|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
Jiuta sangen (right: Mr. OKAMOTO Shintaro; left: Ms. OKAMURA Ai)
Roundtable discussion (from right: Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi, Mr. NUNOME Aito, Mr. EZOE Junichiro, and Mr. NAKAMINE Miki)
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held Forum 4: Traditional Performing Arts amid COVID-19 Pandemic: Dissemination and Succession for the Future on November 25th, 2022.
First, ISHIMURA Tomo, MAEHARA Megumi, and KAMATA Sayumi of the department presented international case studies regarding traditional performing arts and education, the current status of traditional performing arts amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and last year’s progress in Japan.
Following three presentations, Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi (from Independent Administrative Agency, Japan Arts Council), Mr. NUNOME Aito (from Public Interest Incorporated Association, Geidankyo, Japan Council of Performers Rights and Performing Arts Organization), Mr. EZOE Junichiro (from Toppan Inc., Secretariat of Dissemination and Empowerment for Hogaku of the Agency for Cultural Affairs), and Mr. NAKAMINE Miki (from Association of Okinawa Sanshin Manufacturing) reported their respective case studies, in which they tackled the topic of dissemination and succession of traditional performing arts from different positions and frameworks. Between case reports, Mr. OKAMURA Shintaro and Ms. OKAMURA Ai—who teach Japanese traditional music to the schools selected for the Dissemination and Empowerment of Hogaku, by the Agency for Cultural Affairs—performed jiuta sangen, a type of Japanese traditional music played on the shamisen, Kurokami (black hair), and Hashizukushi (bridges).
The roundtable discussion was held by four case study reporters, in addition to ISHIMURA and MAEHARA. Through this roundtable discussion, we shared the dissemination and transmission of traditional performing arts from different positions. Moreover, it revealed that the challenges of increasing demand were inherent even before the pandemic, and that it became increasingly apparent during COVID-19. Furthermore, based on the common understanding that dissemination is the basic foundation for the succession of traditional performing arts, we recommended the following steps to seamlessly disseminate traditional performing arts: meet the needs of various ages from various positions and by various frameworks; and grasp a variety of demands by sharing this information among the people who work on the dissemination and succession of traditional performing arts.
This forum was held with limited seats to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The recorded video is now available for free on the TOBUNKEN webpage （https://www.tobunken.go.jp/ich/vscovid19/forum_4/） in Japanese till March 31st, 2023. We plan to publish a report and make it available on our website by the end of this fiscal year.
Since 2012, the International Course on Paper Conservation in Latin America: Meeting East has been jointly organized by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and Coordinacion Nacional de Conservacion del Patrimonio Cultural – Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (CNCPC-INAH) at CNCPC in Mexico City. This year, the in-person teaching course returned after two years of cancellation. A total of nine conservation specialists from eight countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and Uruguay) participated in the course held from November 9th to 22nd 2022.
The course sought to provide attendees with basic knowledge and techniques regarding traditional paper conservation in Japan. Japanese specialists were in charge of the first part of the course (November 9th to 14th). They presented lectures on the protection system of traditional techniques, tools and materials used in restoration, and Restoration Techniques for Mounts, which is one of the Selected Conservation Techniques in Japan. Methods useful for various situations were taught by working on linings with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste. In the latter half of the course (November 16th to 22nd), experts from Mexico and Spain gave lectures. They spoke about how to select materials and apply their techniques to Western paper cultural properties.
We would like to express our gratitude to the participants for their cooperation in preventing the spread of coronavirus throughout the course. We hope that the knowledge and techniques the attendees acquired will be applied to the conservation and restoration of cultural property overseas.
Arial view of Korphu village (from the west)
MoU signing ceremony (left: Director of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, TOBUNKEN, TOMODA Masahiko; right: Director-General of the DoC, Nagtsho Dorji)
From the scientific research aspect, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) provides technical support for the value evaluation and enhancement of heritage buildings to the Department of Culture (DoC), the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan, which aims to expand the scope of heritage conservation to all historic buildings, including traditional houses. While we have been forced to implement cooperation projects online since January 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, TOBUNKEN agreed with the DoC to resume joint surveys in Bhutan, following the significant easing of travel restrictions in Japan and Bhutan from July and September onward, respectively. From November 5th–15th, 2022, TOBUNKEN dispatched four staff experts, including an expert from the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
The mission targeted the traditional masonry houses found in the eastern part of Bhutan. The purpose was to recognize and analyze the fundamental features of settlements and buildings in the region as the preliminary stage of the comprehensive scientific survey, which will serve as the basis for appropriate heritage conservation and development. Effective survey strategies were also examined in the mission. The on-site survey covered Trongsa Dzongkhag, Bumthang Dzongkhag, and the surrounding area, located in the central-eastern part of the country, which is relatively easy to access from the capital city of Thimphu. Measurements, photogrammetry, and interviews with locals were conducted in villages and houses preselected by the Division of Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) of the DoC, based on the governmental archive and information provided by Dzongkhags. We found that the region had its own distinctive village forms. For instance, Trong and Korphu, located in the rugged mountainous area in the southern part of Trongsa Dzongkhag, are particularly unique as their houses are built in rows along a ridge, giving them merchant town-like appearance despite them being farming villages. In addition, while almost all houses in Trong are masonry structures, those in Korphu are both masonry and rammed earth structures, and rammed earth structures retain their older form. In other houses we surveyed, some were originally built in rammed earth, and later expanded or modified in stone. This suggests that, at least in the region surveyed this time, the structural manner of traditional houses shifted from rammed earth to masonry. We also found some masonry houses that have a very complex series of expansion and modification, and there is a possibility that the frequency of modification is generally higher in masonry structures than that in rammed-earth structures. Regarding the survey method, photogrammetry proved to be efficient and very useful in recording the masonry house, which shows random and complex patterns with natural stones and has many distortions in its shape.
