Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part XI) –Work Progress Regarding the East Gate Area and the Central Building Complex

Retouch work on the East Gate after restoration
Archeological investigation for digging a temporary ditch around the East Gate
Areas at risk on the East Tower Shrine of the central building complex: emergency replacement of reinforcements

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) continues to support the conservation and sustainable development project of Ta Nei Temple by the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) in Cambodia. We dispatched three expert members from June 12th to July 3rd, 2022. The mission aimed to supervise the finishing works for the restoration of the East Gate, conduct archaeological investigations for setting a new drainage ditch from around the East Gate, and survey the areas at risk of the central building complex.

 For the East Gate restoration, in May, the APSARA team began retouching the parts identified at our previous dispatch in January 2022. We assessed their working status and further discussed how to deal with the broken part of stones and finish the surface with sculptures, and other aspects with APSARA. Although this resulted in additional work, we almost completed the given work by the end of June.

 Furthermore, the water drainage around the East Gate had been an outstanding issue. In discussions with APSARA, it was decided to cut a temporary drainage ditch from the west side of the East Gate to the North Moat. We tasked Mr. KAHSHA Hiroo, a visiting researcher, with conducting archeological investigations related to a new drainage ditch set-up. We dug up a ditch carefully, to avoid damaging the original land surface at the time of constructing the East Gate and the Cruciform Terrace, and completed an approximately 30-meter-long temporary drainage ditch. We plan to carefully monitor its effect during the rainy season until October, in cooperation with on-site staff.

 In the central building complex, we investigated the areas at risk in detail by scaffolding around the buildings of the Central Tower and the East Tower Shrines, which were identified as the highest priority for safety measures based on the discussions with the APSARA risk map team. Because the old wooden reinforcements in the areas at risk were severely deteriorated by pest damage and other factors, replacements using durable materials had been requested for some time. Following APSARA’s request, it was decided to tentatively replace the wooden reinforcements with scaffolding tubes and couplers. We renewed the reinforcements in a part of the Central Tower Shrine and three parts of the East Tower Shrine. We, in discussions with APSARA staff, tried to pursue minimum intervention while carefully examining lacking areas or cracks in the stone materials caused by imbalanced load transfers. Furthermore, safety measures were implemented by setting temporary fences along visitor routes to prevent tourists from entering the areas at risk.

 We also held a working session with the Department of Tourism Development and Culture of APSARA as they planned biking tours around the area, including Ta Nei Temple. We exchanged ideas about the development of tourist facilities and discussed measures to protect the ruins, secure the visitors’ safety, and enhance visitors’ understanding of the ruins. We aim to further discuss effective ways to achieve balance between the appropriate protection and tourism for this site.

Publication of Web Contents “Records and Evaluation of Japanese Art –Research Notebooks of Art Historians”

TANAKA Ichimatsu Materials
Caricatures of the Japanese-Russo War, Fudeno Mani Mani (as I like) (TANAKA Ichimatsu)
DOI Tsugiyoshi Materials

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) preserves and utilizes research notebooks and meeting documents written by researchers—including ex-employees—in addition to books and photographs. On our website, we have published major notebooks from the materials of TANAKA Ichimatsu (1895–1983) owned by TOBUNKEN and the materials of DOI Tsugiyoshi (1906–1991) owned by the University Library of Kyoto Institute of Technologies. These were a part of the outcome of “Study on Record and Evaluation of Japanese Art – Preservation and Utilization of Survey Report of Artwork” that was carried out for three years from FY2019 as JSPS Grand-in Aid for Scientific Research (B) (JP19H01217).

 Among TANAKA Ichimatsu’s materials, lecture notebooks from Tokyo Imperial University, artwork research notebooks from 1923–1930, and sketch books from his elementary school and junior high school days between 1905–1914 were introduced. TANAKA found delight in drawing pictures from his childhood and continued to exercise to immediately depict what he saw; consequently, he mastered his ability. These experiences contributed to his later works as an art historian. Over half a century, TANAKA made remarkable achievements at the center of administration for cultural properties. He evaluated a large amount of art objects. As a result, he drove the research of Japanese painting history.

 Among DOI Tsugiyoshi’s materials, his main research notebooks, lecture notebooks from Kyoto Imperial University between 1928–1972, and a travel diary with haikus (Japanese poem) and sketches from 1947 were introduced. He observed details of art objects minutely through not only document investigation but onsite investigation as well. Based on these investigations, he discerned painters and reevaluated those whose names were passed down in temple histories. He made revolutionary contributions to the research of early modern painting history.

 The research notebooks of TANAKA and DOI from the pre-war period show us how they recorded shapes and expressions that they witnessed at a time when photos could not be taken as easily as they can now, and how they transformed their accumulated records into artwork evaluation. These materials recorded by their activities can be also called modern materials related to the art pieces during the Taishō and Shōwa eras. We hope they are used extensively as research materials. Some sketches are certainly visually entertaining. Please visit our website and enjoy them.

