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

World Heritage Seminar: The Increasing Complexity of the Eyes Watching over World Heritage

Information leaflet (front side)
Scene of discussion at the seminar

 Since 2018, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been hosting the World Heritage Seminar Series, which aims to transmit information and facilitate exchange of opinions about the world heritage system and its trends domestically. In FY 2023, titled as “The Increasing Complexity of the Eyes Watching over World Heritage – Operational Guidelines, Preliminary Assessments, and Impact Assessments -,” the seminar focused on the evaluation methods and system operation of world heritage, especially on the guidance of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), compiled recently by UNESCO and others. The meeting was held in-person on December 21, 2023, at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), in which 90 persons participated, mainly representatives from local governments all over the country.

 After an introductory explanation of the purpose of the seminar was provided by Mr. KANAI Ken, Head of the Resource and Systems Research Section of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, Mr. SUZUKI Chihei of the Agency for Cultural Affairs reported on the discussions held and decisions made at the latest World Heritage Committee meeting under the title of Trends on World Heritage. Then, Ms. FUTAGAMI Yoko, Head of the Cultural Properties Information Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, made a presentation titled Recent revisions of the Operational Guidelines and their background – To ensure dialogue and reliability –. Subsequently, Mr. SUZUKI , on behalf of Mr. NISHI Kazuhiko (Agency for Cultural Affairs) made a presentation on the contents and points to note of “Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessment in a World Heritage Context.” Finally, Mr. NAKASAWA Hiromasa (Special Historic Site – Sannai Maruyama Jomon Culture Center, Aomori Pref.) presented on the significance and assignments of HIA, based on specific case studies, with the title of “Protection and Heritage Impact Assessment of Jomon Prehistoric Sites in Northern Japan.” Thereafter, all speakers discussed the evolving value of World Heritage Sites, impact assessments made on them, and future challenges.

 Through the reports, presentations, and discussions, we reaffirmed the necessity to involve a wide range of stakeholders and incorporate relevant regulatory systems for implementing the HIA guidance. Furthermore, we learned that, in recent years, some countries have begun to regard buffer zones and their surrounding areas as areas for integrated development based on the cultural heritage values of the site, although they have traditionally been considered as a “shield” for assets. With these topics included, the Center will continue to study the international heritage protection system.

Architectural survey on vernacular stone masonry houses in Central Bhutan

Survey scene at an old house
A vernacular house in which rammed earth and stone masonry structures coexist.

 Since 2012, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been continuously engaged in research on vernacular houses in Bhutan, in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Dzongkha Development (DCDD), Ministry of Home Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan. The DCDD promotes a policy of preserving and utilizing vernacular houses by integrating them into the legal protection framework of cultural heritage, while TOBUNKEN supports the initiative from academic and technical aspects.

 Following the previous survey conducted in the eastern region from April to May 2023, the second field survey mission of this year was implemented from October 29 to November 4. Four staff members of TOBUNKEN, one from Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (NABUNKEN), and two external experts were dispatched, and the team was joined by two staff members from DCDD. We jointly carried out a field survey in the two provinces of the central region, namely Bumthang and Wangdue Phodrang.

 Most of the target houses had been identified in our preparative survey conducted in 2022. Eleven houses in total, including those newly found, were investigated this time in a detailed manner that included taking measurements and interviewing the residents. Two houses among them were rammed earth houses commonly seen in the western area of the country, and six were stone masonry houses widely located in the eastern area, while both construction techniques were combined in the other three houses. Especially in the eastern part of Wangdue Phodrang province, a tendency had been observed that the rammed earth technique was exclusively used further in the past, and stone masonry has gradually become dominant over time. However, our analysis of the transitional history of each house suggests that things were not so simple, and present more complex pictures.

 On the other hand, although we had been focusing on such aspects as building type, construction technique, and transitional history of the houses, this time during the interviews we started to pay more attention to ethnographic factors such as oral traditions about houses and how each room is used. By adding information about villager’s lifestyles, which reflected on the transition and locality of the housing type, into our consideration, hopefully diverse values of the Bhutanese traditional houses as cultural heritage will become clarified.

 The survey was implemented with the financial support of a JSPS Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research (B), “Vernacular stone masonry houses of Bhutan: study on the architectural characteristics and the suitable approach for protection as cultural heritage” with TOMODA Masahiko as the principal researcher.

Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture II -Field Survey in European Countries-

A sample of an ACR label prepared by the Ministry of Culture for distribution (France)
Auditorium Parco della Musica, designed by Renzo Piano, considered a contemporary architectural work of "cultural properties in progress" (Italy)
Erik Christian Sørensen's own home, being preserved, renovated, and operated as a rental property (Denmark)

