|■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
OYAMADA Tomohiro of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems made a presentation titled Long-Term Preservation of Digital Data on June 27, 2023. With the ongoing digitization of many areas of society and industry, it goes without saying that the long-term preservation of the digital data we produce is critical. Various technological tests have been conducted on the preservation of digital data, and many recording media for long-term preservation are now available. However, we know that many types of recording media and playback devices have disappeared from the market. Therefore, we must say that for long-term preservation of digital data, media management is more necessary than media technology.
In this presentation, the long-term preservation of digital data was examined from both technical and operational perspectives. For technical aspects, Blu-ray Discs, LTO, HDD, and SSD were compared as representative recording media. For operational aspects, the contents of the OAIS reference model, an international standard for the long-term preservation of digital data, were shown. Finally, our own proposal for a long-term preservation system for digital data that would be less burdensome for daily operations was reported and discussed.
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has created digital data on valuable cultural materials and made it available on its website and other media. To ensure that these digital data can be used forever, we will continue to investigate the preservation of digital data.
“(Japanese)” at the end of the article is linked to its Japanese article.
Since 1936, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has annually issued the “Year Book of Japanese Art (the Year Book),” which covers activities in the art world in the given year in Japan. Although this book can be downloaded from “TOBUNKEN Publications repository > Yearbook of Japanese Art,” you can also directly search for specific information on the TOBUNKEN web database.
“Art News Articles database,” one of the databases constructed based on the Year Book, is a useful material that allows you to track movements in the art world through major exhibitions, art competitions, and events related to museums and cultural properties since 1936. We are happy to announce that the English version of “Art News Articles” with articles dating back to 2013, 2014, and 2015 were published. They were translated by Ms. Miwako Hayashi Bitmead, Japanese Arts Database Officer of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) in the United Kingdom. SISJAC and TOBUNKEN have conducted joint research since 2013 and this English publication was created with their cooperation. As the translation progresses, more data will be available.
The English version of this database will be helpful for disseminating information all over the world about the history of the movement in the Japanese art world until now. We believe that it can be also used as a vocabulary glossary for further outreach activities. Japanese and English versions of articles are mutually linked to ensure that each version can be easily referred. We are also planning to improve the database to mutually refer to both English and Japanese at a vocabulary level. We hope that you can find it useful and will use them regularly.
We are also continuing to develop databases for our internal work. The image shows the database we are developing to manage the photographic survey records by ODAKA Sennosuke, which are viewable online (www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/odaka
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has released more than 30 databases related to cultural properties and made them available online. These databases contain a variety of data, such as painters’ diaries, monochrome photos of cultural properties taken in the 1930s, and art magazines published in the 1890s.
We operate two types of databases, one for releasing data to the public over the internet and the other for creating and storing data. The databases for public use do not require much functionality. However, they do require stability so that they can operate 24 hours a day, while security updates must be implemented frequently. On the other hand, the databases for internal work require advanced features such as special data manipulation for proofreading or batch replacement of specific character strings.
We have been operating databases for public use and databases for internal work since around 2014. During that time, various events have impacted the development and operation of these databases, such as software upgrades, hardware updates, the use of database services built by other organizations and personnel changes. At the 3rd seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems in fiscal 2021, we reviewed the current status of the databases and examined how the development should be pursued. Following these discussions, we will not only continue to make these data bases available to the public, but also strive to develop new databases and improve user convenience.
Database of KUME Keiichiro’s Diary, Accounts on January 4th, 1899
The Portrait of SANO Akira by KURODA Seiki Possessed by the Tokyo National Museum
Western-style painter KUME Keiichiro (1866 – 1934) is known as an artist who strove to revamp Japanese modern western-style painting along with his close colleague KURODA Seiki (1866 – 1924). At Kume Museum of Art in Meguro, Tokyo, which is designed to praise his achievements as a painter, Kume’s diary titled “KUME Keiichiro’s Diary” is kept and was already published (by Chuo Koron Bijutsu Shuppan in 1990). As part of a collaborative project between the museum and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), we began publishing the content of the diary online in database format using WordPress Content Management System (CMS) via the following URL as of March 25:
The diary was written in part in French and the database contains the French text written until 1892 and its Japanese translation by visiting researcher SAITO Tatsuya. Further, it is linked with the database of KURODA Seiki’s diary, which had already been published online, and as for descriptions with the same dates, the two diaries can be cross-referenced. For instance, Kuroda and Kume celebrated the New Year in Numazu, Shizuoka, in 1899. In Kume’s diary on January 4th, he noted that “Kuroda portrayed Sano,” while Kuroda mentioned in his diary that “I portrayed Sano.” Sano is SANO Akira (1866 – 1955), a sculptor who enjoyed a close friendship with Kuroda and Kume.
The portrait of Sano painted by Kuroda is a collection that was housed in the Kuroda Memorial Hall (Tokyo National Museum) in 2019. It can safely be described as an interesting example in which Kuroda and Kume’s accounts in their respective diaries are linked with the existing piece of art.
