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

Facility Visit, September

At the Performing Arts Studio

 Six students from Okachimachi Taito Junior High School, Taito Ward:
 On September 16, six students from Okachimachi Taito Junior high school visited our facility as part of learning activities at their school. The students toured the Performing Arts Studio of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The staff members in charge of the section explained the work they do and answered their questions.

Seeking to make the Meiji Period art journal Mizue available on the Web

Cover of Issue 1 of Mizue (July 1905 edition)

 Through a project on General Research regarding the Publication and Utilization of Research on Cultural Properties, the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems is seeking to coordinate with other bodies to effectively display the journal on the Web and utilize accumulated research on cultural properties. Among art journals in the Institute’s collection, some Meiji Period art journals are defunct and their copyrights have expired. Numerous readers here in Japan and overseas wish to view Mizue, one such journal, so as part of the project the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems is seeking to coordinate the National Institute of Informatics to make the journal available on the Web. On September 13th, a conference to achieve that end was held at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The goal would be to display the journal on the Web with a full index and links; article searches would allow readers to view images of the main text on the Web. Representatives of both institutes determined steps to achieve that goal and effective ways to display the journal on the Web. Representatives of both institutes reaffirmed their intent to display Issues 1-10 within a year and later display issues from the Meiji Period up to Issue 89 as part of the project.

Completion of emergency measures to rescue damaged artworks of the Rikuzentakata Municipal Museum

Carrying damaged works out of the Rikuzentakata Municipal Museum
Cleaning the backside of canvas

 The Great East Japan Earthquake that hit Japan on March 11th of this year resulted in a tsunami that caused extensive water damage to the entire collection of the Rikuzentakata Municipal Museum in Iwate Prefecture. The Museum exhibited and stored cultural artifacts and natural science specimens. It also stored oil paintings, calligraphy works, and block prints done by local artists. After the disaster, these artworks were transported from the site to facilities under prefectural control in the City of Morioka by curators dispatched by museums belonging to the Japanese Council of Art Museums. Emergency measures were then taken to rescue these works.
 At the site of the Rikuzentakata Municipal Museum, most of the surrounding buildings had been washed away, and only part of the damaged frame of the museum remained. On July 12th and 13th, curators surveyed and packed the works in the collection under a hot sun and then transported them to facilities under prefectural control in the City of Morioka. Many of the works were quite large (sizes 200-500) and some works were severely damaged by mold since the air temperature had risen after the works were exposed to seawater, so the works had to be fumigated prior to emergency efforts. Works were fumigated from August 9th to 16th and emergency efforts began on August 21st. Close to 700 curators and conservation specialists from Hokkaido to Kyushu came from the Japanese Council of Art Museums to participate in the efforts. They worked non-stop to clean paintings and plaques and mold-proof works so that they would be able to survive interim storage in museum repositories. In total, 156 works were fully treated and delivered to the Iwate Museum of Art repository on September 29th. Plans are for the City of Rikuzentakata to deposit these works with the Iwate Museum of Art in the future. Rescue efforts were undertaken by the Japanese Council of Art Museums, the Iwate Prefectural Board of Education, the City of Rikuzentakata’s Board of Education, the Iwate Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Art. Efforts were supported and coordinated by the Cultural Property Rescue Program Committee (of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo).
 Works survived this massive disaster and were cared for by numerous individuals so that they can be protected and handed down to future generations. Fervent hopes are that these works will not lie dormant in museum repositories but that they will have the opportunity to entertain the public.

The 35th International Symposium on “Tradition and Transmission of Textile Techniques: Present Condition of Research and Conservation” was held

Lecture underway

 The 35th International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties was held at the Heiseikan Large Auditorium, Tokyo National Museum from Sept. 3 to 5, 2011 with “Tradition and Transmission of Textile Techniques: Present Condition of Research and Conservation” as its theme.
 At the symposium, domestic and foreign experts from various disciplines related to textiles, such as craftsmen, restorers, curators, and researchers were invited to discuss the “making,” “protecting,” and “handing down” of textiles. This symposium sought to suggest directions for future research on textile techniques. Particular focus was placed on problems with raw materials and tools encountered during the making and restoring of textiles, the nature of the system to educate successors to pass on these techniques to future generations, and multifaceted approaches to the study of textile techniques.
 Two keynote speeches given at the beginning of the symposium dealt with the fundamental themes of textile techniques, such as the fact that these techniques had inevitably undergone change over the years and that some of techniques had been lost in that process.
 Following the keynote speeches were 4 sessions on Protecting of Textile Techniques, Textile Conservation Today, Approaches to Textile Techniques, and Transmission of Textile Techniques; these sessions were followed by a general discussion. Each session included interesting presentations dealing with problems such as advice on handing down textile techniques from the craftsmen’s points of view, the history and current state of restoration techniques at home and abroad, methods of studying domestic and foreign textiles and other related materials in order to advance research on textile techniques, and the education of successors to carry on these techniques.
 In the general discussion, problems commonly encountered by participants were discussed, such as how to conserve textile techniques that inevitably change over time, technical problems that craftsmen and restorers face, and differences in concepts of keeping modern textile collections in Japan and abroad.
 There was not enough time to delve deeply into each problem, but the participants praised the symposium as a significant opportunity to discuss present problems and to build new networks among colleagues. Plans are to publish details of the symposium in proceedings next year.

