|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
Practical training on use of radiation measuring instrument
Two workshops titled above were held, including the 1st workshop at the Minami Soma City Museum on November 4th, 2015 and the 2nd workshop at the Shirakawa Branch of the Fukushima Cultural Property Center on January 28th, 2016. The workshops included lessons on basic knowledge of radial ray, practical training of how to measure radioactivity, and experience of dust removal. As for the 1st workshop that was the first of its kind held in Hamadori, the people seemed to have been looking forward to getting skill concerning the radiation accident and participated in the workshop in an enthusiastic manner. A practical training on how to deal with plants was also included by using botanical specimen in drying as teaching material. In the training, it was explained that radiation dose rate was higher in soil attached to the roots than in the leaves. Further, as it was found that there was a delay in delivering information regarding how to deal with materials damaged by the tsunami disaster that had been discussed in Tokyo in May 2011, the methods of the squelch-drying technique were offered (30 participants). As for the 2nd workshop, how to deal with materials damaged by water disasters that might possibly occur in the future was added to the training programs (17 participants). In nearly 5 years since the disaster on March 11th, 2011, the radiation dose rate in Fukushima has dropped except in some areas and the people who had worked on rescue of cultural properties in Fukushima at that time were subsequently replaced by younger generations. Aiming to prevent deterioration in disaster-prevention awareness and the related skills, we would like to continue holding the workshop every year and support people who work on excavation of Hamadori where post-disaster reconstruction is delayed and who work on rescue of cultural properties there.
Dust removing & cleaning operations
Under the Cultural Properties Rescue Operations in Fukushima Prefecture of the Committee for Salvaging Cultural Properties Affected by the 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku and Related Disasters, cultural properties t evacuated from the museums located in the former restricted areas of Futaba, Okuma and Tomioka Towns were tentatively stored in the school buildings of the former Soma Girls High School (Soma City). Excluding large or particularly heavy objects, almost all objects have been transported and stored in the temporary storage of the Shirakawa Branch of the Fukushima Cultural Property Center to be utilized for exhibition after dust removal, cleaning and recording. Due to longer-than-expected tentative storage, conservation environments in Soma City were examined again on October 15, 2015. After collecting the installed data loggers for temperature, humidity and illuminance, we measured the surface temperatures of the walls in the classrooms and insulation board applied on the windows for shielding. We also checked visual inspection of the objects for any damage incurred by insects and mold. Desiccant dehumidifiers installed in the classrooms where objects were stored had prevented the rooms from becoming highly humid even in the seasons with high relative humidity such as the rainy season and summer, maintaining their humidity at 50-60% rh in general from late February to mid-August. This means that the materials were not in a mold-active condition. We also found that the intensity of illumination was somewhat high and the temperature of the space up to 1 m away from the window was easily affected by the external environment. For those objects for which mold was a real possibility, we conducted cleaning operations. We will continually consider how to maintain better environments at the tentative storage sites based on our collected basic data.
Cultural property pest identification hands-on training in progress
The “Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation” training program has been held every year since 1984, with the aim of imparting basic know-how and skills to curators responsible for conservation work. This year’s training program was held over a two-week period starting on July 13, 2015, with 32 participants from all over Japan.
The curriculum for this year’s training program focused on two key areas: facility environmental management (including temperature and humidity, air circulation, and prevention of biological damage, etc.), and the factors behind, and forms taken by, deterioration of different types of materials. Experts from the Institute’s staff, as well as external experts, gave lectures and led practical, hands-on training sessions. The Museum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds (in Saitama Prefecture) kindly made available its facilities for the implementation of a hands-on museum environment survey case study, in which the training program participants were divided into teams of eight trainees each to undertake surveys focusing on different themes; the trainees subsequently gave presentations on the results obtained in these surveys.
This year marked the 32nd year that the “Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation” training program had been held; a whole new generation of curators is now receiving training. Today, many of Japan’s public museums in particular have reached an age when they need to undergo renovation or renewal of their facilities; the Institute will be working to strengthen the provision of this type of training program in the future, with the aim of ensuring that know-how relating to both the theory and practical methods of materials conservation can be handed down to a new generation of curators.
