An exhibition titled “The Shapes of Mi Winnowing Baskets ― Japanese Wisdom for Living with Nature” is being held from December 2nd, 2020, to January 28th, 2021, at Gallery Walk on the third floor of the Shiodome Media Tower, the headquarters of Kyodo News. (The exhibition is organized by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage; co-organized by the Graduate School of Engineering, Chiba University and the Gangoji Institute for Research of Cultural Property, and supervised by the Workshop on Winnowing Baskets.)
Mi (or winnowing) baskets are common, indispensable tools for winnowing rice and other grains. However, the numbers of both users and makers of mi baskets have been declining since the period of high economic growth. The government has made efforts to conserve its weaving techniques by designating three techniques as important intangible folk cultural properties (folk techniques).
Mi baskets are made of natural materials such as wood, bark, and bamboo. While regular hand-woven baskets are made with one or two types of natural materials, mi baskets are made using four or five types of materials, which makes the technique of weaving mi baskets more complicated and sophisticated. Therefore, the technique is said to be the culmination of weaving techniques. Furthermore, various shapes have been created by reflecting the vegetation of specific regions.
This exhibition introduces the materials and techniques used for making mi baskets through fourteen panels, focusing on the high level of skill and knowledge in the use of natural materials that have been condensed into the form of a mi basket.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a webpage has also been launched, displaying a number of videos documenting the production techniques of mi baskets (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/ich/ mi). This webpage will remain open to the public even after the end of the exhibition for you to visit.
(Admission free/Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays.)
Every autumn, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems invites a wide range of audiences to the “Open Lecture” where researchers give lectures on the results of their research. A lecture titled “Road from Shape, Way to Shape” was held on October 30th, 2020. It is the fifth year for us to hold the lecture under the title. In previous years, lectures were held over two days with outside lecturers. However, in this year, we shortened the period to one day and reduced lecturers to two, selected from our institute, as prevention measures against COVID-19. The number of audience was also limited to 30, chosen by raffle. In the venue, temperature check was conducted and the speakers and audiences were asked to wear a mask and sanitize the hands.
In the first session, Mr. SHIOYA Jun, Director of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems and Head of the Modern/Contemporary Art Section delivered a lecture, titled “Neoclassicism in Modern Japanese Painting: Focusing on the Works of KOBAYASHI Kokei.” Mr. SHIOYA introduced the emergence of sophisticated and quiet styles in Japanese paintings represented by KOBAYASHI Kokei in the pre-war period of the Showa era. He also showed many slides and materials, explaining that those styles were influenced by older paintings from either Japan or China.
In the second session, Ms. FUTAGAMI Yoko, Head of the Cultural Properties Information Section made a presentation titled “Japanese Lacquer Products Exported to Thailand: Focusing on the Lacquer Doors of Wat Rajpradit, a first-grade royal Buddhist temple”. Wat Rajpradit was built in Bangkok in 1864 by order of King Rama IV. Ms. FUTAGAMI reported that Japan-made door panels decorated with lacquer paintings are used in the temple. She also explained the findings of the optical survey conducted on the doors and other lacquer products imported from Japan.
The results of the questionnaire survey of the audience shows that more than 90% of the participants of the lecture were “satisfied” or “generally satisfied” with the lecture.
Dissemination and Utilization of Knowledge of Art Magazine, “Mizue”: The 4th Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems is now actively moving forward with digitalization and open access of the archives.
The art magazine, “Mizue,” which was first published in 1905, became available on the web in 2012 ahead of any other archived materials. The digital archive was developed jointly by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) and the National Institute of Informatics. Pages from the first issue published in the Meiji era to the 90th issue are now available on the web at http://mizue.bookarchive.jp/
At the seminar held on October 8th, 2020, Dr. MARUKAWA Yuzo (an Associate Professor at the National Museum of Ethnology and a visiting researcher in the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems at TNRICP), one of the development members, lectured on the topic of “Dissemination and Utilization of Related Materials in the Study of Modern Art.” Although the site already has an index of articles by the author, Dr. MARUKAWA is continuously enhancing the index by further expanding the search function. He pointed out that an enhanced index would allow for both specialization and universalization as well as the sharing of information across professional boundaries. Using the paintings and writings in “Mizue” as examples that provide information on various regions in Japan and abroad, he presented its value and attractiveness as a collection of fieldnotes that have been unrecognized by art history specialists. He also made an impressive comment that dissemination and utilization of such knowledge with infinite potential has something timeless as well as in common with the “Technology of Intellectual Production” advocated by the ethnologist, UMESAO Tadao. The Thematic Exhibition UMESAO Tadao’s 100th Anniversary: The Front-runner of Intellectual Production, of which Dr. MARUKAWA was in charge, was held (September 3rd–December 1st, 2020) at the National Museum of Ethnology, which coincided with the seminar.
