The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems creates digital content involving investigative research on artworks pursued by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and displays the content in the Library. The digital content of “Saichufu (Compendium of Vegetables and Insects)” (important cultural property) by Ito JAKUCHU in the collection of the Yoshizawa Memorial Museum of Art, Sano (https://www.city.sano.lg.jp/museum/) has now been completed. A dedicated terminal can be used to view the results of color material studies through high-definition color images, near-infrared images, and fluorescent X-ray analysis. While they can only be viewed for academic and research purposes and copies cannot be made, an abundant amount of information on artworks can be freely referenced by applying digital image characteristics. “Saichufu” by Ito JAKUCHU is the only silk scroll color painting in existence. The painting depicts approximately 100 species of vegetables and fruits and over 50 species of insects and amphibians, and is known for its delicate and quaint expressiveness. The image viewing terminal can be used during the hours when the Library is operational. Please refer to the following link if you would like to use it:
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has become a member of the NACSIS-CAT/ILL Catalog Information Service. It has prepared a system for uploading the bibliographic data on book stored at each of its research departments (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Center for Conservation Science, and the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation) to CiNii Books (https://ci.nii.ac.jp/books/).
The purpose of joining NACSIS-CAT is twofold: (1) the widespread visualization of collected book information; and (2) the improvement of our bibliographic data (standardization). With respect to (1), we will further promote the use of our collected book information released at TOBUNKEN Research Collections (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/) on the Institute’s official site by releasing it to many more researchers and students via upload to CiNii Books. With respect to (2), we have been requested to create a highly effective system by standardizing bibliographic data provided by us through data tie-ups with outside agencies (The Getty Research Institute and OCLC. etc.). As NACSIS-CAT allows users to reference and utilize various domestic and overseas library catalog data, it is an infrastructure system suitable for the Institute to efficiently engage in standardization work.
The task of uploading 300,000 books from our library to CiNii Books and standardizing bibliographic data is currently underway. While this will take some time until completion, we will prepare a system of providing our collected books and information that we have collected over many years to contribute to the research activities of many more people.
The Art of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
In recent years, neighboring countries such as China, South Korea, and Taiwan have made progress in researching modern and contemporary art, and opportunities to view this progress, such as at exhibitions, have increased in Japan. However, brisk artistic activities have largely been unheard of in the North of Japan, even in regions such as Sakhalin which is presently Russian territory. Mr. Hisashi YAKOU’s (Hokkaido University) presentation at a seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on March 26th entitled, “The Art of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands” was very fascinating as he described artistic trends in this region based on field work after the Second World War.
As Sakhalin was a Japanese territory prior to the Second World War, the landscape was depicted by Japanese painters such as Shoji KIMURA (1905–91) and Kojiro FUNAZAKI (1900–87). It became a territory of the Soviet Union after the war, and Russian painters created motifs based on this region. The painter Givi Mantkava (1930–2003) who moved there from Georgia depicted the landscape of the Far East, applying a modernistic technique and laid the foundation of Sakhalin art. Numerous artists from Moscow and Vladivostok visited Kunashir (Kunashiri) Island and Shikotan Island. Among them, the activities of the Shikotan Group attracted particular attention as they spent several months of almost every summer in Shikotan Island from 1966 to 1991. Of their works, landscape paintings of Mt. Chachadake on Kunashir Island and the bay area in particular are suggestive of traditional western paintings themes, for example, on a view of Naples. Mr. YAKOU made the intriguing point that there may exist a political intent in terms of the Europeanization of the border area.
The 3rd Research Conference of the Japan Society for Digital Archive was held from March 15th to 16th, 2019 at the Yoshida Campus in Kyoto University. Three employees from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties attended the conference to make a poster presentation concerning the cultural property information database and gather information on recent trends in digital archives.
The poster presentation showed the publications archive, which is a database primarily for the collected materials and publications of the Institute. The “Yearbook of Japanese Art” and “TOBUNKEN Research Collections” (www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/) which are published and released using the archive system were also described, focusing on the archive’s construction and management. We exchanged opinions with parties concerned with digital archives, and the presentation was a precious opportunity to understand the kind of cultural property information database that is demanded of us. We reacknowledged how we provide basic information that contributes to cultural property research.