Practice protecting materials from pests
Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation has been conducted annually by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo since 1984. The training is intended to teach a basic knowledge of conservation and conservation skills to individuals who are in charge of conserving cultural materials in museum. This year, the training was scheduled from 2 weeks starting on July 14, and the trainees were 31 curators in charge of conservation and administrators of cultural properties from throughout Japan.
During the 2 weeks, trainees learn about key conditions for conservation, such as temperature and humidity, climate control, and pest control, as well as causes of and steps to deal with degradation of different types of cultural materials by experts from the Institute and other institutions. The current training session also included lectures on dealing with water damage and radiological contamination of cultural properties in the event of a disaster. Trainees also practiced the techniques they were taught by those experts. Thanks to the Kiyose Historical Museum, trainees were able to experience a study of the conditions at a museum first-hand in a “case study” of the museum. Trainees divided into groups of 8 and studied specific topics, and they subsequently presented their findings.
Most of the trainees have extensive practical experience and they are aware of institutional and facility issues for conservation. This training emphasizes materials conservation from an academic standpoint. Many trainees are flustered by the gap between ideal conservation and the realities of that work, so they ask numerous questions and often solicit advice during every lecture. The intent is to have trainees recognize that gap between the ideal and reality and to think about what steps they should take, given that reality, to conserve materials. Conservation is, after all, the primary mission of a museum. Institute personnel seek to maintain close ties with trainees even after the training is finished and offer them advice and suggestions.
Announcement of and applications for the training are usually handled by a relevant department of the Board of Education of each prefecture. Plans are to send out notifications about the next training session starting in February 2015.
An experiment to remove radioactive dust
Course on measurement of radiation levels
The nuclear accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant resulted in repositories in the towns of Futaba, Okuma, and Tomioka in Futaba County being contaminated with radioactive material. Cultural properties that were rescued from these repositories have ultimately been stored in a temporary repository at Mahoron, the Shirakawa Branch of the Fukushima Cultural Property Center.
In order to improve storage conditions, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques is continuing a study in cooperation with curators at Mahoron. From March 25–26th, temperature and humidity were measured and levels of surface contamination on some rescued cultural properties were measured. Most of the items were found to be free of contamination by radioactive material. Wrapping on some of the items that had slight levels of contamination was replaced, and dust was removed and items were cleaned with a conservation vacuum cleaner. Measurements of radiation levels before and afterwards indicated that the cleaning was effective. In addition, curators who will manage rescued cultural properties received a course on methods of measuring surface contamination and they learned procedures for performing those measurements. Mahoron plans to successively measure and record surface contamination on all rescued cultural properties.
On-site study of painted wall panels of the Yomeimon Gate
Positioning of a device for X-ray imaging
As part of the Study of Traditional Techniques and Materials Used in Cultural Properties, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques is currently conducting a study in line with restoration of the paint pigments on the Yomeimon Gate of the Toshogu Shrine. Large Panels with a Relief Sculpture of a Peony Design that were created in 1796 are currently installed on panels on the east and west walls of the Yomeimon Gate. According to historical documents, however, the walls had contained paintings produced by a technique known as “tung oil sprinkled with Makie” in much earlier years, such as 1688 and 1753. During restoration of these Panels in 1971, the east wall was removed, revealing a painting of 3 Zebra Finches Perching atop a Japanese Plum Tree on a Crag with Bamboo Grass that is thought to have been produced in 1753. The painting was studied by the Department of Conservation Science at the time. In addition, X-ray imaging at the time also revealed a painting of Nesting Cranes in a Pine Tree atop a Crag with Bamboo Grass beneath the panels on the western wall. However, the wall panel overlaying it was not removed, so the actual painting was not visible. The current study removed the overlaying panel on the western wall in order to restore its paint. Its removal revealed the painting beneath for the first time in 218 years or so. However, the painting had deteriorated markedly, as was evident from its discoloration and peeling. Thus, the Center examined the painting’s materials and its deterioration in cooperation with the Nikko Toshogu Shrine and the Association for the Preservation of the Nikko World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples in order to prevent further deterioration. In addition, X-ray imaging was done so that researchers in the history of painting could verify that traces of paintings from earlier periods were beneath the painting (Photos 1 & 2). Results of this study will help to reveal the state of paint pigments that have adorned the Yomeimon Gate since the Nikko Toshogu Shrine was completed in 1636. Results will also help to maintain the works in somewhat better condition.
