru — the 7th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

UENO Naoteru (left) and KO Yu-seop (early 1930s)
Complete Works of KO Yu-seop 3 (Discussion on the aesthetics of Korean art history) (Seoul, Institute of Eastern Culture, 1993) quote from the illustrations in the volume of illustrations
Scene from the seminar

 UENO Naoteru (1882-1973) successively held important posts such as the Director of Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts and the President of Tokyo University of the Arts. He made huge contributions to the art world in a variety of ways such as teaching at universities, running museums such as art museums and protecting cultural assets, in addition to his research activities as an aesthetic and art historian. After the death of his second daughter UENO Aki (1922-2014), who was a researcher emeritus of the Institute, the materials related to Naoteru were donated to Tokyo University of the Arts, and they are currently managed by the Geidai Archives Center of Modern Art of the university.
 At the seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information System held on January 28th, Ms. ONISHI Junko (part-time lecturer at the Faculty of Cross-Cultural and Japanese Studies of Kanagawa University) and Mr. TASHIRO Yuichiro (curator at The Gotoh Museum), who have organized and researched the materials related to UENO Naoteru, each gave a presentation. Until the last fiscal year, Ms. ONISH worked in the Educational Materials Office, the predecessor organization of the abovementioned center, and her presentation titled “About the materials related to UENO Naoteru: A focus on the relationship with Japanese art history” provided an overview of the materials and presented the broad nature of Naoteru’s personal network as revealed through these materials. Also, Mr. TASHIRO’s presentation titled “Handwritten scripts of KO Yu-seop found in the materials related to UENO Naoteru” introduced the letters and handwritten scripts of KO Yu-seop (1905-1944), who is currently called the father of art history research in South Korea. UENO Naoteru was a professor at Keijo Imperial University from the last year of the Taisho era to the first year of Showa era, and KO Yu-seop studied under UENO while studying at the university. The materials introduced showed the exchanges between the two men and the early period of archaeology and art history research in South Korea. In particular, the presentation by Mr. TASHIRO indicated that the materials related to UENO Naoteru were important for tracking the development process of stone monument research into which KO Yu-seop put great effort.
 Because a state of emergency was declared in response to the spread of COVID-19, the current seminar was held for the first time both in person and online. Researchers living in remote locations, including South Korea, were able to participate in the seminar, and the merits of holding a seminar online were realized.

Opening the Artworks on Japanese Auction Catalogues on TOBUNKEN Research Collections to the Public

Search screen of the auction artworks database

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been working jointly with Tokyo Art Club to create a digital copies of the auction catalogue (art catalogue) (visit to see the monthly report for April 2015). The result was initially made available from May 2019 only at the Library as Auction Catalogue Digital Archive (visit
to see the monthly report for April 2019). Starting from January 15th, 2021, part of the text data of the Auction Catalogue Digital Archive is now available on the website within the Artworks on Japanese Auction Catalogues page on TOBUNKEN Research Collections (
 The Artworks on Japanese Auction Catalogues makes public the text data of about 337,000 items listed in 2,328 catalogues issued prior to the end of World War II out of a total of 2,565 catalogues owned by TOBUNKEN. It is basically a database of text data from the artwork with pictures. The images of the items are not available, but searches can be done on the abundant text data included in the auction catalogue and are expected to be used for a variety of purposes.
 The TOBUNKEN Library was normally open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but from the standpoint of preventing the spread of COVID-19, the Library schedule was changed to Wednesdays and Fridays only for visitors with advance reservations from June 10th, 2020. Furthermore, following the state of emergency declaration on January 7th, 2021, the Library is now open only on Fridays since January 15th. Under these circumstances, the number of people who can use the Library is limited, resulting in increased needs for open access to the data. Going forward, we ask you to use both the Auction Catalogue Digital Archive for viewing images and Artworks on Japanese Auction Catalogues for text data accessible from all over the world in accordance with the purposes.

First Recording of the Live Performance of “Odoriji (Tokiwazu-bushi)

Performance of Tokiwazu-bushi (from left to right: TOKIWAZU Hidemidayu, TOKIWAZU Kikumidayu, TOKIWAZU Kanetayu, TOKIWAZU Mojibei, KISHIZAWA Shikimatu, and KISHIZAWA Shikiharu)
Performance by hayashikata (hayashi ensemble) (from right to left: KATADA Kiyo, KATADA Kiyomi, and UMEYA Tomoe)
Performance by hayashikata (from left to right: KATADA Masahiro and KATADA Takashi)
Performance by hayashikata (HOUSEI Chiharu)

