|■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
On May 30, 2023, TASHIRO Yuichiro (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) gave a presentation titled A Study on the Formation of Korean Art History: Focusing on the Japanese Settlers in Colonial Korea.
Among the Japanese living in Korea during the colonial period (1910-45), many were involved in the administration, research, education, collection, and production (manufacturing) of arts and crafts. However, many of them died on the Korean peninsula or ceased their activities after repatriation to Japan, and among them some have been forgotten in Japan since the end of World War II.
The presenter, with a personal history as a “Japanese in Korea,” having stayed in the Republic of Korea while studying the history of ceramics, has been interested in the Japanese who had spent time in the Korean Peninsula as he did. At the same time, he has felt that their influence on the current understanding of art history has been significant.
With this in mind, the presenter has decided to undertake research on the Japanese in Korea as a long-term research project separate from his work on the history of ceramics. Specifically, the presenter plans to focus on Japanese in Korea who were active in art history and relevant fields by analyzing (1) the framework (historical view and value evaluation) they formed and (2) their human networks, to clarify how they played a crucial role in our understanding of art history in Korea after 1945.
In the presentation, the presenter introduced his previous research on the reception history of Joseon white porcelain, a catalyst for his interest in the Japanese living in Korea (TASHIRO Yuichiro, The Concept of Akikusade: A Reflection on Modern Japanese Perception of Joseon White Porcelain, Korean Journal of Art History, No. 294, Korean Art History Association, 2017). He also presented the results from his material research, conducted in parallel with his academic pursuit of ceramic history, followed by the prospectus of this project. As the word “conjecture” in the Japanese title suggests, this presentation is the first step of an ongoing research project. The presenter hopes to continue his study on clarifying the role of Japanese residents in Korea in the formation of Korean art history.
Participants of the Meeting
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been conducting research exchanges with the National Institute of Intangible Heritage of the Republic of Korea since 2008. As part of this project, we held a meeting for presentation of results of the Japan-Korea Intangible Cultural Heritage Research Exchange Project at our institute on May 24, 2023. At this meeting, the results of the project conducted from October 2016 to March 2023 were presented.
Four staff members (Mr. Yang Jinjo, Ms. Choi Sukkyung, Ms. Kang Kyunghye, and Ms. Ryou Hansun) visiting from the National Intangible Heritage Center, and three members (ISHIMURA Tomo, MAEHARA Megumi, and KUBOTA Hiromichi ) from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage each made presentations. After the presentations, FUTAGAMI Yoko from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information took part in a discussion held among all the participants.
During the discussion, comments and suggestions were exchanged on issues and prospects for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. There was a lively discussion on “culture of everyday life” as intangible cultural heritage (such as culinary culture), which has been attracting attention in recent years. Regarding the safeguarding of this type of intangible cultural heritage, the Republic of Korea started to take measures to safeguard it earlier than Japan; however, both of our groups learned that there are common and different issues between the two countries. The discussion turned into a heated one that lasted for two hours.
This project had been temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, it was fortunate that we were able to resume it last year. In April 2023, our institute and the National Institute of Intangible Heritage signed a new agreement, and the project is now continuing until March 2030. We hope that this research exchange project will promote further understanding and cooperation between the two countries regarding the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.
Common reed field at the mouth of the Kitakami River selected for 100 Soundscapes of Japan: Preserving our Heritage (Agency of the Environment (at that time) 1996)
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage investigates the common reeds (Phragmites australis) used for a rozetsu (reed) of hichiriki (Japanese traditional flute) as a part of a project to investigate the raw materials essential for intangible cultural properties. We conducted a survey of common reeds growing around the mouth of the Kitakami River in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, where such reeds are produced. We had two goals for this survey: the first was to assess the suitability of the common reeds in this area for rozetsu of hichiriki by analyzing their characteristics; the second was to find ways to “restore common reeds” in the riverbeds of the Yodo River (Osaka Prefecture), which is known as a production field of the common reeds suitable for rozetsu of hichiriki, by understanding the common reed restoration process and the present conditions of the Kitakami River area, which was severely damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.
We visited Kumagaya Master Thatchers Co., Ltd., which is working on restoring the common reed field in the Kitakami River area. We interviewed them, about the current common reed field situation and were given samples of common reeds with external diameters large enough to make rozetsu. Kumagaya Master Thatchers thatches roofs of temples, shrines, and other traditional Japanese architecture using traditional techniques and also works on the conservation and restoration of Important Cultural Properties designated by the Japanese government.