Practice removing oxygen to control pests
Training for Museum and Art Museum Conservators was conducted for 2 weeks starting on July 8th and was attended by 30 curators and administrators from around the country. Training focused on gaining the basic knowledge and learning methodologies needed to conserve materials through lectures and practice. The curriculum consisted of 2 areas: (1) management of materials and conservation conditions grounded in basic natural sciences and (2) causes of the degradation of different types of cultural properties and steps to prevent that degradation.
“Case studies” that involved putting conservation conditions into effect in actual settings took place at the Shinjuku Historical Museum. Participants divided into 8 groups and conducted field studies and assessments of aspects such as temperature and humidity ranges, the effects of outside light, and pest control in galleries and repositories. The following day, they reported their results.
During the training session, a group discussion of the issue of reduced energy use at facilities handling cultural properties took place with the help of the Conservation Division of the Tokyo National Museum.
This session marks the 30th training session since training began in 1984. In total, over 700 individuals have attended the training. Individuals who underwent training early on and who have been at the forefront of materials conservation are beginning to give way to the next generation. As future generations carry on this conservation work, the Institute will determine what form this training should take in the future while remaining cognizant of the role the Institute needs to play in materials conservation.
A presentation during the study meeting
A general discussion during the study meeting
On Thursday, January 24, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a study meeting in a seminar room at the Research Institute on the theme of deterioration and repair of paint and other coloring materials in architectural cultural properties, one subject involved in traditional restoration materials. The content of this study meeting could be described as a continuation of the third study meeting held in FY2009, on current conditions and issues in study and repair of lacquers in architectural cultural properties, and the fifth in FY2011, on study and repair of traditional paints in architectural cultural properties. Historically, paint and other coloring materials such as those on the exteriors of architectural cultural properties have been subjected to repeated repair because they are liable to material degradation and bio-degradation in Japan’s climate.
This study meeting provided the latest information on various issues related to these matters, from the individual perspectives of conservation and restoration science (paint and coloring materials and biology), structural repair sites, and administrative guidance. First, KITANO Nobuhiko of the Technical Standard Section discussed deterioration of paint and coloring materials, and then KIGAWA Rika, head of the Biological Science Section, identified topics related mainly to insect damage at the Shrines and Temples of Nikko World Heritage Site and mold damage at Kirishima-Jingu shrine, as examples of biodegradation of materials including paints and coloring, as well as examples of responses to such damage. Next, SHIMADA Yutaka of the Cultural Properties Division in the Department of Guidance of the Kyoto Prefecture Board of Education reported on examples of repairs to the paint and coloring of Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine and to the paint of the Phoenix Hall of Byodoin Temple, and HARASHIMA Makoto of the technical office of Itsukushima Shrine reported on an example of repairs to the paint of the main building of Itsukushima Shrine. Lastly, TOYOKI Hiroyuki, Architecture and Other Structures Division, Agency for Cultural Affairs, described an overview of the fundamental concepts behind repairs to paint and coloring materials currently conducted by the Agency. The meeting was well received by participants, who showed high levels of interest in the content of its themes because they were directly related to repair of paint and coloring materials.
