|■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 scene from the public lecture
On Thursday, February 6th, 2020, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties held the 13th public lecture, titled “Technology in Kusatsu Supporting the Textile Technology: Spiderwort-dyed Paper-Blue Made from Flower Petals.”
In the morning session, records on spiderwort-dyed paper were examined by watching films: a documentary film of craft techniques by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, titled “Yuzen – The Textile Art of MORIGUCHI Kako –“ (1988, Sakura Motion Picture),” and a film, titled “Asiatic Dayflower, the Flower of Kusatsu City: Handing Down of Spiderwort-dyed Paper,” produced by Kusatsu City in 1999.
In the afternoon session, there was a lecture describing the outcomes of a joint research on the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique of Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture, and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, conducted from 2016 through 2017. The joint research report has been published (refer to the April 2019 monthly report: https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/817676.html).
During the course of the lecture, explaining the main points, a documentary film was shown, titled “Recording Process of the Spiderwort-dyed Paper Production Technique” (produced in 2018 by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties), which was shot and edited in the joint research. This was followed by a report on a survey by KIKUCHI Riyo from the Institute that explained how both the natural spiderwort blue and its alternative, synthetic spiderwort blue, are now used. The report was in the form of a presentation, titled “Current Situation of Spiderwort-dyed Paper Use – Through a Listening Survey on Textile Technicians.” Adding to this, Ms. OKADA Yumi from the Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryukan made a presentation titled “Kusatsu City and Spiderwort-dyed Paper – Toward the Preservation of the Spiderwort-dyed Paper Production Technique,” which highlighted the relationship between Kusatsu City and the technique of producing spiderwort-dyed paper as clarified through the joint research, in addition to the present situation. Since the joint research was conducted two years ago, the circumstances surrounding the three farmers producing spiderwort-dyed paper have changed. To hand down the traditional technique to the coming generation, seminars for producers-to-be are now being implemented in Kusatsu City. The report on the current efforts unveiled the need for considering spiderwort-dyed paper as local culture and for protecting this cultural form. ISHIMURA Tomo, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Institute, made a presentation, titled “Spiderwort-dyed Paper as Cultural Heritage,” focusing on how the technique to produce such material should be positioned for protection of cultural properties.
At the end of the lecture, Mr. SUZUTA Shigeto was invited for a round-table-talk, titled “Spiderwort-dyed Paper as a Textile Material.” He was certified as the holder of the Mokuhanzuri Sarasa (wood-block) dyeing technique that was designated an intangible cultural property. The talk reinforced the fact that spiderwort-dyed paper works as a material supporting an important process even in producing works with the technique although it is considered a material to draw designs for Yuzen dyeing and tie-dyeing.
Transfer of technique to produce spiderwort-dyed paper is now at a milestone. One must always bear in mind that protection of intangible culture involves some alteration and hence, there should be scope for a compromise. The lecture was a good opportunity for the audience to understand the dilemma concerning spiderwort-dyed paper and whether it could become a sustainable material.
Barking the Japanese lime
Separating the bark of the Manchurian elm into outer and inner parts
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been researching folk techniques using wooden materials. As part of this research, we have conducted a field study on barking to manufacture fabrics in June 2019.
“Bark fabrics” refer to the cloth woven using yarn made of fiber obtained from the inner bark of trees. In Japan, the Manchurian elm, Japanese lime, Japanese wisteria, Kozo paper mulberry, and East Asian arrowroot etc. are renowned as raw materials. We researched and recorded how to bark the Manchurian elm in the central part of Hokkaido Prefecture on June 15th and the Japanese lime in Sekikawa, Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture on June 30th.
The traditional fabric of the Ainu, comprising the Manchurian elm called “attus,” and “shinaori,” of Sekikawa comprising the Japanese lime, are designated as traditional crafts by the national government (“Nibutani-attus” and “Uetsu-shinafu”). In this case, the Manchurian elm was barked by the Nibutani Folk Crafts Association, whereas the Japanese lime was barked by the Sekigawa Shinaori Cooperative Association.
These trees are barked from June to early July when they grow by drawing water. Smooth barking is allowed only during this period. Basically, barking is applied to the standing Manchurian elm and the fallen Japanese lime. The bark is separated into outer and inner parts using only hands and simple tools. The inner bark is further processed into water-resistant strong yarn by devoting a considerable deal of time and effort.
