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

Report at the 2018 East Asia ICOMOS Workshop

National Palace Museum of Korea where the workshop took place (Seoul)
Excursion in Gyeongbokgung (Seoul)

 On December 21st, 2018, the 2018 East Asia ICOMOS Workshop “Towards a New Exchange and Cooperation: The Recent Practices of East Asia ICOMOS in the Protection and Management of Cultural Heritages” was held in the National Palace Museum of Korea in Seoul, the Republic of Korea. This workshop was organized by the ICOMOS-Korea and sponsored by the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, with the aim of outlining policies and methods related to the protection of cultural heritages in Japan, China and Korea and examining how the ICOMOS participates in and contributes to these activities.
 As requested by the ICOMOS-Korea and Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, I reported the activities of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties related to the World Heritage under the title of “Activities of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties for a good implementation of the World Heritage Convention.” In this report, I presented our activities such as the publication of survey research reports and glossaries related to the World Heritage Committee and the organization of the World Heritage Seminar. I explained that these activities aim mainly at providing information to local government officers who are involved in the recommendation and protection of the World Heritage Sites, and that they are conducted in cooperation with the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan. Masahiko TOMODA of the Institute also participated in the workshop as a member of the Japan ICOMOS National Committee and reported its activities with the Vice President Yuga KARIYA.
 Korean participants said that they also find it challenging to provide information related to the World Heritage Convention to local government officers. Politicization caused by the overheating interest in the World Heritage Sites seemed to be a common issue in Japan, China and Korea. I hope that the exchange with experts from nearby countries, as in this workshop, will lead to the creation of highly specialized recommendation documents and the appropriate protection of World Heritage Sites in each country.

Presentation at “JinMonCom 2018 – Data for Historical and Humanities Research”

View of the presentation (KIKKAWA)

 On December 2nd, 2018, Hideki KIKKAWA and Tomohiro OYAMADA presented the database of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in the session “Data for Historical and Humanities Research (” at the JinMonCom 2018 organized by the IPSJ SIG Computers and the Humanities, one of the research groups of the Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ). This session was aimed at introducing databases that are not widely recognized yet in the IPSJ and promoting more active data use. KIKKAWA and OYAMADA presented the system overview of the TOBUNKEN Research Collections (, the database of photographic negatives and plates which is the largest among our image databases, and the database of Art exhibitions and Obituaries which is based on the Year Book of Japanese Art published since 1936.
 Additionally, various databases published by the National Diet Library, Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation, Tokyo National Museum, the University of Tokyo and Aozora Bunko were presented and attracted the attention of the participants. In addition to publishing and managing the database of cultural properties, our Institute will make further efforts to spread the database of cultural properties and make it useful for survey/research.

The 7th Seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems – “Illustration of Lotus Sutra” and “Mandala of Kasuga Shrine”: Two Major Works in Seikado

