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

Donations received

Director General Suzuki receiving donations from Director Shimojo and President Asaki From left to right: Vice Director Yoshida and Director Shimojo of the Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association, President Asaki of the Tokyo Bijutsu Club, Director General Suzuki of the Institute, Director Nagai of the Department of Management, and Goto

 Offers of donation were made to the Institute from the Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association to fund its projects to publish the results of investigation and studies concerning cultural properties and from the Tokyo Bijutsu Club to fund research projects of the Institute.
 The Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association has donated 1,000,000 every spring and autumn since the autumn of 2001 and this is the twelfth time. The Tokyo Bijutsu Club donated 1,000,000 last autumn and this is the second donation.
 On May 28, Director General Suzuki received the donations from Director Shimojo Kei’ichi of the Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association and President Asaki Masakatsu of the Tokyo Bijutsu Club at the Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association in Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo. The ceremony was followed by an informal meeting to discuss matters related to cultural projects such as the conservation of cultural properties and the exhibition of art objects.
 We greatly appreciate the understanding that has been shown to us about the projects undertaken by the Institute and wish to make use of these donations for the promotion of our projects.

Editing the report on the investigation of Hikone Byobu, a National Treasure

 Fuzokuzu, better known as Hikone Byobu since it was transmitted in the Ii family of Hikone, is rich with its composition that provides a narrative sense and the minute descriptions found in the figures and furnitures depicted. However, not much is known about the artist or the background for its creation. In addition, several interpretations have been made as to the fact that, the six pieces that constitute the folding screen have been passed down separately even though it is called a byobu (folding screen). As this screen will be restored over a period of 2 years from fiscal year 2006 as a project subsidized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Shiga prefecture, an investigation of the screen was conducted by the Hikone Castle Museum and the Institute. High-resolution digital images, infrared and photo-luminescence images were taken, and X-ray fluorescence analysis was made. Presently, we are editing the report on the results of our investigation that is scheduled to be published on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition “The National Treasure The Hikone Screen and the Refined Beauty of Koto Ware,” which will be held at the Hikone Castle Museum from September 28 to October 26. High-resolution images will be exhibited and a symposium will be held during this exhibition. In addition, the processes of restoration and points that have been elucidated through our investigation will be made public along with the restored screen.

A study on Yashiro Yukio’s view of Asian art

A photograph taken during a field trip to China by Yashiro Yukio and his team in 1940. It is clear that at that time there was an advertisement for Jintan on a gate in Beijing.
Yashiro Yukio (right) and Odaka Sennosuke in the early days of The Institute for Art Research. On advice from Yashiro, Odaka pursued the study of East Asian art and made field studies throughout Asia in the 1930s. (from Naki Sennosuke wo Shinobu)

 A meeting of The Japan Art History Society was held for three days, from May 25 to 27, at the Kyushu University, Kyushu National Museum and Chikushi Jogakuen University. On the first day I presented a paper entitled “An Aspect of Modernism in Asia as Seen from the Trademark for Jintan.”
 The name Jintan in the title, of course, is a trade name; it is a product that is still being sold on market (Originally, it was sold as a portable medicine for all purpose and from the 1920 as a breath care product. It is now sold as a non-medical product.) From the time of its first sale in 1905, the image of a the name Jintan on the breast of a gentleman with a beard in full regalia has been known throughout the nation by means of advertisement on newspapers and billboards as a trademark for this product. Moreover, from the very beginning there was an attempt to expand its market not just domestically but also to mainland China, which shares the same kanji culture. As a result, but the end of the Second World War the company had branches throughout Asia and were engaged in advertising activities in different districts that were no less active than in Japan. Thus, in my presentation I explained, through the visual image presented by the advertisement for Jintan, how the company tried to present its product and how, on the other hand, people of Asia viewed this product. By selecting this topic as an aspect, I discussed the issues related to the study of art history and administration associated with fine arts from the 1910s to the 1930s from the point of view of “modernism in Asia.”
 In my presentation, I placed focus on the study of Asian art that Yashiro Yukio (the director of The Institute of Art Research, the forerunner of this Institute, in its early years), Odaka Sennosuke (1901-33; a researcher in the Institute) and others conceived and the investigations that they conducted in different areas. The reason for doing so was that since one can already find a Jintan advertisement in the photographs taken by these researchers I thought that it is possible to verify, in the overlap of pre-War economic activities and studies on the humanities, the concept of “Asia” that the Japanese had at that time. For this presentation, I consulted the 75th Year of the History of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (tentative title), which will be published during this fiscal year, and the collection of research on Odaka Sennosuke, who is now being re-evaluated as a researcher of Asian Buddhist art. From this point, my presentation was not merely a presentation of a private study but also a report on one of the present circumstances concerning this Institute’s research on “art history.”