We requested two craft persons to make rozetsu from the common reed samples of the Kitakami River that we were given. We plan to compile findings, including evaluations by hichiriki players on the rozetsu made from those common reeds.
We also visited the Kitakamigawa-karyu River Office of the Infrastructure and Transport Tohoku Regional Bureau, the Ministry of Land, which manages the Kitakami River, and Prof. YAMADA Kazuhiro of Tohoku Institute of Technology, is investigating the common reed field before and after the Earthquake and is active in promoting the field. Though the reed field was approximately 183 ha before the Earthquake, it has since shrunken to approximately 87 ha. The field has sunken by 50 to 60 cm and was flooded in the aftermath of the earthquake. Therefore, many common reeds withered and died, and growth of the rest was inhibited by debris brought by the tsunami.
The debris has since been removed thanks to local cooperation, and the reeds have been replanted as an experiment to restore the field. We appreciate the understanding and cooperation of locals who supported the nature revival in the process of the natural environment recovery from the damage by the natural disaster.
Furthermore, a framework was set for conserving the river and surrounding environment through information exchange and reporting by the Kitakamigawa-karyu River Office and other three cooperative organizations backed by the River Cooperation System set in the Act for Partial Revision of the Flood Prevention Act and the River Act (June 2013). We understand that these cooperations contribute to restructuring the common reed field.
Researchers of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, respectively specialized in intangible cultural properties, folk cultural properties, and cultural heritage disaster risk management, work together to comprehensively investigate the situations, challenges, and solutions in regard to the people, techniques, and materials essential to inheriting intangible cultural properties.
Kheni village in Trashiyangtse province, composed of vernacular stone masonry houses
A house of typology unique to Merak district in Trashigang province
Measurement survey of a timber hut
Since 2012, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been continuously engaged in research on vernacular houses in Bhutan, in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Dzongkha Development (DCDD, formerly the Department of Culture, renamed recently upon restructuring), Ministry of Home Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan. The DCDD promotes a policy of preserving and utilizing vernacular houses by integrating them into the legal protection framework of cultural heritage, while TOBUNKEN supports the initiative from academic and technical aspects.
Previously, our study focused on rammed earth houses commonly seen in the western area of the country. This year, we began a survey on stone masonry houses widely located in central and eastern areas, with the financial support of a JSPS Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research. The first survey mission under this scheme was implemented from April 25 to May 5, 2023.
Our group, comprising four dispatched staff members of TOBUNKEN and two from DCDD, jointly carried out a field survey in the five provinces spanning from Trashigang in the east to Bumthang in the central region. We observed stone masonry houses that appeared to have been built during earlier periods than other traditional houses in the target area, based on prior information collected by DCDD, and surveyed 14 houses in a detailed manner including taking measurements and interviewing the residents. Other than three cases of large-scale, three-storied residences of the ruling class, all were originally very small houses of one or two stories. In the Merak district of Trashigang, where a nomadic ethnic group lives, a unique typology of one-story houses without cattle sheds was widely observed.
Based on knowledge and information obtained during this survey mission, we plan to extend the target area and conduct more detailed investigations of the old houses we had already identified. In addition, since transition and locality of the housing type reflects change and difference of lifestyles, we feel a need to put more focus on these areas in the future. We will continue in our effort to further accelerate cooperation to prevent the loss of precious heritage against the trend that the numbers of vacant and degraded houses are increasing.
The East Gate after completion (photo taken by drone)
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) continues to support the conservation and sustainable development project of Ta Nei Temple by the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) in Cambodia. In November 2022, the two parties completed a three-year collaborative restoration project to dismantle and restore the East Gate of the temple. From May 6 to 18, 2023, TOBUNKEN dispatched our group, consisting of two staff members, to the site to record the completion status of the restoration and conduct additional research for the preparation of a final report on the restoration work to be published this year.
For documentation of the completion status, in addition to (1) architectural photography, (2) architectural drawings and (3) a digital 3D model of the East Gate were created. The digital 3D model with dimensional information was generated from some 1,000 images of the building taken from all directions with a single-lens reflex camera and two drones (Mavic mini), using a technique known as “3D photogrammetry.”
