|■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
Historical buildings under renovation
The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, has been continuously supporting the revitalization of the historical district of Padang by conducting academic research activities and holding local workshops in such fields as urban planning, architecture and sociology, since the institute conducted damage-status surveys just after the September 2009 Sumatra earthquake at the request of UNESCO and the Indonesian government.
In 2015, a workshop on the revitalization of the historical district in Padang, West Sumatra was held on August 26, organized by the Department of Tourism and Creative Economy of West Sumatra Province and coorganized by the NRICPT, the Ministry of Culture and Education, Indonesia, the Padang City Government, Bung Hatta Universities, and others. For the workshop, in addition to experts from Indonesia and Japan, we invited a local architect who has been promoting the conservation of a historic district in George Town, Penang, Malaysia, and a movement for the inscription of the district on the World Heritage List, as well as a representative from relevant nongovernmental organization. The main theme of the workshop was about ways of promoting local development by making use of cultural heritages through citizens’ participation. In the workshop held at a hotel in Padang, more than 50 people including not only representatives from relevant authorities at national, provincial and municipal levels but also representatives from residents living in the historical district attended the workshop, a strong turnout exceeding the capacity of the venue. In the question-and-answer session, participants showed especially high interest in institutional frameworks, participation by local communities, and ways of cooperation with public administrations and universities.
In cooperation with the relevant authorities in charge of the revitalization of the historic district, the Padang City Government is currently making preparations for the establishment of a group tasked with discussing local development of the district. We will continue to watch for such activities led by local people and provide necessary support.
Training session at Bagaya Monastery
The Fourth Session of Training on the Conservation of Wooden Buildings
We conducted the fourth session of training on the conservation of wooden buildings at the Bagaya Monastery in Innwa, and the Mandalay branch of Myanmar’s Department of Archeology and National Museum (DoA) from June 30 to July 11. Ten officials from the DoA and one graduate of Technological University (Mandalay) as an observer participated in the session. Following investigations of damaged parts on the floor framing and exterior walls as well as replaced materials, we also implemented exercises to keep a comprehensive observation record for railings surrounding the inner sanctum including carvings on them. While investigations by a group of several people have been conducted in the past training sessions, we gradually increased individual activities in the latest session, and each of the trainees made the final presentation at the end of the session. Their investigation reports were at a fairly high-level, indicating that the trainees are steadily acquiring the results of the training.
The outer appearance of the Phya-sa-shwe-gu temple
Investigation of the inner side of a structural crack by using an endoscope
Excavation survey to investigate a foundation structure
This project is intended to contribute to enhancing the conservation management system of historical buildingscomprising Myanmar’s Bagan monuments, and provides technical assistance aiming for updating the monument inventory and establishing a method to assess the conservation state of structures. At the same time, the project is also aiming for contributing to the human resources development for the Department of Archeology and National Museum (DoA) of Myanmar’s Ministry of Culture, which is in charge of the conservation and management of the monuments. We have been working on the two-year project since 2014.
Commissioned by UNESCO, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, has been taking part in the project, mainly the assessment of conservation states of architectural structures. So far, we have been putting our efforts into drawing up a rapid condition assessment sheet to effectively understand in a short time the overall conservation states of all buildings in Bagan built during the Bagan Dynasty period. As a next step, we started a study on methodology for an in-depth condition assessment of structural problems that are detected by a rapid assessment. Even among the monuments in Bagan, individual historical architectures differ significantly not only in their scales and structures, but also in locations and damage conditions. Thus, it is difficult to standardize the process of the in-depth condition assessment as we did for the rapid condition assessment, while it is considered possible to develop a certain pattern for detecting basic problems and creating a work flow. So, we decided to select the Phya-sa-shwe-gu temple (No. 1249) as it is an architecture with a typical scale and structure that has not undergone a full-scale restoration so far, and conduct a pilot case study for an in-depth condition assessment at the temple.