View of the seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held the 7th Seminar with two external speakers on December 27th, 2018. The first presentation entitled “Origin of the Scrolls of Diseases – ‘Illustration of Lotus Sutra’ owned by Seikado Bunko” was given by Dr. Satomi YAMAMOTO of Kyoritsu Women’s University, and the second presentation “Takashina style in ‘Mandala of Kasuga Shrine’ owned by Seikado Bunko Art Museum” was given by Prof. Masahiko AIZAWA of Seijo University. They focused on the two collections of Seikado that deserve the attention but are not widely presented yet.
 According to Dr. YAMAMOTO, it can be deduced from the ending prayer that the ” Lotus Sutra” in Seikado Bunko, illustrating sutra on the head of the scroll, was created in 1140 (Shaoxing (Shoko) 10) by 40 people who made a Buddhist connection with each other and were led by Daoyin (Doin) of the Tendai sect of Buddhism who was active in the South Song Dynasty in the mid-12th century. She explained that its Biyu Chapter (Hiyu-Bon) illustrates a sick person who receives a bowl of medicine and the Lotus Sutra states that people who vilify the sutra would suffer from sickness such as dwarfness, hunchback and bad breath, which are illustrated in the “Illustration of Lotus Sutra.” Additionally, she made interesting remarks that the National Treasure “Yamai-no-Soshi,” drawn from the late Heian period to the Kamakura period, may have been inspired by the text of the Lotus Sutra and this illustration of the Lotus Sutra in Seikado Bunko, and that the creation of “Yamai-no-Soshi” must be considered while taking into account the situation of Japan and China in the 12th century, the worship of the Lotus Sutra, and the relationship between monks and general worshippers then.
 Prof. AIZAWA presented that “Mandala of Kasuga Shrine” which is owned by Seikado Bunko Art Museum and said to be from the 14th century, is a unique work that puts names of each building in white rectangles and illustrates gods of Ten Shrines, their Buddhist metamorphoses, and divine deer, in addition to the scenery of Kasuga Shrine, rare except for the Mandala of Kasuga Shrine owned by the MOA Museum of Art. He explained that what is interesting is that, compared to the one of the MOA Museum of Art which has been corrected many times, this artwork largely keeps its original form and uses high-quality paints to draw gods and Buddha in delicate touches. He presented in a detailed slide that it must have been drawn by a follower of Kanetaka TAKASHINA who drew “The Miraculous Origins of the Kasuga Deity” owned by the Sannomaru Shozokan (Museum of the Imperial Collections). He also made an in-depth remark that such “Mandala of Kasuga Shrine” may have had the function of inviting the god and making Kasuga on the spot by spreading the scroll, in the same way as “Mandala of Hie-Sanno Shrine.”
 More than 20 external attendees attended the seminar, and it was very meaningful.

Report on the “Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on Intangible Cultural Heritage and Natural Disasters”

Viewing of "Shishifuri" (lion dance) performance in Onagawa-cho

 Seven staff of our Institute, including the Deputy Director General Emiko YAMANASHI, participated in the “Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on Intangible Cultural Heritage and Natural Disasters” co-organized by the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) and our Institute and held in Sendai on December 7th to 9th, 2018. This workshop was conducted as the conclusion of the “Research on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Safeguarding and Disaster Risk Management in the Asia-Pacific Region” conducted by the IRCI since 2016. Additionally, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of our Institute cooperated in this project and dispatched staff for field surveys in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Fiji.
 Cultural heritage and disaster risk management experts from eight countries in the Asia-Pacific Region were invited to this workshop. Together with experts from Japan and other countries, they reported and discussed how to protect intangible cultural heritage from natural disasters. On the second day, Hiromichi KUBOTA of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted an excursion to Onagawa-cho, Miyagi Prefecture, to show the participants the roles the intangible cultural heritage played in the reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
 Each country and region’s seemingly different perception of the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and natural disasters marked the discussions in the workshop. For example, while Japanese experts emphasized that intangible cultural heritage formed a bond in the disaster-affected communities and became a source of strength for the reconstruction, several foreign experts highlighted that traditional knowledge contains knowledge to forecast and prepare for natural disasters. The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage lists “knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe” as a form of intangible cultural heritage, and traditional knowledge is generally recognized as intangible cultural heritage. On the other hand, Japan’s Act on Protection of Cultural Properties does not clearly consider traditional knowledge as a category of intangible cultural properties.
 In Japan, attention has been paid to the folkloric records and knowledge related to natural disasters, such as tsunami monuments; however, they were not much discussed in the context of the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and natural disasters. This workshop was a meaningful opportunity to know different perceptions from each country and region, discuss with people who have diverse ideas, and widen our perspective.

The Seminar on “Safeguarding Living Heritage in Nepal”

View of the seminar

 The seminar entitled “Safeguarding Living Heritage in Nepal” was held on December 10th, 2018. The Director General Jaya Ram SHRESTHA and the curator Yamuna MAHARJAN of the National Museum of Nepal were invited and spoke on the current situation and challenges of intangible cultural heritage in Nepal. Tomo ISHIMURA and Hiromichi KUBOTA (Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage) also presented the surveys on Nepalese intangible cultural heritage conducted by our Institute. Dr. Tomoko MORI (Sapporo City University) who has been involved in the preservation of urban scenery in Nepal gave comments as well.
 Diverse ethnic groups and religions coexist in Nepal, which has given birth to abundant intangible cultural heritage. However, the earthquake of April 2015 caused severe damage in many regions and affected traditional cultures to no small extent. Moreover, the rapid modernization in recent years is forcing traditional cultures to change. We spent meaningful time learning about such situation of the Nepalese intangible cultural heritage, sharing information with Japanese experts on Nepal who attended the seminar, and exchanging ideas with Nepalese experts.
 This seminar was held as part of the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” which is the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in FY2018.