Study of a newly donated item, a biwa (a type of lute) with mother-of-pearl designs of flowers and birds named Ko-Cho-Gen, in the Saga Prefectural Museum

The back of the biwa Ko-Cho-Gen in the Saga Prefectural Museum

 Recently donated to the Saga Prefectural Museum, a biwa (a type of lute) with mother-of-pearl designs of flowers and birds and named Ko-Cho-Gen was studied by the Institute’s Izumi TAKAKUWA and Prof. Haruko KOMOTA of the Musashino Academia Musicae. This biwa was imported by the Taketomi Family from their original home of Ming Dynasty China. This biwa is said to have been bought from a Qing merchant by the father of TAKETOMI Rensai (1638~1718), who built O-takara Seido. It is also said that Rensai played this biwa in the presence of the Emperor Gomizunoo and that it was Imperially bestowed the name “Ko-cho-gen.”
 The instrument has mother-of-pearl inlay on its back, which Mr. Tomio KOIKE of the Tokugawa Art Museum identified as a technique from Ming Dynasty China. However, the trunk of the biwa is plumper than other popular biwa from the Ming Dynasty, so this biwa is thought to belong to the Nan-pi Biwa tradition from south China. A bridge of this biwa, a part that was specific to Chinese biwa, may have been taken off in order to perform Japanese music. Plans are to conduct further studies by comparing this biwa to biwa in China.

5th Conference on Traditional Restoration Materials and Synthetic Resins: Study and Repair of Traditional Paints Used in Architectural Cultural Properties

Observation of paint samples

 The Technical Standards Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a conference entitled the Study and Repair of Traditional Paints Used in Architectural Cultural Properties in the Institute’s basement seminar hall on September 29th (Thurs.). This conference reprised the theme of Study and Repair of Lacquers Used in Architectural Cultural Properties from the 4th Conference that was held last year. Lacquers are exceptional traditional paints that symbolize Japan and are also restoration materials. The common perception is that paints used in architectural cultural properties that are being restored include only lacquers or pigments+glue. In actuality, however, research has revealed that various other materials, such as drying oils, pine resin, and persimmon tannin, have been used in paint in accordance with the period and conditions. The 5th Conference examined a third type of paint that was neither a lacquer nor a glue. At the conference, I. KITANO began by raising several questions. Dr. Shigeru KUBODERA of the Institute for the History of Architectural Ornamentation Techniques then proceeded to talk primarily about the “Paint known as ‘chian [from Chian turpentine]’ and techniques for its application.” Next, Mr. Noritake SATO of the Nikko Cultural Assets Association for the Preservation of Shrines and Temples lectured on the status of paints other than lacquers used on the temples and shrines of Nikko from the viewpoint of a restorer. Last, Dr. Takayuki Honda of Meiji University explained the science of paint, with a focus on drying oils, and he also reported results of organic analysis of the paints actually used on the temples and shrines of Nikko. The lecturers’ talks were persuasive since they presented issues from the experts’ points of view, and attendees were also given the chance to observe paint samples and boards from the temples and shrines of Nikko brought by Mr. Sato.

International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper

Photo of assembled personnel following the opening session
Practicum (lining)
Practicum (preparing paste)

 International training course was conducted from August 29th to September 16th by ICCROM, the Kyushu National Museum, and the Institute. Applications were received from close to 60 individuals who work with cultural properties from around the world, and this number was winnowed down to 10 trainees from as far away as India, Switzerland, and Mexico.
 The course focused particularly on Japanese paper and included classes from perspectives ranging from materials science to history. At the same time, trainees participated in practicum where they replaced missing areas, attached linings, and attached roller rods to produce finished handscrolls; trainees also prepared booklets with Japanese-style binding. Participants visited the Mino region in Gifu Prefecture, where a type of Japanese handmade paper that is used in restoration work is produced, and they also visited a town where traditional buildings are being conserved. Trainees learned about the distribution of Japanese paper throughout history, from its manufacture to its transportation and sale. In addition, trainees visited a traditional mounting studio and stores selling traditional tools and materials and learned about circumstances involving the traditional conservation and restoration of paper in Japan.
 The techniques and knowledge provided by this course will help encourage the conservation, restoration, and exhibition of Japanese paper cultural properties in collections overseas and can also be used to conserve and restore works made outside Japan.

Attendance of the 4th Pacific World Heritage Workshop

Traditional ritual in Samoa

 From September 5th through 9th, UNESCO’s 4th Pacific World Heritage Workshop was held in Apia, Samoa. Despite making up a third of the world’s surface, the Pacific region accounts for few of the properties placed on the World Heritage List. Thus, UNESCO has assembled island states representing the Pacific region so that could nominate their own cultural and natural properties for inscription on the World Heritage List and UNESCO has conducted workshops to assist with those efforts. The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage attended the workshop as an observer in order to prepare for increasing request to safeguard cultural heritage from countries in the Pacific.
  In addition to 13 island states and 2 territories, donor states such as Australia and New Zealand and by advisory bodies such as ICOMOS and IUCN attended the workshop. Representatives reported on their previous efforts in and on the status of preparations for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List. Establishment of the Pacific Heritage Hub was also discussed.
 The Pacific region has actively sought to safeguard its natural heritage in the past but will now seek to actively safeguard its cultural heritage as well. Representatives apparently hope to continue efforts to improve museums in their respective countries. Representatives also appeared quite interested in safeguarding of intangible heritage. In the future, states in the Pacific region may request in safeguarding cultural heritage in its intangible forms as well.

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