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) is currently undertaking a research project overseas, specifically concentrating on innovative approaches to conserving modern architectural heritage. This project is part of the “Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture,” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. After conducting a field survey in Taiwan in September, we extended our research to include field surveys in France, Italy, and Denmark from October 3 to 13.
 Over the past three decades in Europe, the recognition of modern and contemporary architecture as a valuable social asset has gained widespread acceptance. This was notably encouraged by the Council of Europe in 1991, which recommended that member countries adopt specific strategies to safeguard 20th-century architecture. Furthermore, the guideline on “architectural culture (baukultur)” for social development was emphasized during the meeting of European ministers responsible for culture at the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos. Amidst these social trends, in 2017 a new law was implemented in France called the “Law on Freedom of Creation, Architecture and Heritage” (LCAP Law). This legislation incorporates the “Remarkable Contemporary Architecture” (ACR) labeling system, designed to promote the conservation and appreciation of modern architecture. In Italy, the Directorate General for Contemporary Art and Contemporary Architecture within the Ministry of Cultural Property and Cultural Activity (which is now the Directorate General for Contemporary Creativity within the Ministry of Culture) was established in 2001. Since its inception, the Directorate has consistently undertaken surveys aimed at identifying contemporary architecture with significant artistic value across the entire territory. In Denmark, while there are no specific administrative initiatives dedicated to conserving modern architectural heritage, a private philanthropic organization called “Realdania” has taken on this responsibility. Established in 2000 as an extension of a real estate financing business, Realdania is actively pursuing initiatives to safeguard Danish architectural heritage through investments. Their efforts also focus on the preservation and development of modern Nordic design masterpieces created by Danish architects.
 During this survey, we conducted visits to the French Ministry of Culture, the Italian Ministry of Culture, and Realdania, engaging in interviews to gain insights into their activities, challenges, and outlook regarding the conservation of modern architecture. The purpose was also to verify the status of the targeted modern architecture on-site. While significant efforts have been made to conserve modern architecture, it remains challenging to assert that modern architecture has fully garnered recognition and status as cultural heritage in each country. It was confirmed that these organizations are seeking new forms of conservation suitable for modern architecture through continuous dialogues with diverse stakeholders and the implementation of experimental trials of conservation and sustainable development.
 The results of this survey, along with the results from our field survey in Taiwan and a bibliographic study into the relevant legal systems in each country or region, will be consolidated into a final survey report in November 2023. This report will be open to public via the Institute’s online repository.

Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture I - A Field Survey in Taiwan

Huashan 1914 Creative Park: Shown are a historic red brick building of a former camphor factory, revitalized from ruins (registered historical buildings), and the teahouse of Dr. FUJIMORI Terunobu, a leading historian of modern Japanese architecture and an architect acknowledged for his shift from traditional techniques.
Songshan Creative Park: Creating a space for a rental artwork/performance studio that captures the ambiance of a historic tobacco manufacturing factory (municipal designated historical sites).

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) is currently undertaking a research project abroad that focuses on advanced initiatives in the conservation of modern architectural heritage. This project, titled “Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture,” is commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. From September 18 to 22, we conducted a field survey in Taiwan as a part of this project.
 In Taiwan, the 2000 Act on the Promotion of Private Sector Involvement in Public Construction, and the 2002 National Development Priority Plan, which included the promotion of creative industries, led to the proactive conservation and transformation of architectural and industrial heritage with the introduction of private sector vitality from the 2000s to the 2010s. In this survey, we visited two of the “Cultural and Creative Industrial Parks” (hereafter referred to as “Creative Parks”) in Taipei City led by the Ministry of Culture (until 2011, the Cultural Development Commission) and interviewed their management bodies about the current status, challenges, and prospects for the management of heritage buildings as business facilities.
 The Huashan 1914 Creative Park utilizes the facilities of a former government-run liquor factory established in 1914, while the Songshan Creative Park makes use of facilities from a former government-run tobacco factory established in 1937. The Huashan park is managed by the Taiwan Cultural-Creative Company Limited, funded by several private companies, while the Songshan park is operated by the Taipei Cultural Foundation, umbrellaed under the City of Taipei. Despite having distinct organizational structures and operational policies, both parks are financially independent and share a common goal of enhancing public awareness of the Creative Park as a unique destination. This objective helps the parks maintain their operational stability and generate profits. However, an issue arises from the fact that only the utilization aspect of architectural conservation has been entrusted to private-sector entities, leading to various misunderstandings between their approach and the administration responsible for preservation of the architectural heritage.
 We also visited the Bureau of Cultural Heritage (BOCH) of the Ministry of Culture to conduct interviews on topics including the evaluation of the Creative Park project. The BOCH has analyzed the reasons why Creative Parks have not progressed as originally planned, as stumbling blocks have arisen such as the fact that preservation is the responsibility of the government while utilization is the domain of the private sector, and the project has already started to change course. Since 2017, a ‘Reconsolidation of Historical Time and Space’ plan has been underway, which links the comprehensive management and utilization of cultural heritage linked to the land and people’s memories to policies for developing social infrastructure.
 The JCICC will continue to conduct field surveys in Europe with the cooperation of relevant organizations and experts in the target countries and compile the results into a final research report, together with the results of bibliographic study into the relevant legal systems in each country or region.

Architectural survey on vernacular stone masonry houses in Eastern Bhutan

Kheni village in Trashiyangtse province, composed of vernacular stone masonry houses
A house of typology unique to Merak district in Trashigang province
Measurement survey of a timber hut