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage recorded a live performance (audio recording) of “Odoriji (Tokiwazu-bushi)” at the Performing Arts Studio of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on January 29th, 2021. This recording aims at producing an audio recording of kikyoku (rarely performed tunes) “Hidakagawa Mitsuomote (Hidaka River three masks)” and “Tojin (foreign lady)” and preserving it as a joint project co-organized by the Executive Committee for recording Tokiwazu-bushi Hidakagawa Mitsuomote and Tojin and the institute.
 Both tunes that were recorded this time are odoriji, which are performed as accompaniment for dancing, and as the dance pieces came to be rarely performed, the music pieces were practically no longer performed. Although how they were created is not well known, there are hardly any practice books left that appear to have been published in the period spanning the end of the samurai period to the Meiji period (all books are published by Tamasawaya Shinshichi) and a film of performance by “Kikujuro no kai” (30th anniversary of the master registration) (held by a private individual). The practice books revealed that the dance pieces were choreographed by NISHIKAWA Koizaburo I (head of Nagoya Nishikawa School). This time, based on these materials, the performances were reproduced and performed.
 In “Hidakagawa Mitsuomote,” a butterfly vendor performs three roles, i.e., a priest Anchin, Kiyohime (Prince Kiyo), and a shoke (young priest in training) while changing from one mask to another. As the title “Hidakagawa” suggests, the play is based on the Dōjōjimono, that is, tales that are taken up in Noh plays, jōruri (dramatic narrative chanted to a shamisen accompaniment), and kabuki, and this one is a witty dance piece by a vendor who plays three different characters with a sense of humor. Furthermore, part of the Japanese song “Choucho (butterfly)” based on a German folk song with the Japanese lyrics “choucho, choucho, nanoha ni tomare, nanohani aitara, sakurani asobe” is used as a verse, which is interesting.
 “Tojin” is a play made up of Chinese-style music and a dance full of exoticism. It begins with music created from taiko drums and sho bells called Togaku (Tang-era Chinese music) (which is not directly related to Togaku in gagaku (Japanese court music)). A man with his hair shaped in benpatsu (queue) and a woman who piled her hair high on the top of her head dance, and both of them are in Chinese-style costumes. The verses are filled with mysterious words like a spell and are pretty much kuruwa banashi (lovers’ conversation) between the two performers in a comical atmosphere.
 The performers were TOKIWAZU Kanetayu (seventh generation, tategatari or first jōruri performer), TOKIWAZU Kikumidayu (wakigatari or second jōruri performer), TOKIWAZU Hidemidayu (sanmaime or third jōruri performer), TOKIWAZU Mojibei (fifth generation, tatejamisen or first shamisen player), KISHIZAWA Shikimatu (wakijamisen or second shamisen player), KISHIZAWA Shikiharu (uwajōshi or high-tone shamisen player), HOUSEI Chiharu (Japanese flute), KATADA Kiyo (kotsuzumi or small hand drum), KATADA Kiyomi (ōtsuzumi or knee drum), UMEYA Tomoe (taiko or drum), KATADA Masahiro (ōdaiko or big drum), and KATADA Takashi (bell).
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continue to record plays that get few occasions to be performed and invaluable live performances of an exhaustive list of plays, and carry out joint projects like this as the opportunity arises. The records will be used in Japanese dance performances by the Executive Committee and can be listened as research material at the institute.
 For your information, the recording was carried out in which all performers used masks, similar to those used on the stage of kabuki to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Seminar on Documentation and Database Compilation of Cultural Properties – Session 1: Digital Image Basics – the Series on “Digital Image Compression from the Basics of Images to Moving Images”

Lecture on digital image formats by Dr. Imaizumi

 The documentation of cultural properties is indispensable for acquiring information about cultural properties such as their materials, forms, and colors, and for utilizing the collected information for research activities and preservation/restoration planning. The Cultural Properties Information Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems is responsible for communicating information about database compilation necessary for cultural property photographing in the course of documentation as well as data management/utilization. As part of the communication strategy, we held the seminar named in the title above in a seminar room at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on December 23rd, 2020 (COVID-19 infection control measures were taken).
 We are scheduled to hold three sessions in total in the series on “Digital Image Compression from the Basics of Images to Moving Images,” and the program designed for participants to learn the basics about image compression was offered at the first session. As the first speaker, Dr. IMAIZUMI Shoko, Associate Professor of Graduate School of Engineering, Chiba University explained about the characteristics of digital images such as differences from analog images, file properties, and the amount of information that changes depending on the resolution. Her lecture was followed by a talk by Mr. SHIRONO Seiji, an artificer of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems which mainly discussed how to control light and color when taking a digital photo such as the spectral feature that varies depending on the light source, and the light sources and their appropriate placement for photographing cultural properties.
 Currently, compressed image formats such as JPEG and MPEG-4 are commonly used around the world. However, when planning to photograph cultural properties or saving images in files, one may wonder which information will be lost due to image compression, or if everything will really be okay as long as images are saved in TIFF or RAW formats.
Through the seminars in this series, we will continue to communicate the information that will be useful for you to document and preserve cultural properties using imaging technologies and disseminate information about them.

