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


A second investigation of Selected Conservation Techniques-Ryukyu indigo, production of sukisu bamboo screens for papermaking, and a plasterer

Ryukyu indigo (indigo paste)
Making a bamboo screen
Applying borders (chirimawari, the region between the plaster wall and surrounding woodwork) as part of the plastering process

 Following on from last month, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is continuing to investigate of Selected Conservation Techniques. The center conducts interview surveys with technique holders, asking about topics such as their work process, the situation surrounding their work, and their social environment, and takes photographic records of them at work, their tools, and other items. In November 2014, surveys and documentation activities were conducted regarding Ryukyu indigo production in Okinawa, production of sukisu bamboo screens for papermaking in Ehime, and a sakan (plaster work) in Tokyo were studied and recorded.
 Ryukyu indigo differs from other types of indigo plants on the main island of Japan. The processes of cultivating and manufacturing Ryukyu indigo also differ substantially from those used in indigo dyeing with tade-ai (Chinese indigo). Mr. INOHA Seisho is a holder of Selected Conservation Techniques, and Mr. NAKANISHI Toshio who is carrying on INOHA’s techniques. Mr. NAKANISHI explained that recent typhoons and inclement weather have affected the growth of Ryukyu indigo. Mr. NAKANISHI also described the process of manufacturing indigo.
 Ms. IHARA Keiko is a member of the National Society to Preserve Tools and Techniques Used to Produce Japanese Paper by Hand who lives in Ehime. Ms. IHARA is also certified as a traditional craftsperson by Ehime Prefecture. Ms. IHARA talked about the current state of sukisu screen production, procurement of bamboo strips and silk thread to make those screens, and the difficulty of training a successor.
 The company Nakashimasakan was working at a site in Tokyo where a traditional building was being restored. Part of sakan (plaster work) done by the company was photographed. Relating sakan (plaster work), Japanese wall, National Cultural Property Wall Technical Preservation Meeting is certified as a group holder of Selected Conservation Techniques.
 Cultural properties obviously need to be preserved, but the materials and techniques used to craft those cultural properties also need to be preserved. The research materials from this study will be compiled. In addition, plans are showcase some of these materials overseas. A calendar with visually stunning images could be used to highlight the nature of Japan’s cultural properties, how those cultural properties are created, and materials and techniques that need to be preserved.


Investigation of Selected Conservation Techniques—brushes for Makie, dyeing with true indigo, and gathering Japanese cypress bark

Production of brushes for Makie
Dyeing with natural Japanese indigo
Gathering Japanese cypress bark

 Cultural properties must be protected and passed on to future generations as the shared heritage of humanity. If the materials and tools for producing cultural properties, and the techniques for restoring them, are not handed down and used, it will be impossible to keep cultural properties in good condition. Japanese conservation and restoration techniques for cultural properties are recognized for their usefulness and used in practice, even outside Japan. Traditional techniques that are essential for preserving cultural properties, and must themselves be conserved, have been selected by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as Selected Conservation Techniques. Individuals and groups possessing such techniques (holders) are also certified. At present, 71 techniques have been certified, as well as 57 individual and 31 group holders.
 The Japanese Center for International Cooperation in Conservation carries out studies relating to Selected Conservation Techniques, and widely disseminates information both inside and outside Japan. The center conducts interview surveys with technique holders, asking about topics such as their work process, the situation surrounding their work, and their social environment, and takes photographic records of them at work, their tools, and other items. In October 2014, surveys and documentation activities were conducted regarding production of brushes for Makie by Mr. MURATA Shigeyuki at the Murata Kurobei Shoten in Kyoto, dyeing with natural Japanese indigo by Mr. MORI Yoshio at Konku in Shiga, and gathering of Japanese cypress bark by Mr. ONO Koji at Awaga Shrine in Hyogo. The three cases investigated were traditional, specialized techniques in three different fields (lacquer, dyeing and architecture), but the point of commonality is that all of these individuals are keeping traditions alive through intelligence and skill—working earnestly with natural materials, and coping with changes in the environment. The results obtained through these surveys will be accumulated and used as research materials on cultural properties. At the same time, by distributing media overseas such as calendars incorporating images with high visual impact, we plan to internationally disseminate information on the nature of Japanese culture, and on materials/techniques for creating and conserving cultural properties.