Supplementary survey work for preparing the final report included (1) partial revision of the temple layout drawings, (2) photographic documentation of pediment decorations, and (3) a comparative study to analyze the architectural features of the East Gate. For the comparative survey, we visited 10 other temples among the Angkor Monuments that were constructed during the same period as Ta Nei Temple to examine their architectural styles and decorations.
In addition, on-site discussions were held with APSARA representatives regarding the future implementation plan of the Ta Nei Temple conservation project.
We plan to conduct archaeological excavation and architectural survey of the Entrance Terrace to the Causeway, publish a final report, and organize a symposium to commemorate the completion of the East Gate restoration work in the second half of this fiscal year. We will keep you posted on the progress of our project!
Please also see the past activity reports on the Ta Nei project.
Field Activities (Part I)
Field Activities (Part II)
Field Activities (Part III)
Field Activities (Part IV)
Field Activities (Part V)
Field Activities (Part VI)
Field Activities (Part VII)
Field Activities (Part VIII)
Activities during the COVID-19
Field Activities (Part IX)
Field Activities (Part X-1)
Field Activities (Part X-2)
Field Activities (Part X-3)
Field Activities (Part XI)
Presentation by Mr. Ivgin
The Japan Center for Institutional Cooperation accepted a visiting researcher, Mr. Ilkay Ivgin, from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in the Republic of Turkey from April 10 to May 31, 2023. Mr. Ivgin studies comparative research on the cultural property laws in Turkey, Japan, and Italy. During his stay, he undertook research especially on the administrative system of buried cultural property in Japan. Moreover, he collected information on cultural heritage disaster risk management to reconstruct damaged cultural properties and museums affected by the great earthquake in Turkey and Syria in February 2023.
Our center provided collected knowledge on the protection systems for cultural properties and introduced related documents, and also accompanied Mr. Ivgin on visits to the organizations and institutions that work to investigate and manage cultural properties. Acceptance of this visiting researcher at this time was a good opportunity for us to learn about the current situation of Turkish cultural heritage as well as to understand more deeply the Japanese administrative system for buried cultural property and its tasks.
A comment from Mr. Ivgin is included below.
“Within the scope of my Ph.D. thesis titled "Examination of Legal Legislation in the Preservation of Archaeological Artifacts in Türkiye and Legal Arrangement Suggestions for Standardization", which I am still working with the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage at Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University. In my Ph.D. thesis, the Japanese legislative system for the protection of cultural assets constitutes an important part of my work.
I am very grateful for their support of my work on the subject of my thesis at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, where I began my research within the scope of this thesis. I would like to thank the staff of the Tokyo University, Ancient Orient Museum, Tokyo National Museum, Chiba-City Archaeological Research Center, Tokyo Metropolitan Archaeological Research Center, Archeology Institute of Kashihara, Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and Agency for Cultural Affairs for their support.”
Top page of The Collection of HAYASHI Tadamasa related letters and reference materials on the website of the National Museum of Western Art
Letter of Edmond de Goncourt to HAYASHI Tadamasa, dated August 2, 1895, in The Collection of HAYASHI Tadamasa related letters and reference materials. Goncourt (1822-1902) was a French art critic. He asked for HAYASHI Tadamasa's help in writing his now famous biography, Hokusai (published in 1896).
HAYASHI Tadamasa (1853-1906) was an art dealer in Paris at the end of the 19th century, having dealt in Japanese paintings, ukiyo-e prints, and crafts, and is known for having led the Japonism trend. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has a collection of letters HAYASHI received from art critics, collectors, and art dealers between 1884, when he opened his store in Paris, and 1905, when he returned to Japan, where died the following year. In 2001, TOBUNKEN published Correspondance adressée à HAYASHI Tadamasa (in French; Kokushokankokai publisher), which is a reprinting of these letters.
This collection of letters was deposited at the National Museum of Western Art in 2016, and in March 2023, The Collection of Hayashi Tadamasa related letters and reference materials was made public on the museum’s website.
The Collection of Hayashi Tadamasa related letters and reference materials | The National Museum of Western Art (nmwa.go.jp)
This website was established as part of a National Center for Art Research project, and allows users to search for images and reprints of letters by month and year sent, sender, and list of letters. We hope that many people will use this site to contribute to the research on the history of modern French art and the history of art exchange between Japan and France.
