|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
Discussion at the seminar
Some of the materials displayed in the room
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) published 75 Years of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo*, comprising of two volumes published from 2008 to 2010. Varieties of materials, mainly documents, were collected and created during its compiling and editing process. These are essential historical papers to discuss the TOBUNKEN activities. The Archive Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems has been cataloging these papers as “TOBUNKEN Historical Papers”.
The process to organize materials with arrangement and description to make them accessible and preserved for future use is one of the archivist’s important works. In the description process, material details and components are described to identify and represent the materials. Then, these data are analyzed and recorded. In the arrangement process, the materials are organized from both physical and intellectual aspects with respect to their provenance and original orders to protect their context. Through the arrangement and description, data are constructed for finding aids and ensuring usability.
TAMURA Ayako, Research Assistant of the Department, made a presentation on the organization of archival material both in person and online at the seminar held on January 31st, 2023. TAMURA discussed the arrangement and description to enable the materials accessible and utilized for research via the application of the second edition of ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description set by the International Council on Archives (ICA). She also introduced the materials recently found. Some materials were displayed in the room, and the participants could take them in their hands.
The seminar was chaired by KIKKAWA Hideki, the section head. The former editorial committee members of 75 Years of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo participated in the seminar and shared the history and mission of the committee. Discussions pertaining to new research possibilities via the utilization of papers and the importance of recordkeeping of ongoing research projects were actively conducted. There are plans to make “TOBUNKEN Historical Papers” accessible this spring.
* The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) was called the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo at the time.
Installing the electrically-operated bookshelf bases on the rails
Electrically-operated bookshelves being set
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) maintains materials, including books and photographs, collected by TOBUNKEN’s departments and centers (the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Center for Conservation Science, and the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation) mainly in the TOBUNKEN Library. The library itself consists of the reading room and stack rooms; however, the aforementioned materials can be accessed by external researchers at the Library, which is open three days a week.
Almost 23 years have passed since TOBUNKEN moved to its current building in 2000. During these years, TOBUNKEN has continuously been collecting materials, including books and photographs, through its research activities. Furthermore, it has recently had more opportunities to receive donations of archives from the collections of ex-employees and related researchers. Through these activities, the Library has been able to accumulate many more materials, and enhance the quality of those materials. At the same time, we foresaw that the bookshelves would be overflowing in the near future. Therefore, we reconstructed the bookshelves as part of the framework entitled “planned management of investigational research equipment.”
During this reconstruction, the fixed bookshelves were replaced with electrically-operated bookshelves in almost one-fourth of the total floor space of the second-floor stack room. The reconstruction started on January 10th, 2023. After taking out the materials from the bookshelves, removing the fixed bookshelves, laying the rails for new bookshelves, setting the new electrically-operated bookshelves, and setting the materials back to the new shelves, the renovation was completed on the 30th. The space which was previously home to five fixed bookshelves (612 shelves, 526m in total) now accommodates nine new electrically-operated bookshelves (1,248 shelves, 1,073 in total), with capacity almost doubling.
We apologize for any inconvenience resulting from the Library’s temporary closure during the reform. We continue to work to collect, pass down, and utilize materials valuable for research and conservation of cultural properties. We hope that the TOBUNKEN archives can well serve your research activities.
Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) by NAKAI Sotaro published in Chuo Bijutsu Vol. 11, No. 1 (January 1925)
Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai（Association for the Creation of National Painting）was founded by TSUCHIDA Bakusen, MURAKAMI Kagaku, and others in Kyoto, in 1918. It is renowned as one of the major innovation movements on Japanese-style paintings in the Taishō era. The ideology of this activity was based on NAKAI Sotaro (1879-1966), who taught art history at Kyoto City College of Painting (presently Kyoto City University of Arts). He was a member of Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai as an appraisal advisor, and published his critiques on the exhibitions (Kokuten*) and direction of the association in newspapers and art magazines.
SHIOYA Jun provided a presentation focusing on Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) published in Chuo Bijutsu (Central Arts) Vol. 11, No. 1, in January 1925. The Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) is an article where NAKAI discussed the direction in which Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai and Japanese-style paintings should move, responding to the 4th Exhibition held both in Tokyo and Kyoto from 1924 through 1925. In the article, he discussed the identity of Japanese-style paintings and encouraged recognition of the tradition and the classics. I believe that he was referring to the trend of returning to the classics in the western art world, which he experienced during his European travel from 1922 to 1923. At the end of the Taishō era, neat Japanese-style paintings called “neoclassicism,” became dominant. The tone of his article Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) predicted such a movement.
This seminar had Dr. TANAKA Shūji of Oita University and Dr. TANO Hatsuki of Shiga Museum of Art, as online commentators. They talked about the painting circle of Kyoto and NAKAI Sotaro in the discussion after the presentation. With other external researchers of Japanese modern arts, the discussion went beyond NAKAI’s remarks and Japanese-style paintings; they spoke about the art landscape from the end of the Taishō era to the early Shōwa era. The seminar involved an active, considerably lengthy exchange of opinions and information.