Standing Yakushi Nyorai (Skt. Baisajyaguru) in the Jingoji Temple and the Deity Hachiman Keka (repentance in Buddhism) – The 2nd Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

The seminar
Q&A session

 Standing Yakushi Nyorai in the Jingoji Temple in Kyoto has attracted attention from the early stages of Japanese art history and has subsequently stimulated many discussions. The statue has an extraordinary appearance and provenance and was made at the request of Wake no Kiyomaro (733–799). Two topics are primarily debated: which temple the statue was originally set in, the Jinganji or Takaosanji Temple, both of which were later combined into the Jingoji Temple, and the background against which this statue was created. The theory by Dr. SARAI Mai has recently gained widespread support, namely, that Wake no Kiyomaro had the statue created as the principal image of the Jinganji Temple responding to a request by the Deity Hachiman which required the Buddhist power to compete against his political enemy, Dōkyō (?–772).

 The seminar was held by the Department on May 30th, 2022. Dr. HARA Hirofumi of Keio Shiki Senior High School conducted a presentation titled The Purpose of Making Standing Yakushi Nyorai and the Deity Hachiman Keka. Dr. HARA claimed that the statue was originally set in the Jinganji Temple, and then pointed out based on various materials that the story of the competition between the Deity Hachiman and Dōkyō was a fiction created in a later period. He then concluded that the statue is the principal image for Keka by the Deity Hachiman and was created at the private wish of Wake no Kiyomaro.

 This seminar was held in person and online in TOBUNKEN. We invited Dr. SARAI Mai of Gakushuin University as a commentator, and Prof. NAGAOKA Ryūsaku of Tohoku University. Other researchers specializing in the history of sculpture also participated. Various opinions were expressed in a lively discussion during the Q&A session. This presentation provided a new perspective on the studies of Standing Yakushi Nyorai of the Jingoji Temple. We expect further active discussions.

Video Documentation of the Manufacture of Carving Tools for Sculpture – Recording Survey of Tools and Raw Materials used for the Preservation and Restoration of Art and Craft Objects

Video and photo documentation of the chisel manufacturing process
Manufacturing chisels for sculpture

 Understanding the manufacturing situation of tools and raw materials used for restoration is extremely important to continue sustainably restoring cultural properties. However, “the Research Project on Preservation and Restoration of Tools and Raw Materials,” commissioned to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) by the Agency for Cultural Affairs since FY2018 revealed that the manufacture of tools and raw materials for cultural property restoration faces many challenges rooted in the following two factors. The first is the human factors of aging manufacturers and a shortage of successors, and the second is factors caused by shifts in social structures, such as deteriorating business and the unavailability of raw materials. Considering this research outcome, the Center for Conservation Science initiated a project to collect fundamental physical property data and to document tools and raw materials necessary to preserve and restore cultural properties. The Center has worked on this project with the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems and the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This monthly report presents the documentation survey of chisels for sculpture, the manufacture of which will cease.

 Chisels and saws are key tools to restore wood carving cultural properties because new timber materials may be carved and used as repair materials. Konobu Ltd. (Konobu), founded in the early Shōwa era (early 20th century) by the Takiguchi family, specialized as carving tool smiths. Since then, this smith has manufactured chisels for sculpture; Mr. SAITO Kazuyoshi succeeded their manufacturing techniques. Their products have been favored by many in charge of wood carving restoration and wood carving itself. However, Konobu stopped accepting new orders in October 2021 and expressed that they would soon close their business. TOBUNKEN used videos and photographs to document their full manufacturing process of chisels for sculpture, as well as their equipment and smith tools in interviews from May 23rd to 27th, 2022. Mr. KADOWAKI Yutaka of BIJYUTSUIN Laboratory for Conservation of National Treasures of Japan and the Agency for Cultural Affairs cooperated in this documentation survey.

 Unfortunately, it became almost impossible to experience and observe in person the Konobu chisel manufacturing process. We plan to organize the survey records to serve as a clue for future generations who want to reproduce chisels for sculpture.

Research Presentation at the Symposium in New York – Conservation Thinking in Japan

Presentation by HAYAKAWA Noriko

 HAYAKAWA Noriko of the Center for Conservation Science spoke about the relationship between techniques and materials for cultural property restoration in Japan titled The Relationship Between Traditional Painting Materials and Techniques in Japan from a Scientific Perspective in a talk at the symposium held in Bard Hall, New York City, United States, on May 6th and 7th 2022.
 This symposium titled Conservation Thinking in Japan and India was held both in person and online by Bard Graduate Center with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. There, experts on restoration of Japanese cultural properties and fine art history introduced their latest research from Japan and other countries.