On April 28, 2023, EMURA Tomoko gave a presentation titled Study of Shuten-dōji Handscrolls: Interim Investigation Report. This research has been in progress since 2022, conducted under a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B), and focuses on SUMIYOSHI Hiroyuki’s Shuten-dōji Handscrolls (six volumes in total, owned by Grassi Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig, hereinafter referred to as “the Leipzig scrolls”). This presentation was made in the form of an interim report on the investigation. EMURA introduced the works that she and her colleagues investigated in 2022, and considered the characteristics and genealogy of each scroll. Furthermore, thanks to the kind invitation of Dr. MIYAZAKI Momo (The Museum Yamato Bunkakan), EMURA was able to join her in the conduction of a survey on sketches of the Shuten-dōji Handscrolls (six volumes, Museum for History and Literature of Osaka Aoyama University). In addition, based on an inscription on the underside of the lid of the box that contained the scroll sketches, it became clear that the calligraphers of the Leipzig scrolls were NARUSHIMA Chuhachirō (Ryūshū) and NARUSHIMA Senzō (Kōzan), father and son, retainers of the shogunate. In addition, Dr. KOBAYASHI Kenji (National Institute of Japanese Literature), a research co-investigator of the project, gave a presentation titled Survey report on the Ibuki-dōji picture scrolls (private collection). This work included modification of Nara Ehon books into picture scrolls, and has many points in common with the contents of the first three volumes of the Leipzig scrolls. Mr. NAMIKI Seishi, who is the Program-Specific Professor of Kyoto Institute of Technology and a research co-investigator, participated as a commentator. In addition, researchers from inside and outside the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties participated online. This year, we will proceed with the survey with consideration given to the opinions received during the research discussion.
Introduction, in the conference room
Explanation about the investigational photographs of cultural properties
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) introduced guidance for the TOBUNKEN Library to 4 graduate students of Aoyama Gakuin University (led by Prof. TSUDA Tetsuei) on April 12th. At the beginning of this guidance session, KIKKAWA Hideki explained how to use the library and how the collection was developed in the conference room on the second floor of TOBUNKEN. We then moved to the library and its stack rooms, where our staff introduced various materials, including the Auction Catalogue Digital Archive, investigational photographs of cultural properties, and auction catalogues. The participants handled the digital archives, books, and photos, listened to the explanations, and actively asked questions from the viewpoint of how they could use them for their own research.
The Archive Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems has a mission to collect, organize, and conserve materials concerning cultural property studies and prepare an easily accessible and effectively usable environment for experts and students working in areas related to cultural properties. As a part of this mission, we continue to actively hold guidance sessions. If you would like to participate in a session, please submit a request with reference to “TOBUNKEN Library Guidance for undergraduate/graduate students and museum staff” (Japanese only).
X-ray film database screen (Digital images can only be viewed in the reference room.)
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) was one of the first in Japan to research and investigate cultural properties using scientific methods. In the 1950s, we began photographing cultural properties using X-rays and have accumulated a vast number of X-ray films over many years of experience. Some have already been published as ” List of X-ray film, ” available in PDF in the ” Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Institutional Repositories – Publications “.
However, TOBUNKEN has many X-ray films in addition to this catalog, and we have made this list available on our website as the “X-ray Film Database,” and digital images are also available in our library.
The approximately 4,150 films released recently include many works, such as Buddhist sculptures, Buddhist paintings, crafts, and modern Western-style paintings, These are valuable images that contribute to research. We will continue to add data as needed; please use it.
Since 2021, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties（TOBUNKEN）, in collaboration with Myohoji Temple in Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture, has been researching the restoration of damaged portions of “Hanshan and Shide” by Yosa Buson by combining black and white film taken by TOBUNKEN in 1959 and modern image formation technology. It is an Important Cultural Property owed by Myōhōji Temple.(Refer to the August 2021 Activity Report)
As a result of this research, the restored sliding doors were dedicated in the main hall of Myohoji Temple in November 2022. (Refer to the November 2022 Activity Report)
The report focuses on the results of the production and dedication of these restored sliding doors and presents the history and findings of the two previous restorations of Buson’s works at Myohoji Temple. The possibilities of utilizing the photographic materials and archives that TOBUNKEN has accumulated over the years are published as a joint research report that includes a wealth of images.
