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

March Facility Visit

 22 researchers from the Urban Issues and Environmental Issues in East Asia through Analysis from a Historical Viewpoint organization
 On March 16, a group from the above organization visited us to study, research, and conserve cultural properties in East Asia, and also to inspect the status of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. They toured the Restoration Studio of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques on the third floor, and the Center’s Analytical Science Section as well as the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation on the fourth floor. Those in charge of each facility provided explanations and answered questions.

‘Yearbook of Japanese Art, 2007 Edition’ Issued and “Reviewing Exhibition Catalogs” Symposium Presented

‘Year Book of Japanese Art, 2007 Edition’
“Reviewing Exhibition Catalogs”Symposium

 ‘The Yearbook of Japanese Art, 2007’ edition was issued on March 25, the 64th volume since it was first published in 1936. Needless to say, this yearbook is a collection of materials that records trends in “art” in the corresponding year, with a focus on domestic movement; this book looks at the basic material of Japanese art.
 Meanwhile, on March 20, the aforementioned symposium was hosted by the Japan Art Documentation Society (Venue: Umene Memorial Library of Wako University). The keynote report was followed by five presentations, including my presentation, entitled ‘Yearbook of Japanese Art and Exhibition Catalogs’. I reported on how the “exhibition catalogs” have been treated as materials in the “Yearbook of Japanese Art”, which has a history of over half a century, along with some issues regarding the current problems. Starting in 1984 the exhibition catalog in the Yearbook has been treated as “document materials”; starting in the 1999 edition, it has shown the documents included in the exhibition catalogs by providing one chapter on documents included in “art exhibition picture records”. This is to demonstrate that the exhibition catalogs include precise materials and data from an academic viewpoint. These catalogs have increased in tandem with the increase in establishment of new museums and art galleries since the 1980s. For example, the newest “2007 edition” includes 325 “picture records” from among 1888 exhibition data cases; 943 documents were selected from those records and are shown in the catalog. The importance of “exhibition catalogs” in terms of research is widely recognized: When editing the ‘Yearbook of Japanese Art’, I reported on how we can overcome the difficulty of closely investigating the documents as data and proceeding with a new edition while aiming at a comprehensive collection.

“Photos Taken of Kuroda Seiki II” Featured and Exhibited in Kuroda Memorial Hall

 Nowadays everyone easily uses a camera and takes pictures. But in the days when photography such as adjustment of focus, exposure, development was entirely left to manual operations, photographs were very valuable: Those photo data became clues to examining the corresponding age, including the background behind the photograph.
 In 2006 and 2007, Mr. Kaneko Mitsuo, a descendant of Kuroda Seiki’s wife Teruko, donated the photos and mementos of Kuroda Seiki that Mr. Kaneko had kept stored to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The Institute’s Department of Research Programming investigated and arranged the logs of these materials and relevant items, and held an exhibition entitled “Photos Taken of Kuroda Seiki” in the Kuroda Memorial Hall last year. This project revealed the Kuroda image in a public place and included images such as a large-sized portrait of Kuroda Seiki in a court dress taken by Ogawa Kazumasa, an Imperial art specialist.
 This year, “Photos Taken of Kuroda Seiki II” was held in the Kuroda Memorial Hall from March 19 (Thu) to July 9 (Thu), with themes including “family portraits” and “painter’s atelier” for the second time. Kuroda painted the woman who later became his wife in Lakeside, and he painted his family as models in many works. In addition to the portraits of his natural father, adoptive father, and mother, he used models; his niece Kimiko appeared in Sunlight shone through trees, another niece appeared in Yukiko, 11 year-old girl, his wife Teruko in Portrait of a woman (charcoal/paper, 1898) and Portrait of a woman (oil painting/canvas, 1911-1912). When comparing the photos of these people and the pictures painted by Kuroda, we find that the works were not simply portraits of which main purpose is resemblance, as the title Lakeside implies, but they also provide an opportunity to consider reproducibility and fictitiousness in paintings and photos.
 The photos focus on the painter in his atelier and his concentration while he was producing the works. From the work hanging in the atelier we can understand the painter’s interests, and from the photos with models we can also grasp his relationship with them.
 To prevent the originals of these photo materials from deteriorating by exhibition, pictures with the original texture preserved and reproduced to full-size photographs are exhibited. This demonstrates the results obtained by research and development of digital image formation technology that can conserve photo data and show it to the public. We will continue to promote the studying of Kuroda Seiki while considering the conservation of the data itself, and plan to exhibit/release the results in Kuroda Memorial Hall.

