On September 23rd, 2019, the fourth “Workshop on Winnowing Baskets” took place for interested persons at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
The series of workshops aims to research the techniques and cultures involved in “winnowing baskets” as folkcraft articles, used for screening and carrying threshed grains, considering the inheritance of them to be important. Originating in the “Summit Conference on Winnowing Baskets – Discussion of Weaving Techniques” held here in 2017, the workshop was organized by those who are interested in winnowing baskets, such as specialists in folk studies, archaeology, design engineering, and botany, as well as craftsman, sellers, and users of winnowing baskets and other handicrafts. We have been sharing our research outcomes and issues through the workshop held almost biannually.
For the fourth workshop, winnowing experiments were conducted with baskets produced in various areas, in addition to the research reports. Wheat, rice, and perilla were screened with winnowing baskets named Omogishi (Iwate Pref.), Oidara (Akita Pref.), Kizumi (Chiba Pref.), Ronden/Kumanashi (Toyama Pref.), Awa (Tokushima Pref.), and Hioki (Kagoshima Pref.) (production techniques for Oidara, Kizumi, and Ronden/Kumanashi ones are designated as national intangible folk cultural properties), in addition to Chinese willow ones, Korean wickerwork ones, and Malaysian ones. Actual comparison between these baskets allowed us to deepen the understanding of their functions and arrive at a basic date to verify the significance of their individual shaping and material selection as well as the differences in user-friendliness (functionality) according to areas.
The workshop will enhance studies on winnowing baskets produced in a variety of areas and reflect on the inheritance of their production techniques and cultures of usage together with their craftsman and sellers.
Basic Research on the Sculptor Tōru KOMURO: Study meeting hosted by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
Tōru KOMURO (1899-1953) was a sculptor born in Tsukinoki Town (current Shibata Town), Miyagi Prefecture, and the creator of the Equestrian Statue of DATE Masamune (completed in 1935), which is located in Sendai Castle. The work is famous as a symbol of the tourist destination, but so far, it has not been widely known how he produced the equestrian statue.
On August 26, 2019, Kyoko YASHIRO, an associate fellow at the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, made research presentations under the title “Basic Research on the Sculptor Tōru KOMURO,” analyzing the life and works of the sculptor based on the albums, diaries, and other materials he left and discussing the Equestrian Statue of DATE Masamune , one of his most prominent works.
KOMURO published his works in group exhibitions in Tokyo during the prewar period while in Miyagi, his native land, he produced portrait sculptures, bronze statues, and wood-carved works of local distinguished people. In these creative activities, he must have cultivated relationships with local influential and knowledgeable people and garnered their support. In her presentations, YASHIRO also made it clear that when he produced the Equestrian Statue of DATE Masamune , he adopted the opinions of Sendai’s local historians as much as possible and expressed the figure of DATE Masamune as a feudal lord that carried out peace projects.
Currently, energetic creative activities of sculptors in Tokyo are being clarified, but there are only a few materials to confirm in detail the works and movements of sculptors like KOMURO who developed productive activities in provincial areas, and therefore, it is necessary to further deepen research on these sculptors in the future.
At the recent study meeting, experts in the modern history of sculpture, including Mr. Satoshi KODAMA of the Local Museum of Shibata. which houses materials concerning KOMURO, Prof. Shuji TANAKA of Oita University, and Dr. Taiko TOBARI of the Asakura Museum of Sculpture, were invited as commentators, and there was active exchange of opinions about differences between KOMURO’s works in Tokyo and Miyagi and the style of the Equestrian Statue of DATE Masamune .
Buddhist Paintings of the Heian Period (National Treasures) in the Possession of the Tokyo National Museum Published on the Joint Website
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been jointly conducting research with the Tokyo National Museum on the Buddhist paintings in the Museum’s collection. Releasing the outcomes of the research, four Buddhist paintings belonging to the Heian period were published on their joint website (tnm-tobunken.tobunken.go.jp) on August 20th, 2019. They are pictures of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, Ākāshagarbha Bodhisattva, Sahasrabhuja Avalokitesvara, and Mahamayuri vidyaraja, which are designated National Treasures.
