In March 2017, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties exchanged a letter of intent with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) to offer its cooperation in various academic fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage over the next five years.
During the survey to explore the partner country’s needs conducted in Iran in October 2016, Iranian experts consulted us about the serious air pollution in the capital city of Tehran that resulted in damage to cultural properties. They said that even metal products displayed and housed in the National Museum of Iran might be eroding. Based on this information, we have been conducting seminars regarding the improvement of display and housing environment at Iranian museums since 2017.
In 2019, we invited four researchers, two from RICHT and two from the National Museum of Iran, to Japan for a seminar from November 25th to 29th.
First, lectures on museum environments were delivered at the Institute and were mostly led by SANO Chie, Director, Center for Conservation Science, and Dr. RO Toshitami, in addition to the presentation of a report on the results of air pollution monitoring conducted at the National Museum of Iran in 2018. The lectures on pest control for cultural properties were mostly led by SATO Yoshinori, Head, Biological Science Section, and Associate Fellow KOMINE Yukio.
After the academic program, we visited the Kyoto National Museum and the National Museum of Ethnology. At the Kyoto National Museum, Dr. FURIHATA Junko delivered a lecture on disaster prevention measures before observing the disaster prevention system. At the National Museum of Ethnology, Dr. HIDAKA Shingo, Ms. WADAKA Tomomi, Ms. KAWAMURA Yukako, and Ms. HASHIMOTO Sachi conducted lectures on environmental management, air conditioning, pest control measures, and so on, while taking a tour of the exhibition halls and storage area. Once again, we express our gratitude to all the people and the institutes that have cooperated to support the program.
The Institute will continue to offer its cooperation in various fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage.
The International Council of Museums (ICOM), created in 1946, is a non-government organization aimed at exchanging and sharing information on museums. The general conference, which is held for all of its International Committees every three years, took place in Kyoto this year. Three staff members from the Cultural Properties Information Section attended the conference to deliver a presentation titled “Two Solutions for Orthographical Variants Problem” at CIDOC, ICOM’s International Committee for Documentation.
One of the features of the Japanese language is its varied orthographic system, under which you use kanji, hiragana and katakana quite differently. However, this system results in creating orthographical variants, such as龍 and竜, as well as藝 and芸, causing search omissions. Focusing on personal names, we reported our own way of coping with all possible variations for the database of our website.
Orthographical variants are not unique to the Japanese language. For example, some systematic solution is required for the English retrieval system if the results of the plural form should also be shown when you perform a search in a singular form. Cultural properties have their universal value although there are some issues originating in locality in their documentation. We would like to consider the universality and locality in cultural properties from the aspect of system infrastructure.
Presentation and Information Sharing for ICFA Committee, ICOM Kyoto “The Minakuchi Rapier, European Sword Produced in Japan”
For a week, from September 1st to 7th, ICOM Kyoto 2019, the 25th General Conference was held at the Kyoto International Conference Centre as its main venue.
At the ICFA’s (International Committee for Museums and Collections of Fine Arts) individual session “Asian Art in Western Museumns, Western Art in Asian Museums II,” KOBAYASHI Koji from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems delivered a presentation titled The Minakuchi Rapier, European Sword Produced in Japan jointly with Ms. NAGAI Akiko from the Koka City Minakuchi History and Folkroe Museum.
The Minakuchi Rapier (cruciform sword possessed by Fujisaka Shrine in Koka City) was produced in Japan modeled on a European sword, which was brought Japan in the early 17th century. We have been researching this sword together with experts at home and abroad since 2013. Part of the processes and outcomes have been reported through the articles, “the 10th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems ‘Study of the Western Cruciform Sword Possessed by Fujisaka Shrine in Koka City’” (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/katudo/243895.html) and “Research of the Western-style Cruciform Sword Possessed by Fujisaka Shrine in Minakuchi, Koka City, Shiga Prefecture by an Expert from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and an Initial Report at the 7th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems” (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/katudo/247392.html).
For this presentation, the later result of analyzing the sword blade at SPring-8 (large-scale synchrotron radiation facility) and historical examination from an overall point of view was added. This presentation aimed at disseminating to the world, including Europe and the United States, the fact that such Western swords existed in Japan in the 17th century when cultural exchange was occurring globally, and that a sword was imitated at that time and has been handed down up to the present time.