Lobby Exhibition on Traditional Japanese Techniques to Conserve Cultural Properties Overseas

Exhibition in the Lobby
Image of part of the exhibition “Painting” Azurite pigment applied to silk

 Research results and projects have been periodically publicized in the Institute’s entrance lobby on the 1st floor. This time, the exhibition shows materials and techniques that are indispensable to create, appreciate, restore and conserve paintings and calligraphic works. The exhibition was planned by the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, and all of the images were taken by SHIRONO Seiji of the Image Laboratory of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems. The exhibition panel has been fashioned into a long hand scroll so that the visitors may realize that cultural properties are made with various materials and techniques The scroll is 1.15 m tall and 14 m long and it has a cover as well as a roller rod according to the Japanese traditional mounting method. Large photos depict moments that highlight the qualities of materials and techniques—such as the overlapping of paper fibers to produce a single sheet of paper, the crushing of rock and its refinement into powder for use as a bright pigment, and the methodical preparing and spreading of paste. In addition, actual samples of Washi, silk for painting, pigments, karakami and tools of conservation works are displayed in the showcases. Techniques to produce materials and conservation tools as well as techniques to restore cultural properties described in the exhibition must be preserved. In Japan, these techniques are designated as Important Intangible Cultural Properties or Selected Conservation Techniques by the Japanese Government. On the other hand, techniques and materials that have been cultivated in Japan are widely known for their usefulness and are applied for the restoration of cultural properties in foreign countries. The Institute also conducts international training projects in order to encourage a correct understanding of Japanese restoration techniques and materials. We hope visitors may learn that the world’s cultural properties are being protected by Japan’s exceptional traditional techniques to hand them down to future generations.


Survey of Meiku Shoukei (Views of Famous Places) in the collection of the National Gallery of Armenia

Meiku Shoukei (National Gallery of Armenia)
Partial Meiku Shoukei (Nagoya City Museum)

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has continually surveyed Japanese artworks in collections overseas. However, the fact that there are Japanese artworks in collections in the Caucasus region, a region ranging from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, has only recently come to light. In November 2012, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted surveys of Japanese artworks in Armenia and Georgia and the Center determined the location of these artworks. The Center deemed that more detailed surveys were needed, so with a grant from the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research a survey was scheduled for 3 days starting on January 15, 2014. TSUDA Takako, a curator from the Nagoya City Museum, assisted the survey in regard to ukiyo-e (paintings and woodblock prints for popular consumption). Meiku Shokei in the National Gallery of Armenia (denoted here as the version in Armenia) consists of 29 prints of scenes that are each 8.1 cm high and 11.8 cm wide. As Ms. TSUDA explained, the version in Armenia is based on illustrations from the first volume of Meiku Shoukei, printed from woodblocks and published in 1847. Meiku Shoukei was done by ODAGIRI Shunko, an artist and feudal retainer of the Owari Domain. The work was done entirely by hand, from planning to painting and publishing. The work compiles kanshi (Chinese-style poems), waka (Japanese poems), and haikai (playful poems) that weresolicited from different places and that relate to scenic sites around Nagoya along with original paintings. Authors of the poems are listed at the end of the work. Compared to Meiku Shoukei in the collection of the Nagoya City Museum, the version in Armenia is a revised version of the work that includes explanations of each scene at the top of each print. The version in Armenia was apparently purchased by the National Gallery from an individual collector in 1937, though the work has remained in its collection without any information on its name, artist, or year of production. Interesting questions are how these block prints of famous places ended up in Armenia and how Japanese artworks are received overseas. Plans are to consolidate survey details into a report to help spur future research.


Study of conservation of movable cultural properties in the United States

Materials from American institutions involved in conservation of cultural properties
The Freer Gallery of Art

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation carries out studies and research concerning the systems for conservation of cultural properties in each country around the world. As one such project, currently it is studying the state of conservation of movable cultural properties in the United States. While the U.S. is home to numerous museums of history and art and holds many of the world’s movable cultural properties, it has no government agency that specializes in the protection and management of cultural properties. Management of cultural properties is left to their owners, and management and regulation at the federal level is not very strong except in emergencies such as major natural disasters. Under these circumstances, management, restoration, and exhibition of moveable cultural properties in the U.S. is handled on an individual basis, in accordance with the management policies of each museum and with the wishes of the properties’ owners.
 While thinking on cultural properties differs considerably between Japan and the U.S., at the same time the U.S. is home to numerous art museums that hold collections of Japanese art. In addition, the Center’s Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas, begun in 1991, has restored more than 250 works of art at 24 art museums across the United States. Thus, the Center has close ties with American art museums. Accordingly, from January 26 through February 3, 2013 Tomoko EMURA and Asuka SAKAINO conducted a study in Washington, D.C. to ascertain in a systematic way the state of the conservation of movable cultural properties in the United States. They conducted a number of interviews focusing chiefly on key organizations conducting comprehensive activities to protect cultural properties, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior, the Library of Congress, the American Institute for Conservation (AIC)/Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC), the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and the nonprofit Heritage Preservation. They also studied the state of management of the collections of history and art museums. In particular, they learned about the collection management rules and the state of restoration of works at the Freer Gallery of Art. America’s oldest national art museum, the Freer Gallery opened in 1923 and holds numerous works of art from East Asia, including Japan.
 This study showed that one of the reasons cultural properties in the U.S. are conserved appropriately despite the lack of strict regulations is because of cooperation among individual organizations and personnel along with effective functioning of bottom-up decision-making. Future plans call for advancing more practical study and research looking at the history museums playing central roles in each region of the U.S. and at museums holding works of Japanese art.


