Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Friendship between KURODA Seiki and KUME Keiichiro – The 7th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

KUME Keiichiro (left) and KURODA Seiki during their study in France
Part of the letter written to KUME Kei-ichiro by KURODA Seiki dated on April 1st, 1895, which includes the view of marriage expressed partially in French by him right after his marriage

 KURODA Seiki (1866-1924) and KUME Keiichiro (1866-1934), who learned oil painting from Raphael COLLIN––an academic painter in France––were close friends and shared an atelier. After returning to Japan, they founded a new fine art association named Hakubakai. Through their involvement in art education and administration, they endeavored to innovate and develop the sphere of Japanese oil painting.
 The Kume Museum of Art, which owns and publishes the works and materials of KUME Keiichiro, and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, which was founded with the inheritance of KURODA Seiki, began joint research in 2016 in order to investigate the materials pertaining to their friendship. The letters exchanged between them particularly attract attention as materials that illustrate their social and professional friendship. The 7th seminar titled “Reading the Letters Written by KURODA Seiki and KUME Keiichiro” was organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on December 10th, 2019. SHIOYA Jun of the Institute delivered a presentation regarding the letters written to Kume by Kuroda, while Ms. ITO Fumiko of the Kume Museum of Art addressed the letters written to Kuroda by Kume.
 The letters investigated by this research were written from the 1890s until 1925, after they returned to Japan from France. They wrote not in the epistolary style used generally at that time, but in a colloquial style to report their productions’ progress and their travel impressions. They occasionally wrote in French to secretly pour forth their feelings. In 1910 and 1911, Kume visited the UK to do clerical work for the association for exhibits for the Japan-British Exhibition. The letters written during the period¬¬––in which he detailed the exhibition, the reunion with Mr. Collin, and interaction with local painters––represent the network of oil painters of that time.
 After the presentation, two Visiting Researchers who helped us reprint the letters, Mr. TANAKA Jun and Mr. SAITO Tatsuya, joined the opinion exchange. We will release the outcomes of this research in “The Journal of Art Studies,” which will be published in the next fiscal year.

Seminar on the Recording and Database Compilation of Cultural Properties

A scene from the presentation, showing the breakdown of the participants

 Inventories of cultural properties are very important for museums, galleries, and archives, as well as for local governments. It works as a principle source of information not only for the research/study and the conservation/management of cultural properties but also for planning exhibitions and rental schedules. Photos, which record the visual information of cultural properties, also support research and studies. Their management with listed cultural properties enables more appropriate conservation and utilization of cultural heritage and its related information. Thus, the recording of cultural properties and the database compilation of such records are essential to the conservation and utilization of cultural heritage. However, not a few persons concerned have budgetary and technological restrictions, which render them difficult. Therefore, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a seminar for the same on December 2nd, 2019.
 At the seminar, we used examples to explicate the significance of recording and compiling the databases for cultural properties. We also introduced a free system that facilitates building a database of cultural properties, which has been worked on by the Cultural Properties Information Section of the department in recent years. In addition, the Image Laboratory of the section presented various types of photography as a means to record information on cultural properties, along with relevant concepts and concrete examples.
 Almost 120 people attended the seminar, particularly those who are practically involved in the conservation and utilization of cultural heritage. The participants’ significant number of questions related to routine tasks made us believe that they were quite interested in this topic. Although we organized this comprehensive seminar as a first step, we seek to further transmit diversified information, such as seminars focusing on specific themes and workshops with practical training.

Researching Medieval Glass in Japan – The 8th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

