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

Survey on deterioration of maki-e and lacquer (urushi) coating in the main shrine of Tsukubusuma-jinja

Observation of deteriorated maki-e portion by magnifying it

 The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques has been investigating the deterioration of maki-e (gold-relief lacquerwork) and lacquer (urushi) coating in the main shrine of Tsukubusuma-jinja. The main shrine of Tsukubusuma-jinja, located on the Chikubujima isle in Lake Biwa, Shiga, is one of the buildings which represents the Momoyama culture. It is said that part of the palace of the Fushimi Castle was brought to this isle and reassembled to become a shrine. is shrine is famous for the lacquer (urushi) coated columns and beams running between columns, on which the paulownia and chrysanthemum crests and patterns of flowers and birds were decorated using maki-e techniques and the full-color woodcarving on the walls of nave (gejin) and doors. As 75 years have already passed since the last repairs were made, damage to the roof and coating is noticeable. Furthermore, decoration using gorgeous maki-e techniques inside the building, which is highly ranked together with that in the Koudaiji Otamaya in Kyoto, has seriously deteriorated, and has become problematic among the individuals concerned. Therefore, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques cooperated with the repairs currently being promoted by the Shiga prefectural education board and Tsukubusuma-jinja, and conducted basic research to identify the cause of the deterioration phenomena, and then made investigation to prevent deterioration within the special environment of Lake Biwa (see Photo). We will make use of the achievements obtained on this occasion in order to conserve the valuable maki-e and lacquer (urushi) coating of the main shrine of Tsukubusuma-jinja in the best state possible.

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