Survey of Japanese artworks in Armenia and Georgia

The History Museum of Armenia & the National Gallery of Armenia
Survey in the Georgian National Museum

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation surveys Japanese artworks in collections of art museums overseas and it provides those institutions with advice and information on relevant research. The Center also conducts cooperative conservation programs for artworks that urgently or desperately need to be conserved. In countries far removed from Japan where the climate, environment, racial makeup, and religion differ considerably, seeing the state of Japanese artworks instills in one the vitality of cultural properties, despite their fragile composition. In November 2012, KAWANOBE Wataru, KATO Masato, and EMURA Tomoko surveyed Japanese artworks in the Republic of Armenia and Georgia. Both countries were once part of the Soviet Union, and 2012 marked the 20th anniversary of their establishing diplomatic relations with Japan. However, this survey was the first on-site survey of Japanese art by personnel from the Institute.
 Japanese artworks in the History Museum of Armenia, the National Gallery of Armenia, and the Charents House-Museum were surveyed. These museums have ukiyo-e (woodblock) prints from the late Edo Period and early modern to modern craftworks. That said, some of the works are not properly identified since their title or date of production is unclear. The Center provided advice and information regarding these works. Additionally, the state of conservation of cultural properties in the Matenadaran (the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts) and the National Library was also studied.
 In Georgia, Japanese artworks primarily in the National Museum were surveyed. The National Museum has armaments from the Edo Period, such as armor and swords, as well as Japanese artworks like ukiyo-e paintings, pottery, and textiles. The museum was found to have 2 silk hanging scrolls, “Carps” by TACHIHARA Kyosho (1786–1840), a painter from the late Edo Period, and “Mt. Fuji” by TAKASHIMA Hokkai (1850–1931), a painter active during the Meiji Period. Both works have been damaged by time and need extensive restoration. The first step, however, is to gather detailed information about these artworks and then coordinate the future programs with the museum staff.


Investigative Photography of the “Twenty-Five Bodhisattvas Descending from Heaven” owned by -Kimbell Art Museum during Restoration

A scene from the photographic investigation
The right scroll of the “Twenty-Five Bodhisattvas Descending from Heaven” at Kimbell Art Museum (before repair)
(L) The same right scroll, (Middle) A color image of the backside of the same portion (horizontally reversed), (R) A near-infrared image of the backside of the same portion (horizontally reversed)

 We have been performing restoration on the “Twenty-Five Bodhisattvas Descending from Heaven” (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, United States) since 2011 as Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas. This is a pair of hanging scrolls, color on silk thought to have been executed in the 14th century. All of the bodhisattvas are gold-painted and, delicate decrative pattern of gold foil applied to them, but the paintings have begun to appear dark due to the filth of aging, and a problem for conservation arose from the glue becoming loose all over the place. During this restoration, we are going to dismantle the scrolls and renew the mountaining . At present, the removal of the old first lining paper of the light scroll compretely. We can verify the ink lines of the underlying sketch and the backside coloring by looking at the other side of the silk , and we took color and near-infrared photographs to perform the required investigation for its restoration. The bodhisattvas are presented with noble features when looking at the surface of the work, but we could confirm the existence of an excellent underlying sketch with calm expressions throughout the entire work because of the gentle line drawing on the backside in comparison to the quite solid line drawing on the surface by verifying it with a near-infrared image. In addition, we were able to confirm that the backside coloring was applied as a traditional Buddhist painting colored with white and green paints from the backside of the silk canvas. These types of images can only be verified when doing a dismantling repair. We could proceed with an even safer restoration by recording both surface and the backside of the work with high-resolution pictures, and we will utilize these images as research materials in the future. We would like to continue future work while increasing consultations with the curator of the museum that own Japanese cultural properties.


