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

Publication of IMAIZUMI Yusaku’s “Kijishu” on the Web

A sketch of a clay sculpture of a horse owned by the Tokyo National Museum (Click here for current information on Tokyo National Museum)

 Photography is an effective tool for investigating cultural properties, because it can record objects in an instant. However, before photography became widespread, the only way to record subjects was through handwritten notes and sketches. Notes and sketches, which take more time than photographs, are often records of only some elements or characteristics of the subject. It may be said that they are incomplete records. However, records in which only selected elements are characterized are useful for understanding what characteristics of a cultural property the recorder found to be of value, or in other words, why that cultural property has been preserved to this day. Such records can be said to be valuable resources.

 We have already reported the details of IMAIZUMI Yusaku’s (1850-1931) “Kijishu,” which is one of such handwritten research records (, and the first volume has been published on the website of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (今泉雄作『記事珠』 :: 東文研アーカイブデータベース ( For publication, the full text was transcribed as text data for search functionality. In addition, since things that were obvious to IMAIZUMI are not described, we have added annotations to the extent possible and have also provided links to related information published on the Internet.

 The transcribed text has been set to be displayed vertically on the user’s browser so that it can be easily compared with the original text. We have made every effort to ensure that the image and vertically written text can be viewed at the same time, but some line breaks may be misaligned. We will continue to conduct layout and technical verification in preparation for the release of vertically displayed documents.

Database Collaboration with ColBase and Japan Search

Cross-search using ColBase

 Since its establishment in 1930, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has continuously investigated and collected materials on many cultural properties. In recent years, we have been digitizing images taken during surveys and materials collected, and making them available on our website. For example, the images taken at the time of the establishment of TOBUNKEN were in black and white, making it impossible to convey the colors of the cultural properties. However, the images that retain their former appearance are valuable and interesting and can inform us as to how the cultural properties were preserved and how they were restored by comparing them with their current appearance.

 TOBUNKEN has started collaboration with Japan Search, a national platform for aggregating metadata of digital resources of various fields, and ColBase, a service that enables multi-database searches of the collections in the four national museums, The Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shozokan , and two research institutes, to make this information more readily available. TOBUNKEN will continue to work on adding collaborated databases and registering data from time to time, so we hope that you will compare our data with the various data held by other institutions while conducting your research.

Participation in WordCamp Kansai 2024
TOBUNKEN Research Collections built with WordPress(

 In 2014, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) developed a database of cultural property information using WordPress(, a web content management system, which is still in operation( WordPress was developed as a blog management system, but at TOBUNKEN it is used as a system for publishing databases, because of its flexibility in development and operation.

 WordCamp(, which was started in 2006 as a conference for WordPress developers and users to get together, has since been held more than 1,200 times in 65 countries. In this conference, WordCamp Kansai 2024(, held in Kobe on February 24, 2024, Mr. OYAMADA Tomohiro, Senior Researcher of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, gave a presentation titled “Renewal of WordPress Contents and Selection of Adoption System,” about the challenges that have arisen during the 10 years of WordPress operation at TOBUNKEN and the requirements for its renewal. After the presentation, the following questions and impressions were raised, leading to a lively exchange of opinions:

  • Outsourcing to a development company is difficult.
  • What kind of organizational structure does WordPress operate under?
  • Do any problems occur when WordPress is upgraded?

 Now that it is commonplace to disclose information on the Internet, we believe that issues and operational know-how regarding information systems can be shared widely across disciplines. We will continue to create opportunities to share knowledge gained through the dissemination of such information.

Interim Report on the Investigation of “Yongzibifu(用字避複)” about Guodian Chujian(郭店楚簡)- The 7th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Q&A Session

 When investigating cultural properties, it is essential to decipher related materials from the past. However, the materials are often deteriorated, and the meanings of scripts at the time of their usage were often different from their modern meanings, and therefore caution is required when reading the materials.

 At the 7th Seminar, held on December 11, 2023, Mr. KATAKURA Shumpei (Tohoku University Archives) gave a presentation titled Interim report on the investigation of “Yongzibifu(用字避複)” about Guodian Chujian(郭店楚簡) on excavated materials from Upper Ancient China. “Yongzibifu” has been considered as a kind of rhetoric, a phenomenon in which variants are used when the same Chinese characters would be repeated within a certain range. The reason for its occurrence is not clear. Mr. KATAKURA reported that in order to discuss this phenomenon objectively, in his investigation he has been organizing the characters in the documents into a table, one by one, to determine the intervals and proportions at which “Yongzibifu” is occurring.

 Although the presentation was given at an intermediate stage of the research, with no conclusion yet reached, there was a lively discussion led by Mr. MIYAJIMA Kazuya of Seikei University on how to interpret the expressions and use of script described in the materials.

 Mr. KATAKURA has published the character data on the Chinese excavated materials he has created in the course of his research as a data paper ( The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) will also consider constructing a database focusing on data of scripts obtained through the process of reading various materials.

Long-Term Preservation of Digital Data – The 3rd Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS)

 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.

Publication of Art News Articles

“(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.

Development and Operation of Databases: The 3rd Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

TOBUNKEN Research Collections (, which is available on the internet, allows for searches across 29 databases.
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 (

 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.

Publication of KUME Keiichiro’s Diary in Database Format—As a result of TOBUNKEN’s collaboration with Kume Museum of Art

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.

Presentation at CIDOC 2019 (ICOM Kyoto 2019, the 25th General Conference)

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.

Presentation at “JinMonCom 2018 – Data for Historical and Humanities Research”

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 (” 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 (, 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.

Use of WordPress for the Cultural Property Database – WordCamp Osaka 2018

Ongoing presentation

 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 ( 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.

Publication of the Database of Listed Calligraphers and Painters in the Meiji and Taisho Periods

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 (
). 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 (
) 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.

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