 HAYAKAWA introduced two primary points among research in the Restoration Materials Section: the fact that furunori (aged paste) used for restoration of paintings is corelated to fringe materials and techniques, and an assumption that changes in the manufacturing process for silk, a support material of paintings, altered its string forms and preservability, which then impacted painting expression.

 Tours around related facilities and other meetings were held before and after the symposium, where useful discussions were conducted based on actual restoration cases.

 Scientific elucidation of materials and techniques is required even during everyday operations in restoration and material production. Opinion exchanges with other experts triggered further research. This presentation was a precious opportunity to disseminate our research outcomes to a wider audience.

Cultural Heritage x Citizen Engagement = Potential for Multi-Actors’ International Cooperation– The 30th Seminar Held by the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage

The 30th seminar
Online discussion

 The 30th Seminar titled Cultural Heritage x Citizen Engagement = Potential for Multi-Actors’ International Cooperation was held by the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (JCIC-Heritage) in webinar format on February 11th, 2022. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) was commissioned JCIC-Heritage secretariat by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

 This seminar hosted discussions about new possibilities of international cooperation for cultural heritage, expected to be realized through the participation of multiple actors. The discussion was based on cases utilizing the knowledge of domestic community design involving citizens and co-work by public and private sectors, as well as cases related to multiple developments of international exchange hosted by the private sector.

 Ms. MURAKAMI Kayo (Senior Cultural Properties Specialist of the Agency for Cultural Affairs) introduced her own activities as a technical cooperation project specialist during her participation in the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers titled Tourism Development in Ecomuseum Concept through International Cooperation – The Case of Al-Salt City of Jordan. Ms. CHIU, Ru Hwa (Secretary General of the Institute for Historical Resources Management) introduced the various activities she has accumulated over multiple decades in the private sector titled Collaboration in Heritage Conservation – Co-learning Journey.

 Prof. NISHIMURA Yukio (professor of Kokugakuin University) and Mr. SATO Hiroshi (Chief Senior Researcher of Research Operations Department, the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)) joined the panel discussion with the abovementioned speakers during the latter half of the seminar. The seminar prompted active discussions. The participants discussed the importance of consensus building, carefully considering the concerned parties’ interests, and the necessity of efforts to share the value of cultural heritage by various actors.

 Nearly 120 people participated in this seminar both from Japan and abroad. JCICC plans to pursue the possibilities of Cultural Heritage Cooperation by multiple actors. Please visit our website for the seminar details Only).

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.

Study Report on the 16th Century Historical Materials Related to Noh Masks and Senmen: the First Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Presentation about Noh masks

 Noh mask and Senmen (fan surface) are important study objects related to religion and celebrations from ancient times, from the viewpoint of not only Japanese art history, but also Japanese cultural history. OTANI Yuki (Research assistant of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) presented her research titled a Consideration on the Beshimi Mask Owned by Aizu Museum.

 This beshimi mask is from the Inaba family, the lord of the Usuki domain in Bungo Province. It has some inscriptions, such as “made by Sakai Sōzaemon”. The okina mask owned by the Nagataki Hakusan Shrine in Gifu and the okina mask owned by the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima are objects related to the beshimi mask from the Inaba family. It is interesting that they were devoted to the same petitioner of the beshimi in a similar period. OTANI studied the form of these beshimi masks as masks for devotion in the Muromachi period and considered them to be made in the transitional period to the Chorei Beshimi type. In this presentation, we invited Mr. ASAMI Ryusuke of the Tokyo National Museum as a commentator. He talked about the importance and challenges of the Noh masks study. He also pointed out the issues of regionality and acceptance of this mask’s craftsmanship.

 Following this, ONO Mayumi (Head of the Japanese and East Asian Art History Section) conducted a presentation titled Ōgiya Sōkyū, a painter mentioned in Kanemikyōki. Kanemikyōki is a diary of YOSHIDA Kanemi (1535-1610), a shinkan (priest) of the Yoshida Shrine in Kyoto. It is a precious historical source that tells us of the movements of court nobles and sengoku warlords. Among the people related to YOSHIDA, she focused on Kanō Sōkyū (Ōgiya Sōkyū), a painter mentioned more than 10 times in this diary. She found a relationship between court nobles and Ōgiya that was unknown earlier. Kanemi presented senmen made by Sōkyū to the houses of Oda, Toyotomi, Maeda, and others. Furthermore, YOSHIDA built a close relationship with Sōkyū by inviting him to dinner and banquets. With these facts, ONO added a new consideration to the importance and role of the painter Ōgiya.