By participating in the research presentation, we gathered wide-ranging information was collected on digital archives in general, not just cultural properties. We gained knowledge of technical issues and system issues related to digital archives, as well as local research and utilization of digital archives by the community. In recent years, there has been a trend toward digital archive collaboration. This conference became a good opportunity for us to consider external provisioning and tie-ups with outside information sources and not simply transmit information on cultural property.
The program for the 3rd Research Conference of the Japan Society for Digital Archive can be found at the following website.
Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part V)
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) to conserve and manage the ruins of the Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. The fifth field study was conducted at this site from March 8th to 17th, 2019.
Three-dimensional (3D) measurements of the east gate were recorded and a topographical survey around the site was conducted with the assistance of Associate Professor Takeshi OISHI’s laboratory in the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, and survey expert Mr. Kenji UCHIDA, in association with the APSARA staff.
Although the east gate is the original main gate of this temple, it is away from the current traffic line for tourists. As many of the constituent building materials are unstable, appropriate repairs must be made from the perspective of the exhibition. The measurements were performed using a laser scanner and a drone equipped with a camera to capture detailed 3D recordings of the gate as well as the position and shape of stones scattered in the vicinity. Based on the information obtained, the state of deformation and damage will be comprehensively grasped and applied to consider specific repair plans.
A topographical survey was conducted using a total station mainly on the southeastern area of the site, which had not been surveyed thus far. Using the collected data, a detailed topographical map of the overall site can be created, which will contribute to maintaining the temple area and can be applied to the surrounding temples over a wide range.
Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 12)
As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) continues to support the building of an administrative network to preserve historic settlements in Nepal. The “2nd Mayors’ Forum on Conservation of Historic Settlements in Kathmandu and Kavre Valley” was held in Lalitpur Metropolitan City on March 12th, 2019, under the joint auspices of Lalitpur municipality and TNRICP, which dispatched eight researchers.
At the 1st Mayors’ Forum held in Panauti in 2017, the state of preserving historic settlements and related issues were shared and discussed. The theme of the second forum was “conservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in historic settlements.” Presentations were given by experts from Nepal and Japan and a discussion was held with the attendees. On the day in question, around 80 people, including 11 mayors, 8 deputy mayors, and several government-affiliated engineers, participated from 14municipalities.
From the Nepal side, presentations were given on festivals and intangible cultural heritage such as festivals and craftworks in four municipalities and initiatives to pass them on to future generations as well as historic settlement surveys and conservation initiatives after the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake. From the Japan side, Tomoko MORI, Associate Professor at Sapporo City University, presented the survey results from Khokana village, while Hiromichi KUBOTA, Head of the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section of TNRICP, presented the survey results of intangible cultural heritage in Khokana and the state of conserving intangible cultural heritage in Japan.
Both countries have common issues in conserving local cultural heritage, such as lack of personnel and funding. In Nepal, as changes in traditional local communities accelerate, a sustainable framework for conserving cultural heritage in local communities and appropriate support from the local government under the leadership of mayors are essential.
We will continue to provide technical assistance while sharing information and deepening dialogue between the two countries.
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) is providing technological support to restore the door panels of Wat Rajpradit (built in 1864), a first-grade royal Buddhist temple located in Bangkok, Thailand, at the request of this temple and the Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture of Thailand. Lacquerwork produced by employing the “mother-of-pearl with underpaint” technique, which was used to make these door panels, was primarily exported to the West in the 19th century. However, TNRICP confirmed for the first time that these door panels were Japan-made, on the basis of the technique and materials utilized, indicating that Japan-made mother-of-pearl with underpaint had also been exported to Thailand.
Restoration work is not just the behavior of repairing damage but should also be an opportunity to better understand the cultural property concerned. When it was discovered that the door panels at Wat Rajpradit were Japan-made, there were reports of works made with a similar technique at several locations in Thailand. A careful inspection was conducted, which included detailed record-making through polarized light photography of a portion of these works of mother-of-pearl with underpaint located in Bangkok, such as the door panels at Wat Nang Chi, a temple maintained in its present form since the reign of King Rama III (1824–1851), and the cover plates of the palm leaf manuscripts stored at the National Library of Thailand. The study was performed from January 27th to February 2nd, 2019, in association with experts from related Japanese and Thai agencies.