In a field study from June 11 to 19, we conducted detailed recording of crack distribution, non-destructive tests using a Schmidt hammer and an ultrasonic gauging device, a study on the inside of walls using micro drilling and an endoscope, and an excavation surveyto investigate the foundation structure together with an Italian expert in structural engineering, Myanmar engineers and staff members of DoA. On the last day, we discussed about an indoor strength test on brick samples taken from the temple at a research institution in Yangon.
The temple building’s structural degradation has been significantly progressing, and the outer wall of the back of the corridor is in a particularly dangerous condition. Through analysis of information and data obtained in the latest survey, we will examine the cause and mechanism of damage and continue the study aiming for presenting an appropriate diagnosis flow.
Panel discussion at the seminar
As part of a project financed by a grant for operational expenses entitled Cooperation for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Southeast Asia, the Institute held a seminar on Wooden Buildings in Myanmar in its seminar hall on February 13.
Starting in 2013, the Institute has conducted studies and provided trainings on the conservation of cultural properties in Myanmar. Such efforts include the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage project to safeguard the cultural heritage of Myanmar commissioned by the Agency of Cultural Affairs of the Japanese government. As a field of the cooperation is,the Institute has implemented a training program in survey techniques for the conservation of historic wooden buildings. There still is, however, a dearth of study accumulation, whether domestic or foreign, on wooden buildings in Myanmar themselves, and these buildings have yet to be fully understood.
Raymond Myo Myint Sein, a former professor at the Department of Architecture of the Rangoon Institute of Technology, is a pioneer in research on wooden buildings in Myanmar and Zar ChiMin, an associate professor at the Department of Architecture of Technological University (Mandalay), is a spirited young researcher. At the seminar, these two invited speakers and Japanese representatives gave presentations sharing the results of previous research on traditional wooden buildings in Myanmar. Then, discussion was made on the cultural significance of those buildings to Myanmar people and topics for the future research.
A report on the seminar featuring articles from the presenters and the details of the panel discussion waspublished, as well.
An explanation on using dry rubbings to document marks left by woodworking
The third session of training in conservation of wooden structures
From January 13 to 23, a training session was conducted at the Bagaya Monastery in Innwa and at the Mandalay branch of Myanmar’s Department of Archaeology and National Museum (DoA). Major topics of the training were survey methods to trace the history of modifications in building structures from the period of initial construction and applied building techniques. Trainees were 10 personnel from the DoA, an associate professor from the Technological University (Mandalay), and a graduate of the university as an observer. Some trainees used CAD images when they presented the results of surveys conducted in groups. Trainees appeared to be quite adept at sketching plans in comparison to when they started the training. Such evidence of trainees taking the initiative and the effectiveness of continued training is truly a joy to behold.
A survey in the Village of Tenchekha, where the population is decreasing
A craftsman explains human-based units of measurement
This year will be the third year since the “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project, Preservation of Traditional Buildings in the Kingdom of Bhutan,” which was commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, started in partnership with the Bhutanese Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. Bhutan has many rammed earthen buildings such as residences, and this project aims to preserve those buildings and improve their safety. The Institute has been conducting surveys and studies of traditional Bhutanese construction techniques from the perspectives of architectural history and structural mechanics. The surveys and studies include surveys to examine traditional methods of construction and analyses of the structural strength and earthquake resistance of those buildings. From September 18 to 27, 2014, a fifth field survey was conducted in cooperation with the Institute’s Bhutanese counterpart, the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) of the Department of Culture under the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs.
Prior to this survey, the DCHS had been asked to prepare several test pieces of rammed earth in accordance with instructions regarding the ratios of materials in those pieces. Cores were taken from the prepared test pieces to examine their strength. Results of the inspection verified that walls made of lime and rammed earth provided structural reinforcement. In the past, the strength of these walls depended entirely on the craftsman’s gauging of the size of soil particles and the optimum moisture content of soil. For the inspection, however, DCHS staff members received guidance in operational procedures from the Institute so that these aspects could be quantified by laboratory testing. In addition, the Institute’s structural study team measured microtremors to simulate behavioral characteristics of a temple near Thimphu.
