Conclusion of Agreement on Collaboration and Cooperation on Production of Raw Materials to Conserve Cultural Properties with Shibetu Town, Hokkaido Prefecture

Mr. Saito and Mr. Yamaguchi at the agreement signing ceremony
An exhibition on noriutsugi with panels and a documentary movie

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) and the government council of Shibetsu Town, Hokkaido Prefecture, concluded an agreement on collaboration and cooperation, and conducted a conclusion ceremony on November 2, 2023. Though production of noriutsugi* was almost lost, the people of Shibetsu Town is now working on its revival, as an official town project. This agreement is aims to promote discussion on appropriate ways to preserve and store produced noriutsugi; interaction for scientific identification of the characteristics of neri (dispersant) extracted from noriutsugi barks and exchange and provision of any related information. Noriutsugi is a material used in the manufacture of uda washi paper, and is essential to conserve hanging scrolls. Success of the project in Shibetsu Town will lead to a sustainable and stable supply of the material.

 Four members from TOBUNKEN, including the Director General, Mr. SAITO Takamasa, participated in the ceremony. The Mayor of Shibetsu Town, Mr. YAMAGUCHI Shougo, and Mr. SAITO each provided greeting remarks and signed the agreement.

 After the ceremonial signature, the lecture session was conducted. Dr. TATEISHI Toru, Director of the Center for Conservation Science, TOBUNKEN, conducted a lecture titled The Important Role of Shibetsu Town on Cultural Property Protection in Japan about the tight relationship between cultural property protection and Shibetsu Town, including the management of the Ichani Karikariusu Historical Site. Afterwards, Dr. HAYAKAWA Noriko, Head of the Restoration Materials Section of the center, spoke about the importance of Shibetsu Town for noriutsugi-neri production in a lecture titled Cultural Property Restoration and Noriutsugi.

 At the venue of the lectures, an exhibition related to noriutsugi and uda washi paper with related materials, panels, and documentary movies used for TOBUNKEN lobby exhibition was held. Many participants attended across the Town.

 We also visited the noriutsugi planting site before and before the ceremony. We expect that further research and exchange with the people involved at the site will lead to an outcome beneficial to cultural property restoration.

*Noriutsugi-neri, a component used as a neri (dispersant), for traditional papermaking (uda washi), has been produced by barking and extracting from wild noriutsugi plants (Hydrangea paniculate); however, it has become difficult to keep producing it in the traditional way. Therefore, an attempt to produce a sustainable supply of noriutsugi-neri product by systematically harvesting noriutsugi for barking, and scientific studies are on-going.

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