Survey at the Guimet Museum of Asian Art

A survey at the Guimet Museum of Asian Art

 In 2010, the Institute concluded a memorandum of understanding on cooperative research and exchanges with the Guimet Museum in France, and the Institute has implemented joint projects such as lectures and restoration programs. The Guimet Museum of Asian Art began with the collection of Lyon industrialist Émile Guimet (1836~1918). Today, the Museum has about 11,000 Japanese artworks in its collection and is considered one of the world’s leading Oriental art museums. The Museum has one of the world’s oldest Japanese art collections, and its collection includes a number of works with significance in terms of art history. Some of these works are in great need of restoration due to the passage of time. As Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas, artworks of the Guimet Museum that included 5 paintings, i.e. Buddhist hanging scrolls and picture scrolls, and 1 piece of lacquerware were restored from 1997 to 2005. Consistently curating and exhibiting artworks in good condition is crucial to introducing Japanese culture and history overseas. With the cooperation of Hélène Bayou, the Museum’s chief curator of Japanese art, 3 Institute personnel—Wataru KAWANOBE, Director of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, and Masato KATO and Tomoko EMURA, both of whom are senior researchers at the Center—surveyed a dozen or so paintings from the perspectives of restoration and art history on May 25, 2012. In the future, the Institute will conduct more in-depth surveys and provide further consultations regarding artwork restoration and encourage cooperative research and exchanges.


Presentations at The Artist in Edo international symposium

Presentation at the National Gallery
(Washington, D.C.)

 The year 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of cherry blossom trees to the US. To commemorate the occasion, a variety of Japan-US exchange programs took place in conjunction with the yearly National Cherry Blossom Festival. Large exhibitions of Japanese art were put on by the National Gallery and the Freer & Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C. under titles such as Colorful Realm (ITO Jakuchu: The Sakyamuni Triptych and The Colorful Realm of Living Beings), Hokusai: 36 views of Mt. Fuji (KATSUSHIKA Hokusai: 36 Views of Mt. Fuji), and Masters of Mercy (KANO Kazunobu: Zojoji Temple’s The Fiver Hundred Arhats). In conjunction with these exhibitions, the National Gallery’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) hosted an international symposium on The Artist in Edo on April 13th and 14th. The symposium featured presentations by 13 Japanese art history researchers from Japan, the US, and Europe. Tomoko EMURA gave a presentation entitled “Classicism, Subject Matter, and Artistic Status—In the Work of Ogata Kōrin.” The symposium allowed presentations of research results to the global community, it facilitated exchanges with researchers from around the world, and it helped to further understanding of the Institute’s research efforts. The CASVA plans to publish a report based on the symposium’s presentations in 2014.


Interim Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research meeting held on R&D to Preserve and Utilize Past Reports on Artwork and Types of Image Data: Passing on the Views of Art Historians

Sample screen from the integrated database
Report on a Study of Architectural Pigments at Byodoin’s Phoenix Hall: With Particular Focus on Blues by the Cultural Properties Division, Kyoto Prefectural Board of Education (Papers of TANAKA Ichimatsu). This report is from an August 10, 1955 meeting of the Byodoin Phoenix Hall Restoration Committee. This document was discovered during this attempt to create a database and appears to feature the first instance of the term “substituted azurite blue.”

 On December 20th, the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems held an interim meeting on a study funded by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research entitled R&D to Preserve and Utilize Past Reports on Artwork and Types of Image Data: Passing on the Views of Art Historians (principal researcher: Atsushi Tanaka). The Institute is a repository for materials used in its previous projects and reports, photos, and other items donated by the families of former Institute officers. The Department is encouraging the preservation and utilization of these items as research materials. The Department is also encouraging the study and utilization of related materials that had been overlooked in previous art history research. The materials include items that are easily categorized and stored, like printed publications, as well as handwritten notes and sketches, handouts from meetings and conferences, 35-mm slides, and 16-mm film. Organizing these items is difficult, and such items are treated less than reverentially by organizations such as art museums, museums, libraries, and universities. Such items are also extremely rare. The study on R&D to Preserve and Utilize Past Reports on Artwork and Types of Image Data was scheduled to last 4 years starting in 2009, and this year marks the third year of the study. Members of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems and visiting researchers have divvied up the voluminous materials and are organizing them and converting them into digital formats. The interim meeting described which materials were assigned to certain individuals in certain categories, to wit:
 EMURA Tomoko is studying Kogabiko (Notes on Old Paintings) during the Showa Period: Using the Papers of TANAKA Ichimatsu in Future Research, SARAI Mai is studying the Papers of KUNO Takeshi, MIKAMI Yutaka (Wako University, visiting researcher in the Department) is studying Documents on Modern Art: Assembling Art Gallery Circulars and Catalogs and Topics for the Future, NAKANO Teruo (visiting researcher) is studying the Papers of YANAGISAWA Taka, WATADA Minoru is studying the Papers of TANAKA Sukeich, and TANAKA Atsushi is studying the Papers of TANAKA Toshio.
 There are various databases for each category of material, preventing a full archiving of these cultural properties. To resolve this problem, basic data from the papers of TANAKA Ichimatsu, KUNO Takeshi, and UMEZU Jiro were integrated into a database of books, exhibition catalogs, art journals, original photos, and other items currently in use at the Institute. A simulation was performed with the resulting database (about 635,000 records in total). The database allows simultaneous searches of research materials in various formats and it highlights multiple trends in research. The database will provide new directions for specialized archives. Numerous issues must be dealt with so that the database can serve as a more accurate information-gathering tool, but hopes are to create an archive of cultural properties that can be utilized in various fields of study.