At the fully occupied presentation venue, the audience showed much interest in the existence of such a cultural property in Japan through a variety of questions and discussions, including on the background of producing a Western sword replica.
Formation Process of Namban Lacquer and Its Dating: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
At the 6th Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on September 24th, 2019, KOBAYASHI Koji, Head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section, delivered a presentation titled “Formation Process of Namban Lacquer and Its Dating – Examination Especially Focusing on Christian Portable Oratory.”
There is no consensus on when and how Namban lacquer, which was produced in Kyoto and exported mainly to Europe and America in the early 17th century, started to be utilized. So far, among portable oratories, in which Christian sacred paintings are placed, much attention has been paid only to the ones produced as Namban lacquer. The presenter comprehensively examined the portable oratories produced for Japanese Christians as well, which continued to be handed down to this day in the Sendaiji and Shimo-otowa areas in Ibaraki City, Osaka, well-known as settlements of crypto-Christians; these oratories include the one owned by the General Library of the University of Tokyo, which has a the painting of Christ by NIWA Jacob, who learned painting in seminary in Japan, in addition to the Namban lacquer portable oratories scattered around the world. Among them, a group of oratories without decorative pattern on metal fittings were extracted and compared with a makie decorated Chinese-style chest owned by Toyokuni Shrine, with a miniature shrine ornamented by Namban lacquer patterns of Kodaiji-style makie and raden decoration made for a statue of TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi possessed by Richi-in Temple in Misaki Town, with a relatively older makie shelf having metal fittings, and others. As a result, the presenter concluded that the oratories with no decorative metal fittings are the oldest, estimated to have been produced between the latest 16th century and the earliest 17th century.
This dating of older oratories matches the presenter’s dating of Namban lacquer lectern, which had been estimated to be produced from the early 17th century, i.e., a little later than oratories.
The examination was aimed at exploring the formation process and dating of Namban lacquer. If these results are accepted, it might become a catalyst for reconsideration of various issues involving painters or production areas of sacred paintings and frames placed in the portable oratories, on the reality of Christianity and trade in Japan around the early 17th century as well as the relations between TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi /the Tokugawa shogunate and the Anti-Christian Edicts/Christian missions.
At the seminar attended by Dr. TAKEDA Eri, a restorer of Western early paintings, Professor KOIKE Tomio from Tsurumi University, and many other researchers in related fields from the art museums organizing exhibitions of lacquerware from the Momoyama period, lively discussions were held on diverse topics, right from methodology to various other aspects.
On September 23rd, 2019, the fourth “Workshop on Winnowing Baskets” took place for interested persons at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
The series of workshops aims to research the techniques and cultures involved in “winnowing baskets” as folkcraft articles, used for screening and carrying threshed grains, considering the inheritance of them to be important. Originating in the “Summit Conference on Winnowing Baskets – Discussion of Weaving Techniques” held here in 2017, the workshop was organized by those who are interested in winnowing baskets, such as specialists in folk studies, archaeology, design engineering, and botany, as well as craftsman, sellers, and users of winnowing baskets and other handicrafts. We have been sharing our research outcomes and issues through the workshop held almost biannually.
For the fourth workshop, winnowing experiments were conducted with baskets produced in various areas, in addition to the research reports. Wheat, rice, and perilla were screened with winnowing baskets named Omogishi (Iwate Pref.), Oidara (Akita Pref.), Kizumi (Chiba Pref.), Ronden/Kumanashi (Toyama Pref.), Awa (Tokushima Pref.), and Hioki (Kagoshima Pref.) (production techniques for Oidara, Kizumi, and Ronden/Kumanashi ones are designated as national intangible folk cultural properties), in addition to Chinese willow ones, Korean wickerwork ones, and Malaysian ones. Actual comparison between these baskets allowed us to deepen the understanding of their functions and arrive at a basic date to verify the significance of their individual shaping and material selection as well as the differences in user-friendliness (functionality) according to areas.
The workshop will enhance studies on winnowing baskets produced in a variety of areas and reflect on the inheritance of their production techniques and cultures of usage together with their craftsman and sellers.