Although the paintings seem flat, layers of pigment are intricately deposited on the paper or silk cloth. You form an impression of the picture as a light complex is seen when daylight is reflected on or penetrates the layers. Traces of the painting process and what happened to the painting after its completion can be seen underneath.
Key clues to capture them are the information on the piled-up layers, as well as the data on materials such as the size and shape of the pigment particles, the texture of the silk cloth, and the thicknesses of its warp and weft. An optical survey is one of the effective methods to look beneath the surface without touching or collecting an analysis sample from the painting. The Institute was the first in Asia to start the optical survey for arts and crafts soon after its foundation as The Institute of Art Research in 1930. This joint research is also based on the accumulated know-how of that survey.
To make a fine depiction in a picture of the world of Buddha transcending this world, delicate patterns were drawn on the garment and ornaments of the Buddha during the Heian period. However, to protect these painting, few opportunities are given to appreciate them and confirm through close observation. This publication on the joint website enables visualizing high-definition images on a PC or a tablet computer. Photographs have now been taken under visible light providing an expanded and detailed view. Further details of the paintings will be provided by including their pictures taken by infrared, fluorescence, or X-ray photography, apart from the results of fluorescent X‐ray analysis, to distinguish the elements contained in the pigments. Looking forward to your anticipation for their forthcoming release.
Two workshops on the conservation of Japanese textiles were held at the Research Center for Conservation of Cultural Relics in National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), Taipei, from August 14th to 23rd, 2019. A basic workshop, “Cultural Properties of Textiles in Japan,” was conducted from August 14th to 16th, and an advanced workshop, “Conservation of Japanese Textiles,” was run from August 19th to 23rd. These workshops have been co-organized annually since 2017 by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and NTNU for the preservation and utilization of Japanese textiles overseas, as part of our joint research. The lectures and instructions were presented by researchers specialized in textiles and conservators from Japan and Taiwan. Conservators, curators and students from around the world participated in the workshop; there were 11 participants from 10 countries in the basic workshop and 6 participants from 5 countries in the advanced workshop.
The basic workshop included lectures on the systems for the protection of tangible and intangible cultural properties, textile and clothing materials, and representative textiles in Japan. The participants also experienced folding and displaying Japanese garments (kimono). In addition, the practical work on making a paper model of kimono helped the participants to understand the construction of kimono. The advanced workshop comprised lectures and practical work on topics such as the degradation of textiles, scientific analysis of dyes, and cleaning of textiles. Furthermore, the participants experienced stitching a support silk fabric to the back of an old textile fragment and making a Japanese traditional folder for it. This served as an opportunity for the participants to comprehend Japanese approaches to textile conservation. In both workshops, case studies on display and conservation of Japanese textiles were shared, and opinions regarding conservation approaches, materials and methods were actively exchanged.
It is expected that introducing fundamental knowledge about Japanese textiles and their conservation to conservation specialists overseas could contribute to the better conservation and utilization of Japanese textile objects outside Japan.
Cultural Exchange Project for the Conservation and Utilization of Historic Buildings in Bhutan (Part ⅠI)
Since 2012, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has been conducting joint architectural research on rammed earth buildings in Bhutan with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS), Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, the Royal Government of Bhutan. From this fiscal year, TNRICP has started the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project, which was commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, with the objective of providing technical support and capacity building for the conservation and utilization of historic buildings in Bhutan. As a part of this project, a team of 11 experts, including TNRICP staff and outside experts, conducted on-site fieldwork from 20th to 28th August, 2019.
