Collaboration with European experts for the conservation and restoration of stone cultural heritage

Seven-story stone pagoda at Kandani Shrine
Survey of similar cases for the conservation and restoration of stone cultural properties in Europe

 Stone is a material that mankind has utilised for cultural life since ancient times. It has a wide range of uses, including as tools, building materials, and sculptures, many of which are classified as stone cultural heritage and have been handed down through conservation efforts. Although the definition of stone as cultural heritage differs between Japan and the rest of the world, various efforts have been made to conserve and restore stone materials around the world. In particular, Europe, known as having had ‘stone culture’ as opposed to Japan’s ‘wood culture,’ has been leading the world in advanced research and studies, and the results of these studies can be used for the conservation of stone cultural heritage in Japan.

 Many stone cultural heritage objects are conserved outdoors, as they are more durable than timber in terms of hardness and stability. Therefore, they are often subject to deterioration and loss due to external factors such as weather, natural disasters, and the surrounding environment, and it is necessary to take measures from a variety of perspectives when considering their conservation. This is why it is important to look at many examples, share the problems with experts in each field, and carry out research to find solutions.

 On February 16, 2024, we visited Kandani Shrine in Sakaide City, Kagawa Prefecture, to conduct a survey for the conservation of the seven-storey stone pagoda standing on the shrine grounds. The stone pagoda, built of lapilli tuff, is in a very poor state, with the base eroded by rainwater, and cracks and losses are visible. The situation was shared with European experts, and on March 1, 2024, we held meeting in Florence with Italian national conservators of cultural properties regarding a survey of similar examples and a research plan.

 In the future, we will engage in research that will lead to improvements in the current state of conservation and restoration of stone cultural properties in Japan.

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