To ensure efficient and sustainable use of natural materials, people have accumulated knowledge and techniques by deepening their understanding and increasing their experience over a long period of time. You can find some of the human interaction with nature through folk technologies that target natural materials.
Cover of the report: “Joint Research Report on the Spiderwort-dyed Paper Production Technique: Kusatsu Techniques that Form the Backbone of Textile Dyeing Technology”
Spiderwort-dyed paper is a type of Japanese paper, which is soaked in the extract from Asiatic dayflower petals. The paper is used as a dyestuff to make rough sketches during the production of Yuzen-dyed fabrics. From 2016 to 2017, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage in association with Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture conducted a joint research on the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique and, in 2018, published a project report titled, “Joint Research Report on the Spiderwort-dyed Paper Production Technique: Kusatsu Techniques that Form the Backbone of Textile Dyeing Technology” (DVD included).
This report was compiled by staff from Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryukan in association with researchers from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and included the following studies: a record of the techniques employed by three producers of spiderwort-dyed paper; a study on the soil in which Asiatic dayflowers are cultivated and the preservation of the extract from Asiatic dayflower petals; a study on the Japanese paper that is used to make spiderwort-dyed paper; a study of ancient documents relating to spiderwort-dyed paper; a questionnaire survey of producers and users of spiderwort-dyed paper; and a study on the positioning of spiderwort-dyed paper as a cultural heritage. The data obtained from this joint project is being stored in cooperation with Kusatsu City and can be applied in future research.
Beginning from this year, Kusatsu City is implementing measures to safeguard the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique. Techniques for producing materials used in intangible cultural heritage are sometimes appraised as techniques to safeguard cultural heritage (Selected Conservation Techniques). In addition, spiderwort-dyed paper will likely be appraised as a regional folk cultural asset of Kusatsu. We hope that this report will inform many more people about the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique and will engender lively discussion toward its safeguarding.
Conducting Research at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum
Fibers used in cultural properties come from a variety of sources including hemp, ramie, kudzu, and bashō (Japanese banana). As discussed in the May 2017 monthly report (Takuyo YASUNAGA, “Historical Position of ‘Hakubai-zu byobu’ by Goshun－A workshop is organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems”), we have learned in the more recent years that in addition to silk and paper, fiber is also used as the support medium in paintings. There are no well-defined, established methods of identification, however, in part due to the difficulty of discerning the characteristics of individual fibers once in textile state. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) is working to find a solution to these and other problems, in a cooperative research effort into fiber identification among the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems; Center for Conservation Science; and Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
As a part of this research, the three-dimensional forms of fibers in a calligraphy work and a dyed article made of bashō-fu (textile woven from banana plant fiber) were examined using a digital microscope at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum from January 22nd to 23rd, 2019.
Bashō-fu is textile developed in Okinawa and Amami Islands and has been designated an important intangible cultural property, with Ms. Toshiko TAIRA recognized as an individual practitioner and Kijōka Bashō-fu Preservation Society recognized as a heritage protection organization. Of the work examined this time, the calligraphy work is known to have been created in a particular year and the dyed article is an item whose wearer can be guessed at. The examination showed that despite being all works thought to be made of bashō-fu, the look and the feel of the textiles varied due to differences in yarn density and yarn processing method.
While it is difficult to judge whether the differences are rooted in regional variation within Okinawa and Amami Islands or due to differences in use, we were able to conclude that many kinds of bashō-fu were created through different processes.
Accurate identification of fibers goes to the most basic data on a particular work, and is a key element in considering the circumstances of production. It is also a pressing issue in the organization of basic data for use in the present repair or the passing on to future generations of intangible cultural heritage.
We hope to continue furthering the research into identification of fibers through field investigations into techniques in conjunction with examination of exhibits at museums and art museums.
Scene from the public lecture
In collaboration with the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum, the Tokyo National Research Institute forCultural Properties’ Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage hosted its 11th in a series of publiclectures, entitled “Ramie Kimono and Silk Kimono.”The afternoon program focused attention on ramieand silk, two fibers essential to thediscussion of Japanesetextiles. Presentations were given by individuals involved in local textile production and covered changes in the social milieu regarding ramie and silk, the transmission of production techniques, and the significance of keeping traditions alive.