The architectural study team surveyed several residences and ruins that preserve the old style of architecture in a rural community within Paro Dzongkag. This survey aimed to ascertain changes in structural forms and determine their relationship to wall construction techniques. Interviews were also conducted with craftsmen and technicians who are experienced in rammed earth construction in order to gain knowledge. Possible ways to improve methods of construction were discussed with these craftsmen and technicians.
Bhutan experienced heavy rains during the survey. A building that was surveyed last year was found to have already collapsed and new damage to a building that was visited just a few days prior was noted. These examples reveal how fragile these buildings are if they are not properly maintained and these examples highlighted the need to preserve these traditional buildings.
On-site training at Bagaya Monastery
Practice preparing materials to conserve murals
Damage to glass mosaic decorations on a Buddhist alter at Shwe Nan Daw Monastery
As part of the “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, on-site training and surveys were conducted from early to mid-June in cooperation with the Department of Archaeology and National Museum (DoA), Ministry of Culture of Myanmar;
1) A second on-site training course on the conservation of historical wooden buildings was conducted
The course took place from June 2 to 13. Trainees were 8 staff members with specialties in architecture or archaeology from the main and branch offices of the DoA together with 1 associate professor and 3 students from the Technological University (Mandalay). The course consisted of classroom lectures at the DoA Mandalay branch office and on-site practice at Bagaya Monastery in the suburbs of Mandalay. The trainees learned techniques such as drafting schematic drawings of floor plans, measuring floor unevenness and the tilting of columns, and checking and recording what types of deterioration have occurred and their extent. Training concluded with each group announcing the results of its research. In addition, termite damage (a problem common to wooden buildings in Myanmar) was surveyed by an expert and a preliminary course on termite damage was conducted. Termite damage at Bagaya Monastery has spread to the upper part of the building, and monitoring of this damage commenced with the assistance of the trainees in order to examine effective countermeasures.
2) Survey of and training on the conservation of murals at brick temple ruins
From June 11 to 17, a survey of the state of murals and conditions indoors at pagoda No.1205 was conducted to continue previous efforts. Damage to murals was mapped during the current survey. The murals are quite sturdy, but the survey revealed damage that must be dealt with in the future, such as the weakening and collapse of murals due to rain leakage and termite nests. In addition, training on the conservation of murals and pest control was conducted at the Bagan Archeological Museum. This training was attended by 6 conservators from the DoA Bagan branch. The trainees were especially interested in practice using restoration materials like adhesives and fillers as well as lectures on pest control and practice controlling pests. Plans are to continue conducting training sessions with more practical content.
3) Survey on traditional lacquerware techniques
Surveys were conducted in Bagan and Mandalay from June 11 to 19. The survey in Bagan was conducted in cooperation with the Lacquerware Technical University and Lacquerware Museum under the auspices of the Ministry of Cooperatives. The survey examined insect damage and it studied techniques that were used to produce lacquerware and damage to lacquerware in the museum’s collection. The survey revealed the need for urgent cleaning and the need to improve conditions for exhibition and storage of the pieces. In Mandalay, interviews on lacquer materials produced in Myanmar were conducted. In addition, techniques to produce glass mosaics in conjunction with lacquer decoration were studied at monasteries and shops selling those materials. Lacquer techniques that were used on the outside of the Shwe Nan Daw Monastery were visually inspected along with insect damage. Most of the interior and exterior of this building features lacquer decoration. This inspection revealed that ultraviolet rays and rain had extensively damaged the lacquer decorations.