Discussion on Issues Concerning Preservation of Outdoor Sculptures – Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Scene of the seminar

 On December 21st, 2020, YASHIRO Kyoko, an associate fellow of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems presented her research findings under the title: “Report and Consideration on the Preservation of Art Works Including Outdoor Sculptures That Are Not Recognized as ‘Cultural Properties’ – Aiming to Hold a Symposium”
 Outdoor sculptures can be easily found in public spaces across Japan. Each of them is an important and irreplaceable asset for the community that owns it. However, many of these outdoor sculptures are in a state of neglect due to lack of maintenance, and to make matters worse, some have been removed for good for safety reasons in recent years. Generally speaking, outdoor sculptures are not recognized as “cultural properties.” Therefore, there is no appropriate preservation system in place for them.
 With an aim to solve such problems, the speaker talked about some actual cases and raised issues about the preservation of outdoor sculptures to discuss with participants at this seminar. Also, Dr. TANAKA Shuji, Professor of Oita University, and Mr. SHINOHARA Satoshi, Associate Professor of Tokai University, both of whom have been involved in the maintenance of outdoor sculptures in their communities for many years participated in the seminar as guest speakers this time and talked about the challenges faced by those engaged in preservation work.
 The issues regarding the preservation of outdoor sculptures are entangled with other issues in a wide range of fields such as public administration, education, and history. Therefore, it is not easy to come up with a solution. We are currently discussing the possibility to hold a symposium going forward for the purpose of sharing information and exploring possible solutions for this matter.

First Performance Recording of Tokiwazu-bushi

Scene of Performance Recording of Tokiwazu-bushi (From left to right: Tokiwazu Hidemidayu, Tokiwazu Kikumidayu, Tokiwazu Kanetayu, Tokiwazu Mojibei, Kishizawa Shikimatu, Kishizawa Shikiharu)

 On December 25th, 2020, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage made the first sound recording of Tokiwazu-bushi in the Performing Arts Studio of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
 Tokiwazu-bushi, an important intangible cultural property of Japan, was created by Tokiwazu Mojitayu in 1747 in Edo. Its rhythm and pace do not change drastically, and it has a moderate depth. Tokiwazu-bushi has been handed down to the present day in connection with Kabuki and Nihon Buyo. Joruri (the voice part) has a good balance of lines and “fushi or bushi” (lines with the melody), and the shamisen part is played on a chuzao-shamisen with a bachi (plectrum), which has a large hiraki (the tip of the plectrum) that imparts a moderate depth to the sound. Another characteristic of Tokiwazu-bushi is that it has a diverse repertoire, including Danmono (works derived from Gidayu-bushi), those based on Noh Kyogen, Shinju-michiyuki, and works with a comical flavor.
 In this session, the entire classical piece “Shinobiyoru Koi wa Kusemono: Masakado” was recorded. Although this is one of the most popular pieces of Tokiwazu-bushi, it is rarely performed in its entirety these days. It is a large piece that takes about 40 minutes to perform, with a clear structure consisting of “Oki” (the part before the appearance of the characters), “Michiyuki” (the appearance of the characters), “Kudoki” (expression of passion), “Monogatari” (narration of the story of the battle), “Kuruwa-banashi” (the red-light district story), “Odoriji” (showpiece of the dance), “Miarawashi” (revelation of the character’s true identity), and “Dankire” (the finale). When performed with the typical characteristics of music, each part of the piece stands out. The performers are the seventh Tokiwazu Kanetayu (the first performer), Tokiwazu Kikumidayu (the second performer), Tokiwazu Hidemidayu (the third performer), the fifth Tokiwazu Mojibei (the first shamisen), Kishizawa Shikimatsu (the second shamisen), and Kishizawa Shikiharu (Uwajoshi, high-pitched melody).
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to continue to record pieces that are rarely performed as well as valuable full-length performances.
 In keeping with the norms of social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, masks used in Kabuki performances were worn during the recording.

Exhibition: “The Shapes of Mi Japanese Winnowing Baskets ― Japanese Wisdom for Living with Nature”

Exhibits at the Gallery Walk
Fuku-Mi (lucky winnowing baskets) of the Toka Ebisu Festival at Nishinomiya Shrine (Hyogo Prefecture)