Even among Japan-exported lacquerwork, there are few cases of scientific research being pursued into works of mother-of-pearl with underpaint, and its background is unclear. Palm leaf manuscripts are palm leaves on which sutras or other documents are written, and bound with string. A pair of cover plates are used to protect palm leaf manuscripts. As palm leaf manuscripts are unique to Southeast Asia and South Asia, it is surmised that the cover plates, as with the door panels, were produced after an order was placed from Thailand. There is great potential for works of mother-of-pearl with underpaint found in Thailand, such as the door panels at Wat Rajpradit and Wat Nang Chi, to contribute to research into this technique itself, and studies will continue to be pursued in Japan and Thailand.
Presentations at the “Present State of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives and Their Application” Symposium
The symposium “Present State of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives and Their Application” was held at Suwako Museum and Akahiko Memorial Hall in Shimosuwa Town, Nagano Prefecture, on February 16th, 2019. Hideki KIKKAWA of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems gave a presentation entitled “Application of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives to Art History Research: Examples of Two Avant-Garde Art Events Held in Suwa City in 1951.”
This symposium was held as part of the “Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives Application Project,” an initiative implemented in association with local communities in order to support the creation of art galleries and history museums, which was led by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 2018. It was sponsored by the archives application committee comprising members from Yutaka MATSUZAWA’s surviving family members, volunteers, and Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum. In the first part of the symposium, presentations related to the archives were delivered by six people: Haruo MATSUZAWA (Executive Director of the General Incorporated Foundation MATSUZAWA Yutaka Psi Room), Arata TANI (art critic), Yoshiko SHIMADA (artist), Kenya HIRAGA (Director of Nagano Prefectural Library), and Hideki KIKKAWA. In the second part of the symposium, a discussion moderated by Toru MATSUMOTO (Director of the Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum) was held, in which participants expressed their views on the archives’ application and exchanged opinions on their application from the perspective of their respective expertise.
The Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives comprise a vast amount of precious materials from the 1950s to the 2000s. In applying them toward the art history research mentioned in this symposium, the theme for grants-in-aid for scientific research “Research into Post-1968 Expressive Community: Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives as the Cornerstone” (Basic Research ©, FY2018–2020) will continue to be pursued in association with researchers from diverse fields.
Pair of Hanging Scroll Paintings of the Fudōmyōo (Skt.Acala): Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
The 9th Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Seminar was held on February 28th, 2019. Rei MAIZAWA (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) gave a presentation entitled “Pair of Hanging Scroll Paintings of the Fudōmyōo (Skt. Acala): Zenrin-ji Temple and Kōki-ji Temple,” and Tetsuei TSUDA (Aoyama Gakuin University) was invited as a commentator.
The presentation was with regard to “Fudōmyōo (Skt. Acala) and Two Attendants” at Zenrin-ji Temple, Kyoto, and “Fudōmyōo (Skt. Acala) and Four Attendants” at Kōki-ji Temple, Osaka. After providing a detailed description of the pair of paintings and the style of painting, Maizawa deduced that they were produced in the late Kamakura Period and the late Nanbokucho Period, respectively. Indicating the similarity between the two paintings in that the Skt. Acala is depicted in the center flanked by two attendants, she went on to explain how the preexisting Skt. Acala image found in Zenrin-ji Temple was most likely used as a reference when producing the rare image of the “Fudōmyōo (Skt. Acala) and Four Attendants.”
The belief in the Skt. Acala, a deity in esoteric Buddhism, was popular in the early Heian Period. Numerous depictions of the Skt. Acala were made in the form of sculptures and paintings. Original Skt. Acala images that did not exist earlier were produced during the Middle Ages in Japan, and “Fudōmyōo (Skt. Acala) and Four Attendants” at Kōki-ji Temple is one of them. A detailed consideration of the pair of images will reveal some insights into the diverse production of Skt. Acala images.
At the seminar, internal and external researchers engaged in a lively discussion on how the Skt. Acala was worshiped, the origin of the pair of images, and what they express.
The Liaison Council for “Disaster Prevention of Intangible Culture Heritage” for the Kansai Area was held on February 3rd, 2019 as part of the “Project to Build a Comprehensive Database for Cultural Assets and Establish a Network.” This project is an initiative undertaken by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems as part of the promotion program of the National Taskforce for the Japanese Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network (Agency for Cultural Affairs’ subsidized project). This council has been ongoing since 2016 for sharing information among nationwide prefectural representatives responsible for folk cultural properties.