The report includes two essays, “In Search of the Lost Collection of Hanshan and Shide: Miracle of the Cultural Properties Archive” (by EMURA Tomoko, Director of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) and “Reconsidering Hanshan and Shide by Yosa Buson from the collection of Myohoji Temple” (by YASUNAGA Takuyo, Head of the Department’s Trans-Disciplinary Research Section), along with 1) a color image, 2) a near-infrared ray image, 3) a 4 x 5 inch black and white negative photo image taken in 1959, and 4) a restored image compiled using image forming technology.
In addition, color and near-infrared ray images of “Cycad” and “Landscapes (4 pieces),” and color images of “Bamboo” and “Jurō (God of longevity)” are included, and each piece is accompanied by detailed explanations, covering all of Buson’s works in Myohoji Temple.
Buson’s works at the temple are all designated as Important Cultural Properties. They represent standards of the period during which Buson stayed in Kagawa Prefecture. However, images of Buson’s works at Myohoji Temple have never been published in detail. Moreover, this report, and the restored sliding doors dedicated to the temple, are essential for future Buson research.
The report has been donated to major museums, art museums, libraries, and universities throughout Japan. Therefore, those interested in reading can access it in their local libraries.
Web Contents " KURODA MEMORIAL HALL: KURODA Seiki Oil Painting Optical Survey" Top Page
"Lakeside" color photograph
"Lakeside" color photo (left) and near-infrared photo (right)
KURODA Seiki (1866–1924) left a significant mark on the history of modern Western-style painting in Japan as a painter and educator. The Japan Art Academy–affiliated Institute of Art Research was established as an institution to conduct research on art as part of KURODA’s will. The Institute’s successor, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has, to this day, as one of its activities, conducted research on KURODA’s paintings and his activities.
From October to December 2021, as part of its research on KURODA Seiki, TOBUNKEN conducted an optical survey of 148 oil paintings by KURODA that are housed in the KURODA MEMORIAL HALL. In the optical survey, color photographs were taken to record colors, shapes, and textures at high resolution; near-infrared photographs to record differences in the reflection and absorption of near-infrared rays; and fluorescence photographs to record the fluorescence emitted by a material when irradiated with light of a specific wavelength on a screen to obtain information that cannot be read by the naked eye. In addition, X-ray fluorescence analysis was conducted on KURODA ‘s representative works such as “Lakeside,” “Maiko,” “Reading,” and “Wisdom, Impression and Sentiment,” as well as on the palette used by KURODA, to determine the elements contained in the painting materials. These photographs and the results of the analysis were published as the web content “KURODA MEMORIAL HALL: KURODA Seiki Oil Painting Optical Survey” on March 31, 2023.
In “Lakeside,” for example, the artist drew every hair on the model’s eyebrows, used uneven white paint to express the stripes on the clothing, and changed the size of the fan held by the model several times based on the lines of the rough sketch. Currently, the above four works and color photographs of all 148 oil paintings in the KURODA MEMORIAL HALL collection are available on the web for your viewing and research.
the 9th Seminar
As in Japan during the Meiji era, Thailand in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had foreign experts in various fields working for government agencies, some of them Japanese.
One such artist was MIKI Sakae (1884–1966), a graduate of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (presently Tokyo University of the Arts), Department of Lacquer Technology, who went to Thailand in 1911 to work for the Imperial Household Agency’s Technical Affairs Bureau (the predecessor to the current Art Bureau of the Ministry of Culture). Thereafter, he served as a teacher and principal of a national art school and was active in the field of lacquer work until 1947, when he returned to Japan. At the 9th seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on March 2, 2023, FUTAGAMI Yoko (Head, Cultural Properties Information Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) gave a presentation titled Lacquer Work Expert MIKI Sakae’s Activities in Thailand –- Focusing on Materials from the Same Period –.
Because of the above background, MIKI Sakae is often featured in the field of prewar Japanese – Thailand exchange. However, most references to his activities in Thailand were limited to large-scale projects, such as the production of the throne for the coronation of King Rama VI, which he was involved in immediately after his trip to Thailand, as well as palace repairs, and did not go into the details of his daily work. Therefore, we used mainly the recent status reports MIKI contributed to in the alumni magazine Monthly Bulletin of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts Alumni Association to decipher the work he was involved in on a daily basis.