Opening Commemorative Lecture at Exhibition “BVNGO NAMBAN: Namban Culture Lord Ōtomo Sōrin Cherished” held at Oita Prefectural Center for Archaeological Research
Bungo Province (the south-central region of Oita Prefecture) was ruled by OTOMO Sorin, a famous Christian feudal lord during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. It is a land with a history of missionary work by Francis Xavier and many other European missionaries. An exhibition, “BVNGO NAMBAN: Namban Culture Lord Ōtomo Sōrin Cherished,” was held at the Oita Prefectural Center for Archaeological Research from October 10th to December 13th, 2020. It introduced the relationship between the province and Namban culture and/or Christianity, as well as the results of scientific analysis of Namban cultural artifacts, which has been making great progress in recent years.
The exhibition consisted mainly of the artifacts of the Namban culture, including ceramics excavated from the Bungo-Funai archaeological site, a stronghold ruin of the OTOMO clan, as well as related works preserved in different areas in Japan, including the Namban lacquer and paintings that Tsukumi City has collected over the years. Mr. KOBAYASHI Koji, Head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, spoke at the opening commemorative lecture held on the first day of the exhibition at the request of the organizer. His lecture, titled “Catholic Missionary Activity and Namban Lacquer -Consideration by Scientific Analysis, Comparison with Medal Research- ,” focused on the latest research findings on Christian artifacts and the Namban lacquer, which correlated with the exhibition.
Although the venue was set up with a large seating space in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection, about 200 people attended the lecture, showing the deep interest of the local residents in Namban culture and the history of Christian missionary work.
The abovementioned training was held from October 5th to October 15th, 2020. Although we have received many applications, the training was provided to 17 curators and others (or half the usual number) as a measure against the spread of COVID-19. Starting from last year, the training is 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. During the training, various control measures were thoroughly implemented to prevent the spread of infection: body temperature checking, sanitizing, and avoidance of the “3C’s.” Moreover, the participants wore gloves during hands-on training sessions. Furthermore, training materials were distributed to each trainee.
During the first week when the CPCP was in charge, participants learned the basics of the conservation environment through classroom lectures. In addition, reports were made on the instruction and advice regarding the “Virus Removal and Disinfection Work at Museums, etc.” addressed jointly by three organizations, namely the Agency for Cultural Affairs, CPCP, and TNRICP. During the second week, certain sections at the Center for Conservation Science provided separate half-day sessions and provided classroom lectures and practical workshops with a variety of topics such as the concept of conservation and restoration of cultural properties, the method of addressing on-site issues with the application of basic natural science knowledge, and other topics. Participants appreciated these sessions, commenting that they were informative and useful. On the last day of the training, Dr. KOUZUMA, Director of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center established in October 2020, was invited to give a lecture on the “Disaster Risk Management of Museums,” which turned out to be a valuable occasion to think about the role played by museums in protecting cultural properties from disasters.
We will keep working to provide better trainings to suit the needs of the time in 2021.
【Series】 Forum on Intangible Cultural Heritage First Forum: “Traditional Performing Arts amid COVID-19 Pandemic”
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage studies the impact of COVID-19 on intangible cultural heritage. It also collects information on related support, new initiatives, and related news in other countries. As a part of these efforts, the first forum of the series titled “Traditional Performing Arts amid COVID-19 Pandemic” was held in the seminar hall at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on September 25th, 2020.