 An exhibition titled “The Shapes of Mi Winnowing Baskets ― Japanese Wisdom for Living with Nature” is being held from December 2nd, 2020, to January 28th, 2021, at Gallery Walk on the third floor of the Shiodome Media Tower, the headquarters of Kyodo News. (The exhibition is organized by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage; co-organized by the Graduate School of Engineering, Chiba University and the Gangoji Institute for Research of Cultural Property, and supervised by the Workshop on Winnowing Baskets.)
 Mi (or winnowing) baskets are common, indispensable tools for winnowing rice and other grains. However, the numbers of both users and makers of mi baskets have been declining since the period of high economic growth. The government has made efforts to conserve its weaving techniques by designating three techniques as important intangible folk cultural properties (folk techniques).
 Mi baskets are made of natural materials such as wood, bark, and bamboo. While regular hand-woven baskets are made with one or two types of natural materials, mi baskets are made using four or five types of materials, which makes the technique of weaving mi baskets more complicated and sophisticated. Therefore, the technique is said to be the culmination of weaving techniques. Furthermore, various shapes have been created by reflecting the vegetation of specific regions.
 This exhibition introduces the materials and techniques used for making mi baskets through fourteen panels, focusing on the high level of skill and knowledge in the use of natural materials that have been condensed into the form of a mi basket.
 In conjunction with the exhibition, a webpage has also been launched, displaying a number of videos documenting the production techniques of mi baskets ( mi). This webpage will remain open to the public even after the end of the exhibition for you to visit.
(Admission free/Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays.)

The 15th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

Video viewing page of the Conference

 The 15th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was held online based on the theme “Intangible Folk Cultural Properties amid the COVID-19 pandemic.” The video of this event was available for viewing from December 25th, 2020 to January 31st, 2021.
 As the impact of COVID-19 continues, festivals and gatherings that may attract huge crowds are forced to be canceled or scaled back. These restrictions have prevented the successors of intangible folk cultural properties from conducting their activities as usual.
 Considering the situation, an online meeting was held to explore ways of preserving and utilizing intangible folk cultural properties amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Three staff from our Institute, three from the local government and museums, and five successors of intangible folk cultural properties from various regions attended the meeting. They presented videos on the current situation and issues in their respective fields and regions, and on practices that had been newly introduced amid the pandemic. Examples of these practices include infection-control measures, online streaming, and crowdfunding. Following the presentation, KUBOTA Hiromichi from the Institute and the five successors had a general discussion and engaged in a lively debate on whether it is possible to continue or resume festivals amid or post COVID-19. They also discussed the necessary measures to be taken if they would hold festivals
 A full report of the conference will be published in March 2021; this will also be available on the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage on a later date.

Online Observations of the Fifteenth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO

 The Fifteenth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO was held from December 14th to 19th, 2020. It was originally to be held in Jamaica but owing to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting of the Committee was held using a fully online modality. The secretariat was at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris; however States Parties as well as the committee member states, including Jamaica, the Chair, participated in the online meeting from their respective locations. The meetings were broadcasted in real time on the UNESCO website, and two researchers from our Institute observed the proceedings.
 The number of agenda items to be discussed was kept to a minimum because it was online, and the session was scheduled from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm local time in Paris (9:30 pm to 0:30 am Japan time) each day. In spite of these constraints, three elements were inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding (Urgent Safeguarding List), and 29 elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (Representative List). Further, three programmes were added to the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices. In addition, one of the elements added to the Urgent Safeguarding List has been approved for international assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund.
 Among them, “Traditional skills, techniques and knowledge for the conservation and transmission of wooden architecture in Japan” was added to the Representative List. This element includes 17 conservation techniques selected by the government. They are “building repair,” “building woodwork,” “roofing with Japanese cypress bark or with wood shingles,” “thatching,” “cypress bark harvesting,” “roof panel production,” “thatch harvesting,” “building decoration,” “building coloring,” “building lacquer painting,” “clay tile roofing (using both round and square tiles),” “plastering (Japanese walls),” “fittings production,” “tatami mat production,” “repair and conservation skills for paintings and calligraphies,” “Japanese lacquer production and refinement,” and “gold leaf production.” Until now, most of the elements nominated by Japan and successfully inscribed on the List are nationally important intangible cultural properties and intangible folk cultural properties. However, the set of nationally selected conservation techniques was inscribed for the first time. Japan is famous for its many great historical wooden structures that have been handed down in good condition to the present generation by the skilled craftsmen and technicians who repaired and maintained them in excellent condition. Therefore, the inscription of traditional building techniques is also significant because it highlights the work of those artisans working “behind the scenes.” It is also an example of the relationship between tangible and intangible cultural heritages, which has received international acclaim.
 Nominations from other States Parties that were newly added to the Representative List include “Hawker culture in Singapore, Community Dining and Culinary Practices in a Multicultural Urban Context” (Singapore), which refers to the popular street food culture in Singapore, and “Taijiquan” (China), which has many enthusiasts in Japan. A large number of nominations for elements related to lifestyle and culture, such as these mentioned above, was one of the international trends. In addition, “Craft techniques and customary practices of cathedral workshops, or Bauhütten, in Europe, know-how, transmission, development of knowledge and innovation” (Germany, Austria, France, Norway, Switzerland) were selected for being registered as Good Safeguarding Practices. These practices are related to Bauhütten, a cooperative of artists and artisans involved in the construction and repair of cathedrals. It is similar to the traditional building techniques nominated by Japan. However, what is interesting is that while Japan nominated them to the Representative List, Europeans proposed inclusion of these techniques to the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices as an example of heritage conservation activities, showing the difference in approaches.
 As Jamaica was the chair country of the session, reggae music, which had been added to the Representative List in 2018, was played in the background of the online broadcast. Unfortunately, there was no scope to experience live reggae music in Jamaica. However, we would like to express our respect to Jamaica, the Chair, as well as the staff of UNESCO, the secretariat, for successfully completing the first online committee session.