*Kokuten: exhibitions held by Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai
Lecture on basic chemistry using molecular models
Practical session for the selection of organic solvents
The Center for Conservation Science continues scientific research on the conservation and restoration of cultural property. Since FY 2021, based on our research, we have held workshops on basic science for conservators who have diverse experiences in the restoration of cultural property and museum curation and archiving.
In 2022, the workshop was held for three days from October 31st to November 2nd. We provided lectures and practical sessions on basic scientific knowledge essential for conservation and restoration, including basic chemistry, science of adhesion and adhesives, chemistry of paper, pest damage control, and usage and disposal of chemical agents. Researchers of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties delivered lectures based on their expertise.
We received 45 applications across Japan for 15 seats. In 2022, we invited 19 applicants from across Japan with varied backgrounds to the workshop; by contrast, in 2021, considering the COVID-19 pandemic, we accepted only those applicants who either resided in or commuted to Tokyo. Workshop content was carefully aligned with requests from the previous year. Participants expressed their appreciation for this workshop through the questionnaires provided. We received specific requests for disseminating scientific information used in actual conservation and restoration cases. We intend to continue this workshop series to meet these expectations.
Information leaflet (front)
Scene of discussion at the seminar
Since 2018, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been hosting the World Heritage Seminar, which aims to transmit information and facilitate an exchange of opinions about the world heritage system and its trends in the country. In FY 2022, redefining it as Re-question on Landscape as Cultural Property, it focused on “landscape” as a tangential point between UNESCO’s sites based on an idea of environmental and territorial preservation, and the Japanese concept of cultural property protection, which recently has been trying to upgrade the “old-style” protection (i.e., protection of a single building or site) to a wider, areal one. For the past two years (FY 2020 and 2021), due to COVID-19, we have had no choice but to conduct it online; however, this year, we held it in-person on December 26th, 2022, at the Tokyo National Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), limiting participation to 50 persons.
Mr. NISHI Kazuhiko (Agency for Cultural Affairs) started with a presentation on Trends on World Heritage. Thereafter, KANAI Ken (TOBUNKEN) explained the purpose of the seminar. In Part I, Ms. EDANI Hiroko (Nara National Institute for Cultural Properties) and MATSUURA Kazunosuke (TOBUNKEN) made two presentations from a research perspective titled Characteristic of Japanese Cultural Landscapes and World Heritage Sites as Landscape: Area Setting and its Basis Law, respectively. In Part II, Mr. UENO Kenji (Hirado City) and Mr. NAKATANI Yuichiro (Kanazawa City) made presentations from an administrative perspective about the Possibility of a Landscape Protection through Cooperation and Town Planning to Revive the Cultural Landscape Value in Kanazawa. Thereafter, all speakers discussed the landscape positioning within the Japanese heritage protection system.
Through presentations and discussions, it was clarified that, while the landscape as cultural property is accepted conceptually and institutionally in a limited manner in Japan, it is widely integrated in the land use policy involving urban planning, environmental preservation, and agricultural policy, as is done in Europe. It was also pointed out that cultural property protection and urban planning in Japan have taken separate steps that drastically delay its overall protection even today. The Center will continue to research on the international heritage protection system, including the theme of “landscape,” which is a complicated problem in Japan.
Neri is extracted from noriutsugi bark. The yellow part of the tree is where bark has been removed.
Discussion meeting in TOBUNKEN
Washi (Japanese traditional paper) is used for the restoration of cultural properties and for traditional crafts. It is well known that washi is made of fibers extracted from plants such as kōzo (Broussonetia kazinoki x B. papyrifera) and ganpi (Diplomorpha sikokiana). However, it is not widely known that neri, a dispersant, is also essential for washi making. Adding neri disperses the fibers evenly in water, producing smooth and beautiful washi. Without the addition of neri, the fibers are not evenly dispersed, and washi made without neri has poor formation.
Including washi most cases of industrial mass paper manufacturing use synthetic compounds such as polyethylene oxide as neri. Traditionally, neri is made from mucilage extracted from plants such as tororoaoi (Abelmoschus Manihot) and noriutsugi (Hydrangea paniculate). At present, neri extracted from tororoaoi or noriutsugi is still most suitable for thin washi making. It is also widely used for washi-making for cultural property restoration. However, the sustainable and stable supply of these raw materials, especially noriutsugi, becomes increasingly difficult. This is because noriutsugi for neri is a wild species and there are not enough successors to the experts with knowledge on locating noriutsugi and removing its bark. If the low amounts of noriutsugi available does not change, this will permanently impair washi-making for the restoration of cultural property. For example, uda washi paper used for soura-kami (the final lining paper) of hanging scrolls is made using neri extracted from noriutsugi. Therefore, we are concerned that restoring hanging scrolls will become difficult in the near future.
Commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Center for Conservation Science has been conducting a research project: “Investigation of Tools and Materials Used for the Preservation and Restoration of Fine Arts and Crafts” with the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems and the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. As an important investigation of this project, we are working for sustainable and stable supply of noriutsugi. This investigation is conducted in cooperation with Hokkaido Prefecture, Shibetsu Town and others. We visit the noriutsugi growing area in Shibetsu Town and hold regular discussion meetings. We will provide supports for sustainable and stable supply of noriutsugi and conduct scientific studies on why neri extracted from noriutsugi shows such excellent characteristics.
Dilmun Burial Mounds remaining in Bahrain
Speakers and participants of the symposium held in Tokyo, Japan.
The Kingdom of Bahrain in the Middle East has many interesting cultural heritage sites, despite being a small island country of the size of Tokyo’s 23 wards and Kawasaki City combined. It is known that Bahrain was called Dilmun, and prospered by monopolizing the maritime trade connecting Mesopotamia with the Indus region, approximately 4,000 years ago. As many as 75,000 burial mounds were built during that period only in Bahrain, which have attracted the attention of many researchers since the end of the 19th century. The Dilmun Burial Mounds were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2019.
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been cooperating on the site management and excavations of the Dilmun Burial Mounds for a long time. From FY2022, we began cooperating on the conservation of historic Islamic gravestones in Bahrain.
The year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Bahrain and Japan. TOBUNKEN held the international symposia on Archaeology and International Contribution: Japanese Cooperation for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage in Bahrain (on December 11th, 2022 at TOBUNKEN) and the Latest Discoveries of Arabian Archaeology (on December 14th, 2022, at Kanazawa University), co-sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Ancient Civilizations and Cultural Resources of Kanazawa University. The Director of Archaeology and Museums of Bahrain, heads of Denmark, France, and British missions that conduct excavations in Bahrain, and archaeology and conservation science experts in Japan, gathered for the symposia.
The history of each country’s excavations in Bahrain and the excavation, conservation, and restoration activities of Japanese experts were introduced at the symposium in Tokyo. The latest excavation survey results for each mission were introduced at the symposium in Kanazawa.
TOBUNKEN plans to continue cooperating for the protection of cultural heritage in Bahrain in various ways.
APSARA dance performed in the ceremony
Poster exhibition (TOBUNKEN poster is in the middle)
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been working with the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) on the cooperation program for the Ta Nei Temple in the Angkor Archaeological site in Cambodia.
Angkor was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1992. This led to comprehensive international support and cooperation from other countries, including Japan, which covers not only the conservation and restoration of the archaeological sites, but also various other fields like the formation of management systems, including human resource development, tourism development, and planning and infrastructure improvement for sustainable development of the surrounding regions. Angkor has been established as a top international tourist destination and became one of the most important sources of foreign currency revenue for the Cambodian economy. At the same time, it was highly praised as a successful model of international cooperation on the protection and utilization of World Heritage Sites, despite facing various challenges till date.
On the early morning of December 14th, 2022, I attended a ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of Angkor’s inscription on the World Heritage List. The solemn ceremony, held in front of the entrance causeway to the Angkor Wat Temple, started with Buddhist sutra chanting by many priests, where the APSARA dance was also performed. A poster exhibition on international cooperation history, including TOBUNKEN’s projects, was also held at the event.
On the following two days, the 36th Technical Session and the 29th Plenary Session of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Sites of Angkor and Sambor Prei Kuk (ICC-Angkor) were held successively in Siem Reap City. For the previous two years, these regular meetings were held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, we finally managed to hold the meeting in person, with related experts and institute representatives both from and outside of Cambodia. The progress on many programs was reported and shared, and we revived the relationship among the related parties from various countries. I deeply appreciate the fact that in-person meetings as precious opportunities have finally resumed.
Survey at the conservation and restoration site of the rock-cut tomb wall paintings
Survey of a case for conservation and restoration at the site (Temple of Hathor)
Luxor is where the old capital Thebes was located during the New Kingdom period within the chronological division of ancient Egyptian history. Within Luxor, in the Valley of the Kings, Egyptian pharaohs such as Thutmose I and Tutankhamun were buried. Luxor also has many surviving mortuary temples, including the Karnak Temple Complex. These archaeological sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List as the “Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis” in 1979. They were evaluated as important archaeological ruins that demonstrate a lost civilization. Egyptology, research regarding Egyptian Civilization, stemmed from Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1798 French Campaign in Egypt. Since then, research has been actively conducted on an international scale. Interesting outcomes and reports have been made available annually, and will continue to be published. Luxor is one of the targets of these studies. Excavation surveys are actively conducted at various sites in Luxor, where archaeological complexes and objects are continuously discovered.