The field survey was jointly conducted with DCHS staff and covered traditional houses in the dzongkhags (districts) of Thimphu, Punakha, and Haa. The three main objectives were establishing a methodology for their conservation and repair, studying alternatives for their sustainable utilization, and clarifying the criteria for their evaluation as cultural heritage. Regarding the methodology for conservation and utilization, three traditional houses, which had been previously identified on the basis of features that indicated an early construction date, were selected as case studies. The potential methodologies for the seismic retrofitting of their rammed earth walls and the repair of their wooden members were studied. Furthermore, their potential use, compatible both with the owner’s demands and with the conservation of their value as cultural heritage, was examined during a discussion that involved DCHS staff, local architects, and owners. Regarding the evaluation of traditional houses as cultural heritage, comprehensive surveys were conducted in several settlements, and a potential method for the classification of traditional houses as well as a set of criteria for their designation as cultural properties was studied.
In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding referring to this project was signed at the Department of Culture, and a meeting was organized with the DCHS to discuss the results of this survey as well as the future prospects and needs of the Bhutanese counterparts.
In the future, we expect to continue cooperating with Bhutanese experts through on-site surveys and workshops to establish a methodology for the conservation and utilization of historic buildings suited to the Bhutanese reality.
Applying Post-War Japanese Art Archives in Research: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
The 4th seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on July 23rd, 2019. The seminar was held in a mini symposium format with the theme, “Applying Post-War Japanese Art Archives in Research: The Case of Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives.”
In the first half of the seminar, there were four presentations and reports on the following: “Letters to Yutaka MATSUZAWA from the 50s and 60s” by Hideki KIKKAWA (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems), “Investigation and Records on MATSUZAWA Yutaka Atelier Psi Room” by Mayumi KINOUCHI (Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum), “Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archive: Potential Uses Considered from Naiqua Gallery-Related Materials” by Yūka MIYATA (The National Museum of Art, Osaka), and “Digitization and Storage of Video Media: In the Case of MATSUZAWA Materials” by Shuhei HOSOYA (art and media researcher, filmmaker). In the second half of the seminar, Jun SHIOYA (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) presided over a discussion on Yutaka MATSUZAWA’s artwork and activities, the significance of these archives from the perspective of art history, the applications of these archives, and the archive organization method (data organization and material preservation). During the break, some of Yutaka MATSUZAWA’s archives were viewed by the concerned parties and some information was exchanged.
More than 40 people attended this seminar, including Yutaka MATSUZAWA’s family members, researchers from art museums and universities, and art writers. Presently, the Yutaka MATSUZAWA archives are being considered as the theme for grant-in-aid for scientific research, and there are plans to hold a symposium in 2020, the final year of this grant-in-aid research. Toward this end, the significance of Yutaka MATSUZAWA archives from the perspective of art history and cultural history will be studied in association with researchers from diverse fields.
On July 31st, 2019, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage recorded a live performance of Miyazono-bushi (second recording of a live performance) at the Performing Arts Studio of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
Miyazono-bushi is an important intangible cultural property of Japan which was founded in the first half of the 18th century by Miyakoji Sonohachi in Kyoto. After seeing a revival during the mid- 18th century in Edo, it has become what it is today. Miyazono-bushi can be characterized by its distinctive vocal part called joruri (dramatic narrative chanted to a shamisen accompaniment) that is sang in a solemn and silky voice, accompanied by the soft and thick sounds of a chuzao shamisen (middle-neck sized three-stringed Japanese banjo). With training and experience, subtle expressions are produced through their harmonization. Traditional songs include classical dramatic piece in ten acts as well as modern songs, with the content of these songs being almost entirely about elopements for double suicides.
This time, two pieces were recorded: a classical piece, the “Michiyuki Natane no Midarezaki – Yamazaki” (blooming of rapeseed flowers during an elopement – Yamazaki) and a modern piece, the “Uta no Nakayama” (small path near Seikanji Temple). Both pieces were performed by Miyazono Senroku (lead singer; an individual certified as a Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property or what is called living national treasure), Miyazono Senyoshie (supporting singer), Miyazono Senkazuya (lead shamisen player), and Miyazono Senkoju (supporting shamisen player).