The forum was focused on the traditional performing arts, especially classical performing arts, which have been greatly affected since the onset of the pandemic. In the first half of the forum, we gave a lecture on the role that the “public sector” serves for traditional performing arts amid the pandemic. We also presented some topics from the standpoint of our organization which is engaged in studies and information gathering. In the second half, we took up two different genres of the traditional performing arts, Nohgaku (a form of classical Japanese dance-drama) and Hohgaku (traditional Japanese music by traditional musical instruments such as so, a traditional Japanese zither and shamisen, a three-stringed traditional musical instrument). Then, for each genre, current situations were explained from the standpoint of performers, organizers/producers, and preservation techniques which are indispensable in the traditional performing arts. This was a valuable opportunity to share difficulties amid the pandemic. In the round-table discussion that followed, the talk centered around “social integration” that the traditional performing arts need beyond each genre and role. Participants shared a common view that raising awareness of “social integration” of the traditional performing arts is critical for communicating the current situation accurately in order to receive proper support. It is also critical for promoting education and/or training in anticipation of an increase in demand.
The video footage of this forum was released for free until November 3rd. We will publish a revised report with some additions online at the end of this fiscal year.
The Oiwayama Bishamonten in Ashikaga city, Tochigi prefecture is said to be one of the three major bishamontens in Japan in addition to those at Kurama-yama in Kyoto and at Shigi-san in Nara. Wooden Kongo Rikishi statues, which are cultural properties designated by Ashikaga city, are enshrined at Sanmon gate. According to recent research, there are concerns about the deterioration of these properties over time. In particular, the inclination of the head of Agyo statue has been pointed out. Considering this situation, the owner plans to embark on a restoration project.
To carry out the project, it is necessary to clarify the inner structure of the statues, especially how the parts are connected to each other. However, an in-situ and non-invasive investigation is required without transferring statues, which are about 2.8 meters tall, from Sanmon gate. At the request of the owner via Ashikaga city, Masahide INUZUKA conducted an investigation into the inner structure of the statues using X-ray radiography from September 9th to 10th, 2020.
As shown in the photograph, the X-ray was irradiated on Kongo Rikishi statues from an X-ray tube set on the scaffold assembled in front of the statues. Before conducting the investigation, important discussions were done to determine how imaging plates (IPs) should be set in the limited space behind the statues. For this research, we used the developing equipment, which is dedicated to IPs, and proceeded with the research by confirming the X-ray transmission images each time they were obtained.
From the X-ray transmission images obtained during the above research, the inner structure of the statues and the information about positions and numbers of nails used in past restoration works were revealed. Such information will be referred to during the restoration works in the future.
The 27th Seminar of the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage: “International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage under the COVID-19 Crisis”
International cooperation in cultural heritage is facing many challenges due to the spread of COVID-19. The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (JCIC-Heritage) held a webinar on “International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage under the COVID-19 Crisis” on September 5th, 2020. The purpose of the webinar is to share detailed information on how each project deal with the situation as well as to discuss the future possibilities of international cooperation in cultural heritage.
For the first report, “Conservation Project of Angkor Archaeological Park under the COVID-19 Crisis,” Dr. NAGAOKA Masanori (from the UNESCO Phnom Penh Office) who participated in the webinar from Cambodia, explained that tourism around Angkor has been severely hit as the number of tourists has decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic while APSARA national authority, the administrative body of the Angkor, took advantage of the situation to undertake large improvement projects (which had been put on hold) around the site and new studies.
For the second report, “An Example of International Cooperation Project Utilizing Digital Tools,” Associate Dr. WATANABE Nobuya from Chubu University introduced the cooperation project for remotely supporting the 3D documentation work of endangered cultural heritage in Syria during the ongoing conflict.
Following the two reports, Mr. SEKI Yuji of the National Museum of Ethnology served as the moderator and the four panelists including Mr. TOMODA Masahiko of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and Mr. YAMAUCHI Kazuya of the Research Institute of Cultural Properties, Teikyo University discussed about the possibilities and difficulties of online training and remote research and conservation projects with digital tools.
JCIC-Heritage will continue to make efforts to collect and disseminate information of the challenges and the trial of projects under the COVID-19 Crisis. We are hoping that the accumulation of these knowledge and experiences will be fully utilized for the post-Covid-19 international cooperation in cultural heritage.