The challenges associated with continuous discoveries are the conservation and utilization after archaeological surveys. In recent years, it has become mandatory that the sites and archaeological objects discovered by excavation surveys must be conserved and maintained as cultural properties for local tourism promotions. However, there are many cases in which inadequate emergency treatments are made under time and budget constraints, often damaging the sites and archaeological objects.
We conducted an on-site survey, targeting the Luxor Museum and West Bank rock-cut tomb sites from December 12th to 24th, 2022, to explore the possibilities of supporting the improvement of these situations. As a result, we were asked for cooperation by local experts to discuss maintenance methods regarding the conservation and management of archaeological objects housed in the museum, and on conservation and restoration methods of the wall paintings of rock-cut tombs in the principle that they would be conserved at the original sites. We will continue the survey to narrow down the research theme of urgent needs and targets to bring it to the international team co-working on this project.
Installing the reproduced fusuma in the main hall of Myōhōji Temple
Reproduced fusuma of Hanshan and Shide by Yosa Buson dedicated to the main hall of Myōhōji Temple
As detailed in the monthly report for August 2021 (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/919761.html), the painting Hanshan and Shide by Yosa Buson (housed in Myōhōji Temple, Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture) was damaged by scribblings made with marker on Shide’s face, and parts of Hanshan’s face were lacking; however, the appearance of the painting before the damage could be ascertained from monochrome photos taken by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) in 1959.
TOBUNKEN initiated a joint research project with Myōhōji Temple to create a reproduction of this painting before it was damaged using the aforementioned monochrome photos and contemporary imaging technology, mounted on fusuma (sliding doors), and dedicated it to Myōhōji Temple.
First, the outline of the monochrome photos was superimposed on high-resolution images of the current status of Hanshan and Shide to create a reproduced image of the painting before it was damaged. The image was then printed by splitting it on multiple sheets of washi (Japanese traditional paper) of the same size as the original. This part of the process was performed by TOBUNKEN.
Myōhōji Temple coordinated the mounting of the image on fusuma to accommodate it in the current main hall of the temple. The task of mounting the image on fusuma was carried out by SHUGO Co., Ltd, a studio member of the Association for Conservation of National Treasures (ACNT). The base of the fusuma was made using the same specification, techniques, and materials as those used for the designated cultural properties. The original metallic door pulls were also copied.
Mr. USUI Hiroaki of Kuroda Studio carefully conducted the final adjustment and fitting of the fusuma in the building. On November 22nd, 2022, the reproduced fusuma was successfully set inside the main hall.
The overwhelming effect created by the size and appearance of the fusuma after it was installed inside the main hall brought the brush touches of Yosa Buson and his pictorial universe to life. This is the first time TOBUNKEN has used old monochrome photos to create a reproduction of a painting. We hope that this project can serve as a reference for the future utilization of the vast volume of archives accumulated by TOBUNKEN over more than 90 years.
Buddha statues wear various clothes. These include Jōhaku (a scarf-like band of cloth), which Bodhisattva and Vidyaraja statues wear crossing their upper bodies; however, research on jōhaku itself is insufficient.
KUROSAKI Natsuo, Associate Fellow of the Department, conducted her presentation titled Bodhisattva Statues Wearing Jōhaku or Not: A Clue for Consideration of the Yakushi Triad Enshrined in the Kondo of the Yakushiji Temple on November 28th, 2022.
The Yakushi Triad (consisting of Yakushi Nyorai, the Healing Buddha, flanked by two attendants, the Bodhisattvas Nikko (Sūryaprabha) and Gakko (Candraprabha)) enshrined in the Kondo (Main Hall) of the Yakushiji Temple in Nara Prefecture is one of the objects representing Buddha statues of Japan. Despite this fact, there is a lack of consensus on where and when it was constructed: at the Yakushiji Temple of Fujiwara-kyō at the end of the 7th Century or newly molded in Heijō-kyō after the Yakushiji Temple was moved there at the beginning of the 8th Century.
The Bodhisattva images of the Buddhist Mural Paintings of the Kondo of the Horyuji Temple, the Hokeiji Stone Images of Buddha, and the others were constructed around a similar period of the Yakushi Triad and are depicted wearing jōhaku. However, the Bodhisattvas statues of the Yakushi Triad do not wear jōhaku. This fact deserves attention because such characteristics could be used to identify these statues’ construction background and time. In this presentation, I overviewed in terms of whether wearing jōhaku, the objects of Bodhisattva images of senbutsu (a Buddhist image carved on a clay surface via a middle-relief technique and then fired) made in Japan and China in the 7th Century and Bodhisattva images enshrined in grottoes in China. The upper bodies of the Bodhisattva images of senbutsu that are made in China are naked, which is recognized as Indian style. In contrast, the Bodhisattva images of senbutsu made in Japan during a similar age as the Yakushiji Triad wear jōhaku. The Bodhisattvas of the Yakushiji Triad have the older forms. The next challenge will be to deepen this consideration from the historical and ideological viewpoints on its background.