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continue to record live performances of Miyazono-bushi classics, as well as new pieces that get few occasions to be performed live.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been engaged in research exchange with the National Intangible Heritage Center in the Republic of Korea since 2008. This exchange involves conducting overseas research while staying at the other party’s institution for a certain period of time and holding joint symposiums. Megumi Maehara, Head of the Intangible Cultural Properties Section of the Department sojourned in South Korea from July 1st–19th, 2019 to pursue overseas research.
Considering current conditions in Japan where cultural heritage application is anticipated, the purpose of this overseas research was to derive hints at preserving and transmitting cultural heritage preservation techniques used in musical instrument manufacturing and repair, in addition to cultural heritage utilization. During her stay, Ms. Maehara visited musical instrument manufacturers, musical instrument materials manufacturers and those associated with the education on, and preservation and succession of, traditional performance art (music), and also research organizations. The aim of her visit was to investigate South Korean traditional musical instrument manufacturing and repair techniques, the tools and raw materials used, the frameworks utilized to support these techniques, and the treatment of these techniques in the education about, and dissemination of, traditional music to the masses.
In South Korea, classical music and folk music are considered to be inseparable facets of “traditional Korean music (gugak).” Having knowledge and practical skill in these subjects are requirements for teachers who wish to be employed in music education because “traditional Korean music” is an indispensable qualification for music educators. This environment where one can naturally come in contact with traditional Korean music is starkly different from that in Japan. Nonetheless, there is still room to cultivate a general awareness of the techniques and raw materials supporting traditional performance art (music) in Japan and even in South Korea. Case studies and common issues discovered from this research exchange were compared to the current situation in Japan and the results were presented orally on July 18th at the National Intangible Heritage Center. Together with an investigative report in Japan, an overview of this investigation into musical instrument manufacturing and repair techniques will be published in the 14th volume of the “Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage” to be issued at the end of the fiscal year.
The Institute would like to extend its deepest gratitude to Kyeong-Hye, Kang of the National Intangible Heritage Center for supporting its research during this exchange, to interpreter Ji-Ye, Lee, and to everyone at the National Intangible Heritage Center.
The abovementioned training was held from July 8th to 19th, 2019. After receiving more than double the amount of applications than the number of places available this year, we managed to provide training for 31 curators and museum officials.
This year’s training was the first one which was implemented jointly with the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties (CPCP). The CPCP took charge of the training sessions in the first week and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) in the second week, with the lecture programs being completely altered. During the first week, participants learned about the basics of the conservation environment through classroom lectures and practical workshops, while the CPCP shared useful information on social media. With the training this year being jointly held, it became clear that we lacked the ability to deliver the information adequately.
During the second week, certain sections at the Center for Conservation Science provided separate half-day sessions respectively, and provided classroom lectures and other programs under the following topics: scientific study on cultural properties (Analytical Science Section); measures to prevent biodeterioration damage (Biological Science Section); conservation of outdoor cultural properties (Restoration Planning Section); thermal environment control (Preventive Conservation Section); and types and attributes of restoration materials/conservation and restoration of paper artworks/cultural properties of Japanese painting (Restoration Materials Science Section). These programs dealt with a wide range of issues, including methods to apply concepts and basic knowledge of restoration in relation to actual issues and a workshop to learn how to use TNRICP’s latest technologies and achievements for on-site work. Participants appreciated these sessions, commenting that they were very helpful.
In 2020, we believe that it will be quite difficult to hold the training in July due to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and other relevant events. In order to prevent any inconvenience for participants, we will let you know about the schedule for the next planned training immediately after it is decided.
Technical Support to Restore Wall Paintings and Exterior Walls of Brick Temples at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is providing technical support and human resource training to restore wall paintings and the exterior walls of brick temples at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar. On-site training session for staff members of the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar was conducted at two different temples from July 11th to July 27th, 2019.
At Me-taw-ya Temple, a training session on how to repair exterior wall joint material, replace deteriorated bricks, and mix repair materials was carried out. Drainage measures were discussed as accumulated rainwater dissolved the existing wall joint material and resulted in water seeping into the temple.