For details about this webinar, please refer to the URL below:
A Hands-on Seminar on Documentation and Database Compilation of Cultural Properties — How to Photograph Cultural Properties — Seminar on Practical Photographing as a Tool for Documenting Cultural Properties
Study and documentation of cultural properties are means to develop a deeper understanding of them. Dissemination of the documented information provides many people with opportunities to become familiar with such properties. It also provides a basis for restoration if any cultural property were to be damaged. Therefore, documentation is necessary in terms of these properties’ preservation and utilization. On the subject of photography, which is a means to document cultural properties, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties held the seminar, referred to in the title, at the Uehara Museum of Art in Shimoda City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on August 24th, 2020. The seminar was organized with the support of the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum Association as well as in collaboration with the Museum. Eleven people, including staff of museums and art galleries, and local government officials in charge of cultural properties in Shizuoka Prefecture, participated in the seminar. For the seminar, the Uehara Museum of Art took proper measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which included keeping distances between seats, ventilation of the lecture rooms, and temperature checks of the participants.
The seminar comprised a morning and an afternoon session. In the morning session, Mr. Tajima Sei, chief curator of the Uehara Museum of Art, shared his photography experience during his research on temples, followed by an open discussion on issues regarding photographing in the participants’ daily activities. Mr. Shirono Seiji, an artificer of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, answered participants’ questions. He also explained, using examples, the importance of photographing focused on the significance of the subject which should be recorded.
In the afternoon, participants took photos of three artworks owned by the Uehara Museum of Art, using their own cameras. Mr. Shirono explained photographing methods and techniques, including the best lighting to draw out the character of the work, as well as how to properly record colors by manually setting the camera’s white balance. He also showed participants how to operate the photographing equipment. The afternoon session provided hands-on practice as curators of the Uehara Museum of Art, including Mr. Tajima, also gave an exposition of the research techniques of the work.
The seminar was well received as participants said it was fruitful and productive. It was meaningful for us as well, as it provided us with an opportunity to hear about issues on photography directly from the participants. We would like to show our deepest appreciation to the Uehara Museum of Art and its staff for their great support in planning and organizing the event. We will continue to improve our hands-on seminars, building upon this valuable experience.
Thematic Exhibition “Records and Evaluation of Japanese Art: Trajectory of Art History Research Viewed through Scholars’ Notebooks”
An exhibition regarding research notebooks of Imaizumi Yusaku (1850–1931), Hirako Takurei (1877–1911), and Tanaka Ichimatsu (1895–1983) owned by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, as well as research notebooks of Doi Tsugiyoshi (1906–1991) owned by the Kyoto Institute of Technology, and others was held at the Tokyo National Museum from July 14th to August 23rd, 2020. The research notebooks of Tanaka Ichimatsu and Doi Tsugiyoshi were showcased at the exhibition “Making notes of Japanese Art History―The research notes of Aimi Kouu, Tanaka Ichimatsu, and Doi Tsugiyoshi” held in 2018 (organized by the Kosetsu Memorial Museum, Jissen Women’s University and the Museum and Archives of Kyoto Institute of Technology). However this time, their notebooks were exhibited together with two artworks owned by the Tokyo National Museum. In the past, when it was not easy to take photos, the principal method of research was to sketch artworks by hand. It is possible to go through the whole process of the study, from the way the researcher worked with each subject to how they recorded and evaluated them, by studying these research notebooks. Reservations were required for the exhibition with the purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, as a special exhibition “KIMONO: Fashioning Identities” was held at the same time, many people visited and enjoyed the exhibition. A special website was also launched for the exhibition (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/exhibition/202007/).
This website continues to be accessible. Please visit the site to view the pages of research notebooks that were not presented at the exhibition as well as transcriptions of the research notebooks.
At the 3rd seminar organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on August 25th, YAMANASHI Emiko delivered a presentation titled “Correspondence between Joseph Duveen and YASHIRO Yukio archived in the Getty Research Institute”.
YASHIRO Yukio (1890-1975) played an important role in the establishment of the Institute of Art Research, which is now Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, studied in Europe from 1921 to 1925, and published a book titled Sandro Botticelli (Medici Society, 1925) in English as a result of his study under Bernard Berenson (1865-1959). Berenson was known as a masterful scholar of Renaissance paintings living in the Villa I’Tatti with a large garden near Florence, Italy. It is said that Berenson’s financial success had been based on a contract with Joseph Duveen (British nationality, 1869-1939). Duveen had galleries in New York, Paris and London and helped American millionaires such as Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) and John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) collect classical European paintings. He also founded the Duveen Wing in the Tate Gallery in the U.K.