Holding the Seminar “Wooden Architectural Techniques in Mainland Southeast Asia: Development and Mutual Influences”

A presentation during the seminar

 Since 2017, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has held three seminars on the topic of wooden architecture in Southeast Asia. The first and second seminars were focused on clarifying the features of already lost ancient wooden buildings through archaeological data. The third seminar was held on December 16th, 2018 under the title “Wooden Architectural Techniques in Mainland Southeast Asia: Development and Mutual Influences”. This time, the objective was to analyze the features of existing buildings in order to deepen our understanding of wooden architectural techniques, their development, and the influences both inside and outside the region.
 Mr. François Tainturier, from the Inya Institute of Myanmar Studies, made a presentation about Myanmar and Cambodia. Wooden architecture in both these countries is characterized by the use of a simple structural framework, with few horizontal members, supporting straight multi-tiered roofs. Especially in the case of Myanmar, roofs are profusely decorated with carvings.
 Mr. Pongthorn Hiengkaew, from the Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture of Thailand, made a presentation about wooden buildings in Thailand. Although their features vary depending on region and period, as a common feature, horizontal members and struts are employed in order to create roofs with curved shapes.
 Finally, questions from the audience were answered and a panel discussion was held with the participation of Mr. Shoichi OTA, from the Kyoto Institute of Technology, with the objective of laying the foundations for a history of wooden architecture in Southeast Asia beyond current national divisions.
 The proceedings of this seminar will be published next fiscal year.

Consultation and Lecture at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) in the UK

A scene from the lecture

 Located in Norwich, the county capital of Norfolk, SISJAC is among the prominent institutions of studies on Japanese arts and culture in Europe. Since 2013, SISJAC and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties have been working on a joint project—“The Project to Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art”—through which documents related to Japanese art that are written in English and published outside Japan are provided by SISJAC and made available on the Institute’s website. Also, as part of the project, researchers of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems have been visiting Norwich annually to hold consultation with SISJAC and conduct lectures on related topics. In fiscal 2018, two researchers, Tomoko EMURA and Takuyo YASUNAGA, visited Norwich from November 13th to 16th to achieve the mission.
 During the consultation, various issues were addressed, including low number of access to the data provided by SISJAC and problems caused by special English characters and inconsistencies in romanized Japanese characters in entering data. In response, the Institute presented an estimate of the number of access to the data and its future policy to standardize the entry of special English characters and romanized Japanese.
 On November 15th, YASUNAGA gave a lecture entitled “A pair of scroll paintings: The triple images of Yosa Buson’s ‘Kite and Crows’” at the Weston Room of Norwich Cathedral, with interpretation provided by Dr. Simon KANER, Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute. The lecture was conducted as part of a regular lecture event focused on general audience and offered by SISJAC on every third Thursday of the month. This event enjoyed an attendance of about 80 people who listened with much enthusiasm, showing the popularity of Japanese art in the UK.

Artistic Expression and Techniques Used in the Painting “Mahamayuri Vidyaraja (Kujaku Myoo)” Owned by Ninna-ji Temple―Seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