Research Exchange Program with the National Intangible Heritage Center in the Republic of Korea (Hosting a Visiting Researcher in Japan)
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been conducting research exchanges with the National Intangible Heritage Center in the Republic of Korea since 2008. As a part of the interaction, the department welcomed Ms. Kang Kyeonghye from the center as a visiting researcher from September 17th through October 4th, 2019.
The theme of her research during the visit was agricultural folk technology as an intangible cultural heritage in Japan; particularly, the current slash-and-burn agriculture practiced here. Therefore, we accompanied her to field studies as support from the department.
During her stay, she conducted field work twice. First, she visited Ikawa in Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture, which is a mountain area above the Oi River. Slash-and-burn agriculture had flourished until World War II in the area. Shortly after the war, it declined so drastically that it was maintained only for the cultivation of foxtail millet, which was used for rites of the shrine. In recent years, however, a private organization has taken the initiative to revive slash-and-burn agriculture to encourage the growth of traditional crops.
Second, she visited Shiiba village in Miyazaki Prefecture, an area located in the middle of the Kyushu Mountains. Slash-and-burn agriculture had also flourished there until the war. In the post-war period, it almost disappeared. However, one farm family has been sustaining the cultivation technique. Recently, a new association was established to preserve the technique while schoolchildren were taught about slash-and-burn agriculture as part of a work-study program, in addition to the promotion activities by a group led by the farm family. The slash-and-burn agriculture in Shiiba village was designated as an intangible folk cultural property by the Village in 2012, and then by the Prefecture in 2016. It is now well-known as the Takachihogo-Shiibayama Site by the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) after the certification in 2015.
In Korea, the Act on Conservation and Promotion of Intangible Cultural Properties was enforced in 2016, which raised interest in traditional knowledge as an intangible cultural heritage. From 2017 to 2020, the Cultural Heritage Administration has been investigating the traditional agricultural knowledge that exists until today. The data is to be accumulated as basic information or used for the designation of cultural properties. However, Korean slash-and-burn agriculture techniques have also almost disappeared, and none of them have been designated as cultural heritage properties.
In Japan, although the slash-and-burn agriculture in Shiiba village is designated as an intangible folk cultural property by the Prefecture and the Village, there are no nationally designated agricultural techniques. It should be noted that private organizations have taken the initiative to promote slash-and-burn agriculture, as observed in Ikawa and Shiiba village. Utilization of GIAHS or any other framework different from the existing one might be more important in the future.
Thus, how to conserve and utilize the traditional agricultural techniques, including slash-and-burn agriculture is a common issue in both Japan and Korea. It would be meaningful to find a solution for such a common issue by exchanging information and promoting discussions through this joint research.
The International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper was held from September 9th to 27th, 2019. This course has been jointly organized by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) since 1992. The course aims to contribute to the protection of cultural property outside Japan by disseminating the knowledge and techniques of the conservation and restoration of paper cultural property in Japan to participants from around the world. This year, ten specialists in conservation from ten countries (Australia, Canada, China, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Qatar, UK, Ukraine, and USA) were selected as participants among 71 applications from 33 countries.
The course was composed of lectures, practical sessions, and an excursion. The lectures covered the protection systems of both tangible and intangible cultural property in Japan, basic insights into the Japanese paper, traditional conservation materials, and tools. The practical sessions were led by instructors from a certified group holding the Selected Conservation Techniques on “Restoration techniques for mounts.” The participants had an experience of restoration work of paper cultural property, from cleaning it to mounting it in a handscroll. Japanese-style bookbinding and handling of folding screens and hanging scrolls were also included in the sessions. The excursion to the cities of Nagoya, Mino, and Kyoto, which was arranged in the middle of the course, offered an opportunity to see folding screens and sliding doors in historic buildings, the Japanese papermaking, which is designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property of Japan (Honminoshi), a traditional restoration studio, and so forth. On the last day, availability and the usage of washi in each country and the application of Japanese traditional techniques to other countries were discussed.
The participants could gain a deeper understanding of conservation materials, tools, and techniques used in Japan throughout this course. We hope that the knowledge and techniques they acquired during the course will be applied to the conservation and restoration of cultural property overseas.
Basic Research on the Sculptor Tōru KOMURO: Study meeting hosted by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
Tōru KOMURO (1899-1953) was a sculptor born in Tsukinoki Town (current Shibata Town), Miyagi Prefecture, and the creator of the Equestrian Statue of DATE Masamune (completed in 1935), which is located in Sendai Castle. The work is famous as a symbol of the tourist destination, but so far, it has not been widely known how he produced the equestrian statue.
