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


Participation in symposium simultaneously held with “Art of the Samurai” exhibition

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The exhibition “Art of the Samurai — Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868”
The exhibition “Art of the Samurai — Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868”
Suzuki Norio giving a presentation.

 The exhibition “Art of the Samurai — Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868” was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (referred to as “Met” hereafter) in the United States from October 21, 2009 to January 10, 2010. Masterpieces of Japanese arms and armor from ancient times to the modern age were exhibited. The exhibition proved very popular not only with people from the US but also with people from countries all over the world, and no less than 300,000 people visited the exhibition during these three months. This exhibition also displayed swords, armors, saddles, quivers, and other pieces owned by the Met that were restored in the “Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas,” conducted by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. At the symposium held under the title “The Sunday at the Met” (November 8, 2009), which was related to the restoration of Japanese cultural properties, we had some presentations as follows. Mr. Ogawa Morihiro from the Met, responsible for the exhibition, explained the exhibition and the handling of swords, and Mr. Victor Harris, the former Keeper at the Department of Japanese Antiquities at the British Museum in the UK, gave a presentation on Japanese swords and their beauty. Mr. Fujishiro Okisato and his son Tatsuya, Japanese sword polishers, demonstrated how to polish a Japanese sword and gave some explanations. In addition, I presented an overview of efforts to conserve Japanese works of art in foreign collections and the philosophy and principles of restoring Urushi art objects in Japan. Over 700 people participated in this symposium, not only from the US but also from countries all over the world, which greatly surprised those connected with holding the exhibition — it was the first time such an enormous number of people had come to the Met since its founding. On the following day, a program called “The Scholars’ Day” (November 9) was held in the exhibition hall. It targeted restoration specialists and curators all over the US, and similar presentations were made. These days there is concern that the amount of research being done in the US on Japanese art and culture is falling, and that Japan’s presence in this respect is dwindling. So I feel this exhibition at the Met was revolutionary as an attempt to stimulate and develop such research. I pay my heartfelt respects and gratitude to Mr. Ogawa Morihiro, the special consultant on Japanese arms and armor at the Met, who spent over 10 years planning and executing this exhibition, and made enormous contributions to international exchange and the spread of Japanese culture and art, and to the Met.


November Facility Visit

 20 students of the cultural properties administration course hosted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs:
 On November 6, the 20 students visited the Institute from the courses for staff in charge of cultural properties administration in education boards of local governments hosted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, in order to enhance the qualities of the staff in charge by viewing the cultural properties restoration site. After listening to an overview given by Mr. Ide of the Planning and Liaison Section, they toured the chemical laboratory of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques on the fourth floor, the Restoration Studio of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques on the third floor, and the Library on the second floor. Those in charge of each facility provided explanations and answered questions.


Joint Research Conference with Nara National Museum

Joint Research Conference with Nara National Museum

 The Department of Research Programming held a research conference at our conference room on Thursday, November 5 to proceed with the confirmation of the results of joint research and the editing of “Report” to be issued hereafter. Three persons in charge of the Nara National Museum participated in the conference and the six people of our department attended – Director Tanaka, Shirono, Torimitsu, Tsuda, Emura and Tsuchiya. We discussed how to execute the report of results obtained by researching the pedestal used for reading stored in Kasuga Taisha Shrine, the plate pictures on pedestals of Sakyamuni Buddha trinity and the Buddha of Healing stored in the Golden Hall of Horyu-ji Temple last autumn, and Five Hundred Luohan stored at Daitoku-ji Temple this May and September. Based on this conference, we are now editing the report of the results on the pedestal used for reading stored in Kasuga Taisha Shrine and the plate pictures on pedestals of the Sakyamuni Buddha trinity and the Buddha of Healing stored in the Golden Hall of Horyu-ji Temple for issuance at the end of this fiscal year.


Special opening of Kuroda Memorial Hall

 As part of the Ueno no Yama Bunka Zone Festival, we provided a special opening period before and after the Culture Day (November 3), and opened the Kuroda Memorial Hall every day from 9:30 to 17:00, differing from its usual opening of twice a week. This year we specially opened the Hall for six days from November 3 (Tuesday) to 8 (Sunday), and had 1,895 visitors. The Kuroda Memorial Hall, built in accordance with the last wishes of oil painter Kuroda Seiki, was completed in 1928. It is an important building as a western style art gallery created by architect Okada Shinichiro and has permanent exhibitions of a significant collection of Kuroda Seiki’s paintings, including important cultural properties Lakeside and Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment. The Hall is usually open from 13:00 to 16:00 on Thursdays and Saturdays.