A scene from the seminar

 The sixth monthly seminar in fiscal 2018, organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, was held on November 27th. Dr. Emi MIYAKO, a part-time lecturer at the Tokyo University of the Arts, was the guest speaker, giving a presentation entitled, “History of Technical Development of Coloring on Silk: A Study on the Painting of Mahamayuri Vidyaraja (Kujaku Myoo) Owned by the Ninna-ji Temple.” Designated a national treasure in Japan, the painting of Mahamayuri Vidyaraja is a work that some historians date as early as the Northern Song Dynasty. Its exceptionally high standard of artistry is expressed in its dynamic rendering of elements, including the feathers of the peacock that appear as if they are moving. Distinctive realism found in this work is in stark contrast to conventional styles of Japanese Buddhist paintings.
 Dr. MIYAKO is an art historian with numerous academic achievements, as well as an artist who has been producing many outstanding artworks. In her presentation, Dr. MIYAKO compared a same sized copy of a painting made by GENSYO of Jisyo-in of Ninna-ji Temple in 1779 (Edo period), which uses the sukiutsushi technique (tracing of the original by laying silk cloth over it) with the painting of Mahamayuri Vidyaraja, and revealed that the Japanese silk support was sewn together whereas the Chinese version was seamless. In addition, she presented many samples of silk cloths to show how different results can be when sizing is applied on the silk supports, even if similar painting techniques are used. An expression of artistry, or simply put “beauty” dwells in the “forms” in the work, and such “forms” are supported by realistic and physical techniques. However, this is one area, which classical methodology of art history was unable to tap. Through analyses of support, line drawings, coloring, and coloring materials, Dr. MIYAKO provided insightful knowledge, suggesting that further achievements can be expected from her future studies.

Thirteenth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

Appearance of the venue.
Inscription of “Raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes” was adopted by the committee.

 The Thirteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took place in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, from November 26th through December 1st, 2018. Two researchers from this Institute attended the session.
 At this session, whether or not “Raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes” nominated by Japan should be inscribed on the Representative List was discussed. The Committee decided its inscription on November 29th. At the Sixth session of the Intergovernmental Committee in 2011, the similarity of “Oga no Namahage, New Year visiting of masked deities in Oga, Akita” nominated by Japan to “Koshikijima no Toshidon (visiting deity that occurs every New Year’s Eve on Shimo-Koshiki Island),” which had already been inscribed on the Representative List, was pointed out. In response to the decision of the referral of the element by the Committee, ten nationally designated Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties (protecting groups identified) including “Oga no Namahage, New Year visiting of masked deities in Oga, Akita,” “Paantu” on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture, and “Boze” on Akuseki Island in Kagoshima Prefecture were grouped into the expanded “Koshikijima no Toshidon” as its elements. Therefore, the number of Japan’s intangible cultural heritage elements inscribed on the Representative List remains twenty-one. However, more Japanese cultural properties have been inscribed as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
 It is highly important that “Reggae music” nominated by Jamaica was inscribed on the Representative List among the other properties examined by the Committee this time. Inscription of “Reggae music” might not have been decided at this session since the Evaluation Body initially recommended the element to be referred back to the State Party. However, a discussion by the Committee members resulted in inscription.
 Japan serves as a Committee member from 2018 to 2022. Also at this session, the Japanese delegation introduced two cases of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding with a focus on Japan’s efforts making a significant contribution: “Disaster Prevention for Intangible Cultural Heritage” on which this Institute works, and “Research on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Safeguarding and Disaster Risk Management in the Asia-Pacific Region” with which the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) deals. Japan is expected to continually make a presence at the Intergovernmental Committee.
 On the other hand, we felt concerned about how the Committee meeting should be developed. In recent years, referral recommendation by the Evaluation Body is often turned into inscription decision by the Committee. Occasionally, we also came across such cases at this session. In some cases, proceedings that are not accepted in the guideline for the Convention were decided by the Committee. In fact, some signatory States Parties expressed concern about such a policy of the Committee, causing a stir in its ruling idea for the coming session.

Survey of the Restoration Technique for Hikiyama Metalwork in Shiga Prefecture

Metalwork removed from the float for restoration (shaft-point metalwork).
Mr. Kiyoshi TSUJI engaged in restoration work.