A scene from the seminar

 At the 8th seminar organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on December 24th, 2019, HAYASHI Yoshimi––a Part-time Lecturer at Tokai University––delivered a presentation titled “Researching Medieval Glass in Japan – Based on the Outcomes in 2018 and 2019.”
 Dr. Hayashi has been researching the history of glass in East Asia for many years. For this seminar, she introduced a part of her outcomes from the collection and observational research of Japanese glass products manufactured between the 13th and 16th century, which she has researched after writing her doctoral dissertation in 2018. The actual state of Japanese medieval glass has been almost unknown due to the rarity of its unearthed products. However, in recent years, glass products manufactured during the aforementioned period have been excavated in Kyoto, Hakata and other areas. An improved understanding of Japanese medieval glass is expected based on these products, which will add to the existing literature and materials. Dr. Hayashi mentioned the following three key aspects in the research of Japanese glass produced between the 13th and 16th century: (1) Getting a whole sketch, (2) Determination of production areas, and (3) Consideration from historical and broad-based viewpoints. Then, she presented her views on the manufacturing technique and origin of the glassware unveiled, through her study of written and excavated materials.
 Ms. INOUE Akiko, director of the Association for Glass Art Studies, Japan, also attended the seminar as a commentator so as to facilitate a discussion on various front-line topics pertaining to glass history studies, proceeding step-by-step alongside a few researchers.

The 14th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

A scene from the comprehensive discussion

 On December 20th, 2019, the 14th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was held on the topic “Towards the new utilization of intangible cultural heritages.” The meeting attracted about 170 participants including government officials, researchers, and representatives of conservation groups.
 Due to the amendment of the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties, the utilization of properties is expected to increase., many cultural programs featuring intangible cultural heritage are planned or have been implemented for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. However, there is room for discussion on how to utilize such properties and whether they should be utilized or not in the first place has not been discussed thoroughly. Leaving many properties vulnerable to total demise, a new way to make good use of them for inheritance is sought.
 The meeting featured four presenters in different positions from various regions. With specific examples, they reported the utilization through existing systems such as the hometown tax system and programs on traditional culture for parents and children, utilization by building an inter-regional network, and utilization for the purpose of transmitting attractive features of the heritage to the public via multimedia. This was followed by a vigorous and comprehensive discussion by the presenters and two commentators.
 This conference will be published in March 2020, and they will be available on the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Fourteenth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

A live performance of “Music and dance of Dominican Bachata” (Dominican Republic), which was inscribed on the Representative List

 The fourteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took place in Bogota, the capital of Columbia, from December 9th to 14th, 2019. Two researchers from this Institute attended the session.
 At the session, Japanese elements were not discussed, but the Committee inscribed five on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and 35 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Committee also added two projects to the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices. Among the elements inscribed on the Representative List are “Music and dance of Dominican Bachata” (Dominican Republic), “Nuad Thai, traditional Thai massage” (Thailand), and “Ie Samoa, fine mat and its cultural value” (Samoa). In particular, “Safeguarding strategy of traditional crafts for peace building” (Colombia), which was also added to the Good Practices, attracted global attention. As a good model, the strategy shows that intangible cultural heritage plays an active role in recovering from the devastation of long battles with drug syndicates.
 In a first, the Committee decided to remove one element, “Aalst Carnival” (Belgium), from the Representative List. The reason for that was the recurrence of anti-Semitic and Nazi representations on the carnival floats, which was not stopped on the grounds of “freedom of expression” despite protests and objections from various quarters. This is incompatible with the fundamental principles of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the  Intangible Cultural Heritage, thereby non-conforming with the inscription criteria. The global community expressed its intention to not allow any forms of discrimination, even in cultural activities or practices.
Intangible cultural heritage may give courage and pride to people, promoting dialogue between peoples of different cultural backgrounds, while it may also highlight the cultural superiority of one side, denying or excluding people on the other side. We feel that it is the responsibility of us experts to blow a whistle against political use of intangible cultural heritage while promoting its use for peacekeeping and mutual understanding.

International Researchers Forum “Perspectives of Research for Intangible Cultural Heritage: Toward a Sustainable Society”