Observation of paint samples
The Technical Standards Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a conference entitled the Study and Repair of Traditional Paints Used in Architectural Cultural Properties in the Institute’s basement seminar hall on September 29th (Thurs.). This conference reprised the theme of Study and Repair of Lacquers Used in Architectural Cultural Properties from the 4th Conference that was held last year. Lacquers are exceptional traditional paints that symbolize Japan and are also restoration materials. The common perception is that paints used in architectural cultural properties that are being restored include only lacquers or pigments+glue. In actuality, however, research has revealed that various other materials, such as drying oils, pine resin, and persimmon tannin, have been used in paint in accordance with the period and conditions. The 5th Conference examined a third type of paint that was neither a lacquer nor a glue. At the conference, I. KITANO began by raising several questions. Dr. Shigeru KUBODERA of the Institute for the History of Architectural Ornamentation Techniques then proceeded to talk primarily about the “Paint known as ‘chian [from Chian turpentine]’ and techniques for its application.” Next, Mr. Noritake SATO of the Nikko Cultural Assets Association for the Preservation of Shrines and Temples lectured on the status of paints other than lacquers used on the temples and shrines of Nikko from the viewpoint of a restorer. Last, Dr. Takayuki Honda of Meiji University explained the science of paint, with a focus on drying oils, and he also reported results of organic analysis of the paints actually used on the temples and shrines of Nikko. The lecturers’ talks were persuasive since they presented issues from the experts’ points of view, and attendees were also given the chance to observe paint samples and boards from the temples and shrines of Nikko brought by Mr. Sato.
Observation of deteriorated maki-e portion by magnifying it
The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques has been investigating the deterioration of maki-e (gold-relief lacquerwork) and lacquer (urushi) coating in the main shrine of Tsukubusuma-jinja. The main shrine of Tsukubusuma-jinja, located on the Chikubujima isle in Lake Biwa, Shiga, is one of the buildings which represents the Momoyama culture. It is said that part of the palace of the Fushimi Castle was brought to this isle and reassembled to become a shrine. is shrine is famous for the lacquer (urushi) coated columns and beams running between columns, on which the paulownia and chrysanthemum crests and patterns of flowers and birds were decorated using maki-e techniques and the full-color woodcarving on the walls of nave (gejin) and doors. As 75 years have already passed since the last repairs were made, damage to the roof and coating is noticeable. Furthermore, decoration using gorgeous maki-e techniques inside the building, which is highly ranked together with that in the Koudaiji Otamaya in Kyoto, has seriously deteriorated, and has become problematic among the individuals concerned. Therefore, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques cooperated with the repairs currently being promoted by the Shiga prefectural education board and Tsukubusuma-jinja, and conducted basic research to identify the cause of the deterioration phenomena, and then made investigation to prevent deterioration within the special environment of Lake Biwa (see Photo). We will make use of the achievements obtained on this occasion in order to conserve the valuable maki-e and lacquer (urushi) coating of the main shrine of Tsukubusuma-jinja in the best state possible.
Lecture at seminar meeting
Observing many glues
The Technical Standard Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a seminar with the title Glue – (I) at a meeting room of the Institute on June 21 (Monday). There are many kinds of glue materials, and glues are traditional adhesives that have been widely used throughout the ages all over the world including Japan. At present the production of traditional Japanese glue (nikawa) is rare and there are many unclear points regarding its current status, including its physical properties. Against this background, Ms. Hayakawa Noriko, a researcher of the Center, outlined the physical properties of glues as restoration materials. This was followed by a speech given by Ms. Yamamoto Noriko of the Association for Conservation of National Treasures on the subject how to use glues for restoration and conservation from her viewpoint as a restoration engineer. Mr. Seki Izuru, professor of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, gave a lecture on the achievements of studies on materials from his standpoint as a painter. Finally, Mr. Morita Tsuneyuki, the professor of the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, who once interviewed on the production of glues when he was a professor at the National Museum Ethnology, Osaka, gave an explanation on the glue production processes with documents. The lecturers’ speeches were persuasive because they were on subjects that the lecturers had studied throughout their long carriers; we also had an opportunity to observe many types of glue brought to the meeting room by Professor Seki Izuru, making the seminar a great success.