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been researching and studying conservation techniques for cultural properties. To hand down tangible and intangible cultural properties to the coming generation, it is necessary to conserve and inherit the techniques required for conservation and restoration of cultural properties, as well as manufacturing technologies for the materials and tools used for them, in addition to cultural heritage itself. In Japan, we call these techniques “conservation techniques for cultural properties” under the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties. By selecting those that particularly require conservation measures as “selected conservation techniques,” great effort has been put into their conservation and protection. According to each nation, techniques subject to safeguarding are just a small percentage of the whole. We think this Institute should play a leading role in paying attention to the techniques not selected by the national government as subjects of our research and study.
 In FY 2018, we conducted a survey for Mr. Kiyoshi TSUJI, a holder of the “Hikiyama Metalwork Restoration” technique selected for conservation by the Shiga Prefectural Government jointly with the Shiga Prefectural Board of Education. Mr. Tsuji has been engaged with restoration of numerous festival floats as a holder of the restoration technique for metalwork such as metal ornaments for floats used in the “Nagahama Hikiyama Festival” designated as one of the nation’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties, also serving as an element composing “Yama, Hoko, Yatai, float festivals in Japan” inscribed on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. At present, he is working on restoration of the metalwork for the float of Kin-ei Town (Hogiku Float) used for the “Hino Hikiyama Festival” (prefecturally designated intangible folk cultural property) held in Hino Town, Shiga Prefecture. We have been surveying and video-recording the restoration process.
 Needless to say, festival floats are essential for the implementation of the Hikiyama Festival. Accordingly, conservation of and succession to the festival as an intangible cultural property require a restoration technique for the floats. It is true that successors to such technique are insufficient. Our research and study aims not only to conserve and record the technique for the coming generation but also to highlight the conservation techniques for such cultural properties attracting less attention for their significance.

Report on the “Seminar on the Current Status of Restoration of Cultural Properties and Its Issues”

Ongoing general discussion

 In recent years, cultural properties have been attracting more attention. In response to their promoted utilization, the number of cultural properties that need restoration has been increasing. Under the circumstances, conventional restoration approaches and concepts are not applicable in many cases. In the light of the current situation, the “Seminar on the Current Status of Restoration of Cultural Properties and Its Issues” took place on November 22nd, 2018. Sharing a restoration overview of the past, experts specializing in cultural property areas introduced the issues identified during the current restoration process.
 Guest Professor Toshikazu SASAKI from Hokkaido University, who specializes in historical materials, delivered a lecture on the conservation of historical materials and issues of conservation of folk materials under the title of “Thoughts on Restoration of Arts and Crafts” based on his vast experience accumulated in the Tokyo National Museum, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and the National Museum of Ethnology. Senior Specialist Tomohiko JINUSHI from the Agency for Cultural Affairs reported “Achievements and Issues in Recent Restoration of Historical Materials” including detailed cases under the existing conditions. Curator Hitomi KITAMURA from the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo presented the details of recent restoration of the collection and the issues in that process under the title of the “Current Status of Restoration of Cultural Properties and Recent Issues -With a Focus on ‘Twelve Hawks’-.” Chief Noriyuki NAKANO from the Kyoto Prefectural Government reported what kinds of discussions are actually conducted in restoration and how necessary decision-making should be done. During the general discussion, the audience asked many questions, which resulted in an active Q&A session. The seminar attracted 104 people, who expressed expectations for our continually providing an opportunity to exchange information on the restoration of cultural properties on a large scale through a post-seminar questionnaire survey. The details of this seminar will be published as a report next year.

Investigation of Rock-Hewn Church Frescos in Southern Italy

Chiesa rupestre di Sant’Antonio Abate
La Cripta di Santa Maria Degli Angeli

 From November 12th through 20th, 2018, we investigated the frescos painted inside the rock-hewn churches in Puglia, Southern Italy. This investigation aims to reflect its outcomes in the training program for the mural paintings inside the rock-hewn churches in Cappadocia as part of the “Human Resource Development Project toward the Improvement of the Conservation and Management System for Mural Paintings in the Republic of Turkey” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs
 We observed Byzantine-style frescos painted on the stone walls inside Cripta di Quandedra and Chiesa rupestre di Sant’Antonio Abate in Massafra, as well as Cripta di Santa Maria Degli Angeli and Cripta dei Santi Stefani di Vaste in Poggiardo. We conducted the investigation by paying attention to their fresco techniques and used materials, as well as their status and current conservation and management conditions with their surrounding environments taken into consideration. Consequently, we found that both Southern Italy and Cappadocia had common conservation and management issues, and that there were actions which had been taken in Italy but not in Turkey.
 For this investigation, we asked the experts working for the Opificio delle Pietre Dure di Firenze, who have been cooperating in our training programs, to accompany us and organize the collected information. In the program planned in June 2019, we will tell the trainees under what circumstances the similar wall paintings are placed in Italy to seek better conservation and management approaches after reflecting these investigation results.