Participants at the International Researchers Forum

 The International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (IRCI) co-organized the International Researchers Forum “Perspectives of Research for Intangible Cultural Heritage: Toward a Sustainable Society” with the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan, on December 17th and 18th, 2019 at this Institute. As a co-organizer, the Institute thoroughly cooperated in this forum, right from its planning to operation.
 The forum’s aim was to discuss how Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) can contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs are the international goals to shift the world onto a better, sustainable path by 2030, specified in “the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, following the Millennium Development Goals developed in 2001. Under its 17 goals and 169 targets, the agenda pledges to leave no one behind. As universal goals, not only developing countries but also developed countries, including Japan, are expected to achieve the SDGs.
 This forum addressed two goals related to ICH in particular: “Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” and “Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” For the goals, three sessions were arranged—in Session 1 “Community Development: ICH and Regional Development,” we mainly discussed the promotion of local cultures, communities, and economy through ICH, and then the efforts to conserve urban landscapes and the natural environment through ICH in Session 2 “Community Development: Environment and ICH”; in Session 3 “Discussion from Education Perspective,” how ICH could contribute to education was discussed based on the discussions of the previous two sessions. The forum ended with a comprehensive discussion covering all three sessions.
 At the forum, 10 experts each from home and the Asia-Pacific region delivered presentations. While many of them specialized in cultural heritage and education, it should be noted that some were actual successors to or practitioners of ICH. Professor Vince DIAZ from the University of Minnesota, who has his roots in Micronesia, Guam, and the Philippines, is working on the revival of canoe culture in the Pacific region. He said, “For the natives in the Pacific region, nature has always been one with people. Protecting nature means keeping us human. The canoe is one of the means which connects nature with people. The revival of canoe culture is a process of making us more human, in addition to protecting nature.” His impressive talk suggests that some clues to achieving SDGs might be found in our traditional knowledge or worldview.
 It is true that many intangible cultural properties are now in danger due to globalization or modernization. On the other hand, they may become the sources from which to regain such lost properties. Thus, this forum, which spotlighted the active aspects of ICH through SDGs, is significant enough to be disseminated to the world.

“Workshop on Conservation and Restoration of Urushi Objects” in Cologne, Germany

Practical work on surface cleaning

 “Workshop on Conservation and Restoration of Urushi Objects” was held at Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Museen Köln (Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne), Germany, from December 2nd to 6th, 2019. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has conducted the annual workshops with the cooperation of the Museum since 2007. The aim of the workshops is to facilitate the preservation and utilization of urushi objects in museum collections outside Japan. This year’s workshop focuses on the fundamental knowledge and techniques required for storing, maintaining and handling urushi objects, and six conservators from Western countries participated.
 The topics of lecture included the chemical properties of urushi, the multi-layered structure of urushi objects and typical decoration techniques, degradation and damage, and appropriate storage environments. The practical work on applying urushi to wooden substrates helped the participants understand the characteristics of urushi. In addition, the case studies on the conservation and restoration of urushi objects in Japan were introduced, and Japanese conservation ethics and techniques were shared. The participants also experienced applying remedial treatment to urushi objects, such as temporary stabilization of damaged areas and surface cleaning. In the question-and-answer session on the last day, the deterioration and damage of urushi-coated surfaces and their treatments were actively discussed.
 We hope that introducing basic knowledge about urushi objects as well as materials and techniques used for their conservation to the conservation specialists overseas will contribute to the safer preservation and the further utilization of urushi objects overseas.

Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part VIII)

A scene from the ICC meeting
Dynamic cone penetration testing

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties 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 the ruins of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. TNRICP dispatched a total of six members including outside experts to Cambodia from December 1st to 21st, 2019 in order to report the progress of dismantling the East Gate of the temple at the meeting of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC), and investigate causes of uneven subsidence at the basement and floor of the East Gate.
 At theICC meeting at the APSARA headquarters office on December 10th and 11th, we delivered a report in association with Mr. Sea Sophearun from APSARA. Approval was granted to proceed with the conservation work further while utilizing the results of the dismantling survey, including a site visit by four specialized members of the committee. We also collected the latest information by exchanging opinions with persons in charge from APSARA, as well as experts within and outside Cambodia.
 To investigate the causes of uneven subsidence, we analyzed the old ground surface, and dug the southeast and northwest internal corners till the bottom of the stone foundation to check the condition of the East Gate base. This confirmed that the East Gate basement was made of roughly formed sandstone exterior, laterite groundwork, and internal landfill. It was also determined that the entire  basement structure was built on a manmade soil layer using fine grains of sand. This sand layer seems to be the one that lends stability to the foundation on which the building was constructed. Similar techniques can been observed at other temple ruins in Angkor.
 After partially removing the floor pavement stone blocks, the bearing capacity of the foundation landfill was investigated with a dynamic cone penetration testing device in cooperation with Professor Dr. KUWANO Reiko from the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo. The testing disclosed that the fragility of laterite used as base layer of the floor pavement and the strength of foundation landfill differed by location. This could be one of the causes of uneven subsidence.
 Based on the outcomes of this survey, we will examine how to improve the basement structure to ensure complete restoration of the East Gate.