 Since 2012, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been continuously engaged in research on vernacular houses in Bhutan, in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Dzongkha Development (DCDD, formerly the Department of Culture, renamed recently upon restructuring), Ministry of Home Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan. The DCDD promotes a policy of preserving and utilizing vernacular houses by integrating them into the legal protection framework of cultural heritage, while TOBUNKEN supports the initiative from academic and technical aspects.
 Previously, our study focused on rammed earth houses commonly seen in the western area of the country. This year, we began a survey on stone masonry houses widely located in central and eastern areas, with the financial support of a JSPS Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research. The first survey mission under this scheme was implemented from April 25 to May 5, 2023.
 Our group, comprising four dispatched staff members of TOBUNKEN and two from DCDD, jointly carried out a field survey in the five provinces spanning from Trashigang in the east to Bumthang in the central region. We observed stone masonry houses that appeared to have been built during earlier periods than other traditional houses in the target area, based on prior information collected by DCDD, and surveyed 14 houses in a detailed manner including taking measurements and interviewing the residents. Other than three cases of large-scale, three-storied residences of the ruling class, all were originally very small houses of one or two stories. In the Merak district of Trashigang, where a nomadic ethnic group lives, a unique typology of one-story houses without cattle sheds was widely observed.
 Based on knowledge and information obtained during this survey mission, we plan to extend the target area and conduct more detailed investigations of the old houses we had already identified. In addition, since transition and locality of the housing type reflects change and difference of lifestyles, we feel a need to put more focus on these areas in the future. We will continue in our effort to further accelerate cooperation to prevent the loss of precious heritage against the trend that the numbers of vacant and degraded houses are increasing.

Pilot Survey for the Conservation of Traditional Masonry Houses in Bhutan

Arial view of Korphu village (from the west)
MoU signing ceremony (left: Director of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, TOBUNKEN, TOMODA Masahiko; right: Director-General of the DoC, Nagtsho Dorji)

 From the scientific research aspect, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) provides technical support for the value evaluation and enhancement of heritage buildings to the Department of Culture (DoC), the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan, which aims to expand the scope of heritage conservation to all historic buildings, including traditional houses. While we have been forced to implement cooperation projects online since January 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, TOBUNKEN agreed with the DoC to resume joint surveys in Bhutan, following the significant easing of travel restrictions in Japan and Bhutan from July and September onward, respectively. From November 5th–15th, 2022, TOBUNKEN dispatched four staff experts, including an expert from the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
 The mission targeted the traditional masonry houses found in the eastern part of Bhutan. The purpose was to recognize and analyze the fundamental features of settlements and buildings in the region as the preliminary stage of the comprehensive scientific survey, which will serve as the basis for appropriate heritage conservation and development. Effective survey strategies were also examined in the mission. The on-site survey covered Trongsa Dzongkhag, Bumthang Dzongkhag, and the surrounding area, located in the central-eastern part of the country, which is relatively easy to access from the capital city of Thimphu. Measurements, photogrammetry, and interviews with locals were conducted in villages and houses preselected by the Division of Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) of the DoC, based on the governmental archive and information provided by Dzongkhags. We found that the region had its own distinctive village forms. For instance, Trong and Korphu, located in the rugged mountainous area in the southern part of Trongsa Dzongkhag, are particularly unique as their houses are built in rows along a ridge, giving them merchant town-like appearance despite them being farming villages. In addition, while almost all houses in Trong are masonry structures, those in Korphu are both masonry and rammed earth structures, and rammed earth structures retain their older form. In other houses we surveyed, some were originally built in rammed earth, and later expanded or modified in stone. This suggests that, at least in the region surveyed this time, the structural manner of traditional houses shifted from rammed earth to masonry. We also found some masonry houses that have a very complex series of expansion and modification, and there is a possibility that the frequency of modification is generally higher in masonry structures than that in rammed-earth structures. Regarding the survey method, photogrammetry proved to be efficient and very useful in recording the masonry house, which shows random and complex patterns with natural stones and has many distortions in its shape.
 After the on-site survey, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the cooperation in the conservation of architectural heritage was signed at the DoC headquarters, Thimphu, and a meeting was organized with the DCHS to discuss the results of the survey, as well as the prospects and needs of the Bhutanese counterparts. In the future, we expect to develop more on-site surveys and research activities targeting masonry houses in eastern Bhutan in close collaboration with the DCHS.

Participation in the World Heritage Leadership Forum 2022 – 50th anniversary initiative of the World Heritage Convention

Main street view of Bryggen area, Bergen, World Heritage site (hotel facilities of the forum venue are shown on the left side)
Forum room (whiteboard used in group discussions)

 The year 2022 marks 50 years since the establishment of the World Heritage Convention at the 17th UNESCO General Conference in 1972. During the past half-century, 1154 World Heritage Sites (897 cultural, 218 natural, and 39 mixed properties) from 167 countries have been recognized. They have all played an important role in raising global awareness and fostering an understanding of the importance of heritage conservation. Moreover, the World Heritage Committee discusses various matters of international concern every year. Recent years have seen unprecedented challenges, such as the threat of climate change being raised. The ICCROM and IUCN—World Heritage Committee advisory bodies —launched the World Heritage Leadership (WHL) program in 2016. The WHL supports activities and discussions aimed at improving the World Heritage site’s conservation and management practices for culture and nature.
 The World Heritage Leadership Forum 2022 was held in Bergen, a world heritage city in Norway, on September 21st and 22nd, 2002. The forum aimed to review the results of the WHL’s past activities and look ahead to future initiatives. Around 60 representatives attended from international organizations, national institutions overseeing world heritage issues, and site managers/communities of world heritage sites. The forum was divided into three sessions: the first session organized the key points from the 2016-2022 achievements, the second session discussed needed actions and future priorities, and the third session laid out action plans for the future of World Heritage Capacity Building. The author made a speech on the case of Japan during the second session. They reported that, although no administrative framework has been implemented on World Heritage, a new policy has been implemented. The “regional conservation plan,” introduced by the 2019 amended Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, shares the same awareness of issues as the discussions at the WHL forum. It could be an effective tool in rebuilding or improving the heritage management capacity sought by the WHL. Moreover, the plan aims to implement a more comprehensive approach in on the following domains: natural, cultural, expert, custodian, and communities. In the second session, participants were divided into three groups: (1) ensuring effective management, (2) applying resilience thinking for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, and (3) preparing for change by enabling impact assessments and engaging in active discussions. In conclusion, after the discussions in the third session, it was concluded that WHL would focus on the next phase of strengthening the heritage-people network. This was a key topic raised by the forum participants, in addition to enhancing capacity-building efforts that link the World Heritage Committee to heritage conservation on the ground. At the same time, it is important to establish a system of close collaboration for heritage conservation with local networks that accommodates the diverse languages and contexts of each country/region.
 Japan is one of the countries where the link between local network activities and World Heritage trends is particularly weak. Consequently, challenges and efforts to link domestic heritage conservation to international community dialogue might be required as a new modality of international cooperation in heritage conservation.