This council was co-organized by the Kyoto Art Center in Kyoto City where representatives from six prefectures and one city in the Kansai Area assembled. Representatives from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), included Hiromichi KUBOTA, Megumi MAEHARA, Tomo ISHIMURA, and Riyo KIKUCHI.
At the council, participants shared their opinions on the significance of creating a database, and gave presentations on the current state of intangible cultural assets in their respective prefectures. Issues ranging from natural disasters, the various risks that intangible cultural assets face to transmitting preservation techniques and applications were discussed. The current state of intangible cultural assets and issues in each region were shared as valuable information.
On March 1st, a second council was held at TNRICP with participation from the representatives of 10 prefectures.
The 2nd study meeting titled “Production of Visual Documentation for Intangible Cultural Heritage” was held on February 22nd, 2019.
Many intangible cultural heritages are predicated on intangible human “techniques.” In addition to written records, video records serve an important role in recording these “techniques.” The issue then becomes what kind of video recordings should be created.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties held the Sub-conference on Video Recording of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties from 2003 to 2007, and the results were released in the “Guidance on the production of recorded videos for intangible folk cultural properties.” However, in recent years, the video industry has undergone marked changes, particularly in the development of digital equipment, so there are expectations that the content be updated. Although the aforementioned guidance was created mainly for the video recording of folk art, there are expectations for it to be applied toward other types of intangible cultural heritage such as craft skills and folk techniques.
Thus, with the intention of creating a new “Handbook for the production of visual documentation for intangible cultural heritage,” the Institute convened a study meeting titled “Production of Visual Documentation for Intangible Cultural Heritage” from 2018 to consider the content. This study meeting is the second one convened.
In the first half of the meeting, an expert Hirohito KANAMORI (Over4K Ltd.) spoke on 4K/8K video technology, which has been attracting attention in recent years. He discussed the possibilities for this technology, and its application toward the recording of cultural properties and heritage. As 4K/8K technology will improve the color reproducibility (i.e., color gamut and brightness) as well as high definition images, there is significance for this technology in recording cultural properties.
In the latter half of the meeting, participants discussed the contents of the “Handbook for the production of visual documentation for intangible cultural heritage” by chapter. Participants made various proposals that included keeping in mind that the record creation method will differ depending on the type of intangible cultural heritage and to also take heed of preserving and applying video record media taken in the past (film or electromagnetic tape, etc.) The Institute will refer to these opinions in creating the “Handbook for the production of visual documentation for intangible cultural heritage.”
A Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 11)
As part of this project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government, a compositional analysis of the finishing layer of a group of buildings adjacent to Aganchen Temple at Hanumandhoka Palace, Kathmandu, was performed using an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, etc., from February 22nd to 28th, 2019, with permission from the Department of Archaeology, Government of Nepal.
On-site surveys conducted so far have revealed that a number of extensions and structural alterations had been made to these buildings. In particular, the wall finish recoating history and the remaining finishing layers at hidden areas of retrofitted support members are important clue in learning about the changes to the buildings. Study on the specifications and coloring of each recoated layer has continued.
This time, the composing materials of the finishing layers were identified in order to understand how specifications changed according to the times, and a scientific analysis was performed using an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and a Raman spectrometry system to examine the history of extensions and structural alterations.
A fragment of the finishing layers investigated comprised a maximum of 10 different sets of layers. Surface and undercoat layers from each period were carved out in tiers and analyzed.
Red iron oxide and minute amounts of gold were confirmed in red-colored areas of the old mural painting layer, and a spectrum quite similar to lapis lazuli was derived from the sky-blue finishing layer recoated in later years. While a detailed analysis of the derived data has yet to be performed, it can be inferred from the use of such precious materials that these buildings had continued to be used as important ritual or residential spaces for a royal family since their initial construction in the 17th century.
In the process of surveying the remains, a mural painting was discovered behind the extended wall section, and it is possible that this mural dates back to a period just after the original construction of the building. Further surveys, including through scientific methods, such as the one used this time, and studies of appropriate preservation measures are still needed.
Hereafter, we will continue to elucidate the history concealed in the buildings themselves, and while preserving such significant material evidence, we will consider how to go about restoring these buildings in association with the Nepalese counterpart.