Creating hand-plate specimens for exposure test
Installing hand-plate specimens
As part of the Survey Research on Traditional Restoration Materials and Synthetic Resins project, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques is conducting a survey on the deterioration of exterior coating material of Itsukushima Shrine. The Itsukushima Shrine is widely known for its beauty with its contrast of a vermilion shrine pavilion floating in a blue sea, but the building is exposed to a severe environment because it is in contact with seawater. And an issue raised by the relevant persons is that the vermilion exterior coating material has become black in a relatively short time. The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques tried to identify the cause of this blackening phenomenon in the laboratory, also created hand-plate specimens coated with a large amount of the past exterior coating materials which were conceivably used for Itsukushima Shrine, and installed them on the actual floor of shrine and to the pillars which are in contact with the sea surface on May 13 (see Photos 1 and 2). We will perform an exposure test in the environment of Itsukushima Shrine for at least one year and observe the deterioration of exterior coating materials. We will use the results to maintain the exterior coating of Itsukushima Shrine pavilion in as good a status as possible.
Lecture at the seminar
A question and answer from the hall
The Traditional Arts Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a seminar with the theme of “Architectural Cultural Heritage: Examination and Repair of Urushi Coating – Current State and Issues” at the seminar room of the Institute on Thursday 21st January. Currently, more than 80% of Japanese lacquer Urushi such as Johoji-urushi is used to repair the coating of architectural cultural heritage objects like the Nikko Toshogu. There is a long history and tradition in Japan for using Urushi as a coating material for architectural cultural heritage items from the past. However, Urushi has disadvantages such that it is susceptible to ultraviolet rays, wind and rain, and there are many problems in the current status and issues of repairing such heritage objects using Urushi. Tackling these problems at the seminar, Mr. Honda Takayuki of Meiji University gave us an easily understandable explanation about the deterioration mechanisms of Urushi from the standpoint of analytical chemistry. Following this, Mr. Kitano of the Traditional Arts Section showed actual examples of the Urushi coating materials used for architectural cultural heritage items in Japanese history, explained from the standpoint of coating technological history. Against this backdrop, Mr. Sato Noritake of the Nikko Cultural Assets Association for the Preservation of Shrines and Temples talked in detail about the state of various traditional coating repairs currently being executed at Nikko Toshogu from his position as an engineer who is currently repairing the coating. Finally, Mr. Nishi Kazuhiko, the Counselor in charge of buildings for the Cultural Properties Department of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, presented a lecture on the Agency’s engagement in the repair of all coatings, including Urushi, and his thoughts from the viewpoint of one who is making administrative advices. Since the lecturers were discussed about the subject of Urushi coating of architectural cultural heritage items based on the practices of science, history, restoration techniques, and administration, their stories were convincing. Various questions were asked from the hall, and resulted in a successful meeting.
Jokoban with a series of restoration works finished (owned by Jissouji Temple in Minato City, Tokyo)
Hands-on training of attachment using urushi
The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques conducted an international course on the Conservation of Japanese Lacquer Works from September 17 to October 15. This course on conservation was a training program performed independently by the center, following on the heels of the International Course on the Conservation of Japanese Lacquer that we previously jointly held with ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property). For this training session, we selected a few restoration specialists among the trainees who learned the basics of the Japanese urushi culture through the Conservation of Japanese Lacquer, which lasted for two weeks, and implemented hands-on training on restoration for one month using actual lacquerware work as educational material.
Two individuals – Mr. Gasner Adda from the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum in Germany and Mr. Barash Lentz from the Hungarian National Museum – received hands-on training from Mr. Yamashita Yoshihiko, a lacquerware work restoration specialist. They made a tour to observeurushi cultural heritage in Himeji, Kobe, and Nara from September 21 to 23, and on October 5, they visited Jissouji Temple in Minato City, Tokyo, which offered educational material (one of the Aizu region’s Matsudaira Family’s temples in Edo during the Edo Period) and looked on the lacquerware work, including the actual daimyo’s tools. They concluded their training with presentations on what they had learned. The educational material used in this training was a vermilion-lacquered jokoban (incense clock) with goldmitsuba-aoi emblem which was very dirty and damaged (the Aizu Matsudaira Family’s fixtures and furniture from around the late Edo Period). We borrowed this piece and brought it into the restoration studio in the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques, and the trainees experienced a series of operations: preliminary research, photographing, scientific analysis, curing, cleaning, and attachment of urushi coated film and damaged portions using traditional restoration materials such as lacquer and glue. They had a high awareness of issues and were very enthusiastic because they were to become restoration specialists engaged in conserving and restoring the lacquerware works in their own art galleries and museums in the future. We finished the restoration of the jokoban, which was seriously damaged and could not be moved until then, as an emergency measure which was possible in a short period of just one month. It will be designated as a cultural heritage of Minato City, Tokyo at the end of the year.