Research Visits to Universities in the framework of the “Human Resource Development Project toward the Improvement of the Conservation and Management System for Mural Paintings in the Republic of Turkey”

Exchanging opinions in the oil painting restoration laboratory
Ongoing survey on educational facilities

 As part of the above-mentioned program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we visited Turkish universities which have cultural property conservation and restoration courses to survey their educational systems from November 4th to 9th, 2018. For FY 2018, we made visits to the Department of Cultural Heritage Conservation and Restoration, the Faculty of Fine Arts, Ankara University, and the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Movable Cultural Assets, the Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University, in addition to the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties, the Faculty of Fine Arts, Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University (former Gazi University) which has been cooperating in the key training program of this project, “Examination and Implementation of Emergency Procedures for Wall Painting Conservation.” At each university, faculty members delivered a presentation on teaching programs restoration techniques together with briefing on educational facilities. We also tried to clarify and share the current educational issues associated with conservation of cultural properties through opinion exchanges.
 Taking advantage of its merits as a university organization, every university endeavored to solve facility and human resource shortages by promoting joint projects with another course and a local government concerned. The faculty members of each university were experts who had been technically trained for conservation and restoration of cultural properties in the western countries and Europe regardless of their training periods. On the other hand, we found that it would be essential to reinforce their educational systems further for diverse cultural properties in need scattered throughout Turkey.
 Many of the graduates from these universities are now working for the national conservation and restoration centers, to which the trainees of the mural painting conservation program belong. The outcomes of this survey will be utilized for our deeper understanding of their educational backgrounds.

Survey of Japanese-Style Paintings in Montreal, Canada

A survey at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

 Old Japanese works of art owned by overseas museums and art galleries play an important role in introducing Japanese culture. However, due to a shortage of overseas experts in the conservation and restoration of such works, proper measures are not taken and numerous works cannot be exhibited or utilized. Therefore, this Institute has undertaken a project to cooperate in the conservation and restoration of overseas old Japanese works of art for their proper conservation and utilization. This time, we surveyed the works possessed by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which strongly requested us to cooperate in the restoration of its collection having great significance. Located in Montreal, the Museum which was founded as the Art Association of Montreal in 1860, is the oldest museum in Canada. Today, it has more than 43,000 pieces of works from ancient times to modern times, which include several Japanese arts and crafts.
 For the survey conducted from November 26th through 28th, 2018, four staff members of the Institute visited there: Masato KATO and Hee Jae WON from Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation; Tomoko EMURA and Rei MAIZAWA from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems. We surveyed 15 artworks (17 pieces) of Japanese-style paintings and 3 artworks of Japanese textiles by considering their needs and urgency for restoration, as well as their value in the art history.
 We will share the information obtained through the survey with the curators and conservators of the Museum for smooth conservation and exhibition of the works.

“Workshop on Conservation and Restoration of Urushi Objects” in Cologne, Germany

Practical work on applying urushi

 The Workshop on Conservation and Restoration of Urushi Objects was held at Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Museen Köln (Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne), Germany, from November 26th to 30th, 2018. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has conducted the annual workshops with the cooperation of the Museum since 2007. The aim of the workshop is to preserve and utilize urushi objects (lacquerware) in museum collections outside Japan. This year’s workshop was the basic course focusing on the knowledge and techniques required for storing, maintaining and handling the urushi objects, and six conservators attended from several countries around the world.
 The lectures included the chemical structure and properties of urushi, the structure and decorations of urushi objects, the typical damages and degradation, and the appropriate storage environment. Case studies on conservation and restoration of urushi objects in Japan were also introduced, and principles of restoration and processes of applied treatments were explained. The practical work on applying urushi to the wooden spoons helped the participants to understand the characteristics of urushi more clearly. Furthermore, the participants experienced the remedial treatment of an urushi object such as stabilizing the damaged areas and cleaning the surface. The ways of selecting and making of tools used in conservation were also explained. On the last day of the workshop, various topics, for example, the differences on conservation ethics and principles between the East and the West and the possible application of knowledge and techniques acquired in this workshop were discussed.
 It is hoped that introducing the fundamental knowledge and Japanese conservation techniques of urushi objects to the conservation specialists overseas will contribute to the safer preservation and utilization of the urushi objects overseas.