Regarding ramie (karamushi in Japanese), Yukiko FUNAKI of the Showa Village Association for Conservation of Karamushi Production Technique located in Fukushima Prefecture gave the talk “Passing on Karamushi Techniques—Efforts at Showamura.” Tomoya YOSHIDA of the Higashi-Agatsuma Town Board of Education in Gunma Prefecture presented “Passing on Hemp Techniques—Efforts in Iwashima,” in which he spoke of the importance of techniques for cultivating hemp for textile use and how to extract the fiber from the plant, as well as the difficulties of passing on this knowledge. Joining these two voices from production locales was Kumiko HAYASHI of the Okaya Silk Museum in Nagano Prefecture. Ms. Hayashi spoke about the technological innovation that supported modernization in the silk industry and emphasized the significance of keeping such activities alive.
After these reports, Mr. Kensaku KIKUCHI, guest researcher in the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, gave the talk “Ramie Kimono and Silk Kimono in Folklore,” and Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum curator Koka YOSHIMURA explained the exhibition, using the title “The Current State of Ramie and Silk Ascertained through the Planning of the ‘Ramie Kimono and Silk Kimono’ Exhibition.” A tour of the exhibition at the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum was then conducted.
To transmit the culture surrounding ramie and silk kimonos requires knowledge of techniques involving the actual raw materials, hemp and silk. The lecture program taught attendees about the many issues involved in carrying on traditions involving ramie and silk and aimed to raise interest in the importance of preserving not only the techniques for making kimonos, but the techniques for extracting the fibers used as the raw materials.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will establish a forum for discussing the many problems associated with traditional textile techniques.
On October 17th and 18th, 2016, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held Seminar III on Passing Down Intangible Cultural Heritage (Traditional Technique): “Meiji’s Super-Techniques Handed Down to Today” jointly with SEN-OKU HAKUKO KAN. This seminar particularly focused on Arita ware among the craft works produced in the Meiji period. On the first day, we organized a lecture and a session while on the second day, we visited the exhibition titled “Meiji Kogei: Amazing Japanese Art” held at the University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts, and the exhibition of “Arita Porcelain 400th Anniversary: The Compelling Beauty of Arita Ceramics in the Age of the Great International Expositions” at SEN-OKU HAKUKO KAN.
On the first day, we reconfirmed the process of how Arita ware in the Meiji period has been handed down to today with an invited lecturer involved in the abovementioned exhibition. Then, we had a session together with experts from other craft fields under the title of “Utilizing Craft Works Produced in the Meiji Period Today.”
In recent years, there have been several exhibitions that have attracted attention for elaborating on the techniques used for artifacts in the Meiji period. We can access “Craftsmanship” = “Intangible Cultural Heritage” through the artifacts of the Meiji period that have been handed down to the 21st century. We think researchers should not separate such cultural properties into tangible and intangible ones but should regard the two as complementary from now on. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continue to provide debate opportunities to increase interest in today’s intangible cultural heritage.
Petals of Asiatic Dayflowers Are Being Picked (Photo Provided by Kusatsu City)
Extract from Asiatic Dayflowers Are Being Applied to Japanese Paper (Photo Provided by Kusatsu City)
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage started a joint research on the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique with the Kusatsu Municipal Government in Shiga Prefecture from FY2016. Spiderwort-dyed paper is Japanese paper soaked in the extract from Asiatic dayflower petals.
Spiderwort-dyed paper was a specialty of Omi Province, Tokaido, which was also referred to in an old book titled “Kefukigusa” ‘(written in 1638). The paper is used for Yuzen dyeing and tie dyeing even today. As for Yuzen dyeing, the water-soluble feature of the blue pigment of Asiatic dayflowers has been utilized. For Yuzen, coloring is performed after drawing a fine pattern with a solution prepared by submerging spiderwort-dyed paper in water, and placing paste for fine line printing like a levee to prevent dyes from penetrating. Spiderwort-dyed paper is indispensable for colorful dyeing with silk fabrics.
However, there are only three producers of spiderwort-dyed paper left. In this joint research, with cooperation from such producers, we will organize its value as local and eventually national cultural property or heritage for utilization as basic data for future protection.
We will examine how we will be able to hand down the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique transferred from person to person to the coming generation while making comparisons with cases in other districts.