Conservation and Restoration of the Outer Walls of Brick Temples and Studies of Mural Paintings in Bagan, Myanmar (2)
The restoration work implemented from July to August, 2018, at Me-taw-ya (No. 1205) Temple, which is a brick temple at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar, was continued during the period from January 14th to February 3rd, 2019, and the outer wall of the brick temple was restored mainly to protect the mural paintings from rain leaks. The restoration of the damaged area caused by the 2016 earthquake is still ongoing in Bagan, and local specialists have asked us for advice on creating repair strategy in line with current conditions and on restoration methods. In response to this request for assistance, we conducted a workshop for five local conservators and five engineers and discussed solutions while listening to their issues.
Meanwhile, we conducted a study on mural painting techniques and iconography in Myanmar. We collected detailed information particularly on works from the heyday of Bagan in the 13th century. We also visited towns such as Amin and Anayn along the Chindwin River, where many mural paintings from the 17th–18th centuries can be found. Research on existing mural paintings in Myanmar has been largely completed and we will reflect the results of the study in the restoration methods.
This time, we heard from some of local specialists that quite a few of continuing international projects for cultural property protection conducted by foreign countries are difficult to actually establish and that few post-earthquake preservation activities lead to a solution of the fundamental problem. While we have implemented our work until now with such awareness, we will put further efforts into proposing more practical improvement measures and transmitting sustainable restoration techniques.
Presentation of Research into Materials of Ichimatsu Tanaka and Tsugiyoshi Doi -Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held their 8th workshop on January 29th, 2019, and gave presentations on the following two subjects.
– Tomoko EMURA: “The Eyes and Hands of Ichimatsu Tanaka—Materials of Ichimatsu Tanaka; centered on survey on paintings recorded by Ichimatsu Tanaka while he was residing in Tsuruoka”
– Ms. Takiko TATARA (part-time instructor, Kyoto University of Art and Design): “Signs of Changeover of Generations in the Modern Kyoto Art World—Point on materials formerly owned by Tsuyoshi Doi”
This seminar was related to Exhibition “Making notes of Japanese Art History―The research notes of Aimi Kōu, Tanaka Ichimatsu, and Doi Tsugiyoshi,” which was held at Jissen Women’s University’s Kosetsu Memorial Museum and Kyoto Institute of Technology’s Museum and Archives from May through August 2018 (cf. our May 2018 monthly report), and we also unveiled additional materials that were discovered after the exhibition. This seminar attracted many researchers from inside and outside Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and lively discussions were held from a variety of angles. Both Ichimatsu Tanaka and Tsugiyoshi Doi were researchers who built the foundation for research into Japanese art history, authored a large number of books and chalked up a substantial track record, and their records, which underpinned their research, and the materials they collected must be better assembled in the form of an archive. We will organize the staggering amount and variety of analogue materials by leveraging digital features in a bid to create an archive of cultural properties that will contribute to a wider range of research down the road.
A Guide to Appreciating “KURODA SEIKI: A Selection from the Kuroda Memorial Hall Collection” Published
The Kuroda Memorial Hall, one of the exhibition facilities of the Tokyo National Museum (TNM), was originally built as the Institute of Art Research, the predecessor of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP). The memorial hall for works of Seiki Kuroda (1866-1924), a Western-style painter who was active from the late 1800s to early 1900s, was built in 1930, with his works being donated by members of his family. Against this background, even after ownership of the memorial hall was transferred to the TNM, TNRICP continued its research into the artist.
Now, TNM and TNRICP have edited and produced a guide entitled “KURODA SEIKI: A Selection from the Kuroda Memorial Hall Collection,” to help visitors to the memorial hall appreciate his works. This 40-page guide describes his 46 main works, such as Lakeside and Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment, with color illustrations and easy to understand explanations of the masterpieces and paintings by the artist, known in Japan as “the father of modern Japanese western-style painting”. (Price: \700 including tax; for inquiries, contact Insho-sha, Sho Bldg. 7th floor, 3-14-5 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-0027; Tel.: 03-6225-2277). We would be pleased if this guide can help you to appreciate his works when you visit the memorial hall.