Checking a control point in the GIS training workshop
Example of a survey drawing of colonial architecture
Symposium on overall achievements of the project
A project to preserve the Thang Long Imperial Citadel site, a World Cultural Heritage located in the heart of Vietnam’s capital city, has been undertaken by the NRICPT, commissioned by the UNESCO Office in Hanoi to spearhead Japanese efforts, since 2010. The project is scheduled to conclude at the end of this year. The following efforts were undertaken at the site since the latter half of last year.
a) GIS training workshops (December 27-28, 2012, May 15–18, 2013, September 10, 2013)
Selected staff of the Thang Long – Hanoi Heritage Conservation Centre received training from both Japanese and Vietnamese experts to establish a geographic information system (GIS) to manage cultural properties. Attendees learned various topics including basic concepts of using a GIS to manage cultural properties, correcting the base map using measurement points on-site, and ways to create a data base. This training has allowed staff to conduct basic operations themselves.
b) The second workshop on archaeological artifacts (January 23–24, 2013)
A workshop was co-organized by the NRICPT and the TL Centre in cooperation with the Institute of Archaeology, Imperial City Research Center, and the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. The workshop focused on the study of ancient roofing techniques by comparing roof tiles unearthed from the site with those found in Japan. Experts from both countries exchanged their knowledge and opinions, and they also visited excavations at the ancient temple and traces of ceramic kilns.
c) Workshop on sociological assessment (March 4, 2013)
A workshop on socio-economical assessment of the value of the Thang Long site was co-organized by the NRICPT with the TL Centre and Institute of Vietnamese Studies and Development Sciences, Hanoi National University (IVIDES). Experts from both countries gave presentations based on survey results and interviews with relevant individuals. The experts actively discussed their views on the future use of the site.
d) Survey of buildings from the colonial period (May 20–24, 2013)
Historical military buildings that were built during French colonial rule at the Thang Long site were surveyed with the TL Centre staff. Together, a new survey and supplementary surveys surveyed 7 buildings in order to prepare accurate documentation of the current status of these buildings, which have value as cultural properties, as basic data for management of cultural properties. Plans are to publish survey drawings, including those of 10 previously surveyed buildings, and to offer the digital data to the TL Centre.
e) Field study on the preservation of excavated remains (August 8–9, 2013)
At the excavation site, monitoring data were collected from sensors that have measured moisture migration in the soil where archaeological remains are located. Preserved bricks that had been subjected to an outdoor exposure test were also recovered for analysis of the test results. In addition, local staff members were given lectures on the use of equipment and materials and methods of data analysis to enable them to make similar measurements even though the current project has concluded.
f) Symposium on overall achievements of the project (September 11–12, 2013)
A symposium was held to bring together experts in charge of different portions of the project and other relevant personnel. The symposium served as a forum to summarize achievements of the project thus far and to exchange opinions on issues with an eye towards the future. Nine presentations were made in this two-day symposium with more than 60 participants from both countries and the UNESCO Office in Hanoi. The symposium, which was also one of the events to commemorate 2013 as the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Year, allowed participants to reaffirm the significance of the site in different terms and to sense the extensive achievements of the project firsthand, including studies on appropriate conservation efforts, planning site management, and teaching and training personnel to create a system to preserve and manage the Thang Long site. Japanese personnel are currently working, together with their Vietnamese counterparts, to publish a final project report by the end of the year.
Taking measurements at a wooden temple
An example of a highly damaged temple building
Visiting a metal casting workshop
Survey at the National Museum in Yangon
As part of the Project for International Contribution to Protection of Cultural Heritage (Experts’ Exchange) conducted by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo under commission by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, a mission of experts was dispatched to Myanmar from January 26 through February 3. This mission, made up of 17 members in total, comprised three teams to study the fields of architecture, arts and crafts, and archaeology, respectively. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo was responsible for the fields of architecture and arts and crafts, while the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties was responsible for archaeology. Intended to make clear future directions of action for cooperation provided by Japan to Myanmar in regard to safeguarding of cultural heritage, the survey was able to advance smoothly with the accompaniment and assistance of the responsible staff members from the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library of the Myanmar Ministry of Culture.
Together with checking the state of damage and key factors affecting conservation of brick monuments in Bagan as well as wooden monasteric buildings in Mandalay and other areas, the architecture team’s activities also included interviews with concerned staff of local agencies and craftsmen, to identify issues related to future conservation and restoration. These activities revealed such as the fact that full-fledged structural repairs had not been conducted in a long time and activities such as keeping basic records concerning the state of conservation were not being conducted to a sufficient extent.