After the on-site survey, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the cooperation in the conservation of architectural heritage was signed at the DoC headquarters, Thimphu, and a meeting was organized with the DCHS to discuss the results of the survey, as well as the prospects and needs of the Bhutanese counterparts. In the future, we expect to develop more on-site surveys and research activities targeting masonry houses in eastern Bhutan in close collaboration with the DCHS.
Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo Kote-e Kura
Flaking and chipping
Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo Kote-e Kura in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture was completed in 1926 by the plasterer KAWAKAMI Ikichi. The artwork was commissioned by YOSHIZAWA Nitarō, the founder of Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo (i.e., Kina Saffron Winery). The kote-e* (plaster reliefs) are mainly positioned around eaves and doors of the warehouse structured of lumber and with mud wall. The kote-e reliefs are three-dimensional representations of Daikokuten (Japanese deity of fortune and wealth) and animals and plants, and were created with the impasto technique mainly using plaster. The use of red and blue colors in the reliefs creates a contrast that enhances the three-dimensional visual effect.
Although these kote-e are placed in a harsh environment with exposure to rainfall and wind, they have remained in a relatively good condition considering that they were created almost 100 years ago. This can be attributed to the efforts made by people to protect the artwork and hand down it to generations as well as to the characteristics of the plaster and the ingenious plastering techniques.
Nonetheless, some damage such as flaking and chipping of plaster and color can be seen in every kote-e on careful observation. Hence, responding to the request by Nagaoka City, the owner of the warehouse, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) visited the site on November 11th, 2022 and conducted sampling investigation of color and plaster as a part of pre-investigation for conservation and restoration, which has been deemed necessary for the near future. Sampling investigation is conducted by extracting small samples from the target materials; this practice is also described as “destructive investigation.” Although the word “destructive” may indicate something “bad,” it is not so. Sampling investigation enables us to obtain reliable information that cannot be obtained by simply checking the surface. Therefore, destructive investigation, in fact, enables safer and superior conservation and restoration.
We will effectively utilize the outcome analysis of this investigation for planning the conservation and restoration project so that the Kote-e Kura, which has been maintained by prior generations, can be passed down to future generations and it remains well-preserved for at least another 100 years.
*Kote-e: colorful Japanese plaster reliefs created using a trowel
Round table talk (from the left, SANO Masaki, Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi, Ms. KOIZUMI Yurina)
Mr. ISHIDA Katsuyoshi reporting the first case study
The 16th Public Lecture was held on October 28th, 2022.
On the morning prior to the Lecture, the videos individually produced by the POLA Foundation of Japanese Culture, the Japan Arts Council, and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) were shown.
At the Public Lecture held in the afternoon, first, MAEHARA Megumi, head of the Intangible Cultural Properties Section, explained the aim of the Lecture. Then, the following sessions were presented: Intangible Cultural Heritage and Visual Documentation by ISHIMURA Tomo, head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section; Practice at TOBUNKEN: Visual Documentation of Intangible Cultural Properties by SANO Masaki, associate fellow; Conservation Techniques for Traditional performing Arts by Mr. ISHIDA Katsuyoshi, manufacturer and biwa musician (Japanese traditional lute) and MAEHARA; and Visual Documentation of Craft Techniques by Mr. SETO Takashi, Associate Professor at Bunka Gakuen University and KIKUCHI Riyo, Senior Researcher. At the following round table talk, Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi, Executive Director of the Japan Arts Council and Ms. KOIZUMI Yurina, Curator of the POLA Foundation of Japanese Culture, introduced their respective video projects for intangible cultural properties. Together with TOBUNKEN researchers, they identified the characteristics of each institute and reached a common understanding regarding the aims, methods, and publication of “intangible cultural property visual documentation.” Furthermore, it was concluded that the intangible cultural heritage can be documented comprehensively by archiving and publishing the diversified visual documentation to the fullest possible extent and methods based on a mutual understanding of each institute’s characteristics.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage strives to continue facilitating occasions to share and discuss various challenges on documentation methods and the utilization of intangible cultural properties. A report of this Lecture will be published, and also available online in the coming fiscal year.
