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

Start of a joint project with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures

Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures
The signing ceremony

 The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) was founded in 1999 in Norwich in the County of Norfolk, UK. A site for research on Japanese art and culture, the Sainsbury Institute has actively developed projects using an international cooperative research network. In addition, the Sainsbury Institute has ties to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo through donation of part of the collection of YANAGISAWA Takashi , a former expert of the National Research Institute, to the Sainsbury Institute, the National Research Institute, and the Asian Art Museum in Seattle. In February 2010, HIRANO Akira , Librarian of SISJAC’s Lisa Sainsbury Library was invited to attend a seminar held at the National Research Institute. Both institutes have conducted exchanges and both are exploring continuing ties. 
 A joint project, the Project to Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art, was instituted. On July 24, 2013 (Wed.), KAMEI Nobuo, Director General of the National Research Institute, visited UK to sign a memorandum of agreement with MIZUTORI Mami , Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute. The Project seeks to create a common basis for Japanese art research in Japan and abroad. The National Research Institute previously unveiled the Art-related Reference Database, which contains information on references in Japanese published in Japan. To complement this database, the Sainsbury Institute will create and unveil a database containing information on references in English published outside of Japan. The memorandum of agreement is valid for 5 years, but both parties are aware of the need to foster medium- to long-term cooperation, given the basic and ongoing nature of the Project. 
 TANAKA Atsushi and WATADA Minoru of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems accompanied Director General KAMEI of the National Research Institute. The day after the signing, July 25 (Thurs.), TANAKA and WATADA discussed specific directions for the Project with staff of the Sainsbury Institute. This year, the Sainsbury Institute estimated what routine work it can perform and the amount of data that will be assembled. This was done so that the Sainsbury Institute could determine the extent of the information to gather and so that it could begin gathering information and entering data in accordance with the techniques of the National Research Institute. Next year, the Sainsbury Institute will unveil the database and include links to its counterpart in Japan once the Sainsbury Institute has assembled a sufficient amount of information. More effective techniques for cross-searching both databases will then be explored, and plans are to make the databases accessible to the general public.
 A survey of Japanese paintings in the collection of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts of the University of East Anglia was conducted on July 23 (Tues.), the day before the memorandum was signed. Plans are, via the Project, to subsequently cooperate with institutions in UK that are linked to the Sainsbury Institute, such as the Sainsbury Centre, as the need arises.

2nd Conference of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems held in 2011

 The 2nd Conference of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems was held on May 25 (Wed.), 2011. A presentation was made by Matthew P. Mckelway, associate professor at Columbia University in NY, entitled The Largest Rakuchu-Rakugai-zu Screen: Conditions During and Deduced Eras of Its Production. Rakuchu-Rakugai-zu (Grand View of Kyoto) on an Eight-fold Screen (private collection) recently made news when exhibited at Nagoya City Museum’s exhibit entitled Momoyama: Time of Transformation (Aug. 25–Nov. 7, 2010). The presentation started off by recounting the piece’s background from when it appeared at auction at Christie’s in 1990. The presentation meticulously discussed the era when the piece was produced and conditions under which it was produced by comparing the piece to works with similar content and in similar styles. After the presentation, attending researchers from the Institute and from other organizations engaged in an active and frank exchange of opinions. The Eight-fold Screen is likely to be highlighted both in history and in art history in the future. This presentation and discussion provided an unparalleled opportunity for experts to share essential information and identify problems.

Publication of the Compilation of Dated Inscriptions on Japanese Paintings – 15th Century

Compilation of Dated Inscriptions on Japanese Paintings - 15th Century

 Department of Research Programming has published the Compilation of Dated Inscriptions on Japanese Paintings – 15th Century (A5, 720 pages) to report results of its 5-year research project “Documentary Research on East Asian Art.” This volume reproduces and chronologically arranges 833 dated inscriptions from among inscriptions found on paintings produced primarily in Japan in the 100 years of the 15th century, which marked the height of the Muromachi period. This volume is a continuation of the Compilation of Dated Inscriptions on Japanese Paintings – 10th–14th Centuries published in 1984.
  Inscriptions that are directly inscribed on cultural properties provide a basis for authenticating those properties and determining the era when they were produced, but such inscriptions also serve as an indicator of where to position the numerous works that lack inscriptions. Without question, this compilation of inscriptions provides a foundation for the protection and study of cultural properties. Research often tends to overly specialize, but this compilation consolidates that research to provide new perspectives. Such projects are an important part of the Institute’s ongoing mission.
 This volume is available from Chuo Koron Bijutsu Shuppan. Please see the website below for details.