The arts and crafts team conducted surveys and interviews on the state of conservation, storage and exhibition, as well as training of human resources involved in conservation and restoration, for mural paintings , metal objects, lacquerwares, and books and sacred documents. It did so by visiting national museums and libraries, temples, schools, and workshops in Yangon, Bagan, and Mandalay. While they observed signs of the knowledge obtained through overseas training and other efforts being put to use in Myanmar, it also was clear that sufficient conservation and restoration measures were not being taken, due to shortages of materials and equipment and to underdevelopment of related systems.
The mission also gathered basic information on Myanmar’s system for protection of cultural heritage through activities including meeting with the Ministry of Culture in the capital city of Naypyitaw. While it was clear that there were shortages in areas such as the technologies and human resources needed to conserve and restore cultural heritage in each field, the motivation of those in Myanmar to improve the situation was high, so that it is expected that technology transfer and human-resources development through projects such as joint research and training would be highly effective as assistance.
A meeting at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo
As part of the Project for International Contribution in Protection of Cultural Heritage (experts’ exchange) commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan, officers from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar were invited to visit Japan from December 10 to 14. Invitees were 5 Ministry personnel specializing in archaeology, conservation, cultural anthropology, and fine arts such as U Thein Lwin, Deputy Director General of the Ministry’s Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library. Invitees stayed in Tokyo and Nara, where they exchanged opinions with personnel at the Tokyo and the Nara Institutes, toured museums, and visited sites of archeological excavation as well as repair works of historical buildings. On December 11, a seminar entitled “Protection of Cultural Heritage in Myanmar: Current Situation and Issues” was held at the NRICPT’s seminar hall. Invitees delivered such presentations on archeological surveys, site preservation, and history and the current state of museums in Myanmar, sharing information by responding to questions from the audience. This invitation program provided the latest information on the protection of Myanmar’s cultural heritage and it fostered mutual understanding towards future cooperation. The same project plans to dispatch field study missions, in cooperation with the Nara Institute, in the 3 areas of architecture, art and crafts, and archaeology from the end of January to early February, in order to ascertain the direction of future Japanese cooperation in the protection of Myanmar’s cultural heritage.
Setting up an exposure testing stand
Workshop on Historical Studies
Discussion among archaeologists in an artifact sorting area
Resin impregnation at the NNRICP
A project to preserve the Thang Long Imperial Citadel site, a World Cultural Heritage located in the heart of Vietnam’s capital city, has been undertaken since 2010 with the close cooperation of Japanese and Vietnamese experts. The NRICPT has been commissioned by the UNESCO Office in Hanoi as the base for Japanese efforts During the first half of this year, the following efforts were undertaken.
a) Field Study on Preservation of Excavated Remains
From August 7 to 9, a field study was conducted at the excavation site next to the site where the new Parliament House is being constructed. Sensors to measure moisture migration in the soil where archaeological remains are located were replaced and added. An additional test area was established to measure inhibition of surface evaporation by a sand layer covering. An outdoor exposure test was also begun to examine the effectiveness of conservation techniques using brick specimens with physical characteristics similar to ancient bricks unearthed from the site. Automated monitoring of local meteorological conditions will continue. Analysis of the data obtained will lead to proposals for appropriate conservation approaches.
b) Workshop on Historical Studies
On August 21, a workshop was co-organized with the Thang Long—Hanoi Heritage Conservation Center (TL Centre) and the Institute of Vietnamese Studies and Development Sciences, Hanoi National University (IVIDES). The on-site workshop covered the layout of the central area of the Thang Long Imperial Citadel and its comparison to other ancient capitals in East Asia. The workshop featured presentations by Japanese and Vietnamese experts based on their studies of historical records and results of recent excavations as well as a discussion. The layout and history of the Thang Long Citadel, much of which are still unclear, was actively discussed. In addition, “Selected Japanese and Vietnamese Papers on the Thang Long Citadel” was published in conjunction with the workshop.