“Structure of Nohkan and Ryuteki Clarified by X-ray Radiography” Exhibited at Entrance Lobby

Clarifying the structure of Nohkan and Ryuteki using radiography

 The Institute periodically exhibits panels at the entrance lobby so that all visitors can see our research results. Starting at the end of March, we have been introducing the results of radiography study on flutes used in Noh, Nohkan. The Nohkan delivers a unique sharp tone: To do so, the inner diameter between the mouthpiece and the first ventage has been narrowed as an artifice. The subsequent crafting technique was conventionally known: An additional material called “nodo (throat)” was inserted into this portion to narrow the inner diameter. However, X-ray photography discovered several old Nohkan flutes whose inner diameter had been narrowed without inserting “nodo”. One researcher put forward the view that Nohkan was derived in the process when a broken Ryuteki was repaired by inserting a tenon. However, this theory must now be revised as a result of this X-ray photography conducted. With this exhibition, we are making preparations so that the sound from an old Nohkan can be heard, and we are also exhibitingthe X-ray photo of the Ryuteki housed in the Buddha statue in the Kamakura period. We are very happy that this exhibit allows people to actually hear Japanese traditional music.

‘Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage’ Issued

‘Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage Vol. 3’

 Accompanying the reorganization and change in name from the Geino Department to the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2006, the name of the report magazine was also changed from ‘Geino no Kagaku’ to ‘Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage’. This year volume 3 was issued. This volume examines intangible cultural heritage as a whole, not limited to Geino, and half of the included research papers and reports are not directly connected to “Geino”. As soon as preparations are finalized, the PDF edition of all contents will be posted on our Website in the same way as before.

Field Survey at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base

Type 2 flying boat
Conditions inside

 The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques is studying the storage environment and deterioration status of iron cultural assets stored outdoors, including airplanes, at the JMSDF Kanoya Air Base. The iron cultural assets (planes, railway vehicles, scaffolds, boats, and ships) that are currently being conserved cannot usually be stored under a roof due to their large sizes, and they are in very poor condition as a conservation environment. We are also continuing to measure the temperature and humidity inside the airplane (Type 2 flying boat) exhibited outdoors. The conservation environment inside is more stark than that outdoors because it is an enclosed place, and materials other than iron inside the plane (resin-made shields of electric wires, etc.) often melt and damage the inside resulting in a grave condition. We will work with JMSDF so that they will carefully understand the situation hereafter and take necessary measures.

Research Exchange with French Historical Monument Research Laboratory

French Historical Monument Research Laboratory (LRMH)

 We were invited by the French Historical Monument Research Laboratory (LRMH), which conserves the cave of Lascaux, to visit from March 16 to 20, 2009. At that time we exchanged research on countermeasures against biodeterioration of monument, etc. The LRMH is conducting advanced research activities to delay the biodeterioration of caves and stone-constructed cultural heritage, and it has been implementing conservation of wooden structures in recent years. Three full-time researchers are energetically focusing on the study of biodeterioration, and, in addition to this microorganism department, many researchers are operating in various departments: cave wall paintings, wall paintings, wooden structures, stone cultural heritage, concrete, metal, ornamental goods, stained glass, and analysis. The LRMH is performing studies in an area very close to that targeted by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. We hope to have more research interaction and exchange information actively in related areas.