The seminar was held online so that some specialists outside of TOBUNKEN in Buddhist art history could also participate. In the following Q&A session, active discussions were held from various viewpoints, including jōhaku, Japanese Buddhist monks visiting the Tang Empire, the international situation in the latter 7th Century, and the relationship with other objects of the same age. This occasion revealed precious opinions that will further my research, and where we shared the significance of the issue of the Yakushiji Triad.
A part of the Collection
MAEDA Seison watching Joshishin (reprinted from BUNKA vol.246-247, October 1974)
The Maeda Seison’s Collection (referred to as the Collection) was donated to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) on October 11th, 2022. It comprises materials that were collected and owned by MAEDA Seison (1885-1997), a Japanese-style painter. It was donated by Ms. AKIYAMA Hideko, the third daughter of Seison, via her eldest son, Prof. AKIYAMA Terufumi (professor emeritus of Ochanomizu University, Director of Meguro Museum of Arts, Tokyo). TOBUNKEN gave a letter of gratitude to Ms. AKIYAMA on November 8th, 2022.
The Collection consists of the materials of 113 titles of 275 items: 109 titles of books (total of 270 books), three cassette tapes, and a set of two records. It includes texts on the ancient practices of arms including armors, printed books of the Edo era such as history books, art books of KŌNO Bairei, orihon* associated with the title piece of KAJITA Hanko’s Original Painting Draft, and collections of sketches of KOBAYASHI Kahaku and SAKAI Sanryō, who are his junior fellows from the Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Art Institute). They are indispensable materials for future studies on MAEDA Seison.
Further, the Collection includes cassette tapes of “Seison’s Reunion with Joshishin: the Admonitions of the Court Ladies (Copy)**.” This is a recording of the investigation on Joshishin painted by KOBAYASHI Kokei and Seisen held at Seison’s house in Kita-Kamakura, including an interview of Seison in 1974. This was arranged by Dr. AKIYAMA Terukazu, professor at the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Letters; researcher emeritus of TOBUNKEN; husband of Seison’s daughter; and father of Prof. AKIYAMA Terufumi. Dr. KAMEDA Tsutomu and Prof. HARADA Ryukichi of Tohoku University as well as Dr. TSUJI Nobuo, Ms. SEKI Chiyo, and Mr. KONO Motoaki of TOBUNKEN at that time participated in this investigation. Therefore, they are also precious as TOBUNKEN’s activity records. Considering its nature, the Collection is essential for the research of Seison and his artworks. Furthermore, it is useful for the current wider research of cultural properties as the materials show how the cultural property investigation was conducted at that time.
The MAEDA Seison’s Collection, donated in 2022, will be available at the TOBUNKEN Library. We plan to make the book materials of the Collection open to access through a joint operation with the Getty Research Institute, and digitize cassette tapes and records to enable long-term utilization for research. We hope that the Collection will contribute to research on MAEDA Seison, modern Japan-style paintings, and further, on cultural properties.
*orihon: a long strip of paper with writing on one side that is then compacted by folding in zig-zag fashion
**Joshishin: Admonitions of the Court Ladies (Copy): Reproduction painted by KOBAYASHI Kokei and MAEDA Seisen of the Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies housed in the British Museum. This is housed in the Tohoku University Museum.
The leaflet of the seminar
Lecture by EMURA Tomoko
Lecture by YOSHIDA Akiko
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held the 56th Public Lecture: Look at Form, Read Form on November 8th, 2022. This series of public lectures is organized every autumn for the public, and research outcomes are presented. The event used to take place for two days with invited presenters outside TOBUNKEN. However, it has held for one day with two internal presenters and a limited audience (50 individuals) pre-selected by the rotary due to the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020. The venue was TOBUNKEN’s seminar room, and the meeting room was prepared for the internal audience as a satellite venue.
The lecture this year included two presentations: A Look of Amusement Pictures Featuring Amusements (Sooji Temple Folding Screen) Housed in the Tokugawa Art Museum by EMURA Tomoko, the director of the department; and The Still Life Paintings by KISHIDA Ryusei—Thematization of “Look,” by YOSHIDA Akiko, Researcher.
EMURA featured Amusements (Sooji Temple Folding Screen), known as a representative of early modern genre pictures, and introduced its detailed depiction using high-resolution images. She then described the characteristics of the depicted designs and architecture, as well as the detailed painting expressions, such as overpainting, associated with it. YOSHIDA examined the process of painting over the completed painting in terms of how it was made and what critiques it provoked, as well as the relationship between its characteristics of depiction and KISHIDA’s painting theory using Still Life (with Hand that has been erased) by KISHIDA Ryusei during the Taisho era based on novel images obtained through optical investigations.