A seminar on the analysis of materials, structures, and conditions of cultural properties: Lead corrosion affecting cultural properties and the air

The seminar is underway

 In the research project “Research on the Analysis of Materials, Structures and Conditions of Cultural Properties”, the Center for Conservation Science focuses on the physical and chemical characteristics of cultural properties based on the investigations of their materials and structures using various analytical methods. In particular, the Analytical Science Section has been studying the problem of the corrosion of lead composing cultural properties.
 In order to summarize the research, a seminar on the “Corrosion of lead composing cultural properties and air environment” was held on December 14th, 2020. Invited were experts in art history (HASEGAWA Shoko of Seikado Bunko Art Museum and ITO Tetsuo of Agency for Cultural Affairs), conservation science (KOTAJIMA Tomoko of National Ainu Museum), and restoration (MUROSE Tasuku of Mejiro Institute of Urushi Conservation) were invited. At the seminar, lectures were presented on examples of art works consisting of lead, the current situation and problems concerning lead corrosion in art works, and basic knowledge of lead corrosion from a scientific point of view. In addition, the latest information about the relationship between lead corrosion and air environment and examples of restoration were shared and discussed. (Attendance: 20 individuals).

Inking Ceremony for the Replica of the Kuju Landslide Disaster Cenotaph

Inking ceremony at Shingu City Hall (Photo 1)
Replicated cenotaph (Photo 2)

 The inking ceremony for the replica of the landslide disaster cenotaph in Kuju was held at Shingu City Hall on December 5th, 2020. The Kuju district of Shingu City is one of the affected areas of the rainstorm that the Kii Peninsula experienced in 2011. The district houses the stone monument built in remembrance of the tragedy of similar disasters seen in this area in the Edo Period. The Kuju Landslide Disaster cenotaph built in 1821 would get covered with overgrown shrubs, and its muddied surface made it difficult to read the inscription on it. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, therefore, precisely measured this cenotaph, and created a replica using 3D printing technology so that the unreadable characters of the inscription would be readable. As part of the citizen-awareness project for disaster preparedness, an event for this 3D printed replica was held at Shingu City Hall. The head of the Kuju district, the superintendent of education in Shingu City, the researchers involved in printing the replica, and the citizens took turns inking the engraved colorless characters of the replicated cenotaph (Photo 1) until they were readable even to the untrained eye, and suitable for being open to the public (Photo 2). Through this event, we could help people in the community recall the landslides that had occurred in the Edo Period, and contribute to increasing community disaster awareness.

Index of The Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies) (PDF ver.) Released on the Internet

Screenshot of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties’ “Publications” Repository

 The Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems publishes investigation/research studies in the journal Bijutsu Kenkyu on a regular basis. This journal was first published in 1932, and its latest issue is No. 431. From November 2020 onwards, the index of Bijutsu Kenkyu (PDF ver.) has been made available on the website of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties ( and its institutional repository “Publications” (
 The index was created as the sequel of the former index of Bijutsu Kenkyu (for No. 1 to 230) published in 1965. The new index covers more than 2,400 pieces of literature such as editorials and explanations of charts/diagrams. The new index is available both in Japanese and English, and equipped with in-document search functions that can be used for literature search.
 The index will be updated every time a new issue of The Bijutsu Kenkyu journal is released.

The 5th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems – Transitions in Western-Style Paintings from the Momoyama Period to the Final Years of the Edo Period