Bast fibers used in cultural properties come from a variety of sources including hemp, ramie, kudzu, and bashō (Japanese banana). As discussed in the May 2017 monthly report (Takuyo YASUNAGA , “Historical Position of ‘Hakubai-zu byobu’ by Goshun－A workshop is organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems”), we have learned in the more recent years that in addition to silk and paper, bast fiber is also used as the support medium in paintings. There are no well-defined, established methods of identification, however, in part due to the difficulty of discerning the characteristics of individual fibers once in textile state. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) is working to find a solution to these and other problems, in a cooperative research effort into bast fiber identification among the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems; Center for Conservation Science; and Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
As a part of this research, the three-dimensional forms of fibers in a calligraphy work and a dyed article made of bashō-fu (textile woven from banana plant fiber) were examined using a digital microscope at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum from January 22nd to 23rd, 2019.
Bashō-fu is textile developed in Okinawa and Amami Islands and has been designated an important intangible cultural property, with Ms. Toshiko TAIRA recognized as an individual practitioner and Kijōka Bashō-fu Preservation Society recognized as a heritage protection organization. Of the work examined this time, the calligraphy work is known to have been created in a particular year and the dyed article is an item whose wearer can be guessed at. The examination showed that despite being all works thought to be made of bashō-fu, the look and the feel of the textiles varied due to differences in yarn density and yarn processing method.
While it is difficult to judge whether the differences are rooted in regional variation within Okinawa and Amami Islands or due to differences in use, we were able to conclude that many kinds of bashō-fu were created through different processes.
Accurate identification of bast fibers goes to the most basic data on a particular work, and is a key element in considering the circumstances of production. It is also a pressing issue in the organization of basic data for use in the present repair or the passing on to future generations of intangible cultural heritage.
We hope to continue furthering the research into identification of bast fibers through field investigations into techniques in conjunction with examination of exhibits at museums and art museums.
On December 21st, 2018, the 2018 East Asia ICOMOS Workshop “Towards a New Exchange and Cooperation: The Recent Practices of East Asia ICOMOS in the Protection and Management of Cultural Heritages” was held in the National Palace Museum of Korea in Seoul, the Republic of Korea. This workshop was organized by the ICOMOS-Korea and sponsored by the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, with the aim of outlining policies and methods related to the protection of cultural heritages in Japan, China and Korea and examining how the ICOMOS participates in and contributes to these activities.
As requested by the ICOMOS-Korea and Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, I reported the activities of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties related to the World Heritage under the title of “Activities of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties for a good implementation of the World Heritage Convention.” In this report, I presented our activities such as the publication of survey research reports and glossaries related to the World Heritage Committee and the organization of the World Heritage Seminar. I explained that these activities aim mainly at providing information to local government officers who are involved in the recommendation and protection of the World Heritage Sites, and that they are conducted in cooperation with the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan. Masahiko TOMODA of the Institute also participated in the workshop as a member of the Japan ICOMOS National Committee and reported its activities with the Vice President Yuga KARIYA.
Korean participants said that they also find it challenging to provide information related to the World Heritage Convention to local government officers. Politicization caused by the overheating interest in the World Heritage Sites seemed to be a common issue in Japan, China and Korea. I hope that the exchange with experts from nearby countries, as in this workshop, will lead to the creation of highly specialized recommendation documents and the appropriate protection of World Heritage Sites in each country.
On December 2nd, 2018, Hideki KIKKAWA and Tomohiro OYAMADA presented the database of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in the session “Data for Historical and Humanities Research (www.metaresource.jp/2018jmc/)” at the JinMonCom 2018 organized by the IPSJ SIG Computers and the Humanities, one of the research groups of the Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ). This session was aimed at introducing databases that are not widely recognized yet in the IPSJ and promoting more active data use. KIKKAWA and OYAMADA presented the system overview of the TOBUNKEN Research Collections (www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/), the database of photographic negatives and plates which is the largest among our image databases, and the database of Art exhibitions and Obituaries which is based on the Year Book of Japanese Art published since 1936.
Additionally, various databases published by the National Diet Library, Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation, Tokyo National Museum, the University of Tokyo and Aozora Bunko were presented and attracted the attention of the participants. In addition to publishing and managing the database of cultural properties, our Institute will make further efforts to spread the database of cultural properties and make it useful for survey/research.
The 7th Seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems – “Illustration of Lotus Sutra” and “Mandala of Kasuga Shrine”: Two Major Works in Seikado
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held the 7th Seminar with two external speakers on December 27th, 2018. The first presentation entitled “Origin of the Scrolls of Diseases – ‘Illustration of Lotus Sutra’ owned by Seikado Bunko” was given by Dr. Satomi YAMAMOTO of Kyoritsu Women’s University, and the second presentation “Takashina style in ‘Mandala of Kasuga Shrine’ owned by Seikado Bunko Art Museum” was given by Prof. Masahiko AIZAWA of Seijo University. They focused on the two collections of Seikado that deserve the attention but are not widely presented yet.