The 53rd Open Lecture

Ongoing open lecture

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems organized a two-day open lecture on November 1st and 2nd, 2019 in the seminar room of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. Every autumn, the Institute invites the public to attend presentations delivered by its researchers, along with outside lecturers, on the outcomes of their daily research. This program is held not only as part of the Lecture Series of the Ueno no Yama Cultural Zone Festival organized by Taito City but is also associated with Classics Day on November 1st each year.
 This year, the lectures covered four topics: Five Hundred Luohan Passed Down by Daitoku-ji Temple and Rules of Purity for the Chan Monastery (Chanyuan qinggui): Depiction of Monastic Life” (MAIZAWA Rei, Researcher of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems); “The Shape of the Seated Amitabha Statue Placed in the Lecture Hall of Koryu-ji Temple and Its Reflecting Wishes–Based on the Portrait of the Petitioner, ‘Nagahara no Miyasudokoro’” (Dr, HARA Hirofumi, Teacher of Keio Shiki Senior High School); “Research and Study of the Minakuchi Rapier, the Only Western-style Sword Handed Down to the Present Time in Japan” (KOBAYASHI Koji, Head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems); and “The Front Line of the Study of Swords at SPring-8: Towards the Education Breakthrough of the Production Technology” (Dr. TANAKA Manako, Department of History and Culture, Showa Women’s University). The first two lectures were delivered on November 1st and the latter two the following day. Across both days, 151 people were in attendance. According to the results of the questionnaire survey, nearly 90% of the audience responded “satisfied” or “almost satisfied.” Thus, the Institute provided the public with a good opportunity to learn the cultural properties with interest by disclosing the research trends and new findings of our researchers.

Lecture on the “Cruciform Sword” as a Commemorative Event of the Local History Society of Minakuchi Town, Koka City


 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems has been leading in the research and study of the “Cruciform Sword (Minakuchi Rapier),” possessed by Fujisaka Shrine in Minakuchi, Koka City for six consecutive years. In fiscal 2019, to pack up our research, we released our outcomes through a presentation at the ICOM Kyoto, made mainly for overseas experts (, and the 53rd open lecture of the Institute for the public (see the Monthly Report of November: Following these, on November 9th, we had a great opportunity to deliver a lecture as an event commemorating the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Local History Society of Minakuchi Town, Koka City, where this Western-style sword has been handed down to the present time. Under the title of “Challenging the Enigma of ‘Cruciform Sword’ Possessed by Fujisaka Shrine,” jointly with Ms. NAGAI Akiko, curator of the Minakuchi Museum of History and Folklore in Koka City, partner of our research, we reported the research outcomes and historical significance of this sword to local people. The audience of as many as 100 people gathering in the local venue, located just opposite to Fujisaka Shrine, listened to our research report with much interest.
 We feel that giving this lecture has allowed us to partially fulfill our research obligation. Returning our attention to preparing our research report with joint researchers, we will tentatively wrap up the study of this Western-style sword.

Consultation and Lecture at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures

Ongoing consultation
A scene from the lecture; Photo by Sainsbury Institute/Andi SAPEY

 The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC), located in
Norwich, the country capital of Norfolk, UK, is among the most prominent institutions for the
study of Japanese arts and culture in Europe. SISJAC and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties have been working on a joint project, “Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art,” since 2013. Through this project, documents related to Japanese art that are written in English and published outside Japan are provided by SISJAC and made available on the Institute’s website. Also, as part of the project, researchers of the Department ofArt Research, Archives and Information Systems have been visiting Norwich annually to hold consultations with SISJAC and conduct lectures on related topics. In fiscal 2019, two researchers, EMURA Tomoko and MAIZAWA Rei, visited Norwich from November 20th to 23rd for this purpose.
 During the consultation, various issues were addressed, including the number of people accessing the data provided by SISJAC, as well as problems related to a system of transcribing the collected data in general, and the link structure of the web. The Institute and SISJAC agreed to continue the project to ensure better database construction and active data utilization.
 On November 21st, EMURA conducted a lecture titled, “The Expression of the Four Seasons in Japanese Paintings,” at the Weston Room of Norwich Cathedral, with interpretation provided by Dr. Simon KANER, Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute. The lecture was conducted as part of a regular lecture event focused on general audience and offered by SISJAC on every third Thursday of the month. This event saw an attendance of about 150 people, who asked a number of questions after the lecture, thus showing the popularity of Japanese art in the UK. The Institute will globally transmit further information on Japanese art through effective collaboration with SISJAC.