Science for Conservation No.48 Issued

Science for Conservation No.48

 The latest issue of Science for Conservation, the research bulletin of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques and the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo was issued on March 31, 2009. The latest study results of various projects implemented by the Institute, such research information on the conservation of the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus and the Kitora Tumulus and research studies on the conservation of the Dunfuang Mogao Caves, are released and reported therein. Please take a look at the documents, which are available in their entirety on our website (PDF version). (Visit the visit Conservation Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques at our website:

THE 31st INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON THE CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION OF CULTURAL PROPERTY-Study of Environmental Conditions Surrounding Cultural Properties and Their Protective Measures-(in English) issued

THE 31st INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON THE CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION OF CULTURAL PROPERTY-Study of Environmental Conditions Surrounding Cultural Properties and Their Protective Measures-

 We issued a report on the 31st International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, Study of Environmental Conditions Surrounding Cultural Properties and Their Protective Measures, which the Institute held from February 5 to 7, 2008. A wide variety of study results were summarized, including reports on case examples of damage and the methods to measure, investigate, and evaluate them, as well as environmental analyses including simulation and case examples of protective measures to conserve the mural paintings of the Lascaux Caves, the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, and other sites. A number of activities in various foreign nations such as Italy, France, and Germany are described. The drawing up of conservation plans for mural paintings are especially valuable as case examples. We were able to transmit solid and informative study results overseas as the basis of future study exchange.

Networking Core Centres for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Project in Mongolia

Meeting with the chairman of UMA
Viewing survey and restoration drawings at the National Archives

 As part of the Networking Core Centres Project for Mongolia, four members of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation visited Ulan Baator from March 9 to 13 and held discussions to prepare technical cooperation projects for the recording and documenting of stone ruins and the restoration of buildings. Our counterparts are Mr. Enkhbat, Director of the Center for Cultural Heritage of Mongolia, for training programs related to the conservation of stone ruins in Khentii province, and Ms. Oyunbileg, Senior Officer in charge of museums and cultural heritage at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia, for training programs related to the conservation of buildings. In regard to the training program for the conservation of buildings, we met the chairman of the Union of Mongolian Architects (UMA) and exchanged information about topics such as the role of architects in the restoration and conservation of heritage buildings, ways to determine repair and conservation planning methodology, the current state of conservation works, issues related to capacity development as well as execution and control at worksites. We also visited the National Archives of Mongolia and were deeply impressed when we learned that all Mongolian architecture-related documents from 1939 onward, including those related to built heritage conservation, are stored there. We also found similarities between survey methods used in Mongolia and in Japan as we studied an old temple’s actual survey and restoration plans and drawings made in the 1980s. This visit to Mongolia allowed us to capture a good view of the way to further achieve the purpose of the Networking Project: building a system for conservation of cultural heritage that best suits the situation of Mongolia, whilst nurturing experts in this field and the next generation, through mutual communication.

Cooperation with the Establishment of the Conservation Center of the Grand Egyptian Museum

Training on the status investigation at Egypt Museum
Practical training of documentation

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation provides technical support for the establishment of the Conservation Center, an affiliated organization of the Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza, the construction of which is currently underway, in response to a request from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
 Various conservation workshops have been held since last year for capacity development of specialists who will play active roles at the center. In a metals conservation workshop held for five days from March 1 to 5 in the meeting room of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, a lecturer, who has extensive experience in excavation and research in Egypt and in conservation projects, was invited from Greece. In the lecture, she explained the characteristics of metals in the first half of the workshop. In the second half of the workshop, participants were given an opportunity for hands-on practice on conservation, and storage. For practical training of documentation, they were able to use the collection in the Egyptian Museum. As a result, the workshop was very significant. We will answer further requests from Egypt and continue to support capacity development and technology transfer of techniques.

“Cooperation in Economic Development and International Cooperation for Cultural Heritage” Workshop by the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage

Lecture by Ms. Kalin Ceebee

 The fourth workshop of the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage, “Cooperation in Economic Development and International Cooperation for Cultural Heritage”, took place on March 26, 2009. We invited Mr. Meinolf Spiekerman of the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Ms. Kalin Ceebee of the Swedish National Cultural Heritage Board, Cultural Heritage Committee and Mr. Morita Takahiro of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to give lectures about ideal cooperation for economic development and cultural heritage conservation by Germany, Sweden, and Japan. GTZ provides support packages for health services, traffic control, and other services, while making use of conservation of historical cities in an urban development cooperation framework. The Swedish cooperation for Tanzania aims at improving the hygiene of the inhabitants and eradicating poverty by restoring historical buildings. Over 50 people participated in the workshop, where they discussed the collaborative institution status of various organizations for implementing support and how the uniqueness of one’s native country can be adapted to a partner country. The Consortium will continue to provide the latest information and also a place for discussions through workshops.