Seeing lacquer collection on study tour
Practical restoration of lacquerware
From September 2 to 15, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held an international course on the Conservation of Urushi (Japanese Lacquer) jointly with the ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property). This course consisted of lectures, practices, and an informational tour. Nine trainees from eight countries (Austria, Germany, UK, Poland, Russia, Portugal, Canada and the US) participated in this course and learned the history of urushiware, the science and survey methods of lacquer, traditional urushiware techniques, and repair philosophy and methods of urushi objects and lacquer coating, from each specialist. On the study tour, trainees visited the outskirts of Joboji-machi of Ninohe City, which produces nearly 80% of urushi made in Japan. They first toured to the Hachinohe City Jomon Museum and Goshono Jomon Museum to see the excavated lacquerware in the Jomon Period, which forms the roots of urushi in the Japanese islands, and then viewed the urushi sap collecting at Joboji-machi and the creation of urushi sap collecting tools at adjacent Takko-machi in Aomori Prefecture. At the Ashiro Lacquerware Technological Center in Hachimantai City, they viewed actual Japanese lacquer refining work, and also saw the urushimuro (a warehouse for urushi coating) and urushi paint tools that were used from the Taisho Era to the beginning of Showa Era and are rare nowadays.
They ended the tour with a visit to Chusonji Temple’s Konjikido Hall. Most trainees who participated this time belonged to art galleries and museums that owned urushiware works from Japan and had trouble in handling them or were otherwise involved in actual restoration sites. Therefore, they had very high awareness of the surrounding issues and were very earnest. One of their comments made a particular impression on me: “I learned a bit about Japanese lacquer, but I had an even better experience for my future carrier because I was able to learn by watching and studying the actual objects and work process”.
Urushimuro (warehouse for Urushi coating)
Environmental survey in Urushimuro
The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques has been conducting basic survey on traditional lacquerware production as one of its research projects related to the Investigation and Research of Traditional Restoration Materials and Synthetic Resins. To date, we have conducted a field survey on an Urushimuro (a warehouse for Urushi coating used from Meiji Era to early Showa Era) owned by Mr. Oyamada Seiei in the old Ashiro-machi Iwaya-district (current Hachimantai-City) on the outskirts of Ninohe City, Iwate, known for the production of Johoji Urushi. This type of small, locally rooted, traditional Urushimuro is very rare in Japan. By arranging a series of Urushi coating and materials for gold-lacquering, the japanner tools left in the warehouse, we clarified that the flow of Urushiware production belonged to only one workshop; the work environment here was indeed suitable for Urushi coating. We are planning to use the survey results as educational material for the International Course on the Conservation of Japanese Lacquer, which will be held this year.
Taking X-ray radiography
New 3D measurement system developed by Toppan Co. Ltd.
The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques is studying anti-seismic measures for clay statues as part of its research project on disaster prevention plans for cultural properties. This winter, some investigations were conducted for the purpose of planning anti-seismic measures for Sozo Shitenno Ryuzo (standing clay statues of the four guardian kings), a national treasure enshrined in Kaidando of Todaiji temple.
These clay statues were previously examined by the Nara National Museum in 2002 when they were exhibited in a special exhibition. In the present investigation, a 3D measurement system developed by Toppan Printing Co. Ltd. was used and X-ray radiography was conducted. Since to use the 3D measurement system it was not necessary to move the statues that are exhibited in a crowded location, it was possible to obtain information on parts that were considered difficult to measure until now.