A survey of Japan-related artworks in the collection of the Azerbaijan State Museum of Art

The Azerbaijan State Museum of Art
Survey underway at the Museum

 As part of a program for cultural cooperation by the Japan Foundation and scheduled from Nov. 27 to Dec. 6, 2011, a survey of Japan-related artworks in the collection of the Azerbaijan State Museum of Art was conducted. Azerbaijan became an independent state following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its capital, Baku, is located on the western coast of the Caspian Sea, and medieval buildings that have been inscribed as world heritage sites still remain in the older part of the city. The Azerbaijan State Museum of Art was founded in Baku in 1920 and curates and domestically exhibits primarily Russian and European paintings and sculptures. The Museum’s collection includes about 300 pieces of Oriental art from Japan and China, but the Museum has no expert in Oriental art, so the Museum has had difficulty distinguishing Japanese artworks from those made in China or elsewhere. Thus, OCHI Ayako, a member of a culture team in the Cultural Programs Division of the Japan Foundation, KOMATSU Taishu, Director of the Akita Senshu Museum of Art, and EMURA Tomoko of the Institute visited the Museum. We surveyed works in the collection and advised Museum personnel on exhibiting and managing those works. As a result, the survey determined that about 100 of 270 works that were surveyed were Japanese artworks (pottery, sculptures, lacquerware, gilded objects, textiles, paintings, and books printed from woodblocks). Most of the surveyed works are pottery exported overseas from Japan and China from the late 19th century to the early 20th century; although the pieces are not considered particularly rare, the identification of this collection of exported pottery is significant. Plans are to finish compiling the survey data and then translate the survey report and provide copies to the Museum. This effort should help to further understanding of Japanese culture in Azerbaijan and help locate unknown works held abroad as part of research on pottery exported from Japan.
 While in Azerbaijan, we visited the Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Azerbaijan and met with WATANABE Shusuke, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. The Ambassador explained that he wanted to build on the survey and encourage further cultural exchanges between Japan and Azerbaijan. The efforts of Embassy staff like KOBAYASHI Ginga, second secretary to the Japanese Embassy and supervisor of this program, helped to ensure our survey went smoothly overall. The year 2012 will mark a 20-year milestone since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Azerbaijan. Plans are underway for the Museum to host commemorative exhibitions with the cooperation of the Japanese Embassy. The survey was extremely significant since it laid the groundwork for future activities like plans for friendly relations between the two countries.


Seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems held on Rethinking the Relationship between Rimpa and Noh

Discussion following the presentation by Frank Feltens

 The Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems holds seminars almost monthly. At the 5th seminar that was held on August 30, 2011, Mr. Frank Feltens, a Ph.D student at Colombia University, presented the results of his research in a presentation entitled Rethinking the Relationship between Rimpa and Noh. Mr. Feltens came to Japan to serve as a visiting researcher in the Department over about a three-month period from mid-June of this year to early September. OGATA Korin (1658–1716) established his own style of painting by fusing traditional pictorial expression and decorative design. Korin studied Noh drama at starting in his childhood and is known to have had an affinity for Noh chanting that lasted his entire life. Previous research has noted that this art may have had a substantial impact on Korin’s work. In light of previous research, Mr. Feltens’ presentation at the seminar focused on Korin’s motif selection and concept of beauty by looking not just at painted works but also at sources such as crafts, ceremonial dress, and the libretti of Noh dramas. Mr. Feltens utilized approaches such as spatial composition analysis and performance theory to interpret Rimpa art. In a discussion following the presentation, Ms. Izumi TAKAKUWA, head of the Intangible Cultural Properties Section of the Institute’s Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, noted differences in the bases and techniques of studying the history of the performing arts and art history from the perspective of Noh drama research. Although drawbacks of an interdisciplinary approach became evident, active discussion impressed the need for more definitive validation as part of increasingly varied research on the history of paintings and crafts from the Edo Period. The seminar provided an opportunity for a fulfilling scholarly exchange.