At Loka-hteik-pan Temple (project name: Conservation and Restoration of Temples Mural Paintings in the Bagan Ruins in Myanmar), where restoration activities were conducted in association with the Sumitomo Foundation, problems created by past repairs—commonly noticed in temple wall paintings of the Bagan Ruins—were explained, and training sessions on reinforcing colored layers using inorganic repair materials and repairing colors were organized.
Research on the folklore pertaining to wall painting iconography began alongside this training program. To explain the non-Buddhist elements and characteristics specific to Myanmar found on wall paintings, detailed examples were collected primarily from Bagan. Information on the historical background of each of these wall paintings was also gathered from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar employees and related people from these temples. Hereafter, we plan to expand the scope of this research beyond Bagan.
The decision to register Bagan as a world cultural heritage site was made at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee. As tourists are expected to increase in the future, efforts to maintain the relics must be improved. This issue was raised at the expert committee session convened by the Bagan Branch during the support period. Requests were also made to increase participants for the training program sponsored by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and for technical instruction at the archaeological sites. Hereafter, the Institute will continue to exchange opinions with local experts and provide technical support and human resource development programs.
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, and the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology (Manggha Museum), held an international forum entitled “Restoration of Japanese Painting” at the Manggha Museum in Krakow, Poland on 29th and 30th July, 2019, in cooperation with the National Museum in Krakow, the Association for Conservation of National Treasures and the Association for Successors of Traditional Preservation Techniques. This forum was certified as one of the projects to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Poland.
TNRICP has been conducting “The Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas” since 1991. Three hanging scrolls in the collection of the National Museum in Krakow were restored within the framework of this program. In conjunction with the exhibition of these hanging scrolls and their restoration process, this forum was held for the purpose of promoting the understanding of the restoration of Japanese paintings through lectures, demonstrations, and workshops. Two of the selected conservation techniques, namely “Restoration techniques for mounts” and “Manufacture of materials and tools for conservation of mounted cultural properties,” were introduced. The manufacture of brushes, handmade washi paper (udagami) and decorative metal fittings were explained as an example of the production of materials and tools.
In the expert meeting held on the first day, 31 conservators, restorers and students from nine countries participated in and experienced various traditional techniques and exchanged opinions with Japanese experts. In the open seminar, held on the second day, more than two hundred visitors from 15 countries participated in the gallery talk and the workshop covering Japanese papermaking. The holding of this forum served to promote not only the communication between conservators and restorers from around the world, but also was a valuable opportunity to obtain an understanding by the general public about the restoration techniques used with Japanese paintings and the traditional materials involved.
The 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee was convened in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan from June 30th to July 10th, 2019.
Twenty nine heritage sites, including Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group in Japan, were inscribed on the World Heritage List at the session. This was the highest number of sites to be listed since the limit was established on the number of new sites the committee would deliberate on each year. This may seem like a good situation at first sight; however, of the inscribed sites, seven sites that the Advisory Bodies had originally considered did not meet the inscription criteria, but the decision was overturned and their inscription as heritage sites was confirmed at the committee session. For the past few years, as the committee’s decisions have been deviated from the counsel of the Advisory Bodies, the inscription of sites whose value and boundary are unclear has come into question, and it seems that this situation has still not been rectified.
Considering this situation, the decision to establish an ad-hoc working group to review the nomination and assessment process was made in the 2018 committee meeting. The contents of the decision were discussed at this year’s meeting, and it was decided that the nomination process would be a two-stage system and that a “Preliminary Assessment” process would be implemented as an initial step in the nomination process. It is anticipated that this Preliminary Assessment will stimulate a dialogue between the Advisory Bodies and States Parties in the early stages, which will raise the quality of nomination dossiers. Presently, the Preliminary Assessment is being considered as a necessary process for all States Parties, and granting States Parties the right to decide whether or not to continue with the subsequent nomination process, irrespective of the Preliminary Assessment, is also under deliberation. Nevertheless, this discussion including on the subject of the commencing time has only just begun. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties will continue to scrutinize discussions concerning world heritage in general, and collect and transmit diverse information pertaining to the implementation of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
Training Provided to Syrian Specialists in “Research Planning Methods to Restore Historical Cities and Buildings”
A civil war broke out in Syria eight years ago in March 2011, and it seems there is no end in sight. Apart from the human cost of war, the much precious cultural heritage was also lost.