Yamanashi translated and analyzed the correspondence between Duveen and YASHIRO and found that YASHIRO sent letters to Duveen as a pupil of Berenson before the publication of his book on Botticelli asking for research of paintings in Duveen’s collection after whichYASHIRO sent his opinion on each work. Some letters reveal that Duveen had been interested in Japan in the 1920’s as a market for classical European paintings and expected YASHIRO to mediate. This seminar gave new aspects to the study of YASHIRO as an art historian as well as the history of European painting collections in Japan.
The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been continually causing a serious impact on the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage at in Japan and abroad.
For example, in the field of traditional performing arts, performances face forced cancellation or postponement, or the reduction of the number of seats even if performances resume. The production of musical instruments and costumes to support traditional performing arts also has been suffering from a serious impact caused by the decline in demand. In the area of traditional craftsmanship as well, we can observe negative effects like restrictions on holding exhibitions, which serve as the occasions to present work, and limitation on opportunities and venues for sales. Furthermore, we know these traditional performing arts and craftsmanship are, in most cases transposed to the next generation through face-to-face training and skill transfer, facing serious diminution of such opportunities.
We can also observe serious impacts on folk performing arts, customs, and techniques handed down in local regions. Regarding these intangible folk cultural properties, it is true that the aging and declining population had already made it difficult for many of them to survive in local areas, It is concerned that this COVID-19 pandemic spurs them to further deterioration, now leading a number of them to face possible annihilation.
When it comes to international affairs, there are concerns that the existence of intangible cultural heritage handed down by ethnic groups is at stake in countries and regions already facing challenges in the medical system and sanitary environment.
Although the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are generally widespread on tangible and intangible cultural heritage, we believe that the effect on so-called living heritage including intangible cultural heritage is very serious. This is because such heritage is supported by the activities of living humans, and activities by humans are exactly what the COVID-19 pandemic restrains most.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been widely collecting information on the effects of the COVID-19 on intangible cultural heritage in Japan and overseas since April 2020. Among them are information on cancellation and postponement of performances, exhibitions and festivities, information on their resumption, information on support (benefits, subsidies etc.) by the government, local public organizations and private organizations, information on new attempts including online distribution and disclosure of performances and exhibitions, information on situations in each country and attempts by international organizations including UNESCO.
We are also working to disseminate some of the collected information. For example, we launched the webpage of “COVID-19 and Intangible Cultural Heritage” (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/ich/vscovid19) on the website of the department. This webpage provides information on supports by the government, local public organizations and private organizations as well as discloses the analytic results of statistical information on postponement, cancellation and resumption of related businesses regarding the effects of the COVID-19 disaster on traditional performing arts. We also launched Facebook Groups “COVID-19 and Intangible Cultural Heritage” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/3078551232201858) on the Facebook page of the Institute to provide information on supports as well as information on new attempts and information on international trends. Anyone who has a Facebook account can join the group as a member and receive information on a regular basis. Also, anyone who has a Facebook account can read articles even without becoming a member.
We are also working to disseminate information through holding forums. In September, we are going to hold “Traditional Performing Arts and Novel Coronavirus” as the forum 1 of “Series Forum: COVID-19 and Intangible Cultural Heritage.” In December, we plan to hold “Intangible Folk Cultural Property in Novel Corona Virus Pandemic (tentative title)” as the forum 2. From the viewpoint of preventing the infectious disease, we have to limit the number of participants and have some presenters participate by recording or remote call. We plan to upload the videos of the forum online for a certain period of time. We will release the details of these forums in our future activity report.
The situation of the COVID-19 disaster is changing from moment to moment, making it already difficult even at present to obtain information on the preceding situation. Therefore, we are going to continuously collect information and comprehensively analyze the data including information not published on websites and in forums so that we will be able to effectively utilize them to contribute to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.
The Biological Science Section of the Center for Conservation Science has been promoting basic research on a new technology useful for detecting cultural property pests or pest identification methods that use DNA analysis. In order to specify the type of a cultural property pest, we generally identify the species by comparing the characteristics of the external morphology of the pest with information described in pictorial books and specialized guides. The similar external morphology of some pests will make type specification difficult and require specialized knowledge, including dissection and comparison of body details. In addition, we frequently experience a situation that allows us to obtain only limited parts of their bodies. Therefore, we have been analyzing some specific regions of DNA of cultural property pests, creating a unique database of base sequence information specialized for cultural property pests, and attempting to apply the “DNA barcoding” method to conduct type specification by using DNA obtained from unidentified samples.
