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

Survey and photography of Bukkoji Temple’s “Zenshin Shonin Shinran Dene [Illustrated Biography of Shinran, Zenshin Shonin]”

High-resolution digital photography of a picture scroll

 The “Zenshin Shonin Shinran Dene [Illustrated Biography of Shinran, Zenshin Shonin]” (2 scrolls) are picture scrolls depicting the life of Shinran (1173–1262) from his entry into the priesthood until the erection of his mausoleum following his death and were passed down by Bukkoji Temple, Kyoto. These scrolls were produced under the influence of picture scrolls of Shinran’s life that were passed down by Senjuji Temple, Mie Pref. The second set of scrolls is known to include text and portrayals that are hard to accept. And it is said that those text handwriting was those of the Emperor Godaigo. In principle, Bukkoji Temple’s picture scrolls are not shown to the public. Since the scrolls have been carefully passed down, they lack any evidence of restoration efforts like repaired creases. Despite its aging, silver paint on the scrolls has retained its brilliance. The scrolls are also notable for their colors, which remain as vivid today as when the scrolls were originally produced. Nevertheless, there are strongly divergent views on the date of production, with one view dating the scrolls back to the middle ages (15th century) and another placing the date in the modern age (the 17th century or afterwards).
 With the understanding and cooperation of the Temple’s administrative office, Tetsuei TSUDA, Tatsuro KOBAYASHI, and Seiji SHIRONO of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems studied and photographed Bukkoji Temple’s “Zenshin Shonin Shinran Dene” on February 23 and 24, 2011 in the Temple’s great hall. Since previous opportunities to study the scrolls were severely limited, the current research sought to obtain basic data on such illustrated biographies and digitally photograph each illustration in high resolution so that Bukkoji Temple’s picture scrolls could contribute greatly to the study of cultural properties. Findings from this research were presented along with an interim report at a seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems on February 29th (Tetsuei TSUDA, “Bukkoji Temple’s ‘Illustrated Biography of Shinran’”). The scene in the first scroll, “Dream at the Rokkakudo [shrine],” features the most distinctive portrayals, so wall panel of this scene was displayed on the wall of the floor corridor of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems to further publicize the existence of this work. This research was undertaken with a 2011 grant from the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies. This research is one result of a research project of the Institute’s Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems entitled Study on Digital Imaging of Cultural Properties. (Tetsuei TSUDA, Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems)

Commission on Intangible Cultural Heritage, International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (ICAES) meets in the City of Cuernavaca, Mexico


 The Commission on Intangible Cultural Heritage is a newly established commission of the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (ICAES). The Commission met for the first time at the Centro Regional de Investigaciones Multidisciplinarias in the City of Cuernavaca on February 25 and 26, 2012. The Commission was Shigeyuki Miyata of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. At the meeting, attendees from participating countries presented and discussed their contributions to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage as experts. The representative from Japan described the Guideline for Visual Documentation of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties drafted by the Research Institute and proposed the drafting of guidelines for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage from an expert standpoint. Distinct from approaches by government bodies, approaches involving experts are crucial, given the increasing need for contributions by experts in relation to putting the Convention of the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage into practice. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to actively participate in such meetings and publicize Japan’s experience as an expert in this field.

Recording of the Kodan Nanba-senki

A Kodan performance by ICHIRYUSAI Teisui

 Documentation of Kodan, a form of storytelling, by the Research Institute started in 2002 (at the time, the department responsible was the Department of Performing Arts, National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Tokyo). Since that first recording, the Department recorded performances of 2 long Kodan (a Jidai-mono, or period drama, and a Sewa-mono, or a story about the lives of ordinary people) by Mr. ICHIRYUSAI, Teisui, a preserver of the Important Intangible Cultural Property of Kodan. Performances of the Jidai-mono Tenmei-shichisei-dan (recorded 12 times from June 11, 2006 to December 26, 2005) and Sengoku-Sodo (23 times from February 9, 2006 to November 22, 2011) and the Sewa-mono Midorinohayashi-gokanroku (20 times from June 11, 2006 to February 13, 2008) by Mr. Ichiryusai have been completely recorded. Recording of the 3rd Jidai-mono, Nanba-senki, began on February 14, 2012. The story tells of the Osaka Fuyu no Jin and Natsu no Jin (the winter siege and then summer siege of Osaka Castle) when the Toyotomi Clan was destroyed by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
 The Department plans to continue recording Kodan with the cooperation of Mr. Ichiryusai. (the Sewa-mono Bunka-shiranami is now being recorded).

The 25th Conference on Conservation and Restoration of Modern Cultural Heritage “Use of Oil-based Paints in Modern Architecture in Japan”

Presentation on a restoration project in The Museum, Meiji Mura
Presentation by a researcher from the chemistry section of the German Museum of Technology

 On February 10th, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques hosted a study meeting on “Use of Oil-based Paints in Modern Architecture in Japan” in the Institute’s basement seminar hall. Oil-based paints were used in modern buildings from Meiji to Showa period. In recent attempts to restore these buildings, a frequently encountered problem has been the difficulty of identifying materials in paints. Even if they are identified, the original paints are often hard to obtain, so other materials have to be employed to repaint. Under this situation, specialists from the Agency for Cultural Affairs, museums – from both curatorial and science sections –, and a private company, met to discuss how the modern buildings, i.e. current cultural properties, were painted at that time, how those paints can be identified, why oil-based paints are hard to obtain now, and the steps that can be taken to solve these problems. Presentations were made concerning techniques to identify materials in paint samples and the difficulties in oil-based paints includes the historical background that they became obsolete because of their slow drying property. The speakers were actively engaged by the audience of 45, making the study meeting a meaningful one.