c) Workshop on Archaeological Artifacts
From September 10 to 12, the 1st workshop on archaeological artifacts excavated at the Thang Long site was held in Hanoi. The workshop was co-organized with the TL Centre and enjoyed the cooperation of the Institute of Archaeology, the Imperial City Research Center, and the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (NNRICP). Participating Japanese and Vietnamese experts shared their knowledge and exchanged opinions on ceramics and roof tiles with regard to classification of their styles, techniques used to produce them, and sites where they were produced. These discussions took place while experts directly viewing unearthed objects. The participants were again reminded of the importance of such a joint study.
d) Invitation of a Vietnamese Expert
From September 10 to 28, an expert on wood material from Vietnam Forestry University was invited to the NNRICP to carry out joint experiments on techniques to conserve excavated wooden objects. Different laboratory experiments were conducted, including identification of tree species and examination of the effectiveness of resin impregnation, using test pieces unearthed from the Thang Long site along with fresh specimens from Vietnam.
Temple remains where large pools of water still remain (mud caked to walls indicates the maximum height of flooding)
Excavated remains completely under water
The bottom of a mural damaged by flooding
Through a program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, flood damage to the ancient city of Ayutthaya was surveyed by 2 successive missions on November 28–December 3, 2011 and December 18–23, 2011. Extremely heavy, continual rainfall starting in September caused massive flooding in Ayutthaya and Bangkok, a fact that was also widely reported in Japan. The Ayutthaya ruins, a World Cultural Heritage site, were extensively flooded as well. Concerned about the effects of flooding on the site’s conservation, the Thai Government asked for Japan’s assistance via the UNESCO Office in Bangkok. The decision was then promptly made to provide emergency assistance by having experts conduct a field survey.
Two experts in measures to counter water damage and conservation of cultural heritage were sent to conduct the first survey, and 6 experts in conservation science, murals, architecture, and photography were sent to conduct the second survey. The extent of damage to major sites was determined firsthand together with experts from the Fine Arts Department of the Thai Ministry of Culture and the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs.
The surveys indicated that flooding was considerable and that some murals were soiled with mud, salt deposits had emerged in places, mud had been deposited on brick foundations, and an exhibition of excavated archaeological remains was submerged. However, generally speaking, direct damage to ruins was limited and most of the damage was relatively minor. Nevertheless, deterioration and deformation of brick stupas and prasats due to aging were observed everywhere. The survey results reaffirmed the importance of continual monitoring and conservation efforts based on a medium- to long-term plan in order to mitigate damage in the event of a disaster. Exploring ways to assist the Fine Arts Department in these efforts is a subject for the future.
Workshop on formulation of a site management plan
Survey of building conservation and restoration in progress
This year marks the third year of work carried out at Amarbayasgalant Monastery in Mongolia in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science of Mongolia (MECS) as part of the Networking Core Centers project commissioned by Japan’s Agency of Cultural Affairs. This year, expert teams were sent in late June and late August.
In accordance with the topics covered at last year’s workshops, this April the Mongolian government enforced its decision to establish a protected area around the site based on the Cultural Heritage Law. The protected area is vast, including the monastery itself as well as the surrounding landscape, archaeological sites related to the monastery’s construction, and sacred and traditional sites. Specific constraints such as restrictions on development in the area are a major topic this year. With each team sent, a workshop was held with attendees from the province, district, monastery, and local community in order to encourage efforts by Mongolia’s Selenge Province to formulate plans for site management. Many issues were discussed, among which was the substantial delay in collecting essential information and setting up a framework to formulate a site management plan on the part of Selenge Province. Nevertheless, basic policies to be incorporated in the plan were summarized in recommendations to the province.
In conjunction with these efforts, the team sent in August included Japanese specialists in restoring historical wooden buildings who trained junior Mongolian conservation specialists in surveys for architectural conservation and restoration. This training is a continuation of that last year and the year before. Trainees practiced surveying a temple building that has suffered extensive damage and they participated in steps from quantitatively determining the extent of that damage to preparing estimates of materials needed for restoration work. Historical structures within the monastery are dilapidated and extensively damaged and thus are in quite urgent need of restoration. By itself, Mongolia would have difficulty ensuring the technical standards for restoration. Calls for technical assistance from other countries like Japan are mounting. Discussion with representatives of the Mongolian government must continue in order to find ways to meet that need in the future.