Survey of the Tokakujinomatsue Performing Status: COVID-19 and the Publication of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

Rehearsal the day before the event
Reporting to the shrine that prayers are back from Shiokaki (purification with sea water)

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted a field survey of the “Tokakujinomatsue” of the Tokakuji area of Kanda Town, Fukuoka Prefecture, on April 16th and 17th, 2022. Tokakujinomatsue is a folk event that has been passed down at the Tokakuji area of Kanda Town, Fukuoka Prefecture. The people in that area have been actively making video documentation and reports in cooperation with the Board of Education in Kanda Town while they face the challenges of continuing the event under the pressures of depopulation and the aging of the population.

 Fuchisan Tokakuji, located in this area, was one of the bases for Shugendō called Buzenroppo (six peaks of Buzen) in Kyusu until the Haibutsu kishaku (a movement to abolish Buddhism and destroy Shākyamuni) during the Meiji era. Every early April, people in the area, who are said to be descendants of Shugenja, conduct “Tokakujinomatsue” to pray for good harvests, protection from plagues, and national prosperity. Matsue consists of shinkōretsu (the procession of the shrine god), dedication of shishimai (lion dance), “Tagyōji” (playing mimic activities to grow rice crops), and“Katanagyōji” (playing with masakari (broadaxes) and naginata (long handled swords)). At the end of the event, a person climbs a 12-meter pillar set in the field, reads the kiganbun (optative sentence), and performs “Heikiri” to cut ōnusa (paper-made streamers used for Shinto pray) with a real sword.

 Tokakujinomatsue has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, much as other folk events nationwide have been. The event was cancelled the last two consecutive years, and this year the event was held but not in the usual way. The Board of Education of Kanda Town contacted us to inquire how to conserve and utilize the videos and photos documented so far, which triggered this survey. In the beginning, we planned to survey the status of the recorded event. However, it was decided to hold the event, even though the event format was to be changed. As the result, this survey led us to think further about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on intangible cultural properties. During the last two years, the department has paid special attention to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on intangible cultural heritage. We will continue to investigate how folk events and folk performing arts that were forced to be cancelled or held in temporary different ways will be passed down in the future.

Publication of a Database of Exhibitions Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Database screen showing the ability to refer museum information from links on the screen

 The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affecting the world has had a huge impact on museum exhibitions. First, museums across Japan were forced to temporarily close because of a governmental request in February 2020 to voluntarily refrain from large-scale events. Following, repeated declarations of a State of Emergency and Quasi-State of Emergency forced museums to cancel and postpone many exhibitions. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been collecting information about exhibitions held in Japan since 1935 and stores them in a public database ( Since May 2020, TOBUNKEN started collecting information of exhibitions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which it published as a database (Japanese only.) (

 This database tabulates the status of exhibitions handling cultural properties, including cancelation, postponement, and early closure primarily for museum members of the Japan Association of Museums ( Before the pandemic, the information was collected based on printing materials such as leaflets and catalogues, annual calendars, and museums’ websites. However, the information is updated on a daily basis under the pandemic’s unpredictable situation; to every extent possible, we collected data widely from SNS such as Twitter and Facebook in addition to museum websites, including the duration of temporary closures and schedule changes. Collected data included 1,406 pieces of information that show the impact on museums over the last two years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, changes occurred: planned exhibitions (or rotating exhibitions) using their own collection were planned or held, instead of cancelling or postponing special exhibitions. More operations using SNS and online contents occurred.

 Even now though many museums are free from requested or forced temporary closure, they must still take preventive measures against COVID-19, such as advance registration systems, visitor number limitations, and museum sterilization. It is predicted that exhibition operations will continue to be affected. TOBUNKEN will continue to collect information and analyze long-term impacts on museums.

Release of Three Archives Related to Contemporary Art – Muramatsu Gallery Papers, TAKAMI Akihiko Papers, and MIKI Tamon Papers

Letter from KUBOTA Shigeko, a pioneer in video art, to MIKI Tamon, enclosing photos of exhibited artworks at her first personal exhibition (December 1963 at Naiqua Gallery, Tokyo)

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) made three archives of documents, the Muramatsu Gallery Papers, TAKAMI Akihiko Papers, and MIKI Tamon Papers, available as a research outcome of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems in FY 2021.

 The Muramatsu Gallery Papers consist of their exhibition materials (including scrapbooks of exhibition invitation postcards and photo albums to record exhibitions) from 1966 to 2009. The TAKAMI Akihiko Papers are the exhibition materials of art galleries from 1990s to 2000s. The MIKI Tamon Papers are a group of materials including exhibition invitation postcards from the first half of the 1960s.

 Surveys of personal exhibitions at art galleries constitute an important basic process for studying post-war contemporary artists. However, investigating what artworks and how they were exhibited is extremely difficult. This is because art magazines and newspapers rarely published personal exhibitions of budding, but still unknown artists. Therefore, it is only possible to specify the venues and schedules of exhibitions through publication media.