At the Kumagaya Traditional Industry Passing Down Room (Kumapia)
On November 11 and 12, 2015, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held Seminar II on Passing Down Intangible Cultural Heritage (Traditional Techniques) “Passing Down Dyeing and Weaving Techniques and Regional Involvement” jointly with Kumagaya City. In connection with the previous seminar “The People and Tools that Sustain Textile Techniques” (held on February 3, 2015), we invited experts concerned from Kumagaya City in Saitama Prefecture and Kyoto City of Kyoto Prefecture, both of which give proactive support to the conservation and utilization of “tools” essential to dyeing and weaving techniques, for this seminar. We exchanged opinions on how administration could be involved in the conservation and utilization of “tools” as elements indispensable for dyeing and weaving techniques.
On the first day, after the report on “Protection and Utilization of Tools” from a perspective of cultural heritage by Mr. Shunsuke Nakayama, Head of the Modern Cultural Properties Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques of this Institute, Mr. Norihiro Oi of Kumagaya City Library gave a speech on “Protection of Kumagaya Dyeing Related Tools and Administrative Involvement,” and Ms. Naoko Kotani of the Traditional Industries Section, City of Kyoto talked about “Projects Supporting Dyeing and Weaving Techniques in Kyoto City.” At the comprehensive discussion following these presentations, opinions were exchanged vigorously over what administration could do, the importance of collaboration among people in different positions, and so forth. The audience also mentioned that it would be necessary to consider the collaboration with other “regions” with a focus on the “region” in which the technique to be passed down was rooted.
On the second day, after the lecture of “Small History of Modernization of Dyeing and Weaving in Saitama Prefecture – With a focus on Kumagaya Dyeing –“ by Ms. Kayoko Mizukami of Toyama Memorial Museum, we toured the Kumagaya Traditional Industry Passing Down Room (inside the Kumagaya city sport cultural village “Kumapia”). The long board rotary, water washer, and steaming box have been relocated with aid from the Pola Foundation for the Promotion of Traditional Japanese Culture.
This seminar, where discussions were developed based on concrete cases on dyeing and weaving techniques and the tools supporting them, provided a good opportunity for us to recognize the importance of conserving tools anew for smooth and secure passing down of traditional dyeing and weaving techniques.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continually provide opportunities to discuss various issues surrounding traditional techniques.
Lecture on Dyeing
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage organized a workshop on Yuzen dyeing jointly with Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum on October 16 and 17, 2015. For this workshop, we invited Lecturer Takashi Seto from J. F. Oberlin University to focus on “Yuzen Dyeing” as a technique representing modern Japan. Comparison was made between the materials inherited from the early modern times (Japanese paper soaked in blue dayflower pigment, Yuzen glue, natural dyes, etc.) and synthetic materials in recent times (synthetic dayflower pigment, mucilage, and synthetic dyes), as well as their respective tools.
On the first day, the current situation surrounding the production of materials and tools used for Yuzen-dyeing was explained together with images. Then, a series of processes were demonstrated: Drawing a design while making a comparison between natural dayflower pigment and synthetic dayflower pigment, masking with reddish glue made from starch glue, sappanwood and slaked lime, and undercoating with glue and ground soybean juice. On the second day, after learning the differences between natural and synthetic dyes, the remaining processes of coloring with synthetic dyes, steaming, and washing with water were performed. While steaming the fabrics to fix the dyes, the participants experienced masking with mucilage to learn the differences in the masking process from starch glue. At the end of the workshop, the participants discussed the “tradition” that they thought should be handed down.
At this workshop, we could understand the relations among changing materials, tools and techniques through actual working processes, while sharing issues on techniques to be protected for handing them down to the coming generations through discussions with the participants.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continue to plan a variety of seminars to focus on diverse techniques.
“Research Report on Passing Down Intangible Cultural Heritage (Traditional Techniques)”
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage started a research project on passing down intangible cultural heritage (traditional techniques) in FY 2014. In this project, we conducted joint research of dyeing ateliers under an agreement concluded with the Kumagaya Municipal Government in Saitama Prefecture, which had been conducting a pioneering program on tools related to dyeing techniques. This report summarizes the outcomes of our joint research.
This report also introduces challenges and suggestions in passing down dyeing and weaving techniques from the perspective of each craftsman who cooperated in our field study. As complementary data, this report includes interviews in the joint research, floor and elevation plans of the ateliers, and videos shot during the research. In addition to these, a round-table talk on the “Current Situations of People and Tools Supporting Dyeing and Weaving Techniques” during the workshop on passing down intangible cultural heritage (traditional techniques) held on February 3, 2015.