Survey of paintings in the US as part of the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas

Survey underway at the Cincinnati Art Museum

 Japanese antiquities located overseas serve to introduce Japanese culture, but these items are suffering from aging and differences in weather and climate, preventing many of these works from being displayed. Thus, the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas seeks to preserve these works in a consistent state so that they can be put on display. Prior to last year, the program was a project of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques, but starting this year the program is being managed by the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation. From the standpoint of restoration, the program studies and repairs artwork in conjunction with art history researchers from the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems. Last year, we surveyed museums in the US, Australia, and Europe with Japanese paintings in their collections in order to ascertain the latest conditions. Twenty-five institutions responded to questions regarding whether or not they had works in need of restoration and how they conserved and restored works at their institution. Based on their responses and a list with images of the works, program experts consulted the curating institution with regard to how works were viewed in terms of art history, what works needed restoration and what works needed immediate restoration, and what the institution had done in response. This year, we conducted our survey at 2 art museums in the US. On June 24, we surveyed 6 hanging scrolls and 6 folding screens at the Cincinnati Art Museum (Ohio), and on June 27, we surveyed 3 hanging scrolls and 5 folding screens at the Kimbell Art Museum (Texas). This year marked the program’s first visit to the Cincinnati Art Museum, which was founded in 1881 and is one of the oldest art museums in the US. The Cincinnati Art Museum is a major art museum in the Midwest with a collection of about 60,000 pieces. The Museum’s collection primarily contains Western art, but the Museum also has a collection of Japanese art, and many of the pieces are unknown in Japan. The study has occasioned technical exchanges, and the program will continue to encourage consultation with relevant personnel and curators.


Seminar to report on joint research into modern genre paintings

Discussions at the seminar on research into modern genre paintings
Display of high-definition images in the lobby on the first basement floor

 The Department of Research Programming has been studying modern genre paintings since 2009 through a joint research project with the Tokugawa Art Museum. On January 29, 2011, we held a seminar at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo to report on this research. At the seminar’s start, Mr. Tokugawa Yoshitaka, the president of Tokugawa Reimeikai Foundation and the director of the Tokugawa Art Museum, gave a talk on IT technology in recent years. Ms. Emura Tomoko then gave a presentation entitled “Depictions in Kabuki Performance and Audience” that focused on details in the scrolls (important cultural properties in the collection of the Tokugawa Art Museum) and characteristic expressions of figures that have been overlooked by past studies of art history. Then, Ms. Yoshikawa Miho, a curator of the Tokugawa Art Museum, gave a presentation entitled “Expression in Genre Figures, said to be based on the romance of Honda Heihachiro and Lady Senhime.” She talked about the depiction of figures in the screen” (an important cultural property in the same museum’s collection) and showed slides of high-resolution images. She reported on the depictions, saying that the woman wearing a kosode with crests of hollyhock appeared to have drawn-in eyebrows, which was a custom and cosmetic practice of noble women at the time. Then, there were discussions chaired by Mr. Yotsutsuji Hideki, the deputy director of the Tokugawa Art Museum. Also participating in discussions concerning image data was Mr. Nakamura Yoshifumi of the National Institute of Informatics. Over 110 participants in fields related to art history, music history, the history of the performing arts, the history of fashion, and the restoration of cultural properties participated in the seminar. Following lively discussions, the seminar concluded. Full-scale images of the two scrolls that make up Kabuki Performance and Audience, which spans 15 meters, were displayed in the lobby in front of the seminar hall for participants to see. We will continue to study such art and publicize our findings in the future.


44th Public Lecture: The Dynamics of Interaction between Objects and People

Presentation by Ms. Suga Miho on the first day
Mr. Takahashi Toshiro answered the questions at his presentation on the second day