Craftworks that were broken by the earthquake (provided by Suzu City)
Intensity of earthquake in the Noto Region, Ishikawa Prefecture, on June 19th, 2022, and damages to each workshop (created by combining the Suzu Ware map and Japan Real-time Information System for earthQuake)
Suzu Ware is a type of pottery produced in Suzu City and the east part of Noto Town (formerly Uchiura Town) from the mid-12th to late-15th century. It is characterized by a grayish black color produced in a reductional fire without applying glaze. Its reproduction project was started by Suzu City and its Chamber of Commerce in 1976, and Suzu Ware was designated as the Designated Traditional Crafts of Ishikawa Prefecture in 1989. Currently, around 50 of its potters are working individually or in workshops in Suzu City.
The earthquake in the Noto Region of Ishikawa Prefecture occurred on June 19th, 2022; damages to some of Suzu Ware workshops were confirmed. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center jointly conducted on-site investigations to grasp the extent of the damage and follow-up on September 6th and October 24th and 25th, 2022, respectively. These investigations were conducted in cooperation with the Industrial Promotion Section of Suzu City, Suzu Ware Museum, Suzu Pottery Workshop, and “Suzuyaki Soenkai,” the association of Suzu Ware potters.
The areas of Shoin, Choku, and Iida were most severely hit by the earthquake. The workshops in these areas suffered from the damage to their craftworks, and wood-fired kilns, which are mandatory for production. The day after the earthquake, the Industrial Promotion Section called each workshop and potter to examine the damages and requested photographs of them. Thereafter, mainly Mr. SHINOHARA Takashi, chairman of Suzuyaki Soenkai conducted detailed questionnaires on the damages. Based on the questionnaire outcomes, the Suzu City staff who oversaw this, visited the damaged workshops, and recorded the necessary information for recovery. Currently, the information has been compiled and the discussion of its application to the “Subsidy for Operational Cost to Support Reconstruction of Business that Suffered from Damages” by Ishikawa Prefecture for repair and reconstruction to some kilns is underway.
This case study highlights the importance of community “Soenkai” (meaning an association of creating fire) which connects potters horizontally, and significance of promptly understanding and recording the damages in such emergencies.
The Department and Center will continue the research on disaster risk management for craft techniques through various on-site investigations.
Mikoshi (portable shrine) tumbled dramatically
Ritual in front of the temporary shrine
On October 29th and 30th, 2022, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted a performing status survey of the Tsumori Shrine’s Ohoshi Festival (the Festival), which has been passed down in Mashiki Town, Kamimashiki County; Nishihara Village, Aso County; and Kikuyo Town, Kikuchi County, Kumamoto Prefecture.
The Festival is one of the rituals of the Tsumori Shrine located in Jichu, Mashiki Town, held every October 30th. A total of 12 areas across Mashiki Town, Nishihara Village and Kikuyo Town, in turn, build an “Okariya” (temporary shrine) in their own area and enshrine Ohoshi, a deity, in it for one year. This festival is famous for the activities of violently shaking and throwing in the air the mikoshi (portable shrine), which holds the deity in it, during the procession to the next area.
The two towns and one village that hold the festival were heavily damaged by the Kumamoto Earthquake that occurred in April 2016. The Tsumori Shrine, which plays a key role in this festival, also suffered extensive damage. Therefore, while this festival was conducted on a smaller scale in 2016, it was canceled consecutively in 2017 and 2018. The Sugido area of Mashiki Town was in charge this year. This area has not yet fully recovered from the damage caused by the earthquake. Some residents have only just moved back to their rebuilt houses from temporary housing.
At the departure ceremony of this year’s procession, the mayor of Mashiki Town and other related parties explained the recovery and reconstruction status and stated that the festival should be conducted in full scale on behalf of the areas that could not conduct it in the usual way. After the earthquake, people were hesitant to treat mikoshi roughly for some time. This year, people violently shook the shrine and walked around the areas as if people tried to regain the activities before the earthquake. Ohoshi was safely moved into the temporary shrine in the Uryusako area of Nishihara Village, which is in charge of the festival next year.
Intangible Folk Cultural Properties can be affected by natural disasters in unexpected ways because these are closely tied with local people’s lives. The recovery status of local life could affect the actual activities of the Ohoshi Festival. The Department continues to investigate how natural disasters may impact intangible folk cultural properties.