On August 26, 2019, Kyoko YASHIRO, an associate fellow at the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, made research presentations under the title “Basic Research on the Sculptor Tōru KOMURO,” analyzing the life and works of the sculptor based on the albums, diaries, and other materials he left and discussing the Equestrian Statue of DATE Masamune , one of his most prominent works.
KOMURO published his works in group exhibitions in Tokyo during the prewar period while in Miyagi, his native land, he produced portrait sculptures, bronze statues, and wood-carved works of local distinguished people. In these creative activities, he must have cultivated relationships with local influential and knowledgeable people and garnered their support. In her presentations, YASHIRO also made it clear that when he produced the Equestrian Statue of DATE Masamune , he adopted the opinions of Sendai’s local historians as much as possible and expressed the figure of DATE Masamune as a feudal lord that carried out peace projects.
Currently, energetic creative activities of sculptors in Tokyo are being clarified, but there are only a few materials to confirm in detail the works and movements of sculptors like KOMURO who developed productive activities in provincial areas, and therefore, it is necessary to further deepen research on these sculptors in the future.
At the recent study meeting, experts in the modern history of sculpture, including Mr. Satoshi KODAMA of the Local Museum of Shibata. which houses materials concerning KOMURO, Prof. Shuji TANAKA of Oita University, and Dr. Taiko TOBARI of the Asakura Museum of Sculpture, were invited as commentators, and there was active exchange of opinions about differences between KOMURO’s works in Tokyo and Miyagi and the style of the Equestrian Statue of DATE Masamune .
Buddhist Paintings of the Heian Period (National Treasures) in the Possession of the Tokyo National Museum Published on the Joint Website
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been jointly conducting research with the Tokyo National Museum on the Buddhist paintings in the Museum’s collection. Releasing the outcomes of the research, four Buddhist paintings belonging to the Heian period were published on their joint website (tnm-tobunken.tobunken.go.jp) on August 20th, 2019. They are pictures of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, Ākāshagarbha Bodhisattva, Sahasrabhuja Avalokitesvara, and Mahamayuri vidyaraja, which are designated National Treasures.
Although the paintings seem flat, layers of pigment are intricately deposited on the paper or silk cloth. You form an impression of the picture as a light complex is seen when daylight is reflected on or penetrates the layers. Traces of the painting process and what happened to the painting after its completion can be seen underneath.
Key clues to capture them are the information on the piled-up layers, as well as the data on materials such as the size and shape of the pigment particles, the texture of the silk cloth, and the thicknesses of its warp and weft. An optical survey is one of the effective methods to look beneath the surface without touching or collecting an analysis sample from the painting. The Institute was the first in Asia to start the optical survey for arts and crafts soon after its foundation as The Institute of Art Research in 1930. This joint research is also based on the accumulated know-how of that survey.
To make a fine depiction in a picture of the world of Buddha transcending this world, delicate patterns were drawn on the garment and ornaments of the Buddha during the Heian period. However, to protect these painting, few opportunities are given to appreciate them and confirm through close observation. This publication on the joint website enables visualizing high-definition images on a PC or a tablet computer. Photographs have now been taken under visible light providing an expanded and detailed view. Further details of the paintings will be provided by including their pictures taken by infrared, fluorescence, or X-ray photography, apart from the results of fluorescent X‐ray analysis, to distinguish the elements contained in the pigments. Looking forward to your anticipation for their forthcoming release.
Two workshops on the conservation of Japanese textiles were held at the Research Center for Conservation of Cultural Relics in National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), Taipei, from August 14th to 23rd, 2019. A basic workshop, “Cultural Properties of Textiles in Japan,” was conducted from August 14th to 16th, and an advanced workshop, “Conservation of Japanese Textiles,” was run from August 19th to 23rd. These workshops have been co-organized annually since 2017 by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and NTNU for the preservation and utilization of Japanese textiles overseas, as part of our joint research. The lectures and instructions were presented by researchers specialized in textiles and conservators from Japan and Taiwan. Conservators, curators and students from around the world participated in the workshop; there were 11 participants from 10 countries in the basic workshop and 6 participants from 5 countries in the advanced workshop.