The Japanese government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) began providing cultural heritage aid to Syria in 2017. From February 2018, the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, in association with academic organizations such as the University of Tsukuba, Teikyo University, Waseda University, Chubu University, and the Ancient Orient Museum, has been accepting Syrian specialists and providing them training in the fields of archeology and restoration. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is also participating in this project.
Following training seminars on conservation and restoration of paper cultural properties held in May 2018, this year, two Syrian specialists were invited to undergo training in “Research Planning Methods to Restore Historical Cities and Buildings” conducted from July 24th to August 6th.
Many historical cities such as the ancient city of Aleppo were engulfed in war, and many historical buildings were devastated. In the first half of this year’s training, seven specialists gave classroom lectures on surveying damage to historical buildings and making emergency repairs, structural safety diagnosis method, documentation and database creation method, restoration plan creation method, and restoration and preservation system creation method. For the practical aspect that comprised the second half of the training, participants inspected the restoration status of historical buildings and townscapes devastated by the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes, including Kumamoto Castle, the Shinmachi-Furumachi District, Kumamoto University, and the Eto-yashiki (Eto estate), which is registered as an important cultural property.
The participants also heard stories told by the people in charge. They visited Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings in Kyoto and Nara and saw examples of repairs and applications of historical Japanese buildings.
We would once again like to thank the specialists, related organizations, and personnel-in-charge for their support.
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties plans to continue support activities for Syrian cultural heritage in the future.
Cultural Property Information with Linked Data: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
The 3rd seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on June 25th, 2019. Taiki MISHIMA (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) gave a presentation titled “Aggregation of regional cultural heritage information based on Linked Data,” and Mr. Ryoji MURATA (Tokyo National Museum) was invited as a commentator.
Linked Data is a way to realize the Semantic Web. By tracing the links between structured Linked Data, relevant information based on individual needs can be gained. Linking open data to external resources based on Linked Data will improve data discoverability and its potential uses. In recent years, the attention is being paid to the utilization of regional cultural heritage because of the amendment made to the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties, and MISHIMA has focused on the utilization of regional cultural heritage “information” in Japan and has proposed the metadata schema and pointed out the issues involved when aggregating and publishing this information as Linked Data.
As a result of an analysis of the information regarding a designated cultural heritage, published by local public bodies in Tokyo, commonalities and differences were clarified in terms of description items such as name, category, and location of cultural properties, the vocabularies used in the description items, and the description formats. In order to aggregate this information based on Linked Data, a metadata schema was created wherein information with unified vocabulary and description format prevailed along with the original information. One of the issues be highlighted was the relationships between vocabularies, such as “tangible cultural property” and “buildings,” which are specific to cultural property categories as data, and which would need the model for constructing the thesaurus.
At the seminar, participants exchanged opinions on a broad range of topics, such as how cultural heritage information has been created, shared, and published on the basis of their experiences in dealing with cultural heritage.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been researching folk techniques using wooden materials. As part of this research, we have conducted a field study on barking to manufacture fabrics in June 2019.
“Bark fabrics” refer to the cloth woven using yarn made of fiber obtained from the inner bark of trees. In Japan, the Manchurian elm, Japanese lime, Japanese wisteria, Kozo paper mulberry, and East Asian arrowroot etc. are renowned as raw materials. We researched and recorded how to bark the Manchurian elm in the central part of Hokkaido Prefecture on June 15th and the Japanese lime in Sekikawa, Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture on June 30th.
The traditional fabric of the Ainu, comprising the Manchurian elm called “attus,” and “shinaori,” of Sekikawa comprising the Japanese lime, are designated as traditional crafts by the national government (“Nibutani-attus” and “Uetsu-shinafu”). In this case, the Manchurian elm was barked by the Nibutani Folk Crafts Association, whereas the Japanese lime was barked by the Sekigawa Shinaori Cooperative Association.