Fourth Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

4th Conference on Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage holds a conference on the study of discussing various problems concerning the conservation and inheritance of intangible folk cultural properties every year. We held the fourth conference with the theme of “inheriting intangible folk cultural properties and their relationship with children” at the seminar room of our Institute on November 19, 2009. The declining birthrate and a growing proportion of elderly people have also greatly affected the inheritance of folk cultural properties. In such circumstances, however, various kinds of assistance are given in cooperation with various organizations such as schools and museums so that children become familiar with local traditional events and festivals and can participate in them. At the conference, advanced examples of such activities were reported, and active discussions were held thereon. The details of the conference will be issued as a report in March 2010.


Workshop: Nondestructive Examination of Biodeterioration of Cultural Heritage, Insect Damage Examination, and Use of Examination Results in Repair

Workshop on November 20, 2009

 The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a workshop at the conference room on the basement floor of Institute on November 20, 2009, as part of its research into measures against biodeterioration of cultural heritage. This workshop was for experts actually engaged in work at field sites and performed in round-table format so that specific discussions were fully executed. First, Mr. Harada Masahiko at the Nikko Cultural Assets Association for the Preservation of Shrines and Temples gave a lecture titled メHidden insect damage at the Nikkosan Rinno-ji Temple Hondo – Treatment and Repairモ and talked about actual cases of damage by priobium cylindricum, which was probably the first case seen in an important cultural property. Mr. Komine Yukio of Japan Institute of Insect Damage to Cultural Properties gave a detailed report on an actual insect damage survey. Professor Fujii Yoshihisa at the Graduate School, Kyoto University gave a lecture on field surveying using resistographs and acoustic emission, and Mr. Torigoe Toshiyuki at the Kyushu National Museum gave a lecture on the detection of interior insects in analysis example of actual damaged wood using an X-ray CT for cultural heritage. Based on these lectures, active discussions were made on the future surveys and treatments and how those results are utilized in planning basic experiments and future repair. (15 participants)


International Symposium “Restoration of Japanese Paintings – Advanced Tecnology and Traditional Techniques

General discussions

 We held the 33rd International symposium on the conservation and restoration of cultural property “Restoration of Japanese Paintings – Advanced Technology and Traditional Techniques” at the Heiseikan of Tokyo National Museum for the three days from November 12 to 14. Four lectures were given from foreign countries and eleven from Japan on the restoration of Japanese paintings in order to recognize anew the materials and techniques by confirming the current status inside and outside Japan scientifically and objectively, as well as to promote the conservation and utilization of Japanese paintings owned widely in the world by sharing the knowledge acquired here. Over 350 people – restorators, conservation scientists, curators and manufacturers of traditional materials – participated in the symposium. A report on the details of lectures and discussions will be issued next year.


Conservation and Restoration of Mural Painting Fragments in Tajikistan and Capacity Building (Sixth Mission)

Treatment of sides of mural painting fragment
Exhibited mural painting fragment

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation dispatched the 6th mission for Conservation and Restoration of Mural Painting Fragments in the collection of the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan as part of an exchange program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs from October 4 to November 17, 2009. Together with the four Tajik trainees, we restored the mural painting fragments excavated from the Kara-i Kahkaha (Shahristan) site in northern Tajikistan in continuation of the previous mission. Joining the mural fragments of plant pattern excavated from the same site and cleaning were finished and securing the joined fragments on a new support (mount) was completed by the previous mission. As finishing work, in this mission we coated the missing part on the surface and the sides with filling agent and attached a bracket to the back.
 On October 28, we installed the mural paintings in the exhibition room of the Museum under the auspices of the Japanese Embassy Provisional Acting Ambassador in Tajikistan and the participants in the workshop of Conservation and Restoration of Mural Paintings unearthed in Central Asia 2009. All participants shared the delight of the Tajik trainees, who joined and cleaned the mural painting for themselves and first exhibited it. We will cooperate in fostering conservation experts in Tajikistan through the restoration/conservation work.


Survey on Cultural Heritage damaged by West Sumatra Earthquake

Devastated historical buildings in Padang and the surrounding cityscape

 As requested by the UNESCO Jakarta Office and the Indonesian Government, we surveyed the status of cultural heritage damaged in Padang struck by West Sumatra Earthquake on November 11 to 25. The survey was divided into a survey of historical buildings conducted by Mr. Shimizu Shinichi and Ms. AKIEDA Yumi Isabelle (at the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation) and Mr. Takeuchi Masakazu (at the Agency for Cultural Affairs), and a survey on city planning carried out by Mr. Shuji Huno (at the University of Shiga Prefecture) and Mr. Takeuchi Yasushi (at the Miyagi University). The results of these surveys will be incorporated in the Padang reconstruction plan created by the Indonesian Government through UNESCO.
 Padang is the provincial capital of West Sumatra, and the history of the city’s formation can be tracked back to the 17th century. The earthquake was large-scale, and many RC-structure public buildings and schools of three stories and greater were damaged, and a lot of historical buildings where residents were now living were also damaged. How to handle the recovery going forward while promoting community participation is a big issue going forward.

/ SHIMIZU Shin'ichi)

to page top