The basic workshop included lectures on the systems for the protection of tangible and intangible cultural properties, textile and clothing materials, and representative textiles in Japan. The participants also experienced folding and displaying Japanese garments (kimono). In addition, the practical work on making a paper model of kimono helped the participants to understand the construction of kimono. The advanced workshop comprised lectures and practical work on topics such as the degradation of textiles, scientific analysis of dyes, and cleaning of textiles. Furthermore, the participants experienced stitching a support silk fabric to the back of an old textile fragment and making a Japanese traditional folder for it. This served as an opportunity for the participants to comprehend Japanese approaches to textile conservation. In both workshops, case studies on display and conservation of Japanese textiles were shared, and opinions regarding conservation approaches, materials and methods were actively exchanged.
It is expected that introducing fundamental knowledge about Japanese textiles and their conservation to conservation specialists overseas could contribute to the better conservation and utilization of Japanese textile objects outside Japan.
Cultural Exchange Project for the Conservation and Utilization of Historic Buildings in Bhutan (Part ⅠI)
Since 2012, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has been conducting joint architectural research on rammed earth buildings in Bhutan with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS), Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, the Royal Government of Bhutan. From this fiscal year, TNRICP has started the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project, which was commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, with the objective of providing technical support and capacity building for the conservation and utilization of historic buildings in Bhutan. As a part of this project, a team of 11 experts, including TNRICP staff and outside experts, conducted on-site fieldwork from 20th to 28th August, 2019.
The field survey was jointly conducted with DCHS staff and covered traditional houses in the dzongkhags (districts) of Thimphu, Punakha, and Haa. The three main objectives were establishing a methodology for their conservation and repair, studying alternatives for their sustainable utilization, and clarifying the criteria for their evaluation as cultural heritage. Regarding the methodology for conservation and utilization, three traditional houses, which had been previously identified on the basis of features that indicated an early construction date, were selected as case studies. The potential methodologies for the seismic retrofitting of their rammed earth walls and the repair of their wooden members were studied. Furthermore, their potential use, compatible both with the owner’s demands and with the conservation of their value as cultural heritage, was examined during a discussion that involved DCHS staff, local architects, and owners. Regarding the evaluation of traditional houses as cultural heritage, comprehensive surveys were conducted in several settlements, and a potential method for the classification of traditional houses as well as a set of criteria for their designation as cultural properties was studied.
In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding referring to this project was signed at the Department of Culture, and a meeting was organized with the DCHS to discuss the results of this survey as well as the future prospects and needs of the Bhutanese counterparts.
In the future, we expect to continue cooperating with Bhutanese experts through on-site surveys and workshops to establish a methodology for the conservation and utilization of historic buildings suited to the Bhutanese reality.
Applying Post-War Japanese Art Archives in Research: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
The 4th seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on July 23rd, 2019. The seminar was held in a mini symposium format with the theme, “Applying Post-War Japanese Art Archives in Research: The Case of Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives.”
In the first half of the seminar, there were four presentations and reports on the following: “Letters to Yutaka MATSUZAWA from the 50s and 60s” by Hideki KIKKAWA (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems), “Investigation and Records on MATSUZAWA Yutaka Atelier Psi Room” by Mayumi KINOUCHI (Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum), “Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archive: Potential Uses Considered from Naiqua Gallery-Related Materials” by Yūka MIYATA (The National Museum of Art, Osaka), and “Digitization and Storage of Video Media: In the Case of MATSUZAWA Materials” by Shuhei HOSOYA (art and media researcher, filmmaker). In the second half of the seminar, Jun SHIOYA (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) presided over a discussion on Yutaka MATSUZAWA’s artwork and activities, the significance of these archives from the perspective of art history, the applications of these archives, and the archive organization method (data organization and material preservation). During the break, some of Yutaka MATSUZAWA’s archives were viewed by the concerned parties and some information was exchanged.
More than 40 people attended this seminar, including Yutaka MATSUZAWA’s family members, researchers from art museums and universities, and art writers. Presently, the Yutaka MATSUZAWA archives are being considered as the theme for grant-in-aid for scientific research, and there are plans to hold a symposium in 2020, the final year of this grant-in-aid research. Toward this end, the significance of Yutaka MATSUZAWA archives from the perspective of art history and cultural history will be studied in association with researchers from diverse fields.