Common reed from the areas of Kanmaki and Udono, Nishino ko lake, and Watarase River (from the left)
Hishigi: flattening the reed using hishigi gote (flat irons)
Whittle the reed tip using a small knife over a kirosoku (Japanese traditional candle made of plant-derived oil)
Rozetsu made from the common reed from the areas of Kanmaki and Udono, Nishino ko, and Watarase River
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducts investigation and research of tools such as musical instruments associated with their parts, and costumes, and their raw materials essential for intangible cultural properties.
Rozetsu (reed) of hichiriki (Japanese traditional flute), a wind instrument used for gagaku (Japanese classical court music), is made from landward common reed (Phragmites australis), which grows in the riverbeds and near lakes. The common reed especially grown in the area of Kanmaki and Udono areas of the Yodo River riverbeds in Takatsuki City, Osaka Prefecture is considered the most suitable for rozetsu of hichiriki. However, the tick common reed suitable for rozetsu has decreased remarkably even in these areas due to various changes such as environmental changes that affect its habitat. The Department conducts investigations to identify the characteristics suitable for rozetsu by comparing the common reed of the Kanmaki and Udono areas, the Nishino ko lake (an inner lake of the Lake Biwa) and the Watarase Yusuichi (Watarase retarding basin) with the Center for Conservation Science. As a part of this investigation, we made rozetsu using reed from each area, recorded its making process with the support of, and interviewed Ms. NAKAMURA Hitomi, a hichiriki player. We measured each reed’s bore and outside diameter and plan to observe the cross-sections in detail and conduct further research on the characteristics and the suitability of each reed for rozetsu of hichiriki.
In the process of making rozetsu of hichiriki, there is a unique step called hishigi in which the reed is pinched with hishigi gote (flat irons) heated to a suitable temperature, and gently flattened. The shortage of high-quality hishigi gote is also reported. There may be challenges to sustainably obtaining a manufacturing tool (hishigi gote), not only a tool (rozetsu) and raw materials (common reed) mandatory for gagaku.
The Department is continuing comprehensive research of the current status, challenges, and solutions of techniques and materials mandatory for the succession of intangible cultural properties.
Measuring the surface temperature of the rock
Measuring the moisture penetration status above the rock
Measuring the surface temperature of the honden
The Center for Conservation Science conducts investigations for the conservation environment of wooden architecture built in rock caves.
The Natadera Temple in Komatsu City, Ishikawa Prefecture is a temple of the fusion of the Indigenous Hakusan Faith (the faith for Mt. Hakusan), and Buddhism. Its wooden honden (main shrine), which is an Important Cultural Property, was reconstructed in 1642 in a rock cave created via natural erosion. In recent years, aseismic reinforcing works have been installed. Since then, moisture condensation has often occurred during spring to summer time, which is problematic because it causes wood decay. Therefore, it is desirable to reduce the frequency of moisture condensation to conserve the shrine and its decoration in good condition.
To tackle this, the Center is conducting an environmental investigation to identify the occurrence factors of moisture condensation and to determine the appropriate countermeasures to reduce them. Rainwater, outer air, and heat capacity (ability to store heat) of the rocks affect the environment inside the cave. Therefore, the temperature and humidity in the cave, moisture penetration into the rocks, and surface temperature of the rock and the honden are being measured. We plan to pursue our investigation by continuous measurements of environmental data and analysis.
Moisture condensation causes many problems at many masonry constructions and stone chambers of burial mounds. In recent years in particular, the rise of temperature and absolute humidity in the summer season increases the condensation occurrence risk. There is an urgent need to tackle the global environmental challenges. However, for now, we suggest the achievable countermeasures in everyday management.
Participants at the opening ceremony
In recent years, the investigations of conservation and restoration for cultural properties have expanded their targets not only to traditional cultural properties but also to modern artifacts and documents made of various types of materials. The Restoration Materials Section of the Center for Conservation Science invites experts from overseas and conducts workshops to meet these needs. In 2022, we invited Mr. Remy Dreyfuss-Deseigne, an expert who conducts research and application of nanocellulose films for conservation and restoration, to conduct a three-day workshop beginning on October 5th, 2022. Nanocellulose films are a kind of cellulose made from natural materials, which are transparent and stable. Therefore, nanocellulose films can be applied to transparent materials such as tracing paper and photo film with which traditional conservation materials do not work well.
We received applications more than double the official capacity of 15 seats for this workshop from conservators. This indicated high expectations for the workshop. We accepted all applicants to the lectures for the morning sessions, but we needed to limit participants for the practical sessions in the afternoon. The workshop began with an inauguration ceremony, with opening remarks by SAITO Takamasa, Director General of TOBUNKEN, and then the lecturer, Mr. Dreyfuss-Deseigne was introduced. During the workshop, the lectures were held in the mornings and practical sessions in the afternoons. On the last day, a tour of TOBUNKEN was conducted to see TOBUNKEN equipment related to the workshop.