World Heritage Leadership Forum on the ICCROM website

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.

Donation of Materials related to Dr. ITO Nobuo

Dr. ITO with his colleagues of the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Properties and their families (Third from left. Right end is HINAKO Moto’o who served as Director of the Buildings Division (1966-1971) before Dr. ITO, and IHARA Keishi who served as Director of Restoration Engineering Department (1988-1990) of the Institute on his left.)

On September 13th, a set of materials related to the administrative work for the protection of cultural properties, where Dr. ITO Nobuo served as Director of the Institute for nine years from April 1978 to March 1987, was donated to the Institute by his son, Mr. ITO Akio. Dr. ITO was a technocrat and architectural historian who led the development of cultural property protection in the postwar period. In particular, he played a central role as director of the Buildings Division of the Agency for Cultural Affairs (1971-1977) in the planning of the traditional town/village conservation system, which was newly established as a result of the revision of the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties in 1975. He has also left a significant mark in the international field of heritage conservation by actively communicating Japan’s conservation philosophy and repair methods, and by leading “the Nara Conference on Authenticity” held in November 1994, which led to the international development of authenticity, a concept of conservation originating in Western Europe.
 The donated documents are mainly primary materials related to the administration of cultural property protection and international cooperation that Dr. ITO was involved in as part of his work, as well as various materials related to research activities, private activities, and manuscripts related to architectural history and cultural properties. These materials were accumulated during the active life he led, and since they have not been systematically collected and organized, it is certain that among them are many items for which detailed information is not clear at this stage. However, from the viewpoint that it is important to make the materials available to researchers who need them as soon as possible, we plan to make them accessible to the public after classifying all the materials according to activity and sorting each item mechanically.
 Among the donated materials, I would like to bring to your attention a photograph of a young Dr. ITO with his colleagues from the Buildings Division of the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Properties. Considering the appearance of Dr. ITO and the other photographs enclosed, my guess is that it was taken around 1965 when he was working hard as an architectural conservation officer at the site. The carefree demeanor and lively smiles of all in this photograph seem to indicate that the cultural properties administration was carried out during an era when Japan’s economy was booming. This fact is not easily perceivable in the formal photos from official reports.

・“To the Memory of Dr. Nobuo Ito” by SAITO Hidetoshi
2016 Volume 66 Pages 148-159

・ITO Nobuo2016 Year Book of Japanese Art, page 557-558, Online in 2018 (Japanese only)

The “Conservation of Wooden Architectural Heritage in Southeast Asia” Seminar

Program of “Conservation of Wooden Architectural Heritage in Southeast Asia”

 On November 21, 2020, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) held an online seminar on the policy and methodology of wooden architectural restoration in Southeast Asian countries. This was the fourth seminar of the Southeast Asian wooden architecture seminar series that JCICC annually held recently. In the previous seminars, we had highlighted Southeast Asian wooden architecture through academic studies on historical science, architectural history, and archeology. In this one, we focused on the practical aspect of heritage conservation, one of the important mission of the Institute, which we felt was the appropriate theme to conclude the seminar series.
 Mr. Pongthorn HIENGKAEW, senior architect in the Fine Arts Department, Thailand, and Mr. Sengthong LUEYANG, deputy director of Luang Prabang World Heritage Office, Laos, who are involved in wooden architecture restoration in Southeast Asia, attended the seminar, as did Ms. Montira UNAKUL of UNESCO Bangkok Office, a specialist familiar with the overall situation of heritage conservation in Southeast Asian countries. Basic policy and practical measures for the restoration of wooden architecture as cultural heritage were reported by Mr. Pongthorn with concrete examples of nationally designated heritage Buddhist buildings, and by Mr. Sengthong with concrete examples of residential buildings in the old quarter of Luang Prabang. Ms. Montira, on the other hand, introduced the recent pioneering effort for wooden architecture restoration and related human resource development in Thailand and Indonesia.
 In the second half of the seminar, Mr. NAKAUCHI Yasuo, senior conservation architect at the Japanese Association for Conservation of Architectural Monuments, joined the three invitees from Southeast Asia and had a panel discussion under the facilitation of Mr. TOMODA Masahiko, JCICC director. The discussions confirmed that there are many commonalities in the conservation principle and restoration measures of wooden architecture. Furthermore, the shortage of producers and artisans who employ traditional materials and techniques was recognized as a universal issue in our modern society.
 We had originally planned to hold this seminar in the Institute’s conference room. However, considering the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to switch to the online mode and hold a webinar. It was an achievement of this year’s our activities to get the seminar done online that hold in the conference room so far. At the same time, many points to be improved are certainly clarified through our mismanagement in addition to unexpected troubles. We aim to use this experience as a lesson and explore a brand new method for holding seminars and events suitable in the post-COVID society.