The video material attached to this report as the first attempt of the Institute is also a repository of “skills and techniques” as intangible cultural assets. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continually promote comprehensive recordkeeping including image and other data, in addition to literal and photographic recordkeeping. The “Research Report on Passing Down Intangible Cultural Heritage (Traditional Techniques)” will be released later on our department’s page of the Institute’s website.
The seminar venue
A seminar on passing down intangible cultural heritage (traditional techniques) was jointly organized by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum on February 3, 2015. The title of the seminar was “The People and Tools that Sustain Textile Techniques Tools are essential to passing down textile techniques. The seminar featured a panel discussion of how those tools and techniques are related and the current state of those tools and techniques. FUJII Kenzo (of the Kyoto Textile Research Institute) was invited to comment. The panel included YOSHIMURA Kouka (a curator at the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum), textile makers who were filmed for the exhibition, NAKAYAMA Shunsuke (Head of the Modern Cultural Properties Section of the Institute’s Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques), and KIKUCHI Riyo (of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage).
The textile makers described how they are continually confronted with a choice regarding which tools to use, i.e. whether to introduce machinery to increase operational efficiency or to continue using the tools they have inherited. The textile makers also described how the techniques to make those tools have disappeared over the past few years. As a result, tools that were once readily available are no longer available, so craftsmen cannot inherit them even if they want to.
That said, there is the view that only those techniques with accompanying demand should be preserved. Kimono are currently worn on special occasions. Kimono production is almost non-existent in comparison to the days when kimono were everyday wear. Textile techniques are a form of intangible cultural heritage, but textile manufacture also falls within the framework of an industry. Textile makers produced textiles to make a living, but that cannot happen if there is no market for those textiles. In other words, what sort of kimono do consumers want? Existing techniques can change depending on the answer to that question.
The people that sustain textile techniques are not merely the textile makers. Each person who buys or wears clothing made from those textiles and wishes to preserve those textiles sustain the techniques used to make them. This seminar was meaningful since it impressed that fact upon a number of attendees. The seminar had numerous issues, such as time constraints, a lack of further discussion, and the fact that too broad a range of topics was covered. In the future, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage would like to draw on the views expressed by attendees and provide a forum in which individuals with different perspectives can discuss the passing down of textile techniques.
Glue ingredients (swim bladders of Honnibe croakers)
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducts scholarly exchanges with South Korea’s National Intangible Heritage Center. This year, KIKUCHI Riyo studied the current state of the passing down of Korean textile techniques over a 2-week period starting on August 18.
Information on “Materials and Tools” is essential to the passing down of textile techniques. Even if finished pieces look the same, use of different materials and tools can change the way the pieces were made (how they were made) and thus affect the technique used to make them.
In Japan, there are currently no requirements for an individual to be designated as an important intangible cultural property (a living national treasure) under the Act for the Protection of Cultural Properties. This is presumably because the type of material selected and the choice of which tools to use to produce an item are essential aspects of being designated as an important intangible cultural property. In contrast, designation as a preservation society involves requirements that limit the materials and tools that can be used. This is the major difference between designation as an individual and designation as an organization. Restrictions on materials and tools that can be used affect the production of items in various ways. This is because changes in lifestyles have made some materials and tools hard to obtain. In light of the current circumstances in Japan, interviews regarding materials and tools were conducted in South Korea.
These interviews covered gilding, braiding, sewing, cotton fabric-making, and indigo dyeing techniques, which are designated as important intangible cultural properties in South Korea. These techniques are also found in Japan, but the materials and tools used differ. A look at gilding, for example, shows that in Japan glues made from seaweed, rice paste, or starch paste were used to affix gold leaf to a form or mold fashioned from Japanese paper coated with persimmon tannin. A different technique has been passed down in South Korea, where gold leaf is affixed to a wooden mold with glue made from the swim bladders of the Honnibe croaker. Conditions have changed, making this fish glue harm to obtain.
The type of material selected and the choice of which tools to use to produce an item are essential aspects of being designated as an important intangible cultural property in Japan, and the current interviews indicated that the same holds true in South Korea. In both countries, the supply of materials and tools changes on a daily basis. The techniques that make crafts possible must be passed down so that materials and tools that were used in the past are still available. The current interviews revealed that the passing down of these techniques is an issue that both South Korea and Japan must deal with.