On July 31st, 2019, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage recorded a live performance of Miyazono-bushi (second recording of a live performance) at the Performing Arts Studio of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
Miyazono-bushi is an important intangible cultural property of Japan which was founded in the first half of the 18th century by Miyakoji Sonohachi in Kyoto. After seeing a revival during the mid- 18th century in Edo, it has become what it is today. Miyazono-bushi can be characterized by its distinctive vocal part called joruri (dramatic narrative chanted to a shamisen accompaniment) that is sang in a solemn and silky voice, accompanied by the soft and thick sounds of a chuzao shamisen (middle-neck sized three-stringed Japanese banjo). With training and experience, subtle expressions are produced through their harmonization. Traditional songs include classical dramatic piece in ten acts as well as modern songs, with the content of these songs being almost entirely about elopements for double suicides.
This time, two pieces were recorded: a classical piece, the “Michiyuki Natane no Midarezaki – Yamazaki” (blooming of rapeseed flowers during an elopement – Yamazaki) and a modern piece, the “Uta no Nakayama” (small path near Seikanji Temple). Both pieces were performed by Miyazono Senroku (lead singer; an individual certified as a Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property or what is called living national treasure), Miyazono Senyoshie (supporting singer), Miyazono Senkazuya (lead shamisen player), and Miyazono Senkoju (supporting shamisen player).
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continue to record live performances of Miyazono-bushi classics, as well as new pieces that get few occasions to be performed live.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been engaged in research exchange with the National Intangible Heritage Center in the Republic of Korea since 2008. This exchange involves conducting overseas research while staying at the other party’s institution for a certain period of time and holding joint symposiums. Megumi Maehara, Head of the Intangible Cultural Properties Section of the Department sojourned in South Korea from July 1st–19th, 2019 to pursue overseas research.
Considering current conditions in Japan where cultural heritage application is anticipated, the purpose of this overseas research was to derive hints at preserving and transmitting cultural heritage preservation techniques used in musical instrument manufacturing and repair, in addition to cultural heritage utilization. During her stay, Ms. Maehara visited musical instrument manufacturers, musical instrument materials manufacturers and those associated with the education on, and preservation and succession of, traditional performance art (music), and also research organizations. The aim of her visit was to investigate South Korean traditional musical instrument manufacturing and repair techniques, the tools and raw materials used, the frameworks utilized to support these techniques, and the treatment of these techniques in the education about, and dissemination of, traditional music to the masses.
In South Korea, classical music and folk music are considered to be inseparable facets of “traditional Korean music (gugak).” Having knowledge and practical skill in these subjects are requirements for teachers who wish to be employed in music education because “traditional Korean music” is an indispensable qualification for music educators. This environment where one can naturally come in contact with traditional Korean music is starkly different from that in Japan. Nonetheless, there is still room to cultivate a general awareness of the techniques and raw materials supporting traditional performance art (music) in Japan and even in South Korea. Case studies and common issues discovered from this research exchange were compared to the current situation in Japan and the results were presented orally on July 18th at the National Intangible Heritage Center. Together with an investigative report in Japan, an overview of this investigation into musical instrument manufacturing and repair techniques will be published in the 14th volume of the “Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage” to be issued at the end of the fiscal year.
The Institute would like to extend its deepest gratitude to Kyeong-Hye, Kang of the National Intangible Heritage Center for supporting its research during this exchange, to interpreter Ji-Ye, Lee, and to everyone at the National Intangible Heritage Center.
The abovementioned training was held from July 8th to 19th, 2019. After receiving more than double the amount of applications than the number of places available this year, we managed to provide training for 31 curators and museum officials.
This year’s training was the first one which was implemented jointly with the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties (CPCP). The CPCP took charge of the training sessions in the first week and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) in the second week, with the lecture programs being completely altered. During the first week, participants learned about the basics of the conservation environment through classroom lectures and practical workshops, while the CPCP shared useful information on social media. With the training this year being jointly held, it became clear that we lacked the ability to deliver the information adequately.