This workshop with a lecturer invited from overseas was held for the first time in 3 years since the last one. The “face-to-face workshop” encouraged participants to raise very active questions and discussions. Participants said that they could build mutual collaboration among the workshop members. We recognized again the significant impact of in-person workshop, which could not be achieved online. We believe that our workshop helped in the actual reconstruction of cultural properties and conservation of archives.
Cultural landscape of Katsushika-Shibamata
National District Liaison Council on Cultural Landscape at ex Kawajin restaurant building
Since 2018, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been holding the World Heritage Seminar (WHS), which aims to share international trends and information about cultural heritage protection, including UNESCO’s sites, within our country. In the fiscal year 2022, the seminar entitled Re-question on Landscape as Cultural Properties will focus on areal protection, which has become increasingly important in recent years. To understand the inclination for landscape protection in Japan, I participated in Practical Workshop on Cultural Landscape 2022 and National District Liaison Council on Cultural Landscape organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs from October 27th to 29th.
Both were held in Katsushika-Shibamata, the first district nominated as a cultural landscape situated in the metropolitan area of Japan. At the workshop, after two case-study lectures on charm publicity and tourism town planning related to cultural landscape, the participants, who were divided into groups, walked around the venue and investigated the issues of sharing cultural landscape information among the residents and visitors. They also presented solutions and discussed their ideas. At the council, after a keynote speech on the cultural landscape features of Shibamata and three case reports on the inheritance of river fish food culture, the speakers discussed the theme.
Both administrative institutions and inhabitants and other concerned parties who participate proactively play a key role in inheriting cultural landscape significance. The training meetings focused on techniques to utilize cultural landscapes as ‟living cultural assets” rooted in daily life. Clearly, such utilization can work only if it is combined with protection system and its instruments, like two wheels of a chariot. Keeping this in mind, WHS 2022 aims to clarify the legal grounds on which foreign world heritage sites with landscape values such as cultural landscapes and historic city centers are protected. Through the seminar, we hope to look into the future of ‟landscape” protection in Japan.
The Symposium 2022 Climate Change and Cultural Heritage -What’s Happening Now?- was hosted by the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (JCIC-Heritage), which the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) operates, commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. The symposium was held at Ichijo Hall, Yayoi Auditorium, in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Tokyo on October 23, 2022, and was co-hosted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan.
This Symposium aimed to explore the international collaboration possibilities for the brighter future of cultural heritage by considering climate change from the viewpoint of the historical relationship between climate change and human societies, sharing and discussing the challenges faced by tangible and intangible cultural heritage under ongoing climate change.
Chairperson of JCIC-Heritage, Dr. AOYAGI Masanori opened the Symposium and emphasized that the first step in tackling the coming challenges to strengthen the international collaboration and cooperation on cultural heritage protection under on-going climate change will be that more people correctly understand the relationship between climate change and the cultural heritage.
This was followed by three presentations on the relationship between climate change and cultural heritage from different viewpoints: Potential of Cultural Heritages as the Memory of Past Climate Adaptation Inferred from Paleoclimatology by Dr. NAKATSUKA Takeshi, professor, the Nagoya University Graduate School of Environmental Studies, The Futures of our Past: Cultural Heritage and the Climate Emergency by Dr. William Megarry, a Bureau Member of the ICOMOS Climate Action Working Group, and Climate Change and Traditional Knowledge: Case studies from Oceania by ISHIMURA Tomo, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The following panel discussion was conducted by Dr. SONODA Naoko, professor of the National Museum of Ethnology as a moderator, and four panelists including the three aforementioned presenters and TATEISHI Toru, Vice Director of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center. TATEISHI introduced activities and challenges for cultural property disaster risk management, using the Great East Japan Earthquake as a case study. Various opinions were then exchanged among the panelists and participants, including the impact climate change will bring to the activities of cultural heritage protection and the possibility that traditional knowledge forming such heritage can be the key to tackling climate change. KOHDZUMA Yohsei, Director of Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center made a closing address to confirm the importance to continue tackling these challenges by collecting the “knowledge” from a wide range of people.
Please visit the JCIC-Heritage website for further details. https://www.jcic-heritage.jp/2022-symposium-report20221118/ (Japanese only)
Discussion with Iraq online
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) and Japanese-Iraqi Institute for Archaeological Education of Mesopotamia (JIAEM) co-organized an international symposium titled Water and People of Mesopotamia and the Surrounding Area: A Hopeful Way of Looking to Our Sustainable Future with Water from Viewpoints of Archaeological and Historical Heritages in the Regions held on October 22nd, 2022. This symposium activity aims to foster a deeper understanding of the Mesopotamian archaeology and livelihood of Iraqi people and resume archaeological survey as well as international cooperation in the future as the second co-organized activity by both institutes.