 The three archives being released include many photos of exhibitions and exhibited artworks. These act as support tools for researchers to overcome “difficulties” in investigating contemporary arts, as indicated above. These archives can be browsed at the TOBUNKEN Library (advanced reservation required). We hope that many researchers utilize these archives to advance their research.

*TOBUNKEN Library Visitor’s Guide (
Information on the archives is available at the bottom of the Japanese page ( (Japanese only).)

Seminar on MATSUZAWA Yutaka Archive – the 9th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Seminar on MATSUZAWA Yutaka Archive at TOBUNKEN

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) held the Seminar on MATSUZAWA Yutaka Archives – the 9th Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems both in-person and online. TOBUNKEN invited experts in charge of recording and organizing the activities of MATSUZAWA Yutaka (1922-2006), a pioneer of conceptual arts, and experts and researchers who work on finding new value in these materials.

 This seminar is also a part of a research project, “Research and Compilation of Materials on Modern and Contemporary Art”, and a Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, “Study on Art Collective in Post-1968: Based on Matsuzawa Yutaka’s Archive” (principle investigator: KIKKAWA Hideki).

 The following presentations were provided: in order of presentation:
The 100 anniversary of birth, MATSUZAWA YUTAKA: From the Investigation by the Art Museum to the Exhibition by Ms. KINOUCHI Mayumi and Ms. FURUIE Mitsuha (Nagano Prefectural Art Museum),
MATSUZAWA Yutaka’s Exchange with Latin American Arts – Based on the Materials of CAyC (Centro de Arte y Comunicación) by Dr. INOUE Emiko (Hunter College, the City University of New York), and
About the Data Center for Contemporary Art (DCCA): Archive Project by MATSUZAWA Yutaka by KIKKAWA Hideki.

 After the above presentations, the four presenters and seminar participants (11 in-person and 33 online) exchanged opinions. The discussion involved people from General Incorporated Foundation – Matsuzawa Yutaka Psi Room Foundation (Executive director: Mr. MATSUZAWA Haruo), artists with direct relationships with MATSUZAWA Yutaka, and related parties from museums and archives. Topics varied from the significances and possibilities of the MATSUZAWA Yutaka Archives as research materials to challenges for archive preservation.

 We at TOBUNKEN explore and fulfill our mission to pass down cultural property archives, not only the MATSUZAWA Yutaka Archives, recognized as valuable research materials that lack a guaranteed of long-term conservation for the next generations.

Publication of a Brochure Titled Techniques to Support Japanese Traditional Performing Arts VIII: Noh Costume by Sasaki Noh-Isho

Techniques to Support Japanese Traditional Performing Arts: Noh Costume by Sasaki Noh-Isho

 The department of Intangible Cultural Heritage published Noh Costume by Sasaki Noh-Isho as the 8th brochures of the series, Techniques to Support Japanese Traditional Performing Arts.

 Manufacturing Noh costumes was certified as a Selected Conservation Technique, and Mr. SASAKI Yoji, the 4th president of Sasaki Noh-Isho, as its technique holder by the government in FY 2020. Noh costumes are not only customized for the plays, characters, and traditions of each school, but also introduce new creativities and ingenuities. In this brochure, each process of “making Jacquard cards,” “preparing yarns,” “weaving,” and “finishing” is briefly introduced in the order of work.

 The research outline of technique details is published in the Investigation Report on Techniques for Preserving Cultural Properties with a Focus on Musical Instruments 5 (MAEHARA Megumi & HASHIMOTO Kaoru, Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage 15, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, 2022.) Please refer to this material along with the brochure. It will be available on TOBUNKEN’s website.

 These series of brochures can be distributed for non-commercial purposes via Yu-Pack (parcel), Japan Post with a cash-on-delivery option. Please email to with your name, address with postal code, phone number, and the name(s) and number of the brochure(s) requested.

Series of brochures published so far:
Techniques to Support Japanese Traditional Performing Arts I: Biwa by ISHIDA Katsuyoshi
Techniques to Support Japanese Traditional Performing Arts II: Koma (Bridge of Shamisen) by OKOUCHI Masanobu
Techniques to Support Japanese Traditional Performing Arts III: Futozao Shamisen (Three stringed lute with thickest neck) by ISAKA Shigeo
Techniques to Support Japanese Traditional Performing Arts IV: Wind Instruments for Gagaku music by YAMADA Zenichi
Techniques to Support Japanese Traditional Performing Arts V: Shirabeo (Tension ropes for drums) by YAMASHITA Yuji
Techniques to Support Japanese Traditional Performing Arts VI: Shamisen (three-stringed lute) by Tokyo Wagakki
Techniques to Support Japanese Traditional Performing Arts VII: Koto (thirteen-stringed zither) by KUNII Kyukichi

Publishing a Video Recording of the 15th Public Lecture, Culture of Using Trees – Using Cherry Trees, Playing with Cherry Trees

Recording demonstration to assemble kotsuzumi
Playing water (from the left, Mr. TŌSHA Eishin (drum), Mr. TŌSHA Yukimaru (ōtsuzumi), Mr. TŌSHA Roei, Mr. TŌSHA Rokon (kotsuzumi), and Mr. FUKUHARA Kansui (flute)
Round-table talk

 The 15th Public Lecture titled Culture of using Trees – Using Cherry Trees, Playing with Cherry Trees is being distributed on our website ( until the end of May 2022. This is the edited video recording, considering the COVID-19 pandemic situation. The report will be published in FY 2022 based on this lecture.