These trees are barked from June to early July when they grow by drawing water. Smooth barking is allowed only during this period. Basically, barking is applied to the standing Manchurian elm and the fallen Japanese lime. The bark is separated into outer and inner parts using only hands and simple tools. The inner bark is further processed into water-resistant strong yarn by devoting a considerable deal of time and effort.
To ensure efficient and sustainable use of natural materials, people have accumulated knowledge and techniques by deepening their understanding and increasing their experience over a long period of time. You can find some of the human interaction with nature through folk technologies that target natural materials.
Inspection of the Storage Environment of Disaster-Damaged Materials at the Rikuzentakata City Museum
From 2017, Rikuzentakata City have entrusted Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties with inspecting and improving the storage environment of cultural assets at the City Museum that were damaged by a natural disaster. Based on our inspections, we were consulted on issues and countermeasures relating to atmospheric pollution and indoor air pollution affecting cultural assets and the human body, proposals to improve on the management of cultural assets, and proper methods to care for damaged materials.
The first on-site inspection of 2019 fiscal year was performed on June 27th and 28th, 2019. The Rikuzentakata City Museum stored the damaged cultural assets in an elementary school building by making requisite modifications. This year, efforts are focused on the ventilation of a classroom used as a storage room. We hope to be of assistance in this project while cooperating with the several groups involved in the restoration of the damaged materials.
Cultural Exchange Project for the Conservation and Utilization of Historic Buildings in Bhutan (Part I)
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) provides the Royal Government of Bhutan with technical support and human resource development for heritage conservation and sustainable utilization of historic buildings, including traditional houses, under the scheme of International Cooperation Project for Cultural Heritage by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Fiscal Year 2019. TNRICP invited two staff members of the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) from June 23rd to 28th to Japan to hold the first expert meeting and a case study tour in western Japan.
At the meeting, Mr. Yeshi Samdrup of DCHS presented a report on the progress of the development of the legal system concerning cultural heritage, and Mr. Pema Wangchuk of DCHS made a presentation on the prospects for the protection of traditional houses and settlements. Participants shared the recent challenges and dilemmas concerning the protection of cultural heritage in Bhutan through their presentations and the subsequent discussion. The subject of the field survey scheduled for this August was also discussed, and the specific survey method has been almost fixed.
In the case study tour, we visited the Ozaki family residence (Yurihama, Tottori), which is undergoing conservation work, and the Open Air Museum of Old Farm Houses (Toyonaka, Osaka) where typical traditional houses from all over Japan have been collected to study basic concepts of the protection of traditional houses as cultural property in Japan. We also visited historic towns and villages where historic townscapes have been rehabilitated, namely Shikano (Tottori), Oyacho-Osugi, Sasayama, Fukusumi (all above, Hyogo), and Miyamacho-Kita (Kyoto), to spread knowledge about community involvement and heritage tourism where traditional houses can be utilized as accommodation. The invitees were particularly interested in the nongovernmental management of cultural heritage that should be treated under the new law in Bhutan, and there was a lively exchange of views and opinions with the local presenters at each site.
We would like to extend our deep appreciation to all the people involved in the tour for providing this opportunity.
Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part VI)
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) provides technical support to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) for the conservation and sustainable development of the ruins of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. TNRICP dispatched a total of five staff members to Cambodia from May 19th to June 29th, 2019 in order to carry out preparatory work before the examination of the restoration plan for the East Gate by the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) and the start of the restoration work.
APSARA and TNRICP submitted the plan for dismantling the structures to the ICC technical session, which was held on June 11th and 12th. As a result of careful deliberation including a site visit by the three members of the Ad Hoc Experts Group, the plan was adopted as proposed with minor corrections. As necessary preparation for the restoration work, we cleaned out and organized scattered stone blocks around the East Gate, and also carried out excavations for drainage route examination.