Exhibition at the entrance lobby: Restoration work of the East Gate of Ta Nei Temple, Angkor, Cambodia

AR presentation image of the East Gate after the superstructure was dismantled (technically supported by YAMADA Osamu (Project Professor, Tokyo University of Arts Graduate School))

 A year-long permanent exhibition is being held at the Institute’s entrance lobby. Each department or center of the Institute takes turns to arrange this exhibition in yearly shifts to introduce the result of research and projects to the public. In the year of 2020, the exhibition provides an introduction to the ongoing restoration work of the East Gate, as a part of the cooperation project for the conservation and sustainable development of Ta Nei Temple, Angkor, Cambodia. Over two decades, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation of the Institute has been involved in the cooperation activities at this temple.
 In Angkor, since the 1990s when Cambodia emerged from its domestic and political turmoil, the international community including Japan, France, the United States, India, and China has supported conservation initiatives aiming to preserve and repair the splendid architecture in the magnificent monuments, representing the glory of ancient Cambodia. At Ta Nei Temple, it is tried to take the objective of international support a step forward, and promote sustainable heritage conservation in Cambodian circumstances under the conservation masterplan jointly prepared by the Institute and the Cambodian government’s Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and Region of Siem Reap (APSARA). The restoration work of the East Gate is the first case to be explored under this conservation masterplan. The Institute provides technical advice and proposals about restoration methods and procedures as well as conducts architectural surveys and archaeological excavations at each phase of the restoration process, while APSARA ensures the budget and implements the onsite work.
 Digital documentation techniques, such as 3D laser scanning and photogrammetry—with rapid progress rates—are actively adopted during onsite research activities. Regarding photogrammetry, a full-scale, straightforward application has already been put into commercial use at accessible prices. It could be utilized as a technique with high versatility in the field of heritage conservation in Cambodia and abroad. We have tried to use such digital data during the exhibition, introducing electronic presentations with AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) technologies, to provide an interactive experience of the site. We hope that this exhibition rouses your interest in the Institute’s international cooperation efforts for heritage conservation.

Technical cooperation activities during the COVID-19 pandemic: Conservation and sustainable development of Ta Nei temple in Angkor, Cambodia

Study on the reinforcement measures for the foundation structure of the East Gate
The ICC Secretariat visited the restoration work site of the East Gate (courtesy of APSARA)

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties provides continuous technical support to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) for the conservation and sustainable development of the ruins of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. Last year, the restoration of the East Gate began under the Conservation and Sustainable Development Plan jointly developed by APSARA and the Institute. APSARA is responsible for securing the budget for materials and labors, as well as implementing the work. The Institute provides technical assistance on restoration methodologies and procedures, as well as cooperation in architectural and archaeological surveys before and during the work.
 The possibility of our visiting Cambodia has all but disappeared after March this year, due to the global travel bans implemented to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we cannot suspend the restoration work for our convenience, given that COVID-19 has not spread widely in Cambodia and the Cambodian counterpart has been continued regular site duties. From April, we have been benefiting from the advantages of Information & Communication Technology (ICT), actively utilizing interactive networking services with smartphones, besides normal e-mail messaging, to grasp real-time conditions at the site and hold online meetings as needed.
 On the 21st of April, an online meeting was conducted with the East Gate restoration team of APSARA to share the result of the foundation’s geological testing during February and March and discuss restoration methods and structural reinforcement measures, based on the test result. Two of our collaborators, Professor KOSHIHARA Mikio (Structural Engineering) and Professor KUWANO Reiko (Geo-technical Engineering) from the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, joined the meeting. After an in-depth discussion from a scientific perspective, the participants finally agreed on a basic scheme for the restoration and reinforcement with an aim to balance heritage authenticity and structural safety. Under this basic scheme, online meetings were held in May and July to study about treating the foundation and superstructure, respectively. We had interactive discussions and shared ideas, plans, and other useful information, as well as the site’s latest condition, and decided that, at this stage, the concrete restoration/reinforcement method be considered the most appropriate one.
 The Technical Session of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC), organized at APSARA headquarters in June every year, was also postponed, and only the site visit by the ICC co-chairs and the secretariat was done this year. APSARA and the Institute jointly made the progress report and work plan of the project, including the activities mentioned above, and submitted it to the ICC secretariat prior to their site visit. We also held an online meeting with Professor MASUI Masaya of Kyoto University Graduate School, a member of the Ad Hoc Expert Group of the ICC, who supervised and advised us on our recent issues and the project’s work plan and exchanged information about latest information concerning international cooperation on Angkor.
 In this way, we accidentally realized a potential of ICT in heritage conservation. Indeed, there is a natural limit to conservation efforts based on telecommunication and remote information sharing because the universal value of cultural heritage is in its object itself. We hope that the world returns to normal, after overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, and the days of unrestricted international travel are back soon.

Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part IX)

Dismantlement of the base platform.
Core sampling.