 Cherry blossoms are extremely popular among Japanese people and used as motifs in various performing arts. However, in this public lecture, we focused on cherry trees from the viewpoint of “the ones whose timbers and barks are used,” rather than “their blossoms which we enjoy and celebrate or play with.”

 In the beginning, Mr. KAWAJIRI Hideki of the Gifu Academy of Forest Science and Culture provided a lecture on the Current Situations and Challenges to Use Various Types of Trees including cherry trees. IMAISHI Migiwa and MAEHARA Megumi, of the department, presented reports on the Usage of trees in the folklore world – Focusing on Cherry Trees and Intangible Cultural Heritage and Cherry Trees – Use Cherry Trees and Play with Cherry Trees – respectively.

 Then, focusing on kotsuzumi, whose body is made of cherry wood, an interview of Mr. TŌSHA Roei about the Charms of Kotsuzumi, a Musical Instrument, a demonstration to assemble a kotsuzumi, and the performance of Water composed by Mr. Roei were recorded. Moreover, this lecture was concluded by a round-table talk with Mr. KAWAJIRI, Mr. Roei, IMAISHI and MAEHARA. At that talk, various topics were discussed reflecting the diverse backgrounds of the participants; changes in demands on broadleaf trees including cherry wood, the current situation of forestry and necessity of “woods consisting of various type of trees,” the charms of cherry woods as musical instruments’ materials, and the importance of popularization using “authentic” musical instruments.

 Our department continues to strive to share and prepare for occasions to discuss various challenges on intangible cultural heritage and related techniques and materials.

Publishing Visual Documentation of Ōtsuzumi Drumheads – HATAMOTO Toru (Short Version)

Finished drumheads (front and back)
Recording the production process at the Hatamoto Taiko Workshop

 Ōtsuzumi is not only an instrument used as a musical accompaniment to Nohgaku, Kabuki, Hōgaku and other traditional Japanese musical theater forms but also a crucial element of Japanese traditional performing arts. Its drumheads are roasted dry as preparation before every single play. Therefore, they tend to become severely worn out and torn after every use and need to be replaced after ten uses. As ōtsuzumi drumheads are an integral component of ōtsuzumi the techniques to manufacture ōtsuzumi drumheads (manufacturing nohgaku ōtsuzumi (drumheads)) are considered as important techniques to conserve cultural properties.

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted a survey, visually documenting the techniques of making ōtsuzumi drumheads in collaboration with Mr. HATAMOTO Toru of the Hatamoto Taiko Workshop in Tokyo. The video is available online We recorded his entire production process, which included softening leather for drumheads and stitching the material using hemp. Mr. HATAMOTO uses his own techniques during some parts of the process, although the whole manufacturing process is based on traditional techniques. Thus, we edited some parts of the video for the public, considering the possible commercial impacts of revealing his own techniques. We also created a long version of the video documentation separately only to maintain a record of the whole process.

 Various conservation techniques supporting intangible cultural heritage are faced with risks for survival due to changing social circumstances and lack of successors. We continue to conduct surveys on conservation techniques to perpetuate and protect them.

Renewed Performing Art Studio (Recording Studio)

Renewed Performing Art Studio (Recording Room)

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has documented live performances of intangible cultural heritage, including traditional performing arts at the Performing Art Studio in the TOBUNKEN facility. The Studio consists of two rooms: a stage for video recording and a recording studio for audio recording. At the stage facility, we have continuously recorded performing arts including kodan and rakugo. In addition, traditional music such as Miyazono-bushi, Tokiwazu-bushi and Heike have been recently recorded. However, the recording studio was hardly used due to its age. Its recording equipment was not suitable for the kind of digital recording widely used today. Therefore, TOBUNKEN made large-scale renovation of this recording studio in FY 2021, and it was completed in March 2022.

 The renewed recording studio have a feature suitable for recording Japanese traditional music: Its floor is made of hinoki, Japanese cypress. This can properly reflect the echo of Japanese traditional musical instruments. In addition, a small space exists under the hinoki floor for ventilation. This will release humidity from the recording studio and prevent curving and mold involving the floor materials.