We received a positive reaction from the audience: 80% of the feedback questionnaire responses were “satisfied” or “relatively satisfied.”
Jiuta sangen (right: Mr. OKAMOTO Shintaro; left: Ms. OKAMURA Ai)
Roundtable discussion (from right: Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi, Mr. NUNOME Aito, Mr. EZOE Junichiro, and Mr. NAKAMINE Miki)
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held Forum 4: Traditional Performing Arts amid COVID-19 Pandemic: Dissemination and Succession for the Future on November 25th, 2022.
First, ISHIMURA Tomo, MAEHARA Megumi, and KAMATA Sayumi of the department presented international case studies regarding traditional performing arts and education, the current status of traditional performing arts amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and last year’s progress in Japan.
Following three presentations, Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi (from Independent Administrative Agency, Japan Arts Council), Mr. NUNOME Aito (from Public Interest Incorporated Association, Geidankyo, Japan Council of Performers Rights and Performing Arts Organization), Mr. EZOE Junichiro (from Toppan Inc., Secretariat of Dissemination and Empowerment for Hogaku of the Agency for Cultural Affairs), and Mr. NAKAMINE Miki (from Association of Okinawa Sanshin Manufacturing) reported their respective case studies, in which they tackled the topic of dissemination and succession of traditional performing arts from different positions and frameworks. Between case reports, Mr. OKAMURA Shintaro and Ms. OKAMURA Ai—who teach Japanese traditional music to the schools selected for the Dissemination and Empowerment of Hogaku, by the Agency for Cultural Affairs—performed jiuta sangen, a type of Japanese traditional music played on the shamisen, Kurokami (black hair), and Hashizukushi (bridges).
The roundtable discussion was held by four case study reporters, in addition to ISHIMURA and MAEHARA. Through this roundtable discussion, we shared the dissemination and transmission of traditional performing arts from different positions. Moreover, it revealed that the challenges of increasing demand were inherent even before the pandemic, and that it became increasingly apparent during COVID-19. Furthermore, based on the common understanding that dissemination is the basic foundation for the succession of traditional performing arts, we recommended the following steps to seamlessly disseminate traditional performing arts: meet the needs of various ages from various positions and by various frameworks; and grasp a variety of demands by sharing this information among the people who work on the dissemination and succession of traditional performing arts.
This forum was held with limited seats to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The recorded video is now available for free on the TOBUNKEN webpage （https://www.tobunken.go.jp/ich/vscovid19/forum_4/） in Japanese till March 31st, 2023. We plan to publish a report and make it available on our website by the end of this fiscal year.
Since 2012, the International Course on Paper Conservation in Latin America: Meeting East has been jointly organized by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and Coordinacion Nacional de Conservacion del Patrimonio Cultural – Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (CNCPC-INAH) at CNCPC in Mexico City. This year, the in-person teaching course returned after two years of cancellation. A total of nine conservation specialists from eight countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and Uruguay) participated in the course held from November 9th to 22nd 2022.
The course sought to provide attendees with basic knowledge and techniques regarding traditional paper conservation in Japan. Japanese specialists were in charge of the first part of the course (November 9th to 14th). They presented lectures on the protection system of traditional techniques, tools and materials used in restoration, and Restoration Techniques for Mounts, which is one of the Selected Conservation Techniques in Japan. Methods useful for various situations were taught by working on linings with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste. In the latter half of the course (November 16th to 22nd), experts from Mexico and Spain gave lectures. They spoke about how to select materials and apply their techniques to Western paper cultural properties.
We would like to express our gratitude to the participants for their cooperation in preventing the spread of coronavirus throughout the course. We hope that the knowledge and techniques the attendees acquired will be applied to the conservation and restoration of cultural property overseas.