Opening of the Special Exhibit: Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas and restoration plan for fiscal year

Exhibition of screens restored
Panel exhibitions showing the process of restoration

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is engaged in the cooperation of the conservation of Japanese art objects that are in the collection of art galleries and museums overseas and in conducting joint research concerning conservation of such objects with their respective institutions. On April 20, 5 paintings and 1 craftwork whose restoration was complete at the end of March 2006 were introduced to the Administrative Committee of the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas. In addition, a special exhibition was held from May 15 to 27 at the Thematic Exhibition Room on the first floor of Heiseikan of the Tokyo National Museum so that this project may be more widely known. These objects are: Struggles of Genji and Heike Clans (a pair of folding screens; Osterreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Austria), Screens Illustrating Views of Kyoto and its Environs (a pair of folding screens; Royal Ontario Museum, Canada), Scenes from the Hogen Monogatari Tales (a folding screen; Naprstk Museum, Czech Republic), Meikocho (a folding screen; National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic), Female Ghost (by Utagawa Toyoharu, a hanging scroll; ibid) and Makie Decoration Cabinet with Landscape and Human (Museo National de Artes Decorativas, Spain).
 In fiscal year 2007, 5 paintings (4 new ones and 1 whose restoration will be continued from last year) and 4 craftworks (2 new ones and 2 which will be continued from last year) are being restored in Japan. These are: Kyoto Festivals (Hie Sanno Screen, a pair of folding screens; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA), A Shinto Painting of Yuima (a hanging scroll; Kimbell Art Museum, USA), The Buddha and the Sixteen Protectors (a hanging scroll; National Gallery of Australia), Birds and Flowers (by Hagetsu Tosatsu, a pair of folding screens; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia), and The Descent of the Amitābha Trinity (Amida mit Seishi und Kannon, a painting on canvas; Museum Rietberg, Switzerland; second year of restoration), Large Box for Writing Implements (hakubako) (Ferenc Hopp Museum of East Asian Art, Hungary), Cabinet with Mounting, European influenced shape(Osterreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Austria), The Writing Desk with Flower Design with Nagasaki raden technique (National Museum in Krakow, Poland; second year of restoration), and The Cabinet with Drawer for Inro with Chinese landscape by Nagasaki raden technique (Museo D’Arte Giappone “Edoardo Chiosonne,” Italy; second year of restoration). In addition 2 craftworks are being restored at the overseas restoration studio at Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst in Cologne, Germany. These are: Mondlaute Japanese (Gekkin, (Museum für Vökerkunde Wien, Austria) and Ornamental Coffer with Flower and Bird Design, makie and raden technique(Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Germany)

Information retrieval on traditional Japanese musical instruments

Page from the database on traditional Japanese musical instruments

 Data on traditional Japanese musical instruments can now be retrieved from the “Database on Traditional Japanese Instruments Designated as Cultural Properties” (ed. Department of Performing Arts, March 2006, in Japanese), which was introduced in TOBUNKENNEWS Vol. 25. From 2001 questionnaires on traditional Japanese musical instruments were sent to museums throughout Japan and boards of education of the prefectures, cities, towns and villages. This database is based on replies to those questionnaires from the boards of education and information obtained from the web sites of prefectures and cities. It is composed of 4 items: type of instrument, name of instrument, designation, name of prefecture. Categorization of the type of instruments is based on the Sachs-Hornbostel system and classified into chordophones, aerophones, idiophones, membranophones and excavated instruments. With regard to the names of instruments, it is possible to retrieve information by part agreement search, for example by inputting tsuzumi instead of kotsuzumi or fue instead of ryuteki (fue used in gagaku). There are 6 kinds of designation: by nation, prefecture, city, ward, town and village. However, recent changes due to the merger of cities, towns and villages are not reflected on the database. Data will be updated from time to time so that it will be possible to confirm the location of traditional instruments.