On February 2 and 3, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation held a “conference on international training to foster conservators of cultural properties in overseas countries” at the meeting room of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. As a project to “train personnel engaged in protecting cultural properties in overseas countries” conducted by the Center, we planned this conference to share information and exchange opinions with domestic and international training organizations, aiming to have international training more effectively and practically. The Center focused on training on restoration and conservation techniques and developing the capacity of trainees from overseas countries, centering on developing countries, received reports on the details of training programs, teaching methods and also evaluation methods of training results and some issues, from the persons in charge in four overseas organizations and three domestic organizations including our Institute. Then attendees exchanged their opinions on the basis of these.
By analyzing the examples of training conducted, several common issues were highlighted. The major issues included how to manage training projects, how to continue with training programs and how to have mutual cooperation between the programs, and how to share the data acquired from the training. Although we have not previously had many opportunities to hold a conference with such a theme, we will do our best at every occasion in the future and thus help to improve training methods and foster mutual cooperation between many countries.
We held the 34th international symposium on the conservation and restoration of cultural properties “‘Rehabilitation’ and Cultural Heritage” at the Heiseikan of Tokyo National Museum for three days from January 19 to 21. Concerning the relationship between societies, which are often in the process of recovering from a natural disaster or conflict or in the midst of changes, and cultural heritage, we provided three sessions that correspond to these circumstances. There were ten lectures presented by persons from overseas countries and four lectures given by Japanese. Then there was a lively discussion among the chairman and lecturers, covering a range of issues such as which cultural heritages should be restored for people while the meaning and assessment of cultural heritage is changing depending on the social circumstances. A report on the details of this symposium will be issued next year.
Panoramic view of temple with the pagoda and Great Buddha newly built on the back
Survey for building conservation
From the end of June to the beginning of July and at the end of August, we conducted a workshop and conservation survey at the Tibetan temple Amarbayasgalant of the Selenge Aimag (province) in northern Mongolia, jointly with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in Mongolia.
The theme of this year’s workshop was to build a plan for the conservation management of cultural properties, and we set a target for determining a conservation area for the time being. In this 20th year since religious activities at the Amarbayasgalant temple restarted, new building and maintenance of the temple associated facilities stepped up and, and the historical scenery, a key part of heritage values, is rapidly changing. There is also a concern about the influence on the conservation of the underground remains of old temple buildings. To prevent this, we repeated the field survey and discussion together with the representatives of the prefecture, county and local public. We reached the basic agreement for the policy that a wide area, including the surrounding mountains adored by people and the material production site when the temple was built, is to be designated as a conservation region based on the Laws for Protection of Cultural Properties.
Meanwhile, the temple consisting of many wooden buildings, suffered deterioration and damage because of aging and insufficient maintenance, and thus part of the damaged building could endanger the safety of human lives. In the August mission, therefore, we conducted a basic survey on the conservation status of all buildings, which served concurrently as the training of young Mongolian engineers, in parallel with the above-mentioned workshop. The report on the results of survey carried out with the four trainees, who also participated in the last year’s practical training, will be submitted to the Mongolian Government. We hope that the report will be used for future emergent measures and full-scale restoration planning.
Meteorological equipment being moved
Installation of soil-water sensor
With the Thang Long Citadel Ruins conservation project funded by the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust, the partnership convention between the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and UNESCO Hanoi Office went into effect in April, and the comprehensive support activities spanning for three years have finally begun. From May 17 to 22, we dispatched seven specialists focusing on the conservation science field to Hanoi as the first mission. To collect basic data to examine the measures of conserving the excavated archaeological remains, we moved and improved the installed meteorological equipment and installed a new soil-water sensor. Concerning the unearthed relics, we investigated the method of storing the wooden relics immersed temporarily in water and had a conference with the local administrative organization for joint research on types of Vietnamese wood that are different from those in Japan. Both Japanese and Vietnamese specialists cooperated in working at the local site, and we held a training workshop for young staff members, so that they can understand the significance of work accurately and in detail. We will sequentially in the future put in force the project activities in various fields, such as historical study and support for control plan establishment.