Seminar III on Environmental Management at Museums for Iranian Researchers

Lecture at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
Lecture at the National Museum of Ethnology

 In March 2017, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties exchanged a letter of intent with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) to offer its cooperation in various academic fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage over the next five years.
 During the survey to explore the partner country’s needs conducted in Iran in October 2016, Iranian experts consulted us about the serious air pollution in the capital city of Tehran that resulted in damage to cultural properties. They said that even metal products displayed and housed in the National Museum of Iran might be eroding. Based on this information, we have been conducting seminars regarding the improvement of display and housing environment at Iranian museums since 2017.
 In 2019, we invited four researchers, two from RICHT and two from the National Museum of Iran, to Japan for a seminar from November 25th to 29th.
 First, lectures on museum environments were delivered at the Institute and were mostly led by SANO Chie, Director, Center for Conservation Science, and Dr. RO Toshitami, in addition to the presentation of a report on the results of air pollution monitoring conducted at the National Museum of Iran in 2018. The lectures on pest control for cultural properties were mostly led by SATO Yoshinori, Head, Biological Science Section, and Associate Fellow KOMINE Yukio.
 After the academic program, we visited the Kyoto National Museum and the National Museum of Ethnology. At the Kyoto National Museum, Dr. FURIHATA Junko delivered a lecture on disaster prevention measures before observing the disaster prevention system. At the National Museum of Ethnology, Dr. HIDAKA Shingo, Ms. WADAKA Tomomi, Ms. KAWAMURA Yukako, and Ms. HASHIMOTO Sachi conducted lectures on environmental management, air conditioning, pest control measures, and so on, while taking a tour of the exhibition halls and storage area. Once again, we express our gratitude to all the people and the institutes that have cooperated to support the program.
 The Institute will continue to offer its cooperation in various fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage.

“Workshop on Restoration Measures for Cultural Properties – Measures Using Gels” and “Seminar on Restoration Measures for Cultural Properties – Cleaning and Gels”

 As cultural properties attract more attention, conservation and restoration measures have been required for works comprised of various materials in recent years. Under the circumstances, conventional measures are inapplicable in many cases. It is of particular importance that we clean the works without diminishing their value.
 To meet these growing needs, the Center for Conservation Science invited Dr. Paolo CREMONESI, conservation scientist from Italy, to organize a workshop on basic scientific knowledge of cleaning and usage of gels from October 8th through 10th, 2019. On October 11th, a seminar on restoration measures for cultural properties was also held to raise on-site issues and introduce the latest research on cleaning of Japanese and Western cultural properties.
 With regard to the workshop, lectures were delivered in the seminar room in the morning (to 56 participants). During the afternoon training in the conference room, 21 trainees learned how to prepare cleaning solutions used for the restoration of cultural properties and how to actually clean them.
 At the seminar, Dr. Cremonesi delivered a lecture on “Cleaning Methods in Western Countries –Application of Gels and the Latest Cases,” in addition to “Cleaning of Oriental Paintings” by Ms. YAMAMOTO Noriko, Representative Director of the Association for Conservation of National Treasures, and “Potentiality of Gels Applicable to Paper and Photo Works” by Ms. SHIRAIWA Yoko, photo restorer. They introduced the current state of restoration sites in the East and the West. TORIUMI Hidemi and HAYAKAWA Noriko from the Center for Conservation Science gave lectures on the “Historical Background of Cleaning Methods Developed for Western Paintings” and the “Development of Cleaning Solutions for Cultural Properties – Introduction of Recent Studies,” respectively.

Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part VII)

Dismantling work with a crane truck
Head of a statue found inside the East Gate

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties 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. During the period from September 7th to November 5th, 2019, the Institute dispatched a total of six members, including outside experts, to Angkor.
 In this restoration project of the East Gate of Ta Nei Temple, APSARA is responsible for implementing the dismantling work, while the Institute provides technical assistance, mainly on restoration methodologies, in addition to cooperation indocumentation and other scientific surveys .
 The team began dismantling the roof of the gate by using a crane truck after praying for the safety of all persons involved in the work at the ground-breaking ceremony on September 12th. The numbered stone blocks were removed one by one from the top during which each block was measured, photographed, and assessed with its damage condition.
 After dismantling the roof part, the tree roots and anthills invading the structure were removed, and the collapsed stones inside the building were taken out. Most of the collected stones, almost 70 in total,were revealed to fell down from the roof or pediment. They seemed to collapse naturally due to aging. Beneath the collapsed stones, broken head (measuring approximately 56 cm in height) of a statue, which could be identified as Lokesvara, was found leaning against the western wall of the south wing. This statue must be significant in that it is expected to shed light on the history of Ta Nei Temple, much of which is still unknown. After the find was documented with photography and 3D scanning to be described, it was moved to store at a APSARA’s facility for further study.
 In cooperation with the OISHI Laboratory at the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, the walls and the interior of the gate were documented with a 3D laser scanner, while the Structure from Motion (SfM) technique was used to record the walls in conjunction with surveying the structure in detail. Dismantlement of the walls started on October 16th and ended safely on November 5th with the completion of the required recording.
 A series of surveys following the dismantlement process disclosed the fact that the structure was deformed, partly because of the invasion of tree roots and anthills into the stone joints. Uneven subcidence of the foundation and floor surface suggests that the base structure might have some defects. The recovery of structural soundness requires the improvement of the base structure after clarifying the deterioration mechanism. Therefore, we will dispatch the staff again in December to excavate part of the foundation and investigate the ground.
 Besides, we attended the meeting of the International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding and the Development of Preah Vihear Temple (ICC-Preah Vihear) at the APSARA headquarters office on September 18th to collect the latest information. While exchanging opinions with and collecting information from international experts, we will try to find the most appropriate way to conserve the Angkor ruins in cooperation with APSARA.

Surveys on Post-Quake Reconstruction Activities and Conservation of the Ruins in Italy

Church of Santa Maria Paganica (La chiesa di Santa Maria Paganica) in L’Aquila
Well-Maintained Street at Pompeii

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been providing technical assistance to Myanmar for its restoration project covering the areas devastated by the earthquake in 2016, as well as the conservation and restoration work for the wall painting at the Bagan Ruins. During our visit to Italy on October 9th-27th, 2019, we conducted surveys in L’Aquila City and Pompeii Ruins, where post-quake reconstruction activities and conservation efforts have been in progress, so as to emulate the model in the improvement plan for Bagan.
 Reconstruction activities have been continuing in L’Aquila even 10 years after an earthquake struck the Abruzzo Region in 2009. According to the experts engaged in the project there, around 50% of the affected areas have just been reconstructed. Since many of the devastated building structures have murals and decorative stucco, the restoration planning requires multiple points of view. As a result, the complicated project delayed the progress of the restoration work. However, since the reconstruction activities took these aspects into consideration, the conservation of the historical landscape has been remarkable.
 On the other hand, the maintenance project covering a vast area at the Pompeii Ruins has been underway for more than 100 years. We exchanged opinions with the Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii on how we should deal with conservation and restoration policies as times change, as well as the difficulties in the comprehensive maintenance of the entire site.
 In this survey, we reconfirmed the importance of planning from a comprehensive viewpoint for the conservation and restoration of cultural property consisting of multiple elements. To pass down the vast site to the coming generation, maintenance effort, which is the best way to minimize the burden on the cultural heritage, is important. In the field survey planned for Bagan in January 2020, we will report the outcomes of these surveys, while also repeatedly consulting with local experts about protection activities suitable for the ruins.