On-site Workshops on the Conservation of Historic Brick Buildings in Bagan and Participation in the 1st ICC Meeting

The on-site workshop in Bagan

 Since the August 2016 Chauk Earthquake in Myanmar, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has been carrying out research and survey activities directed at improving the quality of the conservation work of the damaged historic brick buildings in Bagan, as part of a cooperation project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government (recommissioned by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, NNRICP). On November 13th and 14th, 2018, two workshops were held at the Myanmar Engineering Society (Yangon) and the Bagan Branch Office of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum (Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture) respectively, to share the results of this project with local experts.
 Members of TNRICP and Japanese experts were lecturers at the workshops and they focused on three main topics: traditional brick masonry techniques, structural features of brick buildings, and chemical analysis of traditional mortar. In addition, local experts from each partner institution made presentations on the current state of conservation and repair works of brick buildings in Bagan. The workshops concluded with a questions and answers session and an opinion exchange between Japanese and local experts.
 The results of this project will be published in a report and shared with the local experts so that they can be applied further to conservation and restoration work.
 In addition, the Third Technical Coordination Forum for Safeguarding Bagan and the First International Coordination Committee (ICC) was held in Bagan on November 17th and 18th, 2018. The objective of the meeting, chaired by the Minister of Religious Affairs and Culture, was to share information and coordinate efforts between different local and foreign expert teams carrying out conservation work at Bagan. Experts from TNRICP took part in the meeting and made a presentation on the currently ongoing cooperation projects by TNRICP and NNRICP.

Presentation at the 8th International Conference of Art Libraries

Ongoing presentation
Art Library of the RijksMuseum

 Although there are innumerable libraries in the world including Japan, the United States and European countries have art libraries which specialize in art books and materials. Every two years, these countries hold an international conference for art libraries. During the 8th International Conference of Art Libraries held at the National Museum (Rijksmuseum) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on October 4th and 5th, 2018, we made an oral presentation titled “The Contribution of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties: Art Bibliography in Japan for OCLC Central Index.” The Institute has been collecting information on art exhibitions held in Japan, including literature-based information found in exhibition catalogues. We have provided data on approximately 50,000 items of literature appearing in exhibition catalogues from 1930 to 2013 to the OCLC Central Index. Although these Japanese art exhibition catalogues are highly specialized, they have had insufficient results in providing the public useful information compared to general magazines and papers. This initiative has resulted in offering OCLC users of the world new chances to find required materials. This conference is operated mainly by European countries and the United States, but after the presentation, we received feedback that this initiative in Asia is important to reinforce international cooperation among the art libraries.
We have been continually providing this kind of information in the OCLC Central Index. Recently, we offered approximately 2,800 items of literature-based information published in 2014. We are going to add additional literature data from 2015 by the end of 2018.

Contribution of the Digital Publications of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties to the Getty Research Portal

The results showing on the Getty Research Portal

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been promoting a joint research project with the Getty Research Institute in the United States. On May 2017, the digital data of exhibition catalogues and art magazines published during the Meiji period that are controlled by the Institute became searchable and accessible on the Getty Research Portal (GRP). We became the first contributor of such data in Asia. The digital data of the “Year Book of Japanese Art” was published in 70 issues by the Institute from 1936 to 2013. “Bijutsu Kenkyu (Journal of Art Studies)” (the 1st issue to the 419th issue) and “Science for Conservation” (the 1st issue to the 57th issue) have also become searchable and accessible on the GRP. As a result, the total number of titles provided by the Institute is over 636. Although these publications were accessible from our website (Tobunken Research Collections:; “Science for Conservation” in PDF: and our repository (, the searchability and accessibility of this data from the GRP that has numerous users in the world, through a virtual art library resulted in a drastic change. This initiative enhanced the potential of overseas countries accessing our achievements in the research of cultural properties. As part of this joint project between the two Institutes, we are currently digitalizing valuable information owned by the Institute such as the exposition and exhibition publications during the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa periods. We will also add these digitalized publications to the GRP by the end of June 2019.