The Tigris and Euphrates rivers that nurtured Mesopotamian civilization face the issue of water decrease influenced by dam construction by neighboring countries located upstream in addition to the impact of global climate change. We invited his excellency Abdul Kareem Kaab, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in Tokyo. He presented a keynote lecture about the relationship with both rivers and people from ancient times, as well as the current difficult situation in the surrounding area in Iraq. Subsequently, several presentations were made from the multiple viewpoints focusing on the keyword “water” including the Water Resource Management in Transboundary Rivers, Riverine Life, and Water Supply of Ancient Mesopotamia, how to make a traditional Iraqi boat, history and current situation in Bahrain given its abundant spring water. In the second half of the symposium, Iraqi scholars were joined online, and talked on the field study of utilizing water in Eridu and Umma, and the crisis regarding buffalo in south Iraq. We discussed how they would be able to cope with their lives along with changing river conditions by overviewing what kind of water resources management were handled there from the archaeological viewpoint.
Dealing with a wide range of issues from the ancient to the present in three different languages (Japanese, English, and Arabic) presented a valuable opportunity to discuss livelihoods of the local people, not only focusing on academic themes surrounding the keyword “water.” We hope new international cooperation issue will be recognized through such activity.
Plaster remaining in the stone sarcophagus
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) visited the Oichi No.1 Kofun (tumulus) in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture and investigated the conservation status of the plaster remaining in the stone sarcophagus, in cooperation with the Culture Development Section, Economic Environment Division of Fukuyama City, on October 20th, 2022. Plaster, a type of construction material used for tumulus construction, requires specific knowledge and techniques regarding all processes from manufacturing to application. Therefore, it is a precious archaeological material which shows how technology was transferred when those tumuli were constructed. Hence, regardless of the coloring and/or decorations on it, plaster conservation is considered important and implemented in many cases outside Japan. Though there are more than 40 tumuli where plaster usage is confirmed in Japan, they are not widely known like Takamatsuzuka and Kitora Tumuli. While most of these tumuli were designated as cultural properties, plaster conservation measures are rarely taken up; the plaster is left to erode due to weathering and flaking every day.
The Oichi No.1 Kofun keeps the highest percentage of plaster in Japan. We wonder why it is not designated as a cultural property. Furthermore, it does not just keep the plaster, but we can even identify plaster application traces, which were considered to be made when the plaster was applied during the tumulus construction in the area, where the conservation status is good enough. It can be a precious clue to identify the tools used during the construction. In this investigation we discussed sustainable measures for plaster conservation based on the confirmation of its conservation status and environment, by considering the sense of morality on the cultural property conservation and restoration including material adaptability and aesthetic appearance.
Utilization of the cultural properties is required now more than ever. It is time to revise the methods of passing down the cultural properties to future generations in the given situation. The plaster remaining in tumuli is one of these cultural properties. We will discuss further the appropriate measures for conservation and methods to maintain and manage it for its future utilization by revising the current situation where the plaster has been decaying and lost, while also referring to the similar advanced cases in and outside Japan.
Discussion and Q&A session
Kuwayama Gyokushū (1746-1799) and Iwase Hirotaka (1808-1877) were painters who worked actively in Wakayama in the Edo period. Both of them left their own painting tools, including various pigments. This is important because they can be clues to identify coloring materials in the Edo era, such as the pigments. In addition, many of their artworks still exist now. This means that the coloring materials used for their actual artwork can be compared with the pigments in their painting tools, providing a valuable study target.
The 5th Seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on September 15th, 2022, in TOBUNKEN and online, featuring the interim report of the coloring material analysis of pigments and paintings of Gyokushū and Hirotaka. First, HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro, Deputy Director General reported the results of X-ray fluorescent and visible light reflectance analyses on the coloring materials of both artists. Then, new perspectives including the fact that both gofun (calcium carbonate) and enpaku (lead white) were applied as white pigments, and further challenges were presented. After that, YASUNAGA Takuyo, head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section discussed how Gyokushū used white pigments differently for human faces, as well as the issues of backside coloring referring to the painting of Tosui rakanzu (Luohans crossing the river). Next, Mr. KONDO Takashi of Kyoritsu Women’s Educational Institution introduced the biography of Hirotaka, who was first, an ukiyo-e artist and then became an artist of the FukkoYamato-e (Yamato-e revival) group later. Finally, Mr. KONDO discussed the relationship between Hirotaka’s artworks and the coloring materials referring to the painting of King Lanling and Nasori.
After the presentations, discussions among the three presenters and a Q&A session were held. An active discussion was conducted regarding the interpretation of the analysis results. The period between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries is important for the understanding of the transition of coloring materials. However, few analysis has been done on coloring materials, including pigments and those of artworks. Consequently, we expect that these studies will reveal the use of coloring materials in the mid and late Edo period.