Starting this year, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has studied the preservation and further utilization of tools associated with intangible cultural heritage. Craft techniques and folk techniques are intangible cultural properties, and tools are essential to these techniques. However, a system of preserving these tools has yet to be instituted. Workshops and plants in various places are closing due to the advanced age of the craftsmen who work in them and the lack of individuals to carry on techniques. As a consequence, tools are in danger of vanishing. Preservation and further utilization of tools is essential to passing down intangible cultural properties, and the current state of the preservation and further utilization of these items probably needs to be ascertained and discussed.
Kumagaya dyeing (yuuzen [a form of dyeing with drawn patterns] and komon [intricate pattern dyeing]) is a traditional handicraft as designated by Saitama Prefecture. This year, the tools used in Kumagaya dyeing were studied with the cooperation of the Kumagaya City Library in the City of Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture. Workshops that use Kumagaya dyeing were found to use traditional craft techniques and to incorporate somewhat modern craft techniques such as screen printing. Information about early modern textile techniques that have expanded on traditional textile techniques must be compiled to pass down those techniques. Information about the tools that are kept by and used in various workshops is essential to understanding the techniques those workshops use. As the study progressed, it revealed that the type, usage, and repair of tools differed depending on the workshop. In the future, we would like to explore new ways to pass down intangible cultural heritage as we compile information about these tools.
Putting the warp on the loom
A tool to wind the thread that will become the weft
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage gathers information about traditional craft techniques and it studies those techniques. Riyo KIKUCHI of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted a survey of the activities of the Tsukigase Society for the Preservation of Narazarashi (Tsukigase is a village in Nara Prefecture).
The word “sarasu” (which is where –sarashi in Narazarashi comes from) originally meant “to bleach,” and bleached hemp or cotton cloth is called “sarashi.”
Narazarashi is fabric made from hemp. Narazarashi is a “speciality” of Nara that was mentioned in the Wakan Sansai Zue (1712) and Bankin Sugiwaibukur (1732). These descriptions noted that “the best hemp has to be from Nanto (lit. the Southern Capital and another name for Nara),” and gained a national reputation during that era. Other descriptions mentioned that hemp from Nara could be distinguished from hemp from other regions when it was procured as a raw material. These descriptions provide a glimpse into aspects of the division of labor at the time.
Techniques that have been handed down in an unbroken line since those times are being passed down by members of the Tsukigase Society for the Preservation of Narazarashi even today. The raw material to make Narazarashi is now hemp from the Iwashima region in Gunma Prefecture. A framework to obtain raw materials is also found in other regions such as Echigo, where a hemp fabric known as Echigo linen is made. Dyeing techniques are not simply several local techniques. These techniques are underpinned by a number of people; straying from the passing down of those techniques is inconceivable. Greater attention should also be paid to the materials and tools that are essential to the passing down of crafts.
This survey has spurred renewed consideration of the importance of community in preserving traditional techniques.
Drying araso (the bark of hemp stalks)
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage gathers information on and studies selected techniques to preserve traditional craft techniques.
Riyo KIKUCHI of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted a survey of techniques to produce araso (the bark of hemp stalks). This technique is selected preservation technique. Kurume Ikat uses araso (to prevent dye from penetrating to fiber).
Araso is currently made in the Yahata Family in the City of Hita, Oita Prefecture. July, this hemp is harvested, steamed, and the stalks are peeled and dried . By change of society, this technique is difficult to inherit technique with one family. In light of these circumstances, members of an important intangible cultural property Kurume Ikat instituted a system last year to help with work. The Cannabis Control Act made obtaining araso more difficult, and the material is not as easy to obtain as it once was. In the future, ways to remedy situations like this need to be considered from various perspectives.
Burning off brush to prepare fields to grow ramie
Following events in April, Mr. Chae Won LEE of South Korea’s National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage visited Japan as part of Research Exchanges between Japan and South Korea in relation to the Safeguarding and Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Mr. LEE studied selected conservation techniques, which are techniques for conservation of cultural properties. The Village of Showa, Fukushima Prefecture grows ramie (Boehmeria nivea) and extracts its fiber to supply the material to make Ojiya crepe and Echigo linen, which are important intangible cultural properties. The study coincided with karamushi-yaki, or burning off of brush to prepare fields to grow ramie during shoman (the 8th of 24 solar terms in the traditional Japanese calendar when crops ripen/bloom around May 21st or so). This coincidence allowed Mr. LEE to see an important growing process firsthand. In addition, group interviews regarding ramie were conducted to hear the perspectives of administrators and conservators and the perspectives of others, facilitating a more extensive discussion of the significance of ramie growing to the Village of Showa and systems to conserve selected conservation techniques. Results of the research exchanges, which lasted 2 weeks, were presented at a seminar that highlighted differences in Japanese and Korean perceptions of Selected Conservation Techniques (no such framework exists in South Korea). The seminar also highlighted ways to safeguard cultural properties.