During the second week, certain sections at the Center for Conservation Science provided separate half-day sessions respectively, and provided classroom lectures and other programs under the following topics: scientific study on cultural properties (Analytical Science Section); measures to prevent biodeterioration damage (Biological Science Section); conservation of outdoor cultural properties (Restoration Planning Section); thermal environment control (Preventive Conservation Section); and types and attributes of restoration materials/conservation and restoration of paper artworks/cultural properties of Japanese painting (Restoration Materials Science Section). These programs dealt with a wide range of issues, including methods to apply concepts and basic knowledge of restoration in relation to actual issues and a workshop to learn how to use TNRICP’s latest technologies and achievements for on-site work. Participants appreciated these sessions, commenting that they were very helpful.
In 2020, we believe that it will be quite difficult to hold the training in July due to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and other relevant events. In order to prevent any inconvenience for participants, we will let you know about the schedule for the next planned training immediately after it is decided.
Technical Support to Restore Wall Paintings and Exterior Walls of Brick Temples at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is providing technical support and human resource training to restore wall paintings and the exterior walls of brick temples at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar. On-site training session for staff members of the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar was conducted at two different temples from July 11th to July 27th, 2019.
At Me-taw-ya Temple, a training session on how to repair exterior wall joint material, replace deteriorated bricks, and mix repair materials was carried out. Drainage measures were discussed as accumulated rainwater dissolved the existing wall joint material and resulted in water seeping into the temple.
At Loka-hteik-pan Temple (project name: Conservation and Restoration of Temples Mural Paintings in the Bagan Ruins in Myanmar), where restoration activities were conducted in association with the Sumitomo Foundation, problems created by past repairs—commonly noticed in temple wall paintings of the Bagan Ruins—were explained, and training sessions on reinforcing colored layers using inorganic repair materials and repairing colors were organized.
Research on the folklore pertaining to wall painting iconography began alongside this training program. To explain the non-Buddhist elements and characteristics specific to Myanmar found on wall paintings, detailed examples were collected primarily from Bagan. Information on the historical background of each of these wall paintings was also gathered from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar employees and related people from these temples. Hereafter, we plan to expand the scope of this research beyond Bagan.
The decision to register Bagan as a world cultural heritage site was made at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee. As tourists are expected to increase in the future, efforts to maintain the relics must be improved. This issue was raised at the expert committee session convened by the Bagan Branch during the support period. Requests were also made to increase participants for the training program sponsored by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and for technical instruction at the archaeological sites. Hereafter, the Institute will continue to exchange opinions with local experts and provide technical support and human resource development programs.
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, and the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology (Manggha Museum), held an international forum entitled “Restoration of Japanese Painting” at the Manggha Museum in Krakow, Poland on 29th and 30th July, 2019, in cooperation with the National Museum in Krakow, the Association for Conservation of National Treasures and the Association for Successors of Traditional Preservation Techniques. This forum was certified as one of the projects to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Poland.
TNRICP has been conducting “The Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas” since 1991. Three hanging scrolls in the collection of the National Museum in Krakow were restored within the framework of this program. In conjunction with the exhibition of these hanging scrolls and their restoration process, this forum was held for the purpose of promoting the understanding of the restoration of Japanese paintings through lectures, demonstrations, and workshops. Two of the selected conservation techniques, namely “Restoration techniques for mounts” and “Manufacture of materials and tools for conservation of mounted cultural properties,” were introduced. The manufacture of brushes, handmade washi paper (udagami) and decorative metal fittings were explained as an example of the production of materials and tools.
In the expert meeting held on the first day, 31 conservators, restorers and students from nine countries participated in and experienced various traditional techniques and exchanged opinions with Japanese experts. In the open seminar, held on the second day, more than two hundred visitors from 15 countries participated in the gallery talk and the workshop covering Japanese papermaking. The holding of this forum served to promote not only the communication between conservators and restorers from around the world, but also was a valuable opportunity to obtain an understanding by the general public about the restoration techniques used with Japanese paintings and the traditional materials involved.
The 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee was convened in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan from June 30th to July 10th, 2019.
Twenty nine heritage sites, including Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group in Japan, were inscribed on the World Heritage List at the session. This was the highest number of sites to be listed since the limit was established on the number of new sites the committee would deliberate on each year. This may seem like a good situation at first sight; however, of the inscribed sites, seven sites that the Advisory Bodies had originally considered did not meet the inscription criteria, but the decision was overturned and their inscription as heritage sites was confirmed at the committee session. For the past few years, as the committee’s decisions have been deviated from the counsel of the Advisory Bodies, the inscription of sites whose value and boundary are unclear has come into question, and it seems that this situation has still not been rectified.