We will continue to make use of these measurement results to execute anti-seismic analysis for clay statues.
Lecture with a restored Urushi lacquer work
Practice of adhesion with mugiurushi and attachment with kokuso
The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held an Urushi restoration workshop at the Cologne Museum of East Asian Art in Germany as part of the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas, in 2008. We held workshop I (elementary practice) with 10 trainees on November 5-7, workshop II (for first-time participants) with 10 trainees on November 8, workshop II (for students) with 7 trainees on November 8, and workshop III (mid-level practice) with 7 trainees on November 11-14. Two instructors who were experts performed restoration work at the local site. All participants were persons who were highly interested in the restoration of Japanese traditional Urushi lacquer works, such as curators and cultural property restorers from various parts of Europe outside of Germany as well, including the UK, Switzerland, Austria, and Poland. At these workshops we held various programs, including a report on examples of overseas Urushi lacquer works, the creation of Urushi spatulas, adhesion with mugiurushi and attachment with kokuso using hand plates for restoration practice, and core stretching practice using thin bamboo sticks. All the trainees were eager and asked many questions, resulting in a successful training session.
Inspecting the urushi-coated sample test pieces
Exposure test stand for urushi-coated surfaces at the Taiki Multipurpose Air Park (left)
As a part of its project, Investigation and Research of Traditional Restoration Materials and Synthetic Resins, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques has been conducting basic test for the improvement of weather-resistance of urushi-coated surfaces used on buildings. A stand for outdoor exposure test was placed at Taikicho, Hokkaido because the percentage of days with good weather is highest there in Japan, because it is easy to obtain data concerning weather, and because the annual hot-cold difference is great. From April 17 to April 18, sample test pieces of vermilion urushi and black urushi placed on the stand at the Taiki Multipurpose Air Park were inspected to see the condition of their deterioration. In this on-site investigation, the 8th-month inspection, the differences in deterioration depending on types of urushi-coating has gradually become clear. The first phase of inspection of deterioration due to UV light through this outdoor exposure test will continue until September 2008.
A scene from the seminar
A scene from the seminar
The Technical Standard Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a seminar entitled “Deterioration of Metals Used on Urushi Objects” in the Seminar Room of the Institute on February 27 (Wednesday). In addition to lectures by Kitano of the Technical Standard Section and Ms. Sano Chie of the Conservation Science Section, three persons were invited and asked to speak: Mr. Takahashi Takahiro, professor at the Kansai University and the director of the Kansai University Museum; Mr. Kitamura Shosai, an urushi artist and a Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure); and Mr. Naruse Masakazu of the Office of the Shosoin Treasure House, Imperial Household Agency. Recently, deterioration of metals like makie powder and fukurin (metal coverings) on urushi objects is becoming a subject of discussion. Perhaps for that reason, there were many participants at this seminar in spite of the fact that it was held toward the end of the fiscal year, a very busy time for everyone.
At the seminar, Kitano first spoke on excavated makie objects of the modern period (17th – mid-19th centuries) on which there is severe deterioration. Then Mr. Takahashi explained the history of urushi objects using metals in Japan, China and the Korean Peninsula from the point of view of the history of urushi craft, and the methods of their manufacture. He also spoke on some points related to environmental conditions in museums. This was followed by a valuable presentation, from the point of view of a conservator, by Mr. Kitamura on the restoration and reproduction of urushi objects designated as national treasures and important cultural properties that he himself had been engaged in. He introduced details that only someone who has actually worked on these objects could know. Next, Mr. Naruse spoke about the results of analysis of metals used on urushi objects from the ancient to the medieval periods, focusing on urushi objects in the collection of Shosoin, as well as on the conditions of their deterioration. Finally, from the point of view of conservation science, Ms. Sano spoke on the relation between deterioration of metals and the conservation environment in museums and the use of wooden storage boxes. Since the presentations by the three invited speakers were based on actual work, they were very convincing and there were many questions from the participants.