 The new recording studio has zigzag shape with wide angle on the rear walls. This is an alternative to traditional byōbu (folding screens), which are set behind performers when they play Japanese traditional music. Byōbu not only visually highlight the performers, but also reflects the sound. The rear walls thus play this role of sound reflection. In addition, the rear walls have several sets of three sliding doors that are set vertically. Opening and closing these mechanisms controls sound reflection. Furthermore, different types of materials including washi (white in the photo) and cloth (black in the photo) are used in the wall, which contribute to control the balance of sound reflection and absorption.

 Then, the panels are set in different angles on the ceiling. Some of the panels reflect the sound to the players and others absorb sound and suppress reflection.

 Many modern music studios are designed to prevent sound reflection by setting acoustic materials on walls and ceilings. This is because recording clear sounds in the environment requires minimum reflection. However, players feel strange in these circumstances because the music they play does not bounce back. In particular, Japanese traditional music is usually played in an environment with some sound reflection. Therefore, it is important to record the music in an environment close to normal performances to document such live performances. Simultaneously, to record “clear” sounds, an environment with minimum sound reflection is preferable. It is difficult to meet these two incompatible conditions simultaneously, but we attempt this in the recording studio using a highly precise design.

 Related with the recording studio’s renewal, the sound equipment was completely replaced with contemporary digital recording equipment. We plan to start live performance documentation in this new recording studio from FY 2022. We expect to record performances with higher quality and presence than ever before.

Background and Architectural Features of Vernacular Houses in East-Central Bhutan: A joint study Session with the Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan

Screenshot of a lecture by Mr. Phub Tshering during the roundtable session

The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) provides technical support and training for human resource development to the Department of Culture (DoC), Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan, to conserve vernacular houses. Since F.Y.2019, we have been entrusted with the Network Core Center Project for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage by the Agency for Cultural Affairs (ACA), which conducts joint architectural surveys with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) of the DoC and practical training for local stakeholders to ensure heritage conservation. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to pursue our mission remotely, by preparing reference books for governmental sectors and educational materials for schools. In F.Y.2021, although we were prepared to conduct a joint survey anticipating the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, this did not materialize. As an alternative, we held an online joint study session with the DoC on March 7th, 2022.
 Twenty-two people, including TOBUNKEN and DoC staff members, as well as external cooperative experts, attended the session. The Bhutanese side provided the latest information about the preliminary stage of the joint survey. Mr. Pema, a senior engineer of the DCHS, described the cultural and regional characteristics of Bhutan’s central and eastern regions, focusing on settlement patterns. Mr. Pema Wangchuk, an architect of the DCHS reported on the current situation of preparations for conducting fieldwork in the region. From the Japanese side, Professor AOKI Takayoshi of Nagoya City University, who has been conducting empirical research on earthquake resistance measures for historical buildings in Bhutan, gave a presentation on the structural characteristics of masonry buildings that are common in the region, highlighting the issues they face and methods for their conservation. We exchanged relevant know-how as joint survey team members through active discussions during each presentation. In addition, Mr. KUBOTA Hiromichi, head of the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section, and his collaborator, Mr. Phub Tshering from Mera, Tashigang, Eastern Bhutan, held a roundtable session on local daily life and folklore, which helped the Japanese attendees enhance their understanding of the region and customs.
 Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need to finish the ACA project by completing bookmaking, but we hope to launch a joint survey with DCHS as soon as the international travel bans are lifted.

Publication of the List of the ITO Nobuo Library

Front cover of the List of the ITO Nobuo Library

The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has proceeded with the classification of documents related to the protection of cultural properties and items donated by the family of the late Dr. ITO Nobuo, a former director of the Institute (please refer to the Monthly Report on September 2021: The documents can be sorted into (1) administrative work for the protection of cultural properties in Japan, (2) administrative work for the protection of cultural properties overseas, (3) research activities related to architectural history, (4) private activities related to protecting cultural properties, and (5) written manuscripts. We added two more elements: (6) books and (7) photographs before publishing the List of the ITO Nobuo Library. The list consists of 2,185 items, some of whose details are still not clear at this stage. However, after organizing the material into seven groups, we decided to make the list accessible to researchers/experts who need them as soon as possible. The List of the ITO Nobuo Library will also be available on our website ( We hope that it will encourage heritage conservation studies and will contribute to their development in the future.

Still Life Paintings and “Hand” by KISHIDA Ryusei – the 8th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

The seminar conducted in person
Cover of Works and Essays on Arts of Ryusei 1920 (owned by TOBUNKEN collection)
Still Life, with its poem, 1918 (not existence, shown in Works and Essays on Arts of Ryusei)

 KISHIDA Ryusei (1891-1929), a painter who was active in the Taisho period, studied in the Aoibashi Yōga-kenkyūsho (research institute of Western-style paintings), which was founded by KURODA Seiki. KISHIDA then presented his paintings mainly in Sōdo-sha, an artwork association founded by him and his fellows. KISHIDA pursued his unique painting style by actively accepting elaborate paintings by old masters such as Albrecht Dürer and Jan van Eyck, and then paid attention to Chinese and Japanese traditional paintings. This was in contrast to other contemporary Japanese paintings, which were strongly influenced by modern French paintings. The momentum to reevaluate Kishida’s paintings is now boosted. For example, the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto newly housed the entire personal collection of KISHIDA Ryusei in 2021.