We conducted a field survey from August 6th to 7th, 2020, in the historical wooden structures in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, in an attempt to capture several species of Anobiidae not registered in the database. With no effective traps available to capture target Anobiidae during the field survey, we conducted persistent research, checking every detail of the damaged wooden structures, which resulted in the capture of several species of Anobiidae.
To date, we have determined the DNA base sequences of about 40 major cultural property pests, including the individuals obtained from this field survey, and are now proceeding with the creation of the database. Included in it are many types unregistered in the public database. We can safely say that it is a matter of great importance to build a database specializing in cultural property pests.
Hereafter, we plan to develop technology to identify the pests from their body parts such as legs and wings, extract DNA from molting shells and manure left in damaged parts, and identify the “criminal” that has harmed cultural properties.
The Consultation Desk for Virus Removal and Disinfection Work at Museums to Deal with the Novel Coronavirus Infection
In 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection spread all over the world. On April 7, the Japanese government issued a state of emergency to seven prefectures, and on April 16, they expanded the target areas to all prefectures. Facilities possessing cultural properties also found it necessary to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection and then they encountered the concerns about the impact disinfection might cause to cultural properties. The Agency for Cultural Affairs issued an administrative contact on April 23, “Regarding the measures for virus removal and disinfection work to be taken by cultural property owners and administrators of facilities for the conservation and public display of cultural properties.”
The Agency warned the departments responsible for cultural properties across the country that disinfecting chemicals could cause deterioration of cultural properties, therefore some cases would require cautions in using those chemicals; and when any department faced the necessity of engaging in disinfection work for cultural properties and needed professional advice, it should consult the Agency beforehand. They asked the following three organizations — the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties, and the Center for Conservation Science of Tokyo Cultural Properties Research Institute — to cooperate and provide the service as the consultation desk to respond to the situation. Our Institute has posted on its website that it is available to accept technical consultations regarding disinfection. (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/info/info200424/index.html).
So far, we have received a wide range of consultations including not only on disinfection in museums, art museums, exhibition rooms and storage of archives, but also on the disinfection of buildings as well as folk cultural properties used for festivals. In response to these consultations, our Institute has advised to minimize the usage of chemicals for disinfection and instead employ other infection prevention countermeasures. Even in cases absolutely requiring disinfection, we have advised on how to respond or on how to ventilate in the best possible manner according to each situation. Hereafter, while constantly examining the need for disinfection, we are going to keep responding to the situations as a consultation desk.
The 30th Public Exhibition of the Conservation Facility for Mural Paintings of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, a National Treasure
The 29th Public Exhibition of the Conservation Facility for Mural Paintings of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, a National Treasure, was canceled because the number of the cases with novel coronavirus was so increasing. With sufficient infection prevention supervised by public health specialists, the 30th Public Exhibition was held from July 18th to July 24th, 2020. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural properties sent four researchers as expositors for the visitors.
In this public exhibition, the azure dragon painted on the east wall, the black tortoise on the northern wall, female figures on the east and west walls, which were restored last year, were placed near the visitor corridor.
Before viewing these wall paintings, we asked visitors to measure their body temperature, report their health condition in the last two weeks, and disinfect their hands frequently. The number of daily visitors were restricted to 100 in the viewpoint of avoiding crowded in the corridor for visitors. While face to face instructions have been done previously, we installed audio guides and answered the questions from visitors outside to protect them against droplet infection. We also ventilated the corridor with a blower, and cleaned the surface inside with alcohol.. As specialists of conservation science, we offered technical supports to insure visitors’ safety, such as monitoring the concentration of carbon dioxide as the index of ventilation and measuring the number of droplet particles with a particle counter to check the air quality.
The application for public exhibition in this coming winter is available form the link below:
Exhibition at the entrance lobby: Restoration work of the East Gate of Ta Nei Temple, Angkor, Cambodia
A year-long permanent exhibition is being held at the Institute’s entrance lobby. Each department or center of the Institute takes turns to arrange this exhibition in yearly shifts to introduce the result of research and projects to the public. In the year of 2020, the exhibition provides an introduction to the ongoing restoration work of the East Gate, as a part of the cooperation project for the conservation and sustainable development of Ta Nei Temple, Angkor, Cambodia. Over two decades, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation of the Institute has been involved in the cooperation activities at this temple.