Lecture by Mr. WATANABE Naoto
Lecture by Ms. KONNO Saki
Lecture by Dr. IMAIZUMI Shoko
The Cultural Property Information Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a seminar on the Documentation of Cultural Properties in the seminar room on the underground floor of TOBUNKEN on September 2nd, 2022. The Act Partially Amending the Museum Act was established in April 2022. Through this act, digital archiving and dissemination of museum materials were added to museum roles. Furthermore, the demand for exhibitions in virtual fields, such as websites, has been increasing because of the prolonged difficulties in visiting cultural property sites and exhibitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Considering these situations, we organized a seminar with the following three lectures. Mr. WATANABE Naoto, curator of Sendai City Museum of History and Folklore, presented the video documentation of the annual festival and kagura (Shinto music and dancing) tradition of Oidenomori Hachiman Shrine and its dissemination on YouTube during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. KONNO Saki, curator of Tohoku Fukushi University Serizawa Keisuke Art and Craft Museum, introduced their activities, such as conducting a tour of the exhibition rooms online, with curators also explaining their exhibits online. Dr. IMAIZUMI Shoko, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Chiba University, conducted a lecture on the fundamentals of image and video compression, and points to note at its utilization.
Dr. IMAIZUMI showed visually that compression brought disadvantages of the compromising image/video quality, despite its positive effect to decrease the file size. Mr. WATANABE and Ms. KONNO introduced hands-on methods for disseminating information by utilizing their own human resources, equipment, and free software with public support, such as subsidies and support from local cooperation. All of the lectures provoked thoughts useful in tackling respective challenges. The participants focused on the presentations as they were facing similar challenges and have asked many questions.
The Section will continuously provide information about documentation and information dissemination applicable to the daily activities of curators and officers involved in cultural property protection through various media.
Biwa used by Mr. NAGAMATSU Daietsu (owned by NAGAMATSU Mitsutoyo at that time)
Biwa used by Mr. HASHIGUCHI Keisuke (owned by HASHIGUCHI Kenichi)
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has investigated the Higo Biwa Preservation Society and the successors of Higo biwa technique, who have dedicated to pass down the Higo biwa, and its related materials including the biwa. We conducted the third on-site investigation from September 7th to 9th. We studied the biwa used by Mr. NAGAMATSU Daietsu, a sighted Higo biwa player and the one used by Mr. HASHIGUCHI Keisuke (HOSHIZAWA Tsukiwaka), a successor of Hoshizawa school, whose root is Sumoto, Amakusa City. Both were preserved by their bereaved families. Therefore, we visited them and studied the biwa there. We had precious opportunities to learn about these two Higo biwa players from their families. Mr. NAGAMATSU’s biwa will be donated to Historical Museum Kokoropia of Tamana City associated with his related hand-written books of relics and records via the curator who accompanied us. We expect them to be widely available for studies.
Furthermore, we conducted studies on the biwa owned by Shinwa Museum for History and Folklore and Amakusa Hondo Museum of History and Folklore and concluded this investigation series. We may conduct a few supplementary studies and plan to issue the report in FY 2022.
We noticed that a village manages a single Higo biwa instrument in turn and plays it as an offering every new year. We cannot study this case in our investigation series, but we hope that our analysis inspires further research on Higo biwa tradition status.
Injecting nitrogen into the bag set in the display case
Extracting the air from the bag using a pump
The Center for Conservation Science investigates the conservation environments of museums. Recently, the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History requested us to investigate the air quality in their exhibition cases. They detected some organic acids, however, the emission source was not identified. The emission source was needed for taking appropriate counter-measures. Moreover, the ratio of acetic acid and formic acid is called for as the current measurement was taking them collectively as organic acids.
Therefore, the Preventive Conservation and the Analytical Science Sections decided to investigate the emission source by applying the air quality investigation methods developed by the Analytical Science Section. Five points including the floors of two wall display cases (big and small size), the display surface of a tabletop case, the display stand, and the back panel, were targeted. As shown in the photos, the targeted measurement points were covered with bags made of airtight film and the 4.5 kg lead rings were set to seal them. Then, after replacing the air inside the bags with nitrogen and leaving them for 24 hours, the air was extracted from the bags using a pump, dissolved in ultrapure water, and analyzed using ion chromatography. Consequently, we measured the amount of acetic acid and formic acid emissions. Simultaneously, we checked the sealing degree by the measurement of CO2 density change inside bags over time.
We have identified the density of acetic acid and formic acid at each measurement point and will leverage these outcomes for future air quality improvement.
Hanoi was previously called Thang Long and has been the capital of Vietnam most time since the establishment of the Lý dynasty – the first Vietnamese independent and unified nation at the beginning of the 11th century. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was where a group of imperial palaces, serving as both the emperor’s residences and the political control base, were located. The original palace remains were considered lost because the site was turned into an army facility in the modern age, while it was known that the palaces used to exist at the location.