Seminar venue

 At the 5 seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems on November 24, 2020, Dr. TAKEDA Eri, a part-time lecturer from the Toyo Institute of Art and Design delivered a presentation titled “Transitions in Western-Style Paintings from the Momoyama Period to the Final Years of the Edo Period (“Bakumatsu”) – Technical Transitions in Japanese Oil Paintings and the Validation of Art Historical Research and Appraisals in Japan.”
 Dr. TAKEDA has been engaged in historical research on and the restoration of Japanese oil paintings for many years. She summarized the traditional techniques used for Japanese oil paintings based on research and reproductive experiments on pieces of artwork on her own. The presentation aimed to clarify how Japanese oil paintings fit in with Japanese art history. As the examples, she focused on the oil paintings of the mid-Edo period that have been found in recent years.
 Japanese oil paintings, also known as Yofuga (Western-style paintings), were not recognized until research on Western art began during the early years of the Meiji period. Therefore, the art appraisals that were performed on pre-Meiji Western-style paintings are far from being appropriate in some sense. Considering this historical background, Dr. TAKEDA classified the history of Japanese oil painting into the following three categories: paintings made using the lacquer technique in the Asuka period, the early Western-style paintings in the Momoyama period, and the Western-style paintings influenced by the Netherlands in the Bakumatsu period. She said that the recently discovered mid-Edo period pictures painted with dried oil on the lacquered walls of the Yomeimon Gate of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine suggests a link between the early Western-style paintings in the Momoyama period and their counterparts in Bakumatsu. She pointed out that the painting is likely to be the work of an artist belonging to the Franciscans, which indicates passing down of painting techniques from Momoyama to Bakumatsu.
 Professor Emeritus SAKAMOTO Mitsuru, an art historian who has been dedicatedly conducting research mainly on early Western-style painting, and Mr. SATO Noritake from the Association for the Preservation of the Nikko World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples, who has been leading the restoration project of the lacquered decorations of Edo period temples and shrines in Nikko, were invited to the seminar as commentators. Additionally, vigorous discussions were held among the participants who expressed different opinions regarding the oil-painted walls of the Yomeimon Gate and how they should be appraised in the context of Japanese oil painting history.

Online Annual Meeting with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures

Online Annual Meeting

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been carrying out our joint research project with Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures in the United Kingdom since 2013. The Sainsbury Institute, one of the research centers for Japanese arts and cultures in Europe, collects information on Japanese art-related publications written in non-Japanese languages and Japanese art exhibitions held outside of Japan. They provide this information to the Tobunken Research Collections ( On the Tobunken Research Collections database, you can access information about Japanese art studies and research trends in and outside of Japan.
 Until 2019, our staff used to visit the Sainsbury Institute in Norwich, England, once every year to discuss the database and deliver some lectures. However, our annual visit had to be canceled this year due to COVID-19. Instead, it was conducted online on November 26, 2020. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a long-lasting global impact, the open-access database and publications, accessible anytime and anywhere, have played an important role and are more indispensable for research than ever before. We discussed initiatives to ensure the services would be available for a wider range of users. The discussion started at 5:00 p.m. in Tokyo and 8:00 a.m. in the U.K., with a 9-hour time difference between both venues. However, as we had a face-to-face discussion and shared as much information as possible, it was a meaningful interaction which will help sustain our joint project into the future. We are going to continue the joint projects with the Sainsbury Institute for the upcoming medium-term plan covering FY 2021–2025.

Presentation at the 13th Fall Seminar Held by the Japan Art Documentation Society (JADS)

Presentation through the online conference system
Screenshot of a slide used for the presentation “Potential of further development: GRP Digital Content of Japanese Art”

 At the 13th JADS fall seminar held on November 28th, 2020, we made a presentation titled “The Open Access Project of the Oda Kazuma Collection with a Focus on Illustrated Books by Katsushika Hokusai: Disseminate Bibliographic Information Globally in Collaboration with Getty Research Institute: Standardization of Bibliographic Information and Preservation of Material”. This presentation was created by KIKKAWA Hideki; TAMURA Ayako; ABE Tomoe; EMURA Tomoko from Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems; as well as YAMANASHI Emiko, Deputy Director General. On the day of the seminar, five members from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties participated in the event through the online conference system. KIKKAWA Hideki and TAMURA Ayako, two of the five members, explained the preservation of material for the standardization and digitalization of bibliographic information, which were conducted during the project. They also suggested that the open access project has a lot of potential of further development. As part of the project, we developed an information channel to provide digitalized Japanese art material content to the Getty Research Portal (GRP: At the presentation, they mentioned that by making the channel available for all organizations concerned and by accumulating digitalized content related to Japanese art in the GRP, the global presence of Japanese art could be enhanced. Many specialists who handle museum library collections are members of the JADS. They provided us valuable feedback on our presentation, saying that it demonstrated a good example for handling archival material by focusing on the method of preserving the material and standardizing bibliographic information in a concrete manner.
 As travel is restricted to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are fully aware that the development and improvement of the online research environment is an urgent issue to address. We will disseminate information about Japanese art globally and improve the research environment to provide archival materials which would be beneficial for a wide range of research on cultural properties, while strengthening our partnership with other organizations.
 Overview of the presentation is available on the URL below:(Proceedings of the 13th JADS fall seminar:

Investigation of Tools and Materials Used for the Preservation and Restoration of Fine Arts and Crafts

Onsite investigation on Kozo (Daigo, Ibaraki)
Straw-made peeling board (Tool to peel Kozo)
Small knife to peel Kozo