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has been providing technical support to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) for the conservation and sustainable development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. As a part of this project, TNRICP dispatched a total of four members, including an outside expert, to Cambodia between February 26 and March 18, 2020 for 3D documentation of the base structure and an investigation of the foundation’s strength of the East Gate under restoration.
 Directed by Associate Professor Dr. OISHI Takeshi, from the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, a 3D laser scanning survey was conducted between February 27 and 28, 2020 to accurately record the state of the base platform including that in the excavation pits at the external corners of it, which were revealed after the superstructure was dismantled. After that, it was originally planned to conduct a flat-plate loading test and uniaxial compression test of the laterite substrate material. However, because of the spread of COVID-19, the experts in charge were unable to join the mission and only a simple dynamic cone penetration test (DCPT) was performed at the site, which was also conducted in December 2019.
 DCPT was conducted at 11 points to check the bearing capacity of the soil infill inside the platform and the foundation layer at the outer edge of the platform. The outcomes of the test indicated that test points below the wall structure have generally larger values than that of the central area (under the pavement). Although the factors such as the difference in the climatic conditions at the time the tests were performed (wet and dry season) might affect the test results, the long-term structural weight causing the rammed earth beneath the walls to get compacted could have caused this distinction. It could be interpreted as the soil infill inside the platform has developed a certain degree of strength enough to support the upper weight of the structure at present. In addition to DCPT, a core sampling was also conducted with a hand auger to check the cross-sectional structure, including the lowest layer of the foundation.
 Further, indoor material tests were performed by Professor Dr. KUWANO Reiko and Assistant Professor Dr. OTSUBO Masahide, from the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo. Three kinds of specimens (original laterite stone, new laterite stone used for replacing deteriorated parts, and lime mortar used for the level adjustment) were tested in the laboratory through uniaxial compression test, etc. The test results indicated that there was no significant difference in the strength of the old and new laterite materials.
 The recent global pandemic has also affected our international cooperation project severely due to the difficulty of reaching to the site yet still the request of completion of the project as scheduled. However, we are trying to adapt to this situation by trying to find a way to communicate remotely with the counterparts through effective utilization of online meeting tools and the digital data of the structure that we have created thus far.

Investigation of the Former Japanese Navy Fongshan Communication Center Designated a National Ancient Monument in Taiwan

The Old Sasebo Wireless Transmission Facility and its surroundings at present (Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture)
The front of the communication room in the center of the former Fongshan Communication Center (Kaohsiung City, Taiwan)

 The Old Sasebo Wireless Transmission Facility (Hario Transmitting Station) standing on a hill overlooking the Harioseto Strait, which divides Sasebo City and Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture, is the remains of a long-wave telecommunication base built by the Navy in 1922. The construction of this group of buildings was undertaken by the Architecture Department of Sasebo Naval District led by MASHIMA Kenzaburo (1874-1941), a naval engineer known for pioneering concrete construction in Japan. The quality reinforced concrete constructions are represented by three huge radio towers 136 m in height. These buildings, which reflect the cutting-edge concrete technology of the day, were designated as important cultural properties in 2013.
 Since their designation as important cultural properties, Sasebo City, which manages the Old Sasebo Wireless Transmission Facility (hereinafter Sasebo), has been making arrangements for the conservation and utilization of these buildings as cultural properties. On February 12th and 13th, 2020, the former Japanese Navy Fongshan Communication Center, located in a suburb of Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, was investigated as part of the activities by the Maintenance Examination Commission, for which the author serves as a member. Fongshan Communication Center (hereinafter Fongshan ) is a long-wave telecommunication base built by the Sasebo Naval District, and it was completed in 1917, five years earlier than Sasebo. Fongshan was used as a guest house or as a training center for the Taiwanese Navy until the 2000s. Fongshan , which is now a facility open to the public, was designated a national ancient monument in 2010. Fongshan was designed by the same organization as Sasebo, and reinforced concrete was used everywhere except in the radio tower, which was a steel tower, an icon of the day (now demolished). A circular road of 300 m radius that surrounds Fongshan and the layout of the central facilities are similar to those in Sasebo. This investigation confirmed that Fongshan, which was consistently used as an educational facility, did not require any large-scale renewal or modification after the war, and still maintains its appearance as in the Japanese Navy period due to the relatively few alterations made to the major buildings. Particularly the communication room located at the center of the facility is built in the same style as in the Sasebo. Fittings such as steel doors and upper and lower window frames, as well as interior wooden floors and staircases, still maintain their original appearance although they were partly damaged in a fire. The transmission room in Sasebo was renovated periodically when Sasebo was used by the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japan Coast Guard, in addition to the modifications made for explosion resistance at the end of World War II. Therefore, Fongshan can be an effective reference in studying conservation and restoration principles for Sasebo.
 However, Fongshan is considerably different from Sasebo due to the uniqueness of its buildings, which have heavy architectural features, locally called a “cross-shaped radio station,” and give an impression of a combat operations center. For the maintenance of Fongshan, relevant people consider the fact that it was a place to reform political prisoners during the White Terror period (the suppression of political dissidents by the Chinese Nationalist Party government). Its occupation by the Japanese Navy does not attract much attention, leading to several unattended matters. For sharing the issues involved in protecting cultural properties, interactions between Sasebo and Fongshan should be promoted. This would contribute to the development of conservation principles and restoration approaches in the modernization heritage of Japan and Taiwan.