Arial view of Korphu village (from the west)
MoU signing ceremony (left: Director of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, TOBUNKEN, TOMODA Masahiko; right: Director-General of the DoC, Nagtsho Dorji)
From the scientific research aspect, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) provides technical support for the value evaluation and enhancement of heritage buildings to the Department of Culture (DoC), the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan, which aims to expand the scope of heritage conservation to all historic buildings, including traditional houses. While we have been forced to implement cooperation projects online since January 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, TOBUNKEN agreed with the DoC to resume joint surveys in Bhutan, following the significant easing of travel restrictions in Japan and Bhutan from July and September onward, respectively. From November 5th–15th, 2022, TOBUNKEN dispatched four staff experts, including an expert from the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
The mission targeted the traditional masonry houses found in the eastern part of Bhutan. The purpose was to recognize and analyze the fundamental features of settlements and buildings in the region as the preliminary stage of the comprehensive scientific survey, which will serve as the basis for appropriate heritage conservation and development. Effective survey strategies were also examined in the mission. The on-site survey covered Trongsa Dzongkhag, Bumthang Dzongkhag, and the surrounding area, located in the central-eastern part of the country, which is relatively easy to access from the capital city of Thimphu. Measurements, photogrammetry, and interviews with locals were conducted in villages and houses preselected by the Division of Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) of the DoC, based on the governmental archive and information provided by Dzongkhags. We found that the region had its own distinctive village forms. For instance, Trong and Korphu, located in the rugged mountainous area in the southern part of Trongsa Dzongkhag, are particularly unique as their houses are built in rows along a ridge, giving them merchant town-like appearance despite them being farming villages. In addition, while almost all houses in Trong are masonry structures, those in Korphu are both masonry and rammed earth structures, and rammed earth structures retain their older form. In other houses we surveyed, some were originally built in rammed earth, and later expanded or modified in stone. This suggests that, at least in the region surveyed this time, the structural manner of traditional houses shifted from rammed earth to masonry. We also found some masonry houses that have a very complex series of expansion and modification, and there is a possibility that the frequency of modification is generally higher in masonry structures than that in rammed-earth structures. Regarding the survey method, photogrammetry proved to be efficient and very useful in recording the masonry house, which shows random and complex patterns with natural stones and has many distortions in its shape.
After the on-site survey, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the cooperation in the conservation of architectural heritage was signed at the DoC headquarters, Thimphu, and a meeting was organized with the DCHS to discuss the results of the survey, as well as the prospects and needs of the Bhutanese counterparts. In the future, we expect to develop more on-site surveys and research activities targeting masonry houses in eastern Bhutan in close collaboration with the DCHS.
Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo Kote-e Kura
Flaking and chipping
Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo Kote-e Kura in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture was completed in 1926 by the plasterer KAWAKAMI Ikichi. The artwork was commissioned by YOSHIZAWA Nitarō, the founder of Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo (i.e., Kina Saffron Winery). The kote-e* (plaster reliefs) are mainly positioned around eaves and doors of the warehouse structured of lumber and with mud wall. The kote-e reliefs are three-dimensional representations of Daikokuten (Japanese deity of fortune and wealth) and animals and plants, and were created with the impasto technique mainly using plaster. The use of red and blue colors in the reliefs creates a contrast that enhances the three-dimensional visual effect.
Although these kote-e are placed in a harsh environment with exposure to rainfall and wind, they have remained in a relatively good condition considering that they were created almost 100 years ago. This can be attributed to the efforts made by people to protect the artwork and hand down it to generations as well as to the characteristics of the plaster and the ingenious plastering techniques.
Nonetheless, some damage such as flaking and chipping of plaster and color can be seen in every kote-e on careful observation. Hence, responding to the request by Nagaoka City, the owner of the warehouse, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) visited the site on November 11th, 2022 and conducted sampling investigation of color and plaster as a part of pre-investigation for conservation and restoration, which has been deemed necessary for the near future. Sampling investigation is conducted by extracting small samples from the target materials; this practice is also described as “destructive investigation.” Although the word “destructive” may indicate something “bad,” it is not so. Sampling investigation enables us to obtain reliable information that cannot be obtained by simply checking the surface. Therefore, destructive investigation, in fact, enables safer and superior conservation and restoration.
We will effectively utilize the outcome analysis of this investigation for planning the conservation and restoration project so that the Kote-e Kura, which has been maintained by prior generations, can be passed down to future generations and it remains well-preserved for at least another 100 years.
*Kote-e: colorful Japanese plaster reliefs created using a trowel
Round table talk (from the left, SANO Masaki, Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi, Ms. KOIZUMI Yurina)
Mr. ISHIDA Katsuyoshi reporting the first case study
The 16th Public Lecture was held on October 28th, 2022.
On the morning prior to the Lecture, the videos individually produced by the POLA Foundation of Japanese Culture, the Japan Arts Council, and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) were shown.
At the Public Lecture held in the afternoon, first, MAEHARA Megumi, head of the Intangible Cultural Properties Section, explained the aim of the Lecture. Then, the following sessions were presented: Intangible Cultural Heritage and Visual Documentation by ISHIMURA Tomo, head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section; Practice at TOBUNKEN: Visual Documentation of Intangible Cultural Properties by SANO Masaki, associate fellow; Conservation Techniques for Traditional performing Arts by Mr. ISHIDA Katsuyoshi, manufacturer and biwa musician (Japanese traditional lute) and MAEHARA; and Visual Documentation of Craft Techniques by Mr. SETO Takashi, Associate Professor at Bunka Gakuen University and KIKUCHI Riyo, Senior Researcher. At the following round table talk, Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi, Executive Director of the Japan Arts Council and Ms. KOIZUMI Yurina, Curator of the POLA Foundation of Japanese Culture, introduced their respective video projects for intangible cultural properties. Together with TOBUNKEN researchers, they identified the characteristics of each institute and reached a common understanding regarding the aims, methods, and publication of “intangible cultural property visual documentation.” Furthermore, it was concluded that the intangible cultural heritage can be documented comprehensively by archiving and publishing the diversified visual documentation to the fullest possible extent and methods based on a mutual understanding of each institute’s characteristics.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage strives to continue facilitating occasions to share and discuss various challenges on documentation methods and the utilization of intangible cultural properties. A report of this Lecture will be published, and also available online in the coming fiscal year.
