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

Self-Evaluation Results for Fiscal Year 2008

 A meeting of the Institute Survey and Research Division of the Evaluation Committee of an independent administrative institution, the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage, and the general assembly of the committee were held on April 15 and May 11 respectively. The former is a session in which the Evaluation Committee comments on the self-evaluation of activities conducted in fiscal year 2008 by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and Nara, and the latter is a session in which feedback is given on the overall activities, including surveys and research, and finances of the Institute. According to the self-evaluation, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo judged that the annual plans for the said fiscal year were fully achieved for all activities and sufficient results were shown. In terms of the progress of its mid-term plans, almost all of the activities are progressing as planned.
 Comments and evaluations by the Evaluation Committee on the self-evaluation of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo are as follows. The committee recognized that considerable achievements have been made in various aspects of survey and research, including research using high-resolution digital image and studies on intangible cultural heritage. On the other hand, there was a request to further expansion on joint research conducted by different departments of the Institute, such as research for conservation and utilization of the Takamatsuzuka and Kitora Tumuli that the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and Nara jointly performed and the workshop on environmental conditions surrounding cultural properties, which was planned and implemented by the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration. Significant achievements were recognized in the implementation of international cooperation, such as conservation and restoration of cultural properties and training of experts mainly in Asian countries. Tentative translation of the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties into English and publication of other countries’ laws related to cultural properties were highly praised as well. With respect to active communication of survey and research results, creation of a brochure for children and publication of research results online were highly rated, but there was a request to announce future results in a way that is easier for the general public to understand. Various achievements were recognized in relation to advice given to and cooperation with the national government and local public authorities as well as contribution to education. We also received a great number of other feedback.
 The results of the self-evaluation and opinions from the Evaluation Committee will be utilized in planning future activity and improving corporative management.

Optical Survey of Five Hundred Luohan stored at Daitoku-ji

Photograph of the investigation held at Nara National Museum. (The existence of inscriptions is confirmed using light source equipment that emits light of various wavelengths)

 The Department of Research Programming has concluded a Contract for Optical Survey and Creation of High Definition Digital Content regarding Buddhist Art with Nara National Museum and has been carrying out joint research. As part of this contract, we studied and photographed the Five Hundred Luohan stored at Daitoku-ji from May 11 to 17, 2009 at Nara National Museum.
 Daitoku-ji’s Five Hundred Luohan is a very important work in art history, and a total of one hundred pieces of artwork were created by artists Lin Tinggui and Zhou Jichang from Junki 5 (1178) in Ningbo in Southern Song over a period of almost 10 years. Out of the existing 96 pieces (excluding the complementary works made in the Edo period), 37 pieces in total have been confirmed to have inscriptions, but these descriptions difficult to decipher with the naked eye due to aging deterioration.
 This survey started with the goal of learning about these inscriptions using optical methods such as fluorescent recording, and an additional 11 inscriptions (43 inscriptions in total) were confirmed. This is a meaningful finding not only in terms of art history, but also in terms of the history of this period and the history of religion.
 A conference will be held in mid-June by persons involved from both organizations based on the images shot during this survey, and will serve as investigation material for the second survey scheduled to be performed in autumn. Additionally, these survey results will be presented in part at Sacred Ningbo, the Origin of 1300 years of Japanese Buddhism: Everything Has Come from Here ( (link rot). It will also be summarized as a report sometime in or after the next fiscal year through further survey and investigation.

Optical Survey of Copper Bodhisattva in Pensive Pose with One Leg Pendent at Hyakusaiji Temple in Shiga

 On May 12, Mr. Tsuda Tetsuei and Ms. Sarai Mai of the Department of Research Programming conducted X-ray transmission photography and fluorescent X-ray non-destructive analysis of a copper bodhisattva in a pensive pose with one leg pendent from Hyakusaiji temple in Shiga as part of the current two-year plan, Investigation of and Research into Statues in Omi in Ancient and Medieval Times, Centering on Previously Undisclosed Statues such as Hidden Buddha Statues, at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. Funds for investigation and research were provided by the Idemitsu Culture and Welfare Foundation, and Mr. Inuzuka Masahide and Hayakawa Yasuhiro of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques offered their services as well. At 13:00 on May 12, the statue was brought into the Institute by the two curators from the Miho Museum who then conducted joint research with us and the resident priest of Hyakusaiji temple. The main purposes of this research were to examine the structure using X-ray transmission photography in order to check whether the head and body of the statue, where reconnection was visible at the breast, were created around the same time, and also to check the copper components in both parts using fluorescent X-ray non-destructive analysis. The statue will be open for viewing by the public this summer at Miho Museum.

New Children’s Website Created

 In May 2009, we created a new children’s website aimed at elementary and junior high school students. In the section entitled “All about working at Tobunken”, visitors can learn about the activities of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo in card format.
 We hope that children will take advantage of this website together with the What’s the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo?
( (link rot) children’s brochure published last July for their independent research projects during summer vacation. Please take some time to visit the website at

Training at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea

 Mr. Hyoki of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage received training in South Korea for two weeks from May 25 to June 8 based on the exchange between Japan and Korea on research related to the conservation of intangible cultural heritage decided upon last June with the Division of Folklore and Folklife of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea. In last year’s training, most of the surveying was conducted on the archives of important intangible cultural properties created by the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea, and research was also conducted on archives related to important intangible cultural properties in other Korean organizations. I myself did a detailed investigation on the current status of the traditional arts archive of the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts and the folk archive of the National Folk Museum of Korea. Both organizations have carefully established classifications for sorting materials and metadata in anticipation of a future coalition of archives: I felt that they taught many points that would be helpful for similar projects in Japan. During the training sessions I was able to have the opportunity to see two intangible cultural properties in the suburbs of Seoul: the Kannun Dano Festival, and the Yeongsanjae Ceremony.

Detaching the Mural Paintings of Kitora Tumulus

Detaching a mural painting with a wire-saw
Current state of the ceiling of Kitora Tumulus (The purple part shows the exposed stone.)

 The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques has been detaching the mural paintings of Kitora Tumulus as part of a project entrusted from the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Currently, there is concern about the spread of deterioration in the stone chamber due to microorganisms. Since there is an urgent need to detach the mural paintings, it has been decided to conduct detachment continuously for one month rather than to do the work for three days every month.
 The first stage of detachment started on May 11 and most of the painting on the south side of the ceiling was detached effectively. We were able to irradiate UV-C successfully to control microorganisms since all the areas where pigments had been applied had already been detached. Based on our success in this work, the next stage of detachment is planned for this autumn.

The Program for Capacity Building along the Silk Road: Historical Buildings Course

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.

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