 The Department of Research Programming of this Institute holds a public lecture every autumn in order to disclose the results of our research on art history. This public lecture is the 44th with the first held in 1966. Since 2006, we have established a common theme titled “The Dynamics of Interaction between Objects and People”, and four researchers from both within and outside the Institute gave presentations on October 15 and 16.
 On October 15, Mr. Tsuda Tetsuei (the head of Archives Section of the Department of Research Programming) gave a presentation, entitled “Creation of the statue of the virtuous founder of Shinran School on the Amida Rure Land Buddhism in the medieval period”, on the background of the creation of the life-sized statue of the school successors and the meaning of the creation of the statues. Dr. Suga Miho (associate professor at Okayama University) gave a presentation entitled “Beauty of flowers and grasses – Space of pavilions at the Tsuku-busuma-jinja Shrine”, and clarified the formative expression and space configuration based on the detailed investigation of pavilions while using a great deal of pictures. On the following day, Mr. Takahashi Toshiro (curator at the Naritasan Calligraphy Museum) gave a presentation entitled “Imperial Court Poets and Calligraphy”, and clarified the cultural role of the activities of poets whom gathered in the Imperial Court of Poets (opened in 1888), in terms of the background pertaining to the maintenance and expansion of the modern imperial system. Mr. Shioya Jun (Head of the Art Research Materials Section at the Department of Research Programming) gave a presentation entitled “Akimoto Shatei and Japanese-style paintings in the Meiji Period”. He focused on the activities of Akimoto Shatei, a brewer in Nagareyama who played an important role as a supporter of Hishida Shunso as leader of Japanese-style paintings in the Meiji Period. During the presentation he clarified the reception to artworks during the Meiji Period.
 We had 114 and 86 audiences respectively on each of the two days. On the first day, Mr. Itsuo Ikushima, the Chief Priest of the Chikubushima-jinja Shrine and his wife, attended in relation to the presentation of Dr. Suga. On the second day, Ms. Akimoto Yumiko, a water-color painter and the grandchild of Akimoto Shatei attended in association with Mr. Shioyas’ presentation. Mr. Itsuo Ikushima and Ms. Akimoto Yumiko answered the questions from the hall and the public lecture ended successfully. From the results of the questionnaire performed after the lecture, we have learned that the audience was very satisfied with the content. We would like to actively plan for the transmission of the results of research conducted by our institute.


Exhibiting the panels obtained by joint research investigation with the Tokugawa Art Museum

Genre Figures" exhibited on panel
Kabuki Performance and Audience" exhibited on panel

 The Department of Research Programming is investigating early modern genre paintings, such as Genre Figures, said to be based on the romance of Honda Heihachiro and Lady Senhime, as a joint research project with the Tokugawa Art Museum. 2010 is the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Museum, and upon this occasion a special exhibition called the “Treasures of the Owari Tokugawa Family” was held (October 2 to November 7). In light of this opportunity, on display since September 28 are the enlarged picture panels of Genre Figures and Kabuki Performance and Audience (both are important cultural properties) as part of research investigation results. Genre Figures is a relatively smaller two panel folding screen, 72.2 cm height. We had the image outputted by magnifying it by approximately 3.5 times in order to match the Honda Heihachiro’s height with the average body height of 157 cm that was assumed from the male remains of the feudal lord class in the Edo Period. When the right panel is enlarged with the same degree of magnification, the female in a kimono with crest of hollyhock, the central figure, will match the average height 146 cm of the wives and concubines of feudal lords in the same way. This lets us know that the difference in physical size between males and females of the time is accurately reflected in the portraits. Kabuki Performance and Audience is 36.7 cm length, made up from two scrolls on which there are six pictures each. We had this scroll output by magnifying it by approximately 2.5 times. We can clearly confirm the color expression by delicate gradations and the elaborately drawn textural differences, and focus attention on detailed description, which has been overlooked until now. When the line drawings and the state of colors are observed in detail, the intention and reason for the expression techniques will come up. We will apply the information thus far obtained to the study of works and will work to deepen the understanding a variety of art pieces.


Workshop of Department of Research Programming

Monthly Flowers and Ornamental Plants on a right-hand folding screen, painted by Murakoshi Koei Owned by Adachi-city Folk Museum
Monthly Flowers and Ornamental Plants on a left-hand folding screen, painted by Murakoshi Koei Owned by Adachi-city Folk Museum

 The 4th workshop of Department of Research Programming 2010 was held on July 28th. The following were the presenters and the titles of their presentations:
• Emura Tomoko (a researcher at Department of Research Programming)
“Concerning Suzuki Kiitsu’s paintings of flowers and grasses, centering on Flowers and Grasses painted on a small sliding door fusuma owned by the Portland Art Museum”
• Mr. Sanada Takamitsu (curator of Adachi-city Folk Museum)
“Senju and Edo Rimpa”
 Emura verified from her works and from the literatures that the expression techniques of the above paintings had been closely related to Kiitsu’s learning about the Korin’s paintings, and also considered the Kiitsu’s patrons who have not been completely unveiled. Mr. Sanada made a presentation on the activities and works of Mr. Murakoshi Kiei and Koei, parent and son, who were Kiitsu’s disciples and whom flourished in Senju, associated with the “Edo Rimpa” exhibition that will be held at the Adachi-city Folk Museum in March 2011. We invited Ms. Tamamushi Toshiko (professor at Musashino Art University) as a commentator and held a research discussion. We will make public the results obtained from this workshop in the form of research papers and exhibitions, pursuing further exchange and promotion of research.