Considering this situation, the decision to establish an ad-hoc working group to review the nomination and assessment process was made in the 2018 committee meeting. The contents of the decision were discussed at this year’s meeting, and it was decided that the nomination process would be a two-stage system and that a “Preliminary Assessment” process would be implemented as an initial step in the nomination process. It is anticipated that this Preliminary Assessment will stimulate a dialogue between the Advisory Bodies and States Parties in the early stages, which will raise the quality of nomination dossiers. Presently, the Preliminary Assessment is being considered as a necessary process for all States Parties, and granting States Parties the right to decide whether or not to continue with the subsequent nomination process, irrespective of the Preliminary Assessment, is also under deliberation. Nevertheless, this discussion including on the subject of the commencing time has only just begun. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties will continue to scrutinize discussions concerning world heritage in general, and collect and transmit diverse information pertaining to the implementation of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
Training Provided to Syrian Specialists in “Research Planning Methods to Restore Historical Cities and Buildings”
A civil war broke out in Syria eight years ago in March 2011, and it seems there is no end in sight. Apart from the human cost of war, the much precious cultural heritage was also lost.
The Japanese government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) began providing cultural heritage aid to Syria in 2017. From February 2018, the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, in association with academic organizations such as the University of Tsukuba, Teikyo University, Waseda University, Chubu University, and the Ancient Orient Museum, has been accepting Syrian specialists and providing them training in the fields of archeology and restoration. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is also participating in this project.
Following training seminars on conservation and restoration of paper cultural properties held in May 2018, this year, two Syrian specialists were invited to undergo training in “Research Planning Methods to Restore Historical Cities and Buildings” conducted from July 24th to August 6th.
Many historical cities such as the ancient city of Aleppo were engulfed in war, and many historical buildings were devastated. In the first half of this year’s training, seven specialists gave classroom lectures on surveying damage to historical buildings and making emergency repairs, structural safety diagnosis method, documentation and database creation method, restoration plan creation method, and restoration and preservation system creation method. For the practical aspect that comprised the second half of the training, participants inspected the restoration status of historical buildings and townscapes devastated by the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes, including Kumamoto Castle, the Shinmachi-Furumachi District, Kumamoto University, and the Eto-yashiki (Eto estate), which is registered as an important cultural property.
The participants also heard stories told by the people in charge. They visited Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings in Kyoto and Nara and saw examples of repairs and applications of historical Japanese buildings.
We would once again like to thank the specialists, related organizations, and personnel-in-charge for their support.
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties plans to continue support activities for Syrian cultural heritage in the future.
Cultural Property Information with Linked Data: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
The 3rd seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on June 25th, 2019. Taiki MISHIMA (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) gave a presentation titled “Aggregation of regional cultural heritage information based on Linked Data,” and Mr. Ryoji MURATA (Tokyo National Museum) was invited as a commentator.
Linked Data is a way to realize the Semantic Web. By tracing the links between structured Linked Data, relevant information based on individual needs can be gained. Linking open data to external resources based on Linked Data will improve data discoverability and its potential uses. In recent years, the attention is being paid to the utilization of regional cultural heritage because of the amendment made to the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties, and MISHIMA has focused on the utilization of regional cultural heritage “information” in Japan and has proposed the metadata schema and pointed out the issues involved when aggregating and publishing this information as Linked Data.
As a result of an analysis of the information regarding a designated cultural heritage, published by local public bodies in Tokyo, commonalities and differences were clarified in terms of description items such as name, category, and location of cultural properties, the vocabularies used in the description items, and the description formats. In order to aggregate this information based on Linked Data, a metadata schema was created wherein information with unified vocabulary and description format prevailed along with the original information. One of the issues be highlighted was the relationships between vocabularies, such as “tangible cultural property” and “buildings,” which are specific to cultural property categories as data, and which would need the model for constructing the thesaurus.
At the seminar, participants exchanged opinions on a broad range of topics, such as how cultural heritage information has been created, shared, and published on the basis of their experiences in dealing with cultural heritage.