In Angkor, since the 1990s when Cambodia emerged from its domestic and political turmoil, the international community including Japan, France, the United States, India, and China has supported conservation initiatives aiming to preserve and repair the splendid architecture in the magnificent monuments, representing the glory of ancient Cambodia. At Ta Nei Temple, it is tried to take the objective of international support a step forward, and promote sustainable heritage conservation in Cambodian circumstances under the conservation masterplan jointly prepared by the Institute and the Cambodian government’s Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and Region of Siem Reap (APSARA). The restoration work of the East Gate is the first case to be explored under this conservation masterplan. The Institute provides technical advice and proposals about restoration methods and procedures as well as conducts architectural surveys and archaeological excavations at each phase of the restoration process, while APSARA ensures the budget and implements the onsite work.
Digital documentation techniques, such as 3D laser scanning and photogrammetry—with rapid progress rates—are actively adopted during onsite research activities. Regarding photogrammetry, a full-scale, straightforward application has already been put into commercial use at accessible prices. It could be utilized as a technique with high versatility in the field of heritage conservation in Cambodia and abroad. We have tried to use such digital data during the exhibition, introducing electronic presentations with AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) technologies, to provide an interactive experience of the site. We hope that this exhibition rouses your interest in the Institute’s international cooperation efforts for heritage conservation.
“Tradition” Observed in Imperial Ceremonies in the Modern and Present Age: The 1st Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems.
The year 2019 witnessed the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (Great Thanksgiving Ceremony). These great imperial ceremonies marked the change of the era from Heisei to Reiwa. The memory of the events is still vivid in our hearts. The graceful attire used in those ceremonies must have captivated many of you. How have a series of events that remind us of ancient ceremonies been passed down through the five eras namely the Meiji, Taisho, Showa, Heisei, and Reiwa eras? The presentation, “Imperial ceremonies in modern ages and the usages or practices of the court or military households,” by Mr. TANAKA Jun, a Visiting Researcher, in the seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on June 23rd, 2020, depicted a few aspects of “the tradition” of the Imperial Household in the modern and present age.
Western dress has become common even in the Imperial Household since the Meiji Era, limiting the attire of the Imperial Household to be only used in religious services and rites. Whereas the reduction of the usage of the attire threatened its discontinuation, research on the usages or practices of the court or military households began to increase in importance to avoid such a situation and the result of the research has played an important role in each imperial ceremony. As we compare the attire used in imperial ceremonies in different eras, it can be observed that it has been through not a few changes which can be attributed to visual effects and the question of expense. Mr. TANAKA’s presentation made me recognize the existence of something very common between the manner of imperial ceremonies handing down images of “tradition” while flexibly corresponding to the needs of the ages and the manner of conserving and handing down tangible and intangible cultural properties.
This seminar convened approximately four months after the previous one with a recess in between caused by spread of the new coronavirus. As a preventive measure against viral infection, the venue was changed from the seminar room on the second floor to the seminar hall on the basement level to avoid a crowded place and close contact.
We reopened the Library of our Institute on June 10th after keeping it temporarily closed since February 28th, 2020, as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19. As a continued preventive measure against infection, we have reduced the number of hours and the number of days it is open. Visitors are required to make a reservation in advance, wear a facemask and use nitrile rubber gloves in the Library. We regret the inconvenience caused by this policy. Our staff have been making their best efforts to provide necessary service, securing the safety of all users and staff, while the risk of infection is still high. We deeply appreciate your understanding and kind cooperation.
Please visit the following link to make a reservation.
We also provide a remote copy service, which enables you to obtain necessary materials from home. Although it may take some time before the materials reach you due to a lack of staff working here, it is still well worth trying. We highly recommend that you utilize this option.
Technical cooperation activities during the COVID-19 pandemic: Conservation and sustainable development of Ta Nei temple in Angkor, Cambodia
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties provides continuous 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. Last year, the restoration of the East Gate began under the Conservation and Sustainable Development Plan jointly developed by APSARA and the Institute. APSARA is responsible for securing the budget for materials and labors, as well as implementing the work. The Institute provides technical assistance on restoration methodologies and procedures, as well as cooperation in architectural and archaeological surveys before and during the work.