Issuing “investigation report on joint research on pedestal for reading Kasuga Gongen Genki-e

Cover of “investigation report of joint research on pedestal for reading Kasuga Gongen Genki-e
Mr. Shimizu Ken, a researcher at the Nara National Museum, is giving an explanation in front of the pedestal for reading Kasuga Gongen Genki-e in the Special Exhibition “On-Matsuri and the Sacred Art of Kasuga.”

 The Department of Research Programming of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is conducting joint research with the Nara National Museum as part of the research project Survey Research on Applications of High-definition Digital Images. In March 2010, a report on a pedestal for reading Kasuga Gongen Genki-e (owned by Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara) was published. With the Kasuga Gongen Genki-e, the scene of the grounds of Kasuga Taisha Shrine is drawn on a folding screen with six panels that are approximately 42 cm in length, using gold and silver paints and gold and silver cut foils. This work has attracted attention because it is regarded as an old example of a paper folding screen and also as a precise example of a picture with gold and silver paints created in the fourteenth century. On the fluorescent image photographed this time in the joint research survey, patterns and detailed expressions that are not apparent to the naked eyes were confirmed. We hope that the fluorescent image will be an important research material in future studies on scenery images and pictures with gold and silver paints. When the Kasuga Gongen Genki-e was displayed in the Special Exhibition “On-Matsuri and the Sacred Art of Kasuga” from December 8, 2009 to January 17, 2010 before issuing the report, we exhibited the color image and fluorescent image photographed in this survey on panels to announce some of the results.


Researching Japanese Works of Art at Portland Art Museum

Researching the folding screen owned by the Portland Art Museum

 The Portland Art Museum in Oregon, founded in 1892, is the oldest museum on the West Coast of the US. Among approximately 42,000 works stored in the museum are some 4,000 Asian art works. For four days from August 17 to 20, 2009, Mr. Watada Minoru, Mr. Tsuchiya Takahiro and Ms. Emura Tomoko of the Department of Research Programming examined more than 30 works in the Portland Museum produced from the Muromachi to the Edo Period, including Japanese paintings, folding screens and kakefuku and created research records for each work. For works with a poor storage state, they recorded the damage status in detail, and did research and examination from the standpoint of art history, discussing with the curators in charge at the Portland Art Museum. There were some works which have not been introduced up to now and some excellent and important works, and despite the limited time we were able to do significant research. We will announce the results at an Institute research meeting and will introduce those works in the Bijutsu Kenkyu (Journal of Art Studies) and other journals to further enrich the art materials and make efforts toward international research exchange.


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – Cooperation on Exhibition and Lecture for Commemorative Symposium

Hie Sanno Sairei-Zu folding screen
Commemorative symposium lecture by Ms. Emura
Interactive display in exhibit room

 In commemoration of the repair of “the Hie Sanno Sairei-Zu folding screen” completed under the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas in 2007, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, which owns the screen, is holding an exhibit of the repaired screen entitled “Art Unfolded: Japan’s Gift of Conservation” from January 17 to February 22. Before starting repair, the Museum wanted to exhibit the materials/tools and processes that were used for the actual repair, along with the repaired work, so that Japanese culture and traditional techniques could be comprehensively understood. Our Institute cooperated with preparation activities. In the exhibit room, the Chinese papers, paints for repair, brushes, round knives, and other tools have been placed in an exhibit case with a touch panel sensor: This makes an interactive display that enables viewers to touch the case and view a video explaining the stored items and repair processes. This display was very well received because it gave a deeper understanding of the conservation and restoration of Japanese cultural properties which were little known overseas. At the same time, the Museum played a video showing the actual Hie Sanno festival in cooperation with the Otsu City Museum of History, along with “Weaving Gold Brocade: Mounted Strips Decorating Calligraphic Works and Paintings” in cooperation with the Kyushu National Museum. It deeply introduced Japanese traditional culture.
 On January 19, a symposium was held commemorating the exhibit (aid: Japan-United States Arts Program, Japan Foundation). Following greetings by Mr. Ohsawa Tsutomu, the Japanese Consul General in Houston, Mr. Takahiro Nakamura, Conservator for the Association for the Conservation of National Treasures, Kyushu Section, gave a lecture entitled “Treasured Japanese Tradition: Conservation of the Hie Sanno Sairei-Zu Screens”; Mr. Nakamura was in charge of the actual repair. Tomoko Emura presented a lecture on the characteristics of the work from the viewpoint of art history, entitled “A Divine Procession: The Hie Sanno Sairei-Zu”.
 More than 150 people gathered in the Hall of the Museum, and symposium was a valuable opportunity in terms of both reports on the results of the research and engaging in international cultural exchange.


to page top