Scientific research on an original copy of Cruydt-Boeck

Observing a microscope image of the cloth binding of the original copy

 Cruydt-Boeck is a herbal written by Rembertus Dodonaeus (1517-1585), a Belgian naturalist. An original copy of its second edition in Dutch (1618) was imported to Japan during the Edo period. It is known that Noro Genjo and others wrote the first herbal in Japanese from 1741 to 1750 by order of Tokugawa Yoshimune based on a translation of Cruydt-Boeck. It is also said that Ishii Toko, Yoshida Masayasu and others made a complete translation by order of Matsudaira Sadanobu in 1823.
 Of the several copies of the original said to have been imported, the one in the collection of the Waseda University Library was separated into 7 volumes after being imported and then re-bound as a book. The first of the 7 volumes is being restored by Okamoto Koji, a book restorer. In the process of restoration, it was found that a very sophisticated Western style of bookbinding was used for the original copy and that there is a possibility that it is one of the oldest books made in this style in Japan. Thus, on request from Mr. Okamoto, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo set off to conduct a scientific analysis of the binding materials in cooperation with other institutes in order to obtain information that will enable us to determine the period at which it was made bound. To this day, image scanning analysis by Kato Masato of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques has revealed that paper used for a book published in France in the latter half of the 18th century was used for the inside cover. In addition, attenuated total reflection analysis by Sasaki Yoshiko of the Kyoto Institute of Technology points to a great possibility that domestic hemp was used as binding thread. Furthermore, UV-visible reflection spectroscopy by Yoshida has shown that the cloth binding, which is thought to be Jouy print, was dyed with indigo. Since the original copy is severely damaged, extreme care is taken to research the various materials. For this reason, it will require much more time before we can obtain the above-mentioned results. We hope to continue work so as to clarify the history of this original copy little by little by selecting analytical methods most appropriate for each material.

Conservation of the mural paintings of the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, a National Treasure (with focus on the conservation of paintings)

Mural paintings that have been dismantled, transported to the Temporary Restoration Facility and are waiting to be restored

 With regard to the conservation of the mural paintings of the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, it was decided in 2005, from the point of view of prevention of damage due to microorganisms, to temporarily dismantle the stone chamber and to remove the paintings for restoration. Discussions were held concerning various issues such as the method for dismantling the stone chamber and transporting the stones, method for treating the mural paintings and the stones, and the construction of a restoration facility. From April 2007, the work of dismantling the stone chamber, transporting the stones to the restoration facility and the restoration of the paintings started. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is involved in this project for the conservation of the mural paintings especially from the aspects of environmental control, biological measures and restoration of the paintings. In this month’s report, measures taken with regard to the paintings will be introduced.
 Various influences that may occur to the paintings when transporting the stones from the tumulus to the restoration facility were discussed in detail.
 The surface of the paintings is first reinforced by using cellulose derivatives and/or protected by using a special type of paper. Once transported to the Temporary Restoration Facility built for the purpose, the stones are cleaned in the preparation room to remove dirt and grime from the surface. Although the environment inside the facility is in a condition not favorable for fungal growth, sterilization with ethanol is also done. Once cleaning is completed, the stones are taken to their respective positions within the restoration room. Main work of the restoration of the paintings begins after the stones have been moved into the restoration room. Presently, paper applied for protection is carefully being removed. The painting surface is being carefully observed and ways of cleaning the painting surface and methods of restoration are being discussed.
 As of May 31, 7 stones have been moved into the Temporary Restoration Facility and are waiting full-scale restoration.

Joint research on the mural paintings of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes and the dispatch of trainees

Photographing in Cave 285 of the Mogao Caves

 The fifth phase of the Joint Research on the Conservation of the Mural Paintings of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes is in its second year. Staff of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo was sent to Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes for three weeks from May 8 to conduct the first half of this year’s joint investigation. Investigation that was begun last year was continued at Cave 285, which is considered very important because of the inscriptions of the years 538 and 539 found there and of its traditional Chinese subjects in addition to its Buddhist art. Photographs were taken and analysis using digital microscopes and visible spectroscopy were conducted. Moreover, additional sampling was done not only from the walls of Cave 285 but also from those of Caves 268, 272 and 275, which are considered the earliest extant examples, to determine the period of the caves by radio-carbon dating in a joint study with Nagoya University. Various preparations were also made for the latter half of the joint investigation, which is scheduled for this summer, and for the joint research that will be conducted with the staff of the Dunhuang Academy who will be visiting Japan after autumn. Furthermore, three graduate students went to the Mogao Grottoes from Japan with this investigation team. They were selected from different fields of discipline – namely conservation science, restoration of paintings and management of cultural heritage – as “trainees dispatched to Dunhuang” by public announcement. They will stay in Dunhuang until mid-September and receive guidance from specialists at The Conservation Institute of Dunhuang Academy concerning diverse matters related to the protection of mural paintings. This training is expected to continue for three more years and will open the way for young Japanese specialists, who have little chance to directly study the conservation of mural paintings. We expect them to contribute to conservation in the future both in Japan and overseas.

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