The possibility of our visiting Cambodia has all but disappeared after March this year, due to the global travel bans implemented to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we cannot suspend the restoration work for our convenience, given that COVID-19 has not spread widely in Cambodia and the Cambodian counterpart has been continued regular site duties. From April, we have been benefiting from the advantages of Information & Communication Technology (ICT), actively utilizing interactive networking services with smartphones, besides normal e-mail messaging, to grasp real-time conditions at the site and hold online meetings as needed.
On the 21st of April, an online meeting was conducted with the East Gate restoration team of APSARA to share the result of the foundation’s geological testing during February and March and discuss restoration methods and structural reinforcement measures, based on the test result. Two of our collaborators, Professor KOSHIHARA Mikio (Structural Engineering) and Professor KUWANO Reiko (Geo-technical Engineering) from the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, joined the meeting. After an in-depth discussion from a scientific perspective, the participants finally agreed on a basic scheme for the restoration and reinforcement with an aim to balance heritage authenticity and structural safety. Under this basic scheme, online meetings were held in May and July to study about treating the foundation and superstructure, respectively. We had interactive discussions and shared ideas, plans, and other useful information, as well as the site’s latest condition, and decided that, at this stage, the concrete restoration/reinforcement method be considered the most appropriate one.
The Technical Session of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC), organized at APSARA headquarters in June every year, was also postponed, and only the site visit by the ICC co-chairs and the secretariat was done this year. APSARA and the Institute jointly made the progress report and work plan of the project, including the activities mentioned above, and submitted it to the ICC secretariat prior to their site visit. We also held an online meeting with Professor MASUI Masaya of Kyoto University Graduate School, a member of the Ad Hoc Expert Group of the ICC, who supervised and advised us on our recent issues and the project’s work plan and exchanged information about latest information concerning international cooperation on Angkor.
In this way, we accidentally realized a potential of ICT in heritage conservation. Indeed, there is a natural limit to conservation efforts based on telecommunication and remote information sharing because the universal value of cultural heritage is in its object itself. We hope that the world returns to normal, after overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, and the days of unrestricted international travel are back soon.
Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part IX)
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has been providing 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 Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. As a part of this project, TNRICP dispatched a total of four members, including an outside expert, to Cambodia between February 26 and March 18, 2020 for 3D documentation of the base structure and an investigation of the foundation’s strength of the East Gate under restoration.
Directed by Associate Professor Dr. OISHI Takeshi, from the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, a 3D laser scanning survey was conducted between February 27 and 28, 2020 to accurately record the state of the base platform including that in the excavation pits at the external corners of it, which were revealed after the superstructure was dismantled. After that, it was originally planned to conduct a flat-plate loading test and uniaxial compression test of the laterite substrate material. However, because of the spread of COVID-19, the experts in charge were unable to join the mission and only a simple dynamic cone penetration test (DCPT) was performed at the site, which was also conducted in December 2019.
DCPT was conducted at 11 points to check the bearing capacity of the soil infill inside the platform and the foundation layer at the outer edge of the platform. The outcomes of the test indicated that test points below the wall structure have generally larger values than that of the central area (under the pavement). Although the factors such as the difference in the climatic conditions at the time the tests were performed (wet and dry season) might affect the test results, the long-term structural weight causing the rammed earth beneath the walls to get compacted could have caused this distinction. It could be interpreted as the soil infill inside the platform has developed a certain degree of strength enough to support the upper weight of the structure at present. In addition to DCPT, a core sampling was also conducted with a hand auger to check the cross-sectional structure, including the lowest layer of the foundation.
Further, indoor material tests were performed by Professor Dr. KUWANO Reiko and Assistant Professor Dr. OTSUBO Masahide, from the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo. Three kinds of specimens (original laterite stone, new laterite stone used for replacing deteriorated parts, and lime mortar used for the level adjustment) were tested in the laboratory through uniaxial compression test, etc. The test results indicated that there was no significant difference in the strength of the old and new laterite materials.
The recent global pandemic has also affected our international cooperation project severely due to the difficulty of reaching to the site yet still the request of completion of the project as scheduled. However, we are trying to adapt to this situation by trying to find a way to communicate remotely with the counterparts through effective utilization of online meeting tools and the digital data of the structure that we have created thus far.