However, the many remains, such as the foundations of the original palaces and related artifacts in each dynasty, including those from the Lý dynasty, were unearthed by a large-scale excavation investigation beginning in 2002, which was associated with the rebuilding of the Parliament House Building. This partially revealed how the Thang Long palaces used to be, although they were hidden for a long time. It was decided to conserve this site and it was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 2010, the 1,000th anniversary of the establishment of the capital. Responding to the request of the Vietnamese government, Japan has been cooperating in the research and conservation of this heritage since 2006. I had the responsibility of supporting architectural study and conservation management, as well as the overall implementation of this cooperation program from 2008 to 2013.
International Symposium: 20 Years of Research, Conservation and Promotion of the Values of Thang Long Imperial Citadel Heritage Site was held at the site co-sponsored by the Hanoi People’s Committee and UNESCO Ha Noi Office on September 8th and 9th, 2022, the 20th anniversary of the commencement of its investigation. Many representatives from governmental organizations, UNESCO, ICOMOS, and ICOM, and experts from and outside Vietnam participated and shared the research outcomes in each field. They also provided over 20 reports and conducted discussions regarding the challenges toward its future conservation and utilization. I made a presentation titled International Cooperation between Japan and Vietnam for the Conservation of Thang Long Imperial Citadel Site and also played the role of a commentator at a discussion.
Some have wished for some time now to reconstruct the Kính thiên palace, the main building, on the existing foundation of the later Lê dynasty (16th century or later). Several reports concerning the materials indicating reasonable grounds for the reconstruction were provided, and the study progress was stressed at this symposium. On the other hand, as the former military headquarters from the French Colonial period stand on this foundation and its front, it is necessary to demolish or relocate these buildings to reconstruct the palace. However, these buildings, founded later, are exactly parts of evidence indicating this heritage’s longevity and a layered record of vestiges identified as the World Heritage Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). Therefore, it is difficult to reconstruct the palace without OUV modification. Later, at the symposium, this topic was discussed in detail and it became the focus of discussion. After these in-depth discussions, the proposal of the Heritage Site Management Plan, including this reconstruction plan, was shelved, and the discussion summary to continue the discussion regarding the reconstruction of the Kính thiên palace was adopted.
While the cooperation program between Japan and Vietnam has been completed, I will closely monitor the conservation management movement of this heritage site.
Main street view of Bryggen area, Bergen, World Heritage site (hotel facilities of the forum venue are shown on the left side)
Forum room (whiteboard used in group discussions)
The year 2022 marks 50 years since the establishment of the World Heritage Convention at the 17th UNESCO General Conference in 1972. During the past half-century, 1154 World Heritage Sites (897 cultural, 218 natural, and 39 mixed properties) from 167 countries have been recognized. They have all played an important role in raising global awareness and fostering an understanding of the importance of heritage conservation. Moreover, the World Heritage Committee discusses various matters of international concern every year. Recent years have seen unprecedented challenges, such as the threat of climate change being raised. The ICCROM and IUCN—World Heritage Committee advisory bodies —launched the World Heritage Leadership (WHL) program in 2016. The WHL supports activities and discussions aimed at improving the World Heritage site’s conservation and management practices for culture and nature.
The World Heritage Leadership Forum 2022 was held in Bergen, a world heritage city in Norway, on September 21st and 22nd, 2002. The forum aimed to review the results of the WHL’s past activities and look ahead to future initiatives. Around 60 representatives attended from international organizations, national institutions overseeing world heritage issues, and site managers/communities of world heritage sites. The forum was divided into three sessions: the first session organized the key points from the 2016-2022 achievements, the second session discussed needed actions and future priorities, and the third session laid out action plans for the future of World Heritage Capacity Building. The author made a speech on the case of Japan during the second session. They reported that, although no administrative framework has been implemented on World Heritage, a new policy has been implemented. The “regional conservation plan,” introduced by the 2019 amended Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, shares the same awareness of issues as the discussions at the WHL forum. It could be an effective tool in rebuilding or improving the heritage management capacity sought by the WHL. Moreover, the plan aims to implement a more comprehensive approach in on the following domains: natural, cultural, expert, custodian, and communities. In the second session, participants were divided into three groups: (1) ensuring effective management, (2) applying resilience thinking for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, and (3) preparing for change by enabling impact assessments and engaging in active discussions. In conclusion, after the discussions in the third session, it was concluded that WHL would focus on the next phase of strengthening the heritage-people network. This was a key topic raised by the forum participants, in addition to enhancing capacity-building efforts that link the World Heritage Committee to heritage conservation on the ground. At the same time, it is important to establish a system of close collaboration for heritage conservation with local networks that accommodates the diverse languages and contexts of each country/region.
Japan is one of the countries where the link between local network activities and World Heritage trends is particularly weak. Consequently, challenges and efforts to link domestic heritage conservation to international community dialogue might be required as a new modality of international cooperation in heritage conservation.
World Heritage Leadership Forum on the ICCROM website