A study of selected conservation techniques in the Village of Showa, Fukushima Prefecture: The second research exchange with the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, South Korea

Burning off brush to prepare fields to grow ramie

 Following events in April, Mr. Chae Won LEE of South Korea’s National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage visited Japan as part of Research Exchanges between Japan and South Korea in relation to the Safeguarding and Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Mr. LEE studied selected conservation techniques, which are techniques for conservation of cultural properties. The Village of Showa, Fukushima Prefecture grows ramie (Boehmeria nivea) and extracts its fiber to supply the material to make Ojiya crepe and Echigo linen, which are important intangible cultural properties. The study coincided with karamushi-yaki, or burning off of brush to prepare fields to grow ramie during shoman (the 8th of 24 solar terms in the traditional Japanese calendar when crops ripen/bloom around May 21st or so). This coincidence allowed Mr. LEE to see an important growing process firsthand. In addition, group interviews regarding ramie were conducted to hear the perspectives of administrators and conservators and the perspectives of others, facilitating a more extensive discussion of the significance of ramie growing to the Village of Showa and systems to conserve selected conservation techniques. Results of the research exchanges, which lasted 2 weeks, were presented at a seminar that highlighted differences in Japanese and Korean perceptions of Selected Conservation Techniques (no such framework exists in South Korea). The seminar also highlighted ways to safeguard cultural properties.

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