Cultural Exchange Project for the Conservation and Utilization of Historic Buildings in Bhutan (Part III)

On-site confirmation before the workshop (overlooking Kabesa village)
Discussions on the workshop (DCHS conference room)

 From this Fiscal Year, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has started an Exchange Project for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs to provide technical support and capacity building for the preservation and utilization of historic buildings in Bhutan. In 16th January 2020, as part of this project, TNRICP dispatched a team of six experts including three outside experts to participate the Workshop on Conservation of Lham Pelzom house organized by the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS), Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Culture Affairs.
 Lham Pelzom house, located in Kabesa near the capital of Thimphu, is considered to be one of the oldest surviving farmhouses in the country, and is the top candidate for designation as historic farmhouses under Bhutan’s first comprehensive basic law on cultural heritage (New Law) which the government aims to pass. On the other hand, the house has been vacant for a long time, and its deterioration has been remarkable recently. Consequently, the need for preliminary consensus among stakeholders, such as the government, owners and local communities, on the potential for preservation and utilization is growing. Given this awareness, DCHS invited house owners, representatives of local communities, government officials from the Ministry of Work and Human Settlements, and Tourism Council to the workshop, for sharing various views on the conservation of the Lham Pelzom house. TNRICP joined the workshop for giving advice from the theoretical and technical point of view regarding heritage conservation.
 In the first half of the workshop, from the standpoint of promoting heritage protection, TNRICP proposed conservation policies and restoration methods based on field research, and DCHS reported on how government support should be provided, including financial aspects. Contrary, from the standpoint of the bearer of actual preservation, house owners strongly requested the need to secure economic benefits through common adaptive use, and local communities emphasized the need for the active involvement of the government in preservation. However, they all understood and welcomed a high reputation as a cultural heritage in general. Subsequently, in the second half of the workshop, meaningful mutual discussions unfolded in the latter half of the workshop, based on opinions, aspirations, and grievances of each participant in the first half. Finally, participants agreed to promote the conservation of Lham Pelzom house as the following conditions.
 (1) ACCELERATE procedures for value valuation as cultural heritage, such as designation under the new law,
 (2) CLARIFY protection frameworks, including administrative support for restoration works and the house owner’s obligations to the preservation,
 (3) CONSIDER a proposal for utilization that is appropriate as a cultural heritage and takes into account the house owner’s demand.
 TNRICP will cooperate with DCHS and continue research activities and field surveys to realize the conservation of traditional farmhouses in Bhutan as cultural heritage.

Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 13)

Panel discussion at the third Mayors’ Forum

 As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) continues to support the building of an administrative network to conserve historic settlements in Nepal. On September 23rd and December 1st, 2019, workshops were organized in Kirtipur municipality with participation of engineers in charge of conservation of historic settlements from relevant municipalities. In response to their outcomes, “the third Mayors’ Forum on Conservation of Historic Settlements in Kathmandu and Kavre Valley” was held on January 5th, 2020, under the joint auspices of Kirtipur municipality and TNRICP.
 The first Mayors’ Forum was held in 2018 in Panauti municipality for sharing the initiatives and issues related to preservation of historic settlements among the municipalities, followed by Lalitpur Metropolitan City in 2019.
 Kirtipur municipality, whose old city area known as “a medieval settlement in Kirtipur” was listed as a UNESCO tentative list for World Heritage site, has been working on establishing its own rules for conservation. Therefore, the theme of this Forum was set as “regulatory framework for conservation of historic settlements,” and through two engineer workshops, the current issues pertaining to the systems were clarified and discussed while sharing information. As a result, the following were spotlighted as issues of administrative organizations and such systems: the existing framework for preservation of historic settlements is not effective since the policy for protection of cultural heritage of monumental nature is not linked with that for urban planning under national administration; some pioneering municipalities preserve their streetscapes under their original regulations, while others are formulating their regulations or criteria by focusing on completely different issues in municipal administration.
 Accordingly, at the Forum, an officer in charge of national policy to protect cultural heritage and the one for urban planning reported about their respective conservation systems, and engineers from five municipalities delivered presentations on their legislation and issues to mutually share the tasks under national and municipal administration. Professor NISHIMURA Yukio of Kobe Design University gave a keynote speech titled “Effective Integration between Methods of Urban Planning and Preservation of Historic Settlements” while KANAI Ken, Head of the Conservation Design Section of the Institute, introduced some case studies on the Japanese system for important preservation districts of historic buildings. The Forum was attended by around 120 people, including State Minister of Urban Planning, five mayors and four deputy mayors, as well as engineers and researchers, who proactively exchanged opinions at the end.
Each municipality has several issues on conservation of historic settlements due to lack of financial and human resources, without sufficient support from the national government. Another reason for the ineffective functioning of the existing systems is insufficient basic research on historic settlements or lack of cooperative systems involving researchers and experts.
Consideration to lay the foundation to operate the network for conservation of historic settlements involving research institutions has just begun. It is anticipated that the autonomous and continuous cooperation among the persons concerned is strengthened to achieve a better environment around the historic settlements as well as its preservation.

Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part VII)

Dismantling work with a crane truck
Head of a statue found inside the East Gate

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties provides technical support to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) for the conservation and sustainable development of the ruins of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. During the period from September 7th to November 5th, 2019, the Institute dispatched a total of six members, including outside experts, to Angkor.
 In this restoration project of the East Gate of Ta Nei Temple, APSARA is responsible for implementing the dismantling work, while the Institute provides technical assistance, mainly on restoration methodologies, in addition to cooperation indocumentation and other scientific surveys .
 The team began dismantling the roof of the gate by using a crane truck after praying for the safety of all persons involved in the work at the ground-breaking ceremony on September 12th. The numbered stone blocks were removed one by one from the top during which each block was measured, photographed, and assessed with its damage condition.
 After dismantling the roof part, the tree roots and anthills invading the structure were removed, and the collapsed stones inside the building were taken out. Most of the collected stones, almost 70 in total,were revealed to fell down from the roof or pediment. They seemed to collapse naturally due to aging. Beneath the collapsed stones, broken head (measuring approximately 56 cm in height) of a statue, which could be identified as Lokesvara, was found leaning against the western wall of the south wing. This statue must be significant in that it is expected to shed light on the history of Ta Nei Temple, much of which is still unknown. After the find was documented with photography and 3D scanning to be described, it was moved to store at a APSARA’s facility for further study.
 In cooperation with the OISHI Laboratory at the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, the walls and the interior of the gate were documented with a 3D laser scanner, while the Structure from Motion (SfM) technique was used to record the walls in conjunction with surveying the structure in detail. Dismantlement of the walls started on October 16th and ended safely on November 5th with the completion of the required recording.
 A series of surveys following the dismantlement process disclosed the fact that the structure was deformed, partly because of the invasion of tree roots and anthills into the stone joints. Uneven subcidence of the foundation and floor surface suggests that the base structure might have some defects. The recovery of structural soundness requires the improvement of the base structure after clarifying the deterioration mechanism. Therefore, we will dispatch the staff again in December to excavate part of the foundation and investigate the ground.
 Besides, we attended the meeting of the International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding and the Development of Preah Vihear Temple (ICC-Preah Vihear) at the APSARA headquarters office on September 18th to collect the latest information. While exchanging opinions with and collecting information from international experts, we will try to find the most appropriate way to conserve the Angkor ruins in cooperation with APSARA.

Cultural Exchange Project for the Conservation and Utilization of Historic Buildings in Bhutan (Part ⅠI)

Examining utilization strategies with local experts
Yuwakha village in Punakha, one of the surveyed settlements

 Since 2012, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has been conducting joint architectural research on rammed earth buildings in Bhutan with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS), Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, the Royal Government of Bhutan. From this fiscal year, TNRICP has started the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project, which was commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, with the objective of providing technical support and capacity building for the conservation and utilization of historic buildings in Bhutan. As a part of this project, a team of 11 experts, including TNRICP staff and outside experts, conducted on-site fieldwork from 20th to 28th August, 2019.
 The field survey was jointly conducted with DCHS staff and covered traditional houses in the dzongkhags (districts) of Thimphu, Punakha, and Haa. The three main objectives were establishing a methodology for their conservation and repair, studying alternatives for their sustainable utilization, and clarifying the criteria for their evaluation as cultural heritage. Regarding the methodology for conservation and utilization, three traditional houses, which had been previously identified on the basis of features that indicated an early construction date, were selected as case studies. The potential methodologies for the seismic retrofitting of their rammed earth walls and the repair of their wooden members were studied. Furthermore, their potential use, compatible both with the owner’s demands and with the conservation of their value as cultural heritage, was examined during a discussion that involved DCHS staff, local architects, and owners. Regarding the evaluation of traditional houses as cultural heritage, comprehensive surveys were conducted in several settlements, and a potential method for the classification of traditional houses as well as a set of criteria for their designation as cultural properties was studied.
 In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding referring to this project was signed at the Department of Culture, and a meeting was organized with the DCHS to discuss the results of this survey as well as the future prospects and needs of the Bhutanese counterparts.
In the future, we expect to continue cooperating with Bhutanese experts through on-site surveys and workshops to establish a methodology for the conservation and utilization of historic buildings suited to the Bhutanese reality.

Training Provided to Syrian Specialists in “Research Planning Methods to Restore Historical Cities and Buildings”

Classroom lecture at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
Tour of restoration conditions at the Shinmachi-Furumachi District in Kumamoto City

 A civil war broke out in Syria eight years ago in March 2011, and it seems there is no end in sight. Apart from the human cost of war, the much precious cultural heritage was also lost.
 The Japanese government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) began providing cultural heritage aid to Syria in 2017. From February 2018, the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, in association with academic organizations such as the University of Tsukuba, Teikyo University, Waseda University, Chubu University, and the Ancient Orient Museum, has been accepting Syrian specialists and providing them training in the fields of archeology and restoration. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is also participating in this project.
 Following training seminars on conservation and restoration of paper cultural properties held in May 2018, this year, two Syrian specialists were invited to undergo training in “Research Planning Methods to Restore Historical Cities and Buildings” conducted from July 24th to August 6th.
 Many historical cities such as the ancient city of Aleppo were engulfed in war, and many historical buildings were devastated. In the first half of this year’s training, seven specialists gave classroom lectures on surveying damage to historical buildings and making emergency repairs, structural safety diagnosis method, documentation and database creation method, restoration plan creation method, and restoration and preservation system creation method. For the practical aspect that comprised the second half of the training, participants inspected the restoration status of historical buildings and townscapes devastated by the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes, including Kumamoto Castle, the Shinmachi-Furumachi District, Kumamoto University, and the Eto-yashiki (Eto estate), which is registered as an important cultural property.
 The participants also heard stories told by the people in charge. They visited Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings in Kyoto and Nara and saw examples of repairs and applications of historical Japanese buildings.
 We would once again like to thank the specialists, related organizations, and personnel-in-charge for their support.
 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties plans to continue support activities for Syrian cultural heritage in the future.

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