 Traditional materials and tools are indispensable for the restoration of fine arts and crafts. It has been harder to get such tools and materials in recent years. They are natural materials or are made from them, so it is becoming difficult to secure adequate resources due to changes occurring in the climate and environment. Additionally, a number of artisans who produce such tools and materials find it difficult to find a successor due to social changes such as an aging population even if the resources are secured. There are many such problems. Examples include Noriutsugi (Hydrangea paniculata) / Tororoaoi (Abelmoschus manihot) used for Neri (dispersants/thickeners) and silken threads to weave Sukisu (bamboo screen)—both of which are necessary for traditional Japanese papermaking—Tonoko and Jinoko (clay or soil powder) used for wood crafts, and silken threads produced using a traditional technique. It is difficult to secure the resources for these natural materials.
 Concerned about this situation, the Agency for Cultural Affairs launched the “Support for the Management of Tools and Materials Used for the Preservation and Restoration of Fine Arts and Crafts” in FY2020. It is a financial support project for those who produce the tools and materials necessary for the preservation and restoration of fine arts and crafts. In order to receive a subsidy from the project, it is required to justify the necessity of the tools and materials based on scientific evidence and submit such data as videos of the production process and records of the tools/materials used for the restoration of cultural properties. Under these circumstances, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has investigated the tools and materials from the perspective of them not being produced in the future and provided support to those who produce such tools and materials in response to the request of the Agency for Cultural Affairs since FY2018. In FY2020, we conducted onsite investigations on Tororoaoi (Abelmoschus manihot) and Kozo (Broussonetia kazinoki x B. papyrifera) in Ibaraki; silken threads produced using a traditional technique in Nagano in September; Kozo (Broussonetia kazinoki x B. papyrifera) and tools to make Washi (traditional Japanese paper) in Kochi in October; and Tonoko (clay or soil powder) in Kyoto in November. In the case of scientific evidence is required during the course of an investigation, we conduct timely analysis to ascertain the validity and importance of the traditional tools and materials so that we can contribute to the implementation of measures to preserve future cultural properties.

Online International Training Course “Documentation of Cultural Heritage by Three-dimensional Photogrammetry”

A glimpse of the online international training course

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation provided an online international training course, “Documentation of Cultural Heritage by Three-dimensional Photogrammetry,” on November 12th and 25th, 2020, jointly with the Japanese Centre for South Asian Cultural Heritage (JCSACH), a non-profit organization. It was aimed at promoting active incorporation of digital data as a method of international cooperation in the field of cultural heritage post COVID-19. Three-dimensional photogrammetry is a technique to create a 3D model of the exact shape of an object on a computer from photographs of the object taken from various angles by a digital camera. Since 3D models can be created using familiar equipment, such as compact digital cameras and smartphones, it is becoming popular in cultural heritage sites as a highly practical recording method. For this training course, researchers and practitioners who are responsible for the conservation of cultural heritage in four countries were invited. These included Cambodia, Nepal, and Iran, where Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is carrying out international cooperation programs, and Pakistan, with which JCSACH enjoys close ties.
 Mr. NOGUCHI Atsushi, the Director-cum-Secretary General of JCSACH, who is a leading expert in 3D photogrammetry technique in the field of archaeology, served as lecturer. In the first lecture, the trainees learned the principles of 3D photogrammetry, how to take photographs to be used for photogrammetry, and basic operation of the software. They worked on creating their own 3D models during a week of independent practice after the first lecture. In the second lecture, the trainees presented the models they had created and learned more advanced techniques, such as how to create cross-sectional views from the models.
 A total of 24 researchers and practitioners from Cambodia, Nepal, and Pakistan participated in the online training course. It was unfortunate that the Iranian participants were not able to take part due to a problem with the Zoom connection, but they were provided with the course materials. Most of the trainees had never had any prior experience with 3D photogrammetry. However, they were eager to ask questions. Further, in the post-participation survey, they shared their own ideas on how to use 3D photogrammetry data, such as for recording remains at restoration sites, or for museum exhibitions.
 Once 3D photogrammetry becomes a common documentation method in every country and sharing 3D information on cultural heritage becomes possible remotely, we will be able to see new developments in international cooperation projects in the future.

The “Conservation of Wooden Architectural Heritage in Southeast Asia” Seminar

Program of “Conservation of Wooden Architectural Heritage in Southeast Asia”