 YOSHIDA Akiko of the department discussed Kishida’s unusual expression of a human hand on his still life paintings in her presentation titled the Design of “Hand” by KISHIDA Ryusei – Focusing on His Still Life- at the seminar held on February 24th, 2022. A motif of hand was painted on Still Life (with Hand that has been erased) (painted in 1918, private collection.) However, the hand was later overpainted onto the screen, which makes it invisible to the naked eye. In the other case, a hand holding an apple was painted with a poem on the Still Life, with its poem (painted in 1918, destroyed in fire) in the same period. However, this artwork was lost forever. These two paintings, which cannot be seen in the way they were viewed when they were painted, raised arguments and attracted public attention in magazines and newspapers regarding their submission to the fifth Nika Art Exhibition (the former failed.) In her paper Eliminated Hand: Still Life Paintings by KISHIDA Ryusei of 1918 (published in Bijutsushi 183 vol.67 no.1, 2017), the presenter discussed the relationship with his art theory which was being developed by KISHIDA in the same period when he had painted these still life paintings, and the relationship with his artwork in 1916, when he had started painting still life in the earnest. In this presentation, she discussed the background as to why the “hand,” as a characteristic part of KISHIDA’s portraits, attracted attention as an independent motif and suggested that the review on KISHIDA Ryusei by WATANABE Kichiji / Kihciharu*, who was an aesthetician and had accepted German Aesthetics in that period as a pioneer, had influenced him.

 The seminar was conducted in person at TOBUNKEN’s meeting room with sufficient precautions against the spread of COVID-19 infection. We invited Mr. TANAKA Atsushi (Director, OKAWA MUSEUM OF ART) as a commentator. We also had participants from outside of TOBUNKEN, including Ms. KOBAYASHI Mioko (Cultural Design Section, Culture, Commerce and Industry Division, Toshima City), Mr. TANAKA Jun’ichiro (The Museum of the Imperial Collections Sannomaru Shozokan), and Ms. YAMANASHI Emiko (Director, Chiba City Museum of Art.) The commentator provided information that impacted the core part of presentation, and active discussion occurred in the Q&A session. Hints were also provided on further research on his still life paintings in which unsolved questions remained, including the basic issues in the screen revision of Still Life (with Hand that has been Erased). The seminar was extremely fruitful.

*Watanabe’s first name can be spelled out two ways, and it is uncertain as to which one is correct.

The Third Seminar on the Survey and Management of Conservation Environment: Chemical Substance Absorbent for Air Cleaning

Seminar in the meeting room

 A series of seminar on the survey and management of conservation environment is organized annually, targeting the curators in charge of conservation for materials in museums and researchers engaged in conservation of cultural properties. These seminars aim to share common understanding on the surveys, assessment methods and improvement of conservation environment, and materials and tools for safe storage. The first and second seminars were organized by the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties (CPCP) and the third was held with a co-sponsorship of CPCP and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN.)

 In the first seminar, titled the Survey and Assessment of Air Environment Using Kitagawa Detection Tubes, usage and appropriate assessment methods of Kitagawa detection tubes, which were widely used for quantitative analysis of chemicals in the air in the exhibition and storage rooms, were explained. In the second seminar, titled Neutral Papers as Materials Used for Document Conservation, the scientific character of paper, characteristics and standards of neutral paper, and appropriate usages of conservation containers made of neutral paper were explained with hands-on practice. Neutral paper is widely used as a material to create document conservation containers in storage and stack rooms.

 The theme of the third seminar was chemical substance absorbent. Recently, concerns about chemical substance emission from the building and interior materials and its impact on the documents, as well as methods to improve the situation have attracted people’s attention. However, we are still exploring the best possible ways to clean the air in exhibition and storage rooms. Therefore, we invite a company that develops chemical substance absorbent to explain methods of selecting appropriate chemical substance absorbent, as well as the adsorption phenomena, principle and structure of absorbent, and environmental factors related to adsorption efficiency.

 We conducted this seminar with eight participants in person and distributed it online for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 infection. A total of 30 people participated in the seminar. Participants provided their opinions on the usefulness of the seminar because they could learn from the principle to the practice, stating, “I could well understand the types and mechanisms of gas adsorption,” and “as I understood the principle of gas adsorption and measurement methods, it would get easier to assume the solutions.”

 We plan to continue the seminars by setting themes that are necessary for daily practices, from the viewpoint of conservation science.

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