From an article in Monthly Bulletin of the Alumni Association we learned that, in 1917, MIKI had decorated the king’s daily articles with gold or silver lacquer and employed other Japanese techniques, using an abundance of materials imported from Japan. On the other hand, it also shows that, during the same period, materials and techniques were modified to suit the objects to be decorated and the climate of Thailand. MIKI was accepted in Thailand because of his Japanese lacquer craft skills and flexible application as well as his serious attitude toward his work which, due in part to personnel cutbacks caused by administrative reforms, led him to take on important work, including supervision of large-scale construction projects. This presentation is an interim report on MIKI Sakae’s activities in Thailand and will be further discussed and compiled into a report.
Lacquer door of Wat Rajapradit
Wat Rajapradit (built in 1864), a first-class royal temple located in the old city of Bangkok, Thailand, uses lacquered doors made in Japan for its worship hall. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) conducts research on those door components and provides technical support for their restoration. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the start of activities related to the repair of the door components of Wat Rajapradit, and a seminar entitled “Rajapradit Pisitsilp” (meaning “The Wonderful Art of Rajapradit” in Thailand) was held at the temple on March 20, 2023.
The seminar included a round table discussion on the background to the restoration project and one on technical matters and the restoration process.
In addition to experts from the Department of Fine Arts, Thailand Ministry of Culture, which is implementing the restoration project, and a monk from Wat Rajapradit, Japanese participants included FUTAGAMI Yoko (TOBUNKEN) for the former discussion and Mr. YAMASHITA Yoshihiko (lacquer art conservation researcher and expert) for the latter.
On the same day, a ceremony was held to attach several repaired door components to the door frame of the worship hall. There was also a tea ceremony and Japanese food stalls on the temple grounds, a dance performance by a dancer wearing traditional Thailand costume and Japanese kimono, and cosplayers dressed as Touken-ranbu* characters, providing an opportunity to deepen familiarity with Japan. Due to the spread of COVID-19, our research and study in Thailand was suspended for three years, but we would like to once again deepen our research and research exchange regarding cultural properties.
* video game with a Japanese sword motif
Application form for membership in the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai, 1952.
FINGER PAINTING by Ruth Faison Shaw, edited by MIYATAKE Tatsuo; 1968 edition on the left, 1955 edition on the right (Cover art by EI-Q)
SHIMAZAKI Kiyomi (1923–2015) was an art educator who served for many years as the head office secretary of the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai, which had a profound influence on postwar Japanese art education. SHIMAZAKI left behind a vast amount of materials related to the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai, some of which were donated to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) by his bereaved family.
The materials of SHIMAZAKI Kiyomi have been researched and studied by Ms.NAKAMURA Maki, part-time employee, Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History and temporary staff, Tokyo Keizai University Historical Data Office, and were presented at the seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems in 2021. The report is available at the following URL:
Activities and Archives of the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai: the 5th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems :: 東文研アーカイブデータベース (tobunken.go.jp)
Ms. NAKAMURA also catalogued the donated materials and contributed an article titled “Art Education in Post-war Japan as Seen in the Activity Records of the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai” to The Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies) No. 439 (March 2023), which includes an introduction. As described in this article, the donated materials include pamphlets, journals, letters to SHIMAZAKI Kiyomi, schedule books, and diaries published by the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai, which reveal the activities of the Society as well as its interactions with artists and critics such as EI-Q and KUBO Sadajirō. We will take some time for sorting before the exhibition is open to the public, but we hope you will find it a valuable resource for research on the history of Japanese art education and art history in the postwar period.
On March 7, 2023, the symposium of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan entitled “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Disaster Prevention-Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Based on the Experience of the Disaster” was held at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN). The event was co-sponsored by TOBUNKEN and implemented as a project of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan.
The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 has brought attention to the important role that intangible cultural heritage plays in the recovery process and the need for protecting it from disasters. While the unprecedented disaster certainly caused much damage to intangible cultural heritage, it also served as a reminder of the value such heritage brings to local communities.
This symposium was planned to showcase the work done by the National Institute for Cultural Heritage, present examples of damage caused by disasters, and discuss ways of working together with everyone who is involved in caring for intangible cultural heritage throughout Japan. The symposium was attended by 87 people, including government officials, researchers from universities and specialized institutions, and community members who carry on intangible cultural heritage.