 On November 21, 2020, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) held an online seminar on the policy and methodology of wooden architectural restoration in Southeast Asian countries. This was the fourth seminar of the Southeast Asian wooden architecture seminar series that JCICC annually held recently. In the previous seminars, we had highlighted Southeast Asian wooden architecture through academic studies on historical science, architectural history, and archeology. In this one, we focused on the practical aspect of heritage conservation, one of the important mission of the Institute, which we felt was the appropriate theme to conclude the seminar series.
 Mr. Pongthorn HIENGKAEW, senior architect in the Fine Arts Department, Thailand, and Mr. Sengthong LUEYANG, deputy director of Luang Prabang World Heritage Office, Laos, who are involved in wooden architecture restoration in Southeast Asia, attended the seminar, as did Ms. Montira UNAKUL of UNESCO Bangkok Office, a specialist familiar with the overall situation of heritage conservation in Southeast Asian countries. Basic policy and practical measures for the restoration of wooden architecture as cultural heritage were reported by Mr. Pongthorn with concrete examples of nationally designated heritage Buddhist buildings, and by Mr. Sengthong with concrete examples of residential buildings in the old quarter of Luang Prabang. Ms. Montira, on the other hand, introduced the recent pioneering effort for wooden architecture restoration and related human resource development in Thailand and Indonesia.
 In the second half of the seminar, Mr. NAKAUCHI Yasuo, senior conservation architect at the Japanese Association for Conservation of Architectural Monuments, joined the three invitees from Southeast Asia and had a panel discussion under the facilitation of Mr. TOMODA Masahiko, JCICC director. The discussions confirmed that there are many commonalities in the conservation principle and restoration measures of wooden architecture. Furthermore, the shortage of producers and artisans who employ traditional materials and techniques was recognized as a universal issue in our modern society.
 We had originally planned to hold this seminar in the Institute’s conference room. However, considering the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to switch to the online mode and hold a webinar. It was an achievement of this year’s our activities to get the seminar done online that hold in the conference room so far. At the same time, many points to be improved are certainly clarified through our mismanagement in addition to unexpected troubles. We aim to use this experience as a lesson and explore a brand new method for holding seminars and events suitable in the post-COVID society.

The 54th Open Lecture

A scene from the open lecture

 Every autumn, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems invites a wide range of audiences to the “Open Lecture” where researchers give lectures on the results of their research. A lecture titled “Road from Shape, Way to Shape” was held on October 30th, 2020. It is the fifth year for us to hold the lecture under the title. In previous years, lectures were held over two days with outside lecturers. However, in this year, we shortened the period to one day and reduced lecturers to two, selected from our institute, as prevention measures against COVID-19. The number of audience was also limited to 30, chosen by raffle. In the venue, temperature check was conducted and the speakers and audiences were asked to wear a mask and sanitize the hands.
 In the first session, Mr. SHIOYA Jun, Director of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems and Head of the Modern/Contemporary Art Section delivered a lecture, titled “Neoclassicism in Modern Japanese Painting: Focusing on the Works of KOBAYASHI Kokei.” Mr. SHIOYA introduced the emergence of sophisticated and quiet styles in Japanese paintings represented by KOBAYASHI Kokei in the pre-war period of the Showa era. He also showed many slides and materials, explaining that those styles were influenced by older paintings from either Japan or China.
 In the second session, Ms. FUTAGAMI Yoko, Head of the Cultural Properties Information Section made a presentation titled “Japanese Lacquer Products Exported to Thailand: Focusing on the Lacquer Doors of Wat Rajpradit, a first-grade royal Buddhist temple”. Wat Rajpradit was built in Bangkok in 1864 by order of King Rama IV. Ms. FUTAGAMI reported that Japan-made door panels decorated with lacquer paintings are used in the temple. She also explained the findings of the optical survey conducted on the doors and other lacquer products imported from Japan.
The results of the questionnaire survey of the audience shows that more than 90% of the participants of the lecture were “satisfied” or “generally satisfied” with the lecture.

Dissemination and Utilization of Knowledge of Art Magazine, “Mizue”: The 4th Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

A scene from the seminar

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems is now actively moving forward with digitalization and open access of the archives.>
 The art magazine, “Mizue,” which was first published in 1905, became available on the web in 2012 ahead of any other archived materials. The digital archive was developed jointly by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) and the National Institute of Informatics. Pages from the first issue published in the Meiji era to the 90th issue are now available on the web at
 At the seminar held on October 8th, 2020, Dr. MARUKAWA Yuzo (an Associate Professor at the National Museum of Ethnology and a visiting researcher in the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems at TNRICP), one of the development members, lectured on the topic of “Dissemination and Utilization of Related Materials in the Study of Modern Art.” Although the site already has an index of articles by the author, Dr. MARUKAWA is continuously enhancing the index by further expanding the search function. He pointed out that an enhanced index would allow for both specialization and universalization as well as the sharing of information across professional boundaries. Using the paintings and writings in “Mizue” as examples that provide information on various regions in Japan and abroad, he presented its value and attractiveness as a collection of fieldnotes that have been unrecognized by art history specialists. He also made an impressive comment that dissemination and utilization of such knowledge with infinite potential has something timeless as well as in common with the “Technology of Intellectual Production” advocated by the ethnologist, UMESAO Tadao. The Thematic Exhibition UMESAO Tadao’s 100th Anniversary: The Front-runner of Intellectual Production, of which Dr. MARUKAWA was in charge, was held (September 3rd–December 1st, 2020) at the National Museum of Ethnology, which coincided with the seminar.

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