the Omoigawazakura workshop
This year marks the second year of Research Exchanges between Japan and South Korea in relation to the Safeguarding and Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted exchanges with South Korea’s National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage. In April, researcher Ms. Gyeong Soon HWANG of South Korea’s National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage visited Japan, where she studied Yuki-tsumugi in Ibaraki and Tochigi Prefectures. Since Yuki-tsumugi was inscribed on UNESCO’s 2010 Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (Representative List), efforts have made to conserve the technique through culture, industry, and tourism. The study of Yuki-tsumugi included group interviews with conservators, administrators, and other personnel, and the study also enhanced discussion of the basis for preserving Yuki-tsumugi. Results of the research exchanges, which lasted 2 weeks, were presented at a seminar. The seminar highlighted differences in Japanese and Korean policies regarding and views of intangible cultural heritage.
The 35th International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties was held at the Heiseikan Large Auditorium, Tokyo National Museum from Sept. 3 to 5, 2011 with “Tradition and Transmission of Textile Techniques: Present Condition of Research and Conservation” as its theme.
At the symposium, domestic and foreign experts from various disciplines related to textiles, such as craftsmen, restorers, curators, and researchers were invited to discuss the “making,” “protecting,” and “handing down” of textiles. This symposium sought to suggest directions for future research on textile techniques. Particular focus was placed on problems with raw materials and tools encountered during the making and restoring of textiles, the nature of the system to educate successors to pass on these techniques to future generations, and multifaceted approaches to the study of textile techniques.
Two keynote speeches given at the beginning of the symposium dealt with the fundamental themes of textile techniques, such as the fact that these techniques had inevitably undergone change over the years and that some of techniques had been lost in that process.
Following the keynote speeches were 4 sessions on Protecting of Textile Techniques, Textile Conservation Today, Approaches to Textile Techniques, and Transmission of Textile Techniques; these sessions were followed by a general discussion. Each session included interesting presentations dealing with problems such as advice on handing down textile techniques from the craftsmen’s points of view, the history and current state of restoration techniques at home and abroad, methods of studying domestic and foreign textiles and other related materials in order to advance research on textile techniques, and the education of successors to carry on these techniques.
In the general discussion, problems commonly encountered by participants were discussed, such as how to conserve textile techniques that inevitably change over time, technical problems that craftsmen and restorers face, and differences in concepts of keeping modern textile collections in Japan and abroad.
There was not enough time to delve deeply into each problem, but the participants praised the symposium as a significant opportunity to discuss present problems and to build new networks among colleagues. Plans are to publish details of the symposium in proceedings next year.
Ikat weaving in the studio of Moriyama Torao, a second–generation crafter of Kurume Ikat
This study examined techniques of crafting Kurume Ikat, which is designated an important intangible cultural property, by visiting members of the Society to Preserve Ikat from June 27th to 28th. Ikat is a decorative fabric woven with a weft and warp that are dyed differently depending on the pattern. The picture shows how ikat is woven by adjusting the weft and warp in order to create certain patterns on the cloth. Kurume Ikat also uses araso, a hemp fiber, to prevent dyeing of the weft and warp. Manufacture of this araso is a selected preservation technique and is thus nationally protected. Plans are to conduct additional studies of these techniques firsthand and their preservation.
Survey at Joshibi Art Museum
As part of joint research at the Joint Research Center for Fashion and Clothing Culture, we surveyed the textiles at the JAM on July 12, 2010. This joint research started in November 2008, aiming to clarify the relationship between the Mitsui-family descendent short-sleeved (kosode) kimono owned by the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum and the associated Maruyama-school costume design. We conducted the detailed survey on the short-sleeved kimonos, which were in the possession of the now-defunct Kanebo Ltd. and now owned by JAM, focusing on those similar to the Mitsui-family descendent kosode, including the techniques, design and tailoring. We will advance a close investigation on the findings obtained through the surveys, aiming at the issue of a report in next fiscal year.