Photographic Survey of the Ekin Byōbu

Photographic survey
Replica of Ekin byōbu displayed at Ekingura

Twenty-three byōbu (folding screens) painted by Hirose Kinzō (1812–76), known as Ekin, have been passed down in Akaoka Town, Konan City, Kochi Prefecture. They are certified by Kochi Prefecture as Tangible Cultural Properties for Protection. They are usually stored in Ekingura (Ekin Museum), which is a facility for storage and exhibition. Ekin byōbu are attractive because the dramatic scenes of popular kabuki plays were depicted with a dynamic composition using vivid color pigments. Eighteen of them were originally devoted to the Suruda Hachimangū Shrine located in the north of Akaoka Town. They have been shown at the Suruda Hachimangū Grand Festival since the end of Edo era. In addition, the Ekin Festival has been held in Akaoka Town by local people since 1977 at the shopping district, where they are displayed. Ekin byōbu are popular as special cultural properties that share the same regional background, though the festivals were halted for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Five byōbu were discolored due to an accident in 2010. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) investigated how to conserve and restore them. Additionally, measures were taken to stabilize them. (Please refer to our monthly report: Later, a project for the conservation and restoration of the other 18 byōbu, which have deteriorated over time, has been started by the Ekingura Management Committee and the Akaoka Ekin Byōbu Preservation Association. TOBUNKEN has been investigating the painting materials of Ekin byōbu along with this project. We visited Ekingura on April 15th and 16th, 2022, and investigated them with high-resolution color photography of the 18 byōbu, whose restoration has been completed. All byōbu will be fully restored by the end of FY 2022. A research report is planned for publication after the completion.

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