For your information, also as a result of our collaborative study with Kume Museum of Art, we published an article, “Exchanges between KURODA Seiki and KUME Keiichiro Seen in Letters (I),” by SHIOYA Jun, ITO Fumiko (curator at Kume Museum of Art), TANAKA Jun (visiting researcher), and SAITO Tatsuya in The Journal of Art Studies Vol. 433. We compiled the letters exchanged between Kuroda and Kume as a comprehensive list to allow you to view its summary. It will be a real pleasure for us if it provides a means of looking at Japan’s modern western-style painting along with the database of Kume’s diary.
Example of Kanji Variants in the Japanese Language
System to Search All Possible Variations through Comprehensive Retrieval
The International Council of Museums (ICOM), created in 1946, is a non-government organization aimed at exchanging and sharing information on museums. The general conference, which is held for all of its International Committees every three years, took place in Kyoto this year. Three staff members from the Cultural Properties Information Section attended the conference to deliver a presentation titled “Two Solutions for Orthographical Variants Problem” at CIDOC, ICOM’s International Committee for Documentation.
One of the features of the Japanese language is its varied orthographic system, under which you use kanji, hiragana and katakana quite differently. However, this system results in creating orthographical variants, such as龍 and竜, as well as藝 and芸, causing search omissions. Focusing on personal names, we reported our own way of coping with all possible variations for the database of our website.
Orthographical variants are not unique to the Japanese language. For example, some systematic solution is required for the English retrieval system if the results of the plural form should also be shown when you perform a search in a singular form. Cultural properties have their universal value although there are some issues originating in locality in their documentation. We would like to consider the universality and locality in cultural properties from the aspect of system infrastructure.
View of the presentation (KIKKAWA)
On December 2nd, 2018, Hideki KIKKAWA and Tomohiro OYAMADA presented the database of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in the session “Data for Historical and Humanities Research (www.metaresource.jp/2018jmc/)” at the JinMonCom 2018 organized by the IPSJ SIG Computers and the Humanities, one of the research groups of the Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ). This session was aimed at introducing databases that are not widely recognized yet in the IPSJ and promoting more active data use. KIKKAWA and OYAMADA presented the system overview of the TOBUNKEN Research Collections (www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/), the database of photographic negatives and plates which is the largest among our image databases, and the database of Art exhibitions and Obituaries which is based on the Year Book of Japanese Art published since 1936.
Additionally, various databases published by the National Diet Library, Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation, Tokyo National Museum, the University of Tokyo and Aozora Bunko were presented and attracted the attention of the participants. In addition to publishing and managing the database of cultural properties, our Institute will make further efforts to spread the database of cultural properties and make it useful for survey/research.
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) drastically renewed the cultural property database in 2014 by using WordPress, a content management system. WordPress is an open source system used on a third of the websites in the world now. Its formal event, WordCamp, took place 128 times in 48 countries and regions in 2017 alone. In the Word Camp Osaka 2018 (https://2018.osaka.wordcamp.org/) held in Osaka on June 2nd, 2018, three researchers: Tomohiro OYAMADA, Yoko FUTAGAMI, and Taiki MISHIMA gave a joint presentation titled “Make a cultural property information database using WordPress” so as to report on how to customize and operate using WordPress for the cultural property database. After the presentation, active information exchange was carried out based on lots of questions asked by people engaged in system operation at local governments and research institutions.
Each of the operations required for TNRICP is unique. The information system which accumulates and transmits its achievements also requires uniqueness. We shall willingly release findings accumulated through the development and operation of the information system, in addition to our research outcomes.
The page of lists of the “Database of Listed Calligraphers and Painters in the Meiji and Taisho Periods”
The page of “Seiki KURODA” from the “Name Database for Calligraphers and Painters.” Related picture images are displayed on the lower part of the screen.
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has published a database for 61 lists of calligraphers and painters issued in the Meiji and Taisho periods (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/
banduke). This database has been reconstructed from the original one accessible exclusively with a dedicated application, which was created based on the collection of Mr. Shigeru AOKI, an art historian, as an outcome of Scientific Research on Priority Areas: Inventions in the Edo Period (Planned Research A03 “Research on the establishment of categorizations of objects and techniques in Japanese modern art”) in 2004.
For reconstruction, the database became accessible through different types of equipment with universal technologies, without depending on specific applications. To enhance the legibility of the details, the lists were photographed again at a high resolution.
Using the original name and classification data, a new database, focusing on the names, was created (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/
banduke_name) and linked with the photographic images owned by TNRICP. These lists alone are just arrays of names, but they will surely allow you to explore new possibilities from the database as a platform. We would be glad if you could experience the great potential of the database with the linked images.
Finally, we express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Aoki and those who were involved in creation of the original database, as well as the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama, which now possesses these lists, and Ms. Saki NAGATO, its curator.