Workshop on the Conservation of Historic Textiles in the Republic of Armenia

Dyeing with natural dyes
Analysis of a material possessed by the Museum of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
Completion ceremony

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties organized a 10-day workshop beginning October 7th, 2019, on the conservation of historic textiles, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport in the Republic of Armenia. Based on the cooperation agreement on cultural heritage protection established between the Institute and the Ministry of Culture (at that time) in 2014, this was the third workshop to be organized since 2017.
 This workshop was conducted at the Scientific Research Center for Historical and Cultural Heritage and the Museum of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, with Dr. ISHII Mie, Associate Professor of the Faculty of Art and Regional Design at Saga University, and Ms. YOKOYAMA Midori, expert in embroidery, serving as lecturers like in the previous year. Fourteen trainees from seven institutions, such as museums and galleries in Armenia, attended the workshop. At the Center, silk and cotton cloth was dyed with natural dyes such as indigo and madder while preparing standard samples to identify the dyes actually used in historic textiles. At the Museum, the historic materials in its possession were analyzed for specific techniques.
 Director General of the Institute SAITO Takamasa granted a completion certificate to each trainee at the completion ceremony held the last day. The workshop program, organized for three years, has finally ended. We sincerely hope that the Armenian people will not only contribute to the conservation and restoration of their cultural heritage based on the knowhow they have acquired, but also hand down their techniques and knowledge to the coming generation.

International Course on Paper Conservation in Latin America in Mexico City

Practical work on the usage of brushes
Group photo of course participants

 From October 30th to November 13th, 2019, the International Course on Paper Conservation in Latin America: Meeting with the East was held as part of the LATAM program (conservation of cultural heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean). This course has been jointly organized by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), and the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH). It has been held since 2012 at the Coordinacion Nacional de Conservacion del Patrimonio Cultural (CNCPC), which belongs to INAH, in Mexico City. The course sought to provide attendees with basic knowledge and techniques regarding traditional Japanese paper, adhesives, and tools so that the knowledge and techniques could be used to help conserve cultural properties in the attendees’ home countries. This year, 9 conservation specialists from 8 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Spain and Venezuela) participated.
 Japanese specialists were in charge of the first part of the course (October 30th to November 6th). They offered lectures on the protection system of cultural properties in Japan; tools and materials used in restoration, such as Japanese paper and adhesives; and “Restoration techniques for mounts” which is one of the Selected Conservation Techniques in Japan. The practical work on linings using these tools and materials was carried out with the cooperation of CNCPC staff members who had learned the techniques for several months at TNRICP.
 In the latter half of the course (November 7th to 13th), lectures were given by experts from Mexico and Spain who had completed the International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper at TNRICP. They spoke about how to select materials and apply their techniques to Western paper cultural properties.
 The participants could gain a deeper understanding of conservation materials, tools and techniques used in Japan through this technical exchange. We hope that the knowledge and techniques they acquired in the course will be applied to the conservation and restoration of cultural property overseas.

Presentation at CIDOC 2019 (ICOM Kyoto 2019, the 25th General Conference)

Example of Kanji Variants in the Japanese Language
System to Search All Possible Variations through Comprehensive Retrieval

 The International Council of Museums (ICOM), created in 1946, is a non-government organization aimed at exchanging and sharing information on museums. The general conference, which is held for all of its International Committees every three years, took place in Kyoto this year. Three staff members from the Cultural Properties Information Section attended the conference to deliver a presentation titled “Two Solutions for Orthographical Variants Problem” at CIDOC, ICOM’s International Committee for Documentation.
 One of the features of the Japanese language is its varied orthographic system, under which you use kanji, hiragana and katakana quite differently. However, this system results in creating orthographical variants, such as龍 and竜, as well as藝 and芸, causing search omissions. Focusing on personal names, we reported our own way of coping with all possible variations for the database of our website.
 Orthographical variants are not unique to the Japanese language. For example, some systematic solution is required for the English retrieval system if the results of the plural form should also be shown when you perform a search in a singular form. Cultural properties have their universal value although there are some issues originating in locality in their documentation. We would like to consider the universality and locality in cultural properties from the aspect of system infrastructure.