In the morning, TOBUNKEN described the work done by them in the past, and the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan presented research results related to disaster prevention of intangible cultural heritage. In the afternoon, reports were shared by local government officials, leaders, and researchers on three examples of folk events affected by recent disasters “Tokakuji no matsue” (Tokakuji area of Kanda Town, Fukuoka Prefecture), “Ogatsu Houinkagura” (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture), and “Hikiyama Parades of Nagahama Hikiyama Festival” (Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture), focusing on disaster response and the process of resuming the events. In the final general discussion, based on the reports, presentations, and discussions of the day, five experts who have been actively involved in this subject at the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan gave a summary.
The presenters also provided an opportunity for active discussion and sharing of ideas on specific methods of disaster prevention and mitigation in the future. The Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan and TOBUNKEN will continue to further develop the discussions at the symposium and work to propose concrete measures in cooperation with both institutions.
Lid in place (east wall)
The Kitora Tumulus Mural is a national treasure that depicts the four deities, the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac with beast heads and human bodies, and astronomical images. It has been repaired after it was removed from the inside of the tomb, and is now stored with the mural face up at the Kitora Kofun Mural Conservation and Management Facility in the “Hall of Four Deities” located in Asuka Village, Takaichi County, Nara Prefecture. Until now, dust has been prevented from entering the storage room using a dust remover in the front room. However, the visible dust on the wall painting that was brought into the room and could not be removed has been an issue for many years. As there is risk of damaging the mural when removing dust, the installation of a lid to prevent the accumulation of dust on the mural was considered. The Agency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and the Association for Conservation of National Treasures (ACNT) have discussed the elements required for the lid, which does not adversely affect the mural, is easy to handle, allows the mural to be seen with the lid in place, and made of a material that does not attract dust. At the Kuroda workshop (Representative: Mr. USUI Hiroaki), a manufacturer of traditional fittings, whose technique is designated by the government as one of the Selected Conservation Techniques, a wooden frame covered with a transparent antistatic sheet was made as a prototype lid. Because it was confirmed in FY2021 that there is no difference in temperature and humidity inside and outside the lid, the possibility of adverse effects on the mural is extremely low. Thus, the finished product, with improvements in terms of strength, was delivered on March 24, 2023, and the lid was installed on the Kitora Tumulus Mural. We plan to confirm the effectiveness of the installation of the lid and discuss with the relevant parties how to handle the lid during mural inspections, public openings, and inspections.
Confirmation of paint stain removal status
Confirmation of surface using microscope
3D model obtained by SfM-MVS
Unlike ancient cultural heritage items created using traditional materials and techniques, many modern cultural heritage items were created using relatively new technologies brought to Japan after the Meiji period (1868-1912). Furthermore, modern industrial products created for mass production and mass consumption are generally difficult to preserve over the long term. One of the research themes of our laboratory is how to preserve cultural heritage from such a relatively recent era for the future.
In March 2023, we conducted a survey of aircraft components from the 1910s stored and displayed at the Matsuiya Sake Brewery Museum (松井屋酒造 Tomika-cho, Gifu Prefecture). The survey aimed to collect information about the appropriate preservation method and the direction of utilization of the materials, following an actual inspection of and discussion about the materials with the Tomika-cho Board of Education, the Matsuiya Sake Brewery Museum, and others in May 2022.
The surveyed part is believed to be the horizontal tailfin of a French Salmson Model 2 double-seat reconnaissance aircraft (Salmson 2A2), manufactured by another company in France under license from Salmson(YOKOKAWA Yuichi, “On the Salmson 2A2 Fuselage Parts Remaining at the Matsuiya Brewery,” Aviation Fan, December 2021). In 1918, at the end of World War I, the Japanese Army purchased 30 of these planes, and it is estimated that the material kept at the Matsuiya Sake Brewery Museum comes from one of them.
The paint is visible on the entire front and back of the tailfin. It is highly likely that it is the original paint from the 1910s, and if so, it may be the only aircraft component in the world that still has the original paint from that period (YOKOKAWA, above).
To examine the possibility of conservation and restoration and its methods, we checked stain removal status with partial dusting and the removal of dirt using water and other methods. With the cooperation of the repair technician, we confirmed that there was a high probability that the original paint was still extensively in place and discussed specific cleaning methods.