Project for the Conservation of the Mural Paintings at Ajanta Caves: Report on the First Mission

Nondestructive analysis of pigments using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer
Sampling color specimens

 From February 12 to March 15, 2009, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, dispatched the first mission for the “Networking Core Project Concerning the Conservation of Mural Paintings between the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, and Archaeological Survey of India,” a part of the Networking Core Centres for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage.
 There are many valuable Buddhist mural paintings remaining at Ajanta Caves dating up to the first century C.E. in the earlier period and to the fifth to approximately the eighth centuries C.E. in the later period. However, when trying to conserve these paintings, various problems that are found with the mural paintings of Bamiyan are shared at Ajanta: the strength of the bedrock where the caves were cut, the infiltration of rainwater, bat excrement and blackened attachments likely caused by smoke. To deal with these problems, the first mission conducted investigation together with Indian conservation experts and shared knowledge and experience of conservation materials and techniques, aiming to develop human resources and transfer technology.
 Specific details of the investigation included the following: recording the condition of conservation of the mural paintings (photographing, rough measurement of caves and condition survey), installing thermohygrometers (data logger) to survey the environment; studying the chronology, techniques, and materials of the mural paintings (sampling specimens, infrared/ultraviolet photography and nondestructive analysis using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer); and examining bat excrement.

Finishing the Conservation Project for the Stone Statues of the Tombs of the Tang Dynasty in Shaanxi Province

Evaluation meeting
Mr. Kuroda Tetsuya (center) is given a commemorative gift

 The conservation of the stone statues of the tombs of the Tang dynasty in Shaanxi province, which started in 2004 as a joint project between China and Japan, has been completed successfully. The final site inspection and project evaluation by special advisors and external evaluation committee members were conducted in Xi’an from March 16 to 18. This project was funded by the Japanese benefactor, Mr. Kuroda Tetsuya, who offered a total of 100 million yen to the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research. In the project, stone statues found at the north, south, east and west gates of three mausoleums from the Tang dynasty – two imperial tombs, Qianling and Qiaoling, and Shunling Mausoleum, where the mother of Wu Ze Tian is buried – were restored. The project also included the improvement of the surrounding environment.
 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has been in charge of the project, working with the Xi’an Centre for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage. Various investigations and restoration work have been conducted, workshops have been hosted, and Chinese members have been invited for research.
 Mr. Kuroda and his wife also participated in this inspection and meeting and were given words of appreciation and a commemorative gift for their support from the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau.

Creating the Longmen Grottoes Image Database

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been developing various support activities and joint research since 2001 to protect the Longmen Grottoes, a world heritage site located in the Luoyang City of Henan Province, China. From 2002 to 2007, together with the Photographing Room of the Department of Research Programming, we used digital cameras which are showing significant development in recent years to advance our study of the collection of experimental image data, and to build up a control system for the three caves of Longmen Grottoes: Lord Huangfu Caves (first half of the sixth century C.E.), Lotus-flower Cave (first half of the sixth century C.E.), and Jing shan si dong (latter half of the seventh century C.E.). The results were compiled in one report titled ‘World Heritage Longmen Grottoes – Japan-China Joint Photographing Project Report (Image Catalog)’ created in March 2003. However, the number of printed copies of this report is limited, so it has not been seen by many people, and the printed matter could not fully demonstrate the effect of the digital images. The fundamental assignment for cultural heritage conservation activities is how to enhance the openness of the various types of data collected by investigative research. Therefore, we decided first to build the control system as a theme, and the staff repeated trial and error for the method for containing data from the investigation. This was done simultaneously with photographing and making use of digital images, resulting in the completion of the Japanese edition of the database and starting of publicity for the Institute’s library. It is expected that using this database will further advance research on the above three caves. We also have high hopes that the method established here can be adapted to a database for other types of cultural heritage. A complete Chinese edition will be provided to the Longmen Grottoes Research Institute, our joint research partner.

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