We recorded and numbered scattered stone blocks and moved them out of the way of the restoration work. Thanks to the mobile crane provided by Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (NNRICP), which is restoring the Western Prasat Top Site, we were able to move the stone blocks in a short time.
During the excavation we tried to clarify the difference in the old ground surface level between the northeast end of the Cruciform Terrace and around the East Gate, in order to examine the natural drainage route from the East Gate area. The elevation around the East Gate is lower than the surrounding area, and it is feared that rainwater may stagnate there, which is why we plan to set up a drainage channel to the North Moat for future maintenance. In addition, we found laterite stone paving which is presumed to be a part of the approach that connects the Cruciform Terrace and the East Gate. It is expected that further excavations will provide clearer information.
Training for “Examination and Implementation of Emergency Procedures for Wall Painting Conservation” Held in the Republic of Turkey
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted the training for “Examination and Implementation of Emergency Procedures for Wall Painting Conservation” last June 11th–15th, 2019. The training targeted conservators and restorers from national conservation and restoration centers in the Republic of Turkey.
Following the inspection of the result of the workshop for experiments with restoration materials conducted in the previous training program, teachers from a wide range of specialty fields such as geology, structural design engineering, and art history were invited to the final training program (4th training program). The teachers were requested to consider comprehensive emergency procedures from the perspective of the various elements comprising the rock-hewn church, including the wall paintings, as forming a complex of cultural heritage. To verify what participants learned, fieldwork involving the creation of a hypothetical project plan to make emergency procedures on the wall paintings found at Ala Church in the Ihlara Valley was included in the training activity. On the last day, the training course came up with three themes arrived at based on the information gathered on the site: “environmental conservation,” “wall painting techniques and materials,” and “wall painting damage and emergency measure.” A discussion on the content of the presentations on these themes ensued. Following the training course, a questionnaire passed among the participants revealed a common sentiment: ”we reaffirm the importance of ’maintenance,‘ which we have largely ignored during the performance of our daily work duties.“
Over the course of three years, this project that has sought to improve the conservation and management system for wall paintings in the Republic of Turkey has today reached a milestone. While nurturing the network created between Japan and the Republic of Turkey in the course of this project, we hope to continue our endeavors aimed at contributing to the conservation of cultural heritage.
Regarding the Notes by Researcher Takurei HIRAKO: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
Takurei HIRANO (1877–1911) is a Buddhist art researcher who was active between the 1890s and the 1900s. He began working for the Tokyo Imperial Museum (present day Tokyo National Museum) from 1903 and was active in the front lines of research at that time, such as through his involvement in the issue of rebuilding Horyuji Temple. He died young at the age of 35 in 1911.
In 2014, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties received some materials in the possession of Takurei’s sculptor friend Taketaro SHINKAI (1868–1927) which included Takurei’s research notes. At the seminar which was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on May 31st, 2019, Dr. Tetsuei TSUDA (Aoyama Gakuin University) gave a presention on these research notes from the perspective of Buddhist art history titled, “Introduction to Research Materials: The Notes of Takurei HIRAKO Housed at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.”
These notes include numerous sketches of Buddhist statues and paintings that Takuei drew at various temples in the Kansai area. Among them are detailed drawings of Buddhist statues that have now been lost and are a valuable resource for today’s researchers. In a notebook bound in Japanese style titled Kogeishiso can be found the inscription on a Buddhist statue thought to have been recorded by Takurei during its disassembly and repair. This is an example of rare information that cannot be discovered without performing similar repairs on Buddhist statues.
After Dr. TSUDA’s presentation, Dr. Shuji TANAKA (Oita University) a specialist on modern sculpture described the relationship between Taketaro SHINKAI and Takurei, and Ms. Junko ONISHI (Tokyo University of the Arts) who is knowledgeable about the modern history of Buddhist art research described the network of researchers surrounding Takurei at the time, and information was shared. Dr. Yuzo MARUKAWA (National Museum of Ethnology) a specialist on informatics also participated in a discussion on how this material should be released and applied.