Craftworks that were broken by the earthquake (provided by Suzu City)
Intensity of earthquake in the Noto Region, Ishikawa Prefecture, on June 19th, 2022, and damages to each workshop (created by combining the Suzu Ware map and Japan Real-time Information System for earthQuake)
Suzu Ware is a type of pottery produced in Suzu City and the east part of Noto Town (formerly Uchiura Town) from the mid-12th to late-15th century. It is characterized by a grayish black color produced in a reductional fire without applying glaze. Its reproduction project was started by Suzu City and its Chamber of Commerce in 1976, and Suzu Ware was designated as the Designated Traditional Crafts of Ishikawa Prefecture in 1989. Currently, around 50 of its potters are working individually or in workshops in Suzu City.
The earthquake in the Noto Region of Ishikawa Prefecture occurred on June 19th, 2022; damages to some of Suzu Ware workshops were confirmed. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center jointly conducted on-site investigations to grasp the extent of the damage and follow-up on September 6th and October 24th and 25th, 2022, respectively. These investigations were conducted in cooperation with the Industrial Promotion Section of Suzu City, Suzu Ware Museum, Suzu Pottery Workshop, and “Suzuyaki Soenkai,” the association of Suzu Ware potters.
The areas of Shoin, Choku, and Iida were most severely hit by the earthquake. The workshops in these areas suffered from the damage to their craftworks, and wood-fired kilns, which are mandatory for production. The day after the earthquake, the Industrial Promotion Section called each workshop and potter to examine the damages and requested photographs of them. Thereafter, mainly Mr. SHINOHARA Takashi, chairman of Suzuyaki Soenkai conducted detailed questionnaires on the damages. Based on the questionnaire outcomes, the Suzu City staff who oversaw this, visited the damaged workshops, and recorded the necessary information for recovery. Currently, the information has been compiled and the discussion of its application to the “Subsidy for Operational Cost to Support Reconstruction of Business that Suffered from Damages” by Ishikawa Prefecture for repair and reconstruction to some kilns is underway.
This case study highlights the importance of community “Soenkai” (meaning an association of creating fire) which connects potters horizontally, and significance of promptly understanding and recording the damages in such emergencies.
The Department and Center will continue the research on disaster risk management for craft techniques through various on-site investigations.
Mikoshi (portable shrine) tumbled dramatically
Ritual in front of the temporary shrine
On October 29th and 30th, 2022, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted a performing status survey of the Tsumori Shrine’s Ohoshi Festival (the Festival), which has been passed down in Mashiki Town, Kamimashiki County; Nishihara Village, Aso County; and Kikuyo Town, Kikuchi County, Kumamoto Prefecture.
The Festival is one of the rituals of the Tsumori Shrine located in Jichu, Mashiki Town, held every October 30th. A total of 12 areas across Mashiki Town, Nishihara Village and Kikuyo Town, in turn, build an “Okariya” (temporary shrine) in their own area and enshrine Ohoshi, a deity, in it for one year. This festival is famous for the activities of violently shaking and throwing in the air the mikoshi (portable shrine), which holds the deity in it, during the procession to the next area.
The two towns and one village that hold the festival were heavily damaged by the Kumamoto Earthquake that occurred in April 2016. The Tsumori Shrine, which plays a key role in this festival, also suffered extensive damage. Therefore, while this festival was conducted on a smaller scale in 2016, it was canceled consecutively in 2017 and 2018. The Sugido area of Mashiki Town was in charge this year. This area has not yet fully recovered from the damage caused by the earthquake. Some residents have only just moved back to their rebuilt houses from temporary housing.
At the departure ceremony of this year’s procession, the mayor of Mashiki Town and other related parties explained the recovery and reconstruction status and stated that the festival should be conducted in full scale on behalf of the areas that could not conduct it in the usual way. After the earthquake, people were hesitant to treat mikoshi roughly for some time. This year, people violently shook the shrine and walked around the areas as if people tried to regain the activities before the earthquake. Ohoshi was safely moved into the temporary shrine in the Uryusako area of Nishihara Village, which is in charge of the festival next year.
Intangible Folk Cultural Properties can be affected by natural disasters in unexpected ways because these are closely tied with local people’s lives. The recovery status of local life could affect the actual activities of the Ohoshi Festival. The Department continues to investigate how natural disasters may impact intangible folk cultural properties.