Presentation and Information Sharing for ICFA Committee, ICOM Kyoto “The Minakuchi Rapier, European Sword Produced in Japan

Presentation for ICFA committee at ICOM Kyoto

 For a week, from September 1st to 7th, ICOM Kyoto 2019, the 25th General Conference was held at the Kyoto International Conference Centre as its main venue.
 At the ICFA’s (International Committee for Museums and Collections of Fine Arts) individual session “Asian Art in Western Museumns, Western Art in Asian Museums II,” KOBAYASHI Koji from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems delivered a presentation titled The Minakuchi Rapier, European Sword Produced in Japan jointly with Ms. NAGAI Akiko from the Koka City Minakuchi History and Folkroe Museum.
 The Minakuchi Rapier (cruciform sword possessed by Fujisaka Shrine in Koka City) was produced in Japan modeled on a European sword, which was brought Japan in the early 17th century. We have been researching this sword together with experts at home and abroad since 2013. Part of the processes and outcomes have been reported through the articles, “the 10th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems ‘Study of the Western Cruciform Sword Possessed by Fujisaka Shrine in Koka City’” ( and “Research of the Western-style Cruciform Sword Possessed by Fujisaka Shrine in Minakuchi, Koka City, Shiga Prefecture by an Expert from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and an Initial Report at the 7th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems” (
 For this presentation, the later result of analyzing the sword blade at SPring-8 (large-scale synchrotron radiation facility) and historical examination from an overall point of view was added. This presentation aimed at disseminating to the world, including Europe and the United States, the fact that such Western swords existed in Japan in the 17th century when cultural exchange was occurring globally, and that a sword was imitated at that time and has been handed down up to the present time.
 At the fully occupied presentation venue, the audience showed much interest in the existence of such a cultural property in Japan through a variety of questions and discussions, including on the background of producing a Western sword replica.

Formation Process of Namban Lacquer and Its Dating: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Ongoing Seminar

 At the 6th Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on September 24th, 2019, KOBAYASHI Koji, Head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section, delivered a presentation titled “Formation Process of Namban Lacquer and Its Dating – Examination Especially Focusing on Christian Portable Oratory.”
 There is no consensus on when and how Namban lacquer, which was produced in Kyoto and exported mainly to Europe and America in the early 17th century, started to be utilized. So far, among portable oratories, in which Christian sacred paintings are placed, much attention has been paid only to the ones produced as Namban lacquer. The presenter comprehensively examined the portable oratories produced for Japanese Christians as well, which continued to be handed down to this day in the Sendaiji and Shimo-otowa areas in Ibaraki City, Osaka, well-known as settlements of crypto-Christians; these oratories include the one owned by the General Library of the University of Tokyo, which has a the painting of Christ by NIWA Jacob, who learned painting in seminary in Japan, in addition to the Namban lacquer portable oratories scattered around the world. Among them, a group of oratories without decorative pattern on metal fittings were extracted and compared with a makie decorated Chinese-style chest owned by Toyokuni Shrine, with a miniature shrine ornamented by Namban lacquer patterns of Kodaiji-style makie and raden decoration made for a statue of TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi possessed by Richi-in Temple in Misaki Town, with a relatively older makie shelf having metal fittings, and others. As a result, the presenter concluded that the oratories with no decorative metal fittings are the oldest, estimated to have been produced between the latest 16th century and the earliest 17th century.
 This dating of older oratories matches the presenter’s dating of Namban lacquer lectern, which had been estimated to be produced from the early 17th century, i.e., a little later than oratories.
 The examination was aimed at exploring the formation process and dating of Namban lacquer. If these results are accepted, it might become a catalyst for reconsideration of various issues involving painters or production areas of sacred paintings and frames placed in the portable oratories, on the reality of Christianity and trade in Japan around the early 17th century as well as the relations between TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi /the Tokugawa shogunate and the Anti-Christian Edicts/Christian missions.
 At the seminar attended by Dr. TAKEDA Eri, a restorer of Western early paintings, Professor KOIKE Tomio from Tsurumi University, and many other researchers in related fields from the art museums organizing exhibitions of lacquerware from the Momoyama period, lively discussions were held on diverse topics, right from methodology to various other aspects.

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