Abhayagiri Dagoba being restored (Anuradhapura Sites)
Ritigala Monastery ruins just after restoration restarted
Rows of houses at Kandy subject to urban development
From April 4 to 13, we were dispatched to Sri Lanka by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and conducted a field survey on the approach status of protection of cultural heritage such as archaeological sites, along with external specialists. In Sri Lanka, the civil war which lasted for a quarter of century just ended last year, and new development is expected in the field of protecting cultural heritage, a field that has been neglected because of the country’s financial difficulties. The major purpose of our survey was to collect basic information so that Japan can examine what cooperative assistance is possible via UNESCO and other bodies in the future.
In this survey, we visited local sites and interviewed the relevant organizations about the current status of conservation in world heritage registration places and the future outlook. We also conducted a field survey on multiple sites which will likely be registered in the future. The results made us realize that in many cases various plans exist but there is no prospect of them materializing and there are many serious problems in terms of the structure for protecting cultural heritage including insufficient specialized human resources. We would like to positively participate in investigating how to proceed with concrete cooperation.
General meeting at Conservation Center
The Thang Long Citadel in the center of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, contains the ruins of buildings and section facilities of successive emperors, including the Ly Dynasty (11-13th century). A large amount of relics also were examined during the survey accompanying the rebuilding of the parliament house, and conservation support assistance will continue based on the agreement between the Japanese and Vietnamese governments. The emergency unearthing research has reached a tentative conclusion, and the significant issue is how to conserve and make use of the unearthed ruins and relics.
In this conference, archaeology, architecture, history, sociology, and conservation planning experts from the Japan-Vietnam Joint Expert Committee for Archaeology, Architecture, History, Sociology and Conservation visited Vietnam and discussed future cooperation with the Vietnamese members and relevant organizations. At the general meeting on July 28, representatives of the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Japanese Embassy in Vietnam also attended. We discussed both medium- and long-term plans and short-term issues, such as the millennium anniversary of the construction of the capital in Hanoi in next year and the completion of a new congress hall within three years. We agreed to provide expert support in the area of conservation of ruins and relics and arrangement and exhibit plans in addition to conventional research on the ruins’ value.
This dispatch to Vietnam was conducted as part of the research using the scientific research fund of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Hereafter, more effective assistance is anticipated in coordination with the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust.
Practical on-site training
The second half of the course on the conservation of historical buildings, a part of the “Program for Capacity Building along the Silk Road,” which is a joint project with the China National Institute of Cultural Heritage, was conducted from early April at Kumbum (Ta’er) Monastery, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Qinghai province. While last year’s program focused on restoration theory and measurement survey, this year’s course focused on practicing the actual flow of work, from drawing up conservation management plan to basic design and detailed design. In addition, by giving an outline of the restoration system unique to Japan, in which survey, design and on-site control are undertaken by the same person, we sought to offer an opportunity for Chinese trainees to think about the meaning of conservation that often relies on given manuals.
Lectures from the Japanese side, which sent 5 lecturers in succession, were completed at the end of May and were followed by lectures from the Chinese side, which continued until the end of July. The twelve trainees have been working hard in their respective fields, but the course has also shed light on various issues. First, although both Japan and China have traditions of wooden constructions and Chinese characters, there are significant unexpected differences between Chinese and Japanese architecture. Thus there was often trouble communicating because of differences in terminology and views on restoration. Second, since restoration work was already in progress at many parts of the monastery, on-site practice could be conducted only on a part of the work site. As such, there was no choice but to change the building used for practice in cases when we could not reach an agreement with the monastery, who wanted the restoration to be done quickly. We really felt the necessity of making sufficient consultation at the planning stage for both curriculum and operation.