Although the survey confirmed which cleaning method is to be used, many points still need to be considered in its implementation. We will continue to work with the Matsuiya Sake Brewery Museum, Tomika-cho Board of Education, and other concerned parties to find solutions for the preservation of the aircraft components.
Flyer for the symposium
The keynote lecture by Deputy Director General HAYAKAWA
The keynote lecture by Deputy Director General KOHDZUMA
In recent years, developments in analytical chemistry have led to the discovery of new values of cultural properties.
On March 4, a symposium was held to commemorate the retirement, in March 2023, of HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro, Deputy Director General of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) and KOHDZUMA Yohsei, Deputy Director General of Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (NABUNKEN) who have, for the long time, contributed to the scientific research and conservation of cultural properties. The symposium aimed to discuss the new world of cultural properties opened up by the development of analytical chemistry from the perspective of “color,” one of the most fundamental and important values of cultural properties. The event was organized by TOBUNKEN and NABUNKEN, and co-sponsored by Nittetsu Technology Co.
The symposium was held in the seminar room of TOBUNKEN, and many participants also gathered at the satellite sites of TOBUNKEN and NABUNKEN (Participants: 69 [TOBUNKEN seminar room], 36 [satellite site of TOBUNKEN], 26 [satellite site of NABUNKEN]). The symposium was also simultaneously streamed on YouTube, and was watched by many people.
In the keynote lecture by Deputy Director General HAYAKAWA entitled “Transition of White Pigments in Japanese Paintings,” the presentation showed the transition of white pigments (lead white, artists’ chalk, and white clay) used in Japanese paintings based on the results of his analytical surveys.
In the keynote lecture, “Across the Boundaries ,” Deputy Director General KOHDZUMA spoke about the importance of conducting research with a broad perspective and mutual understanding while honing one’s own expertise in the field of conservation science of cultural properties. In addition to the keynote lectures, there were seven research presentations related to the “color” of cultural properties and an exhibition of various analytical instruments during the lunch break. Also, the lecture was followed by a lively panel discussion that went beyond the topic of color analysis of cultural properties to include future prospects of the conservation science for cultural properties.
We are thankful for the leadership of the two Deputy Director Generals which greatly helped the staff of TOBUNKEN, NABUNKEN, and Nittetsu Technology to collaborate with each other effectively and plan and conduct a very successful symposium.
Interview at the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency
Field survey at the archaeological site of Hedeby in Schleswig
Since FY 2007, Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been collecting and translating foreign laws concerning the protection of cultural properties and has so far published 27 volumes covering 16 Asian and 6 European countries. The project is intended to be Japan’s contribution to international cooperation in the field of cultural heritage protection and provide a reference for reevaluating the system used by Japan to protect its cultural properties. A field survey was conducted in the Netherlands, the target country for the current FY, and in Germany, the target for last FY. The survey was conducted from March 3 to 13, 2023.
Recently, in the Netherlands, there has been a discussion on the need to include heritage protection in land use and environmental preservation planning. A new Environmental Planning Law, integrating the existing related laws, will come into force on January 1, 2024. This law will introduce an environmental permit system for the use of cultural heritage sites with basic provisions for municipal environmental planning and similar purposes. This legislative amendment is constructed on the foundation of various agreements of the Council of Europe, such as the Valletta Treaty of 1992 on archaeological heritage and the Florence Convention of 2000 on landscapes.
On the other hand, in Germany, each of the 16 states have their own laws for protection of monuments. There are also slight differences in the protected objects, and only three states have regulations on cultural landscapes. Schleswig-Holstein, the northern state I visited this time, is one of them, but cultural landscapes are not yet in operation. A similar provision can be found in the Federal Nature Conservation Law. However, the German government has not signed the Florence Convention, which is a topic of great debate within the country.
One of the objectives of the Florence Convention is to recognize landscapes that express the “form” of Europe, woven by diverse histories, cultures, and nature, as a common heritage of the EU member States, and to protect them appropriately. Certainly, landscape protection is deeply linked to global issues such as climate change and sustainability that cannot be resolved by a single country. In future research, I think it will be even more important not only to translate laws, but also to specifically clarify the organic relationship between cultural properties and the comprehensive framework that surrounds them.