The 52nd Open Lecture

Ongoing lecture

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a two-day open lecture on October 26th and 27th, 2018 in the seminar room of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. Every autumn, the Institute invites people from the general public to attend presentations delivered by its researchers, along with outside lecturers on the outcomes of their research that they conduct on a daily basis. This program is not only held as part of the Lecture Series of the Ueno no Yama Cultural Zone Festival organized by Taito City but is also associated with Classics Day on November 1st, 2018.
 This year, the lectures covered four topics: “Creating a Database on Cultural Properties and Its Significance” (Tomohiro OYAMADA, Researcher of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems); “SESSON Shukei and the Genju School of the Rinzai Sect—Based on Daiyu-zan Hounji Temple” (Dr. Yuji MIZUNO, Assistant Professor at the University of Tsukuba); “Locality Expressed in Women in the Nude—In the Cases of Fujita, San Yu, and Chen Cheng-po” (Emiko YAMANASHI, Deputy Director General of the Institute); and “Linking Tradition to Modern Age: Forms of Flowers and Birds Painted by Qi Bai-shi” (Motoyuki KURE, Senior Researcher of Kyoto National Museum). The first two lectures were delivered on the 26th of October and the latter two on the 27th. The audience on both days totaled to 134 people. According to the results of the questionnaire survey, nearly 90% of the audience responded “satisfied” or “almost satisfied.” Thus, the open lecture received favorable reactions.

Shapes of Metal Materials Used for Hira Maki-e Technique—Seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Ongoing seminar

 For the fifth seminar in FY 2018, held on October 2nd by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, Dr. Yoshimi KAMIYA from Kanazawa University delivered a presentation titled “Shapes of Metal Materials Used for Hira Maki-e Technique—Mainly Focusing on Namban Lacquer Examples .”
 Hira Maki-e (flat maki-e) is one of the Maki-e (Japanese lacquer technique sprinkled with gold or silver powder) techniques started in the Azuchi–Momoyama period. Compared to the existing mainstream techniques such as Togidashi Maki-e (polished maki-e) and Taka Maki-e (raised maki-e), it is a simpler technique, where gold or silver powder is sprinkled over the pattern drawn with Urushi lacquer. This technique is considered to have been used for maki-e works in Kodaiji style and Namban lacquerware produced in Kyoto as exports to Europe and Americaby orders from Europeans.
 The shapes of the metal powders found on lacquer fragments from Namban lacquerware and similar works produced in the early 17th century, which can be found both at home and abroad, as well as those for maki-e lacquer works made by the presenter for comparison, were observed carefully in a non-destructive manner by using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and reported.
 As a result, Maru-fun, round powders rasped off from the metal body were found for a piece of Namban lacquerware. However, some pieces for in which powder made from gold foil had been used was were recognized for the first time. And even, indicating the possibility that powder. This discovery requires us to re-examine the actual states of production techniques, producers, and workshops for exported lacquer in the early Edo period. This is also an important fact when considering the process of how Keshi-fun Maki-e (maki-e technique using powder from metal foil) first appeared and its history.
 For the seminar, Mr. Kazumi MUROSE, a holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (maki-e) and lacquer art historians in and around Tokyo were invited for an active discussion about the kinds of materials the reported metal powders originate in, the relationship with maki-e masters or artisans depicted in the paintings of craftsmen (Shokuninn-e), the need of factual research in maki-e technical history, and issues on the definition of maki-e.
 This presentation revealed the fact that observation of fallen lacquer fragments with an electron microscope is very effective for verification of lacquer production techniques, particularly maki-e technique. Further accumulation and study of analyzed works are much expected for the positioning of and attaching significance to each reported case. Deepening of this research may contribute to clarification of the actual state of the painting technique history since metal powder is among the materials used widely not only for lacquerware but also for paintings.

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