Study Related to the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas

Roma scroll tentatively attached and dried (partial)

 One of the works that we are restoring this year is Mushi Uta-awase Emaki (Insect Poetry Contest hand scroll), owned by the Roma National Museum of East Asian Art (Italia). This is a lovable picture scroll that shows various insects struggling to master waka poetry, but it was clear that there were some parts missing and some pages were out of order. We looked for a similar scroll and found a complete example with the same content stored in a personal residence. When the circumstances were explained to the owner, he willingly consented to the examination, and we could see the actual work on Thursday, February 5. Although some questions remained, it was revealed that both scrolls had been very close; the privately owned scroll had been created by directly copying the Roma scroll (in its initial complete state), or perhaps there was an original that was common to both. As such, those pages that were out of order in the Roma scroll were corrected due to this evidence, and the missing parts were handled appropriately with confidence. On the same day, we brought the results to the shokakudo in Kyoto City that was performing the restoration work, and there we held final discussions on restoration. For the scroll, work on the actual sheets was nearly completed, and then tentatively attached and dried. In the near future, it will be returned to the rolled mount, and restoration will be complete. Then the scroll will be open to public view in the Tokyo National Museum in late May before it is returned to Italy.

Discussion on the “’Juko-in’ Issue”

 The Department of Research Programming holds a seminar every month. On February 27 (Wednesday) Watada made a presentation entitled “Considering the ‘Juko-in’ Issue.” Traditionally, the main hall of Daitoku-ji Juko-in (Important Cultural Property) is said to have been built in 1566 or 1538 based on the period of the creation of its wall paintings (National Treasures) by Kano Shoei and Eitoku. In his presentation, Watada proposed 1571 as the year of its construction based on pieces of historical records remaining and taking into consideration the constantly changing political situation of the time. This proposal was followed by a comment by Watanabe Yuji of the Fukuoka Art Museum, who had been invited to the workshop as a commentator. Watanabe suggested that, when the wall paintings of Juko-in are considered in the context of wall paintings in sub-temples as a whole, the arrangement of these paintings in the rooms follow the traditional manner. There was active discussion on this matter among the participants at the seminar.

Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas – On-site investigation by the painting team

Investigation at the Yale University Art Gallery
Investigation at the Brooklyn Museum

 The Department of Research Programming cooperates with the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques in its Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas, particularly from the art historical point of view concerning the restoration of Japanese paintings. Following the investigation held in Europe this spring, an investigation team composed of specialists in art history and conservation was organized with cooperation from the Department of Restoration Programming, Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques and a conservator from outside the Institute. They visited museums on the East coast of the United States to select candidate works for restoration. On September 11 they visited the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut and on September 16 the Brooklyn Museum in New York. They were surprised that both museums have collections of Japanese art of high quality. Although they were able to see only a part of those collections in this visit, it was found that several outstanding works from the Nambokucho period to the late Muromachi period (mid 14th century – late 16th century) were in urgent need of urgent, full-scale restoration. Discussions will now be held between the museums and the Institute, and a few of the works will be restored as part of the program for the fiscal year 2009. Following this investigation, the restoration team visited the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Vancouver Museum in Canada to conduct additional investigation for candidate works to be restored during the fiscal year 2008.

Study of Sotan

Research folders in the filing cabinet
Folder on Sotan taken out of the filing cabinet

 As part of its “Research on Materials for the Study of East Asian Art” project, the Art Research Materials Section of the Department of Research Programming is conducting basic study of Sotan (1413-1481), the official painter of the Ashikaga shogun family during the Muromachi period. Last fiscal year, we first made a comprehensive collection of materials related to Sotan which we compiled into an archive that will serve as the foundation for our study. In executing this work, we used the method of the pre-World War II ”Corps of East Asian Arts” project that produced comprehensive results concerning some painters of the Muromachi period as reference. In the process of this work we were able not only to confirm what may be called the “universal usefulness” of the method of ”Corps of East Asian Arts” for the purpose of forming a foundation for research but also to confirm the fact that the various kinds of archives related to art history which were formed intermittently from before the war and continue to be formed from time to time even now and which are found at the Institute are still effective today.
 This year by studying each material in detail and by making a general judgment of the collected materials, we are improving the quality of the materials so that we may achieve a closer and more accurate understanding of Sotan. The process of this phase of the project was presented at the 2nd In-House Research Seminar (July 10, “Study of Sotan” by Watada). Many parts of this presentation delved into more details when compared with the content of the public lecture given on October 28, 2006 (“Sesshu and Sotan” by Watada). We plan to publish the results of our study in The Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies).

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