According to Dr. YAMAMOTO, it can be deduced from the ending prayer that the ” Lotus Sutra” in Seikado Bunko, illustrating sutra on the head of the scroll, was created in 1140 (Shaoxing (Shoko) 10) by 40 people who made a Buddhist connection with each other and were led by Daoyin (Doin) of the Tendai sect of Buddhism who was active in the South Song Dynasty in the mid-12th century. She explained that its Biyu Chapter (Hiyu-Bon) illustrates a sick person who receives a bowl of medicine and the Lotus Sutra states that people who vilify the sutra would suffer from sickness such as dwarfness, hunchback and bad breath, which are illustrated in the “Illustration of Lotus Sutra.” Additionally, she made interesting remarks that the National Treasure “Yamai-no-Soshi,” drawn from the late Heian period to the Kamakura period, may have been inspired by the text of the Lotus Sutra and this illustration of the Lotus Sutra in Seikado Bunko, and that the creation of “Yamai-no-Soshi” must be considered while taking into account the situation of Japan and China in the 12th century, the worship of the Lotus Sutra, and the relationship between monks and general worshippers then.
Prof. AIZAWA presented that “Mandala of Kasuga Shrine” which is owned by Seikado Bunko Art Museum and said to be from the 14th century, is a unique work that puts names of each building in white rectangles and illustrates gods of Ten Shrines, their Buddhist metamorphoses, and divine deer, in addition to the scenery of Kasuga Shrine, rare except for the Mandala of Kasuga Shrine owned by the MOA Museum of Art. He explained that what is interesting is that, compared to the one of the MOA Museum of Art which has been corrected many times, this artwork largely keeps its original form and uses high-quality paints to draw gods and Buddha in delicate touches. He presented in a detailed slide that it must have been drawn by a follower of Kanetaka TAKASHINA who drew “The Miraculous Origins of the Kasuga Deity” owned by the Sannomaru Shozokan (Museum of the Imperial Collections). He also made an in-depth remark that such “Mandala of Kasuga Shrine” may have had the function of inviting the god and making Kasuga on the spot by spreading the scroll, in the same way as “Mandala of Hie-Sanno Shrine.”
More than 20 external attendees attended the seminar, and it was very meaningful.
Report on the “Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on Intangible Cultural Heritage and Natural Disasters”
Seven staff of our Institute, including the Deputy Director General Emiko YAMANASHI, participated in the “Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on Intangible Cultural Heritage and Natural Disasters” co-organized by the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) and our Institute and held in Sendai on December 7th to 9th, 2018. This workshop was conducted as the conclusion of the “Research on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Safeguarding and Disaster Risk Management in the Asia-Pacific Region” conducted by the IRCI since 2016. Additionally, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of our Institute cooperated in this project and dispatched staff for field surveys in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Fiji.
Cultural heritage and disaster risk management experts from eight countries in the Asia-Pacific Region were invited to this workshop. Together with experts from Japan and other countries, they reported and discussed how to protect intangible cultural heritage from natural disasters. On the second day, Hiromichi KUBOTA of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted an excursion to Onagawa-cho, Miyagi Prefecture, to show the participants the roles the intangible cultural heritage played in the reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Each country and region’s seemingly different perception of the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and natural disasters marked the discussions in the workshop. For example, while Japanese experts emphasized that intangible cultural heritage formed a bond in the disaster-affected communities and became a source of strength for the reconstruction, several foreign experts highlighted that traditional knowledge contains knowledge to forecast and prepare for natural disasters. The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage lists “knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe” as a form of intangible cultural heritage, and traditional knowledge is generally recognized as intangible cultural heritage. On the other hand, Japan’s Act on Protection of Cultural Properties does not clearly consider traditional knowledge as a category of intangible cultural properties.
In Japan, attention has been paid to the folkloric records and knowledge related to natural disasters, such as tsunami monuments; however, they were not much discussed in the context of the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and natural disasters. This workshop was a meaningful opportunity to know different perceptions from each country and region, discuss with people who have diverse ideas, and widen our perspective.