Conference on “Reducing Energy Use in Museums Considering Environments for Conservation of Cultural Properties”

Conference in session
Opening remarks by Takashi ISHIZAKI

 In the summer of 2011, electricity users served by Tepco and Tohoku Electric Power were asked to reduce power use (from 9 AM to 8 PM) by 15% from peak levels in 2010. How would museums and art galleries that handle important cultural properties survive? And what problems would they face as a result? The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a conference to review temperature and humidity settings in the exhibition and storage spaces of museums and art galleriess with a supplemental focus on “Reducing Energy Use in Museums and Art Galleries” (the event took place on February 17 (Fri.), 2012 in the Institute’s basement seminar hall and had 66 attendees).
 A Survey on Measures Taken to Reduce Museums’ Power Consumption in the Summer of 2011 was conducted from December 2011 to January 2012 with the cooperation of curators who had completed training for museum curators in charge of conservation. Results of the survey were summarized by Chie SANO. In most museums or art galleries, curators seek to avoid changing environmental conditions in storage rooms. At institutions that change the temperature of their galleries, the visitors experience discomfort and their stay in the galleries tends to be short. In some instances, insects and mold infestation and , odors are increased, and metal objects are corroded. In addition, there are concerns about a lack of temperature and humidity control resulting from changes in environment control settings.
 Mr. Osamu FUKUNAGA of the National Art Center, Tokyo discusses views on temperature and humidity settings at art museums. Cultural properties vary widely, lending institutions have different views, and local climates, building structures and designs, and curating vary. These facts preclude the establishment of uninform criteria for exhibition conditions, but communication to reach an agreement on those conditions is crucial, as Mr. FUKUNAGA noted. Ms Mitsue NAGAYA reported on controlling conditions following closure of a special exhibition gallery to reduce daytime power consumption in the summer of 2011. Ms NAGAYA presented examples of items that were kept in good condition through nighttime climate control.
 Takeshi ISHIZAKI reported on current trends and approaches overseas with regard to temperature and humidity settings to conserve cultural properties. ISHIZAKI cited reports of experiments on the extent of deformation in mock specimens intended to ascertain the effect of changes in humidity on the components of cultural properties. ISHIZAKI also indicated the extent of brief fluctuations in a well-controlled environment and he provided examples of research into an approach that allows some fluctuations in accordance with seasonal changes (temperatures are adjusted but humidity is constant).
 Last, Mr. Takashi MATSUO of the Shimizu Institute of Technology described the latest energy-saving technologies used in office buildings. Mr. MATSUO new techniques being tested in relatively large areas to efficiently use energy, such as utilizing shade and reducing peak energy use in conjunction with neighboring areas.
 New methods of controlling temperature and humidity by allowing temperature adjustments at a constant humidity or allowing greater fluctuations must be carefully assessed to determine if they truly have no effect on cultural properties, and assessments must be repeated, discussed, and understood by all relevant personnel. The Conference on “Reducing Energy Use in Museums Considering Environments for Conservation of Cultural Properties” provided a valuable opportunity to see the steps in risk management: new information on risk assessment is now available, and risk communication, or how that information is evaluated and shared among stakeholders, is becoming evident.

Workshop on Conservation of Archaeological Metal Objects in the History Museum of Armenia

Photography in practice

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted workshops on conservation of archaeological metal objects at the History Museum of Armenia from late January to early February 2012. From January 24 to February 3, 2012, a training workshop with documentation as its theme was conducted for 10 younger Armenian experts of the History Museum of Armenia and other organizations. The workshop included lectures like “occupational health and safety,” “museums and conservation,” “metals science,” and “science and analytical techniques in relation to cultural properties” as well as practice with “photography,” “condition check,” “optical studies using microscopes,” and “elemental analysis using handheld XRF analyzers.” In addition to covering selection of appropriate methods of conservation treatment, the workshop covered the establishment of a network of domestic experts and study of the techniques for fabricating bronze objects.
 From February 7th to the 11th, an international workshop on the conservation of archaeological metals was held. In addition to the 10 young Armenian conservation experts, attendees included several Armenian archaeologists and scientists who study archeological metals in Armenia and international metals conservators/experts from Georgia, Iran, and Romania. Attendees gave presentations on the study of Armenian metals and on the state of museums and conservation in their own countries. The workshop helped to foster the exchange of information and establish networks.
 We will begin practical conservation treatments such as corrosion removal in the next mission. Plans are to perform elemental analysis after conservation and study techniques for fabrication of objects in greater depth.

The Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Kyrgyz Republic and Central Asia

Trainees studying pottery

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation plans to undertake a four-year training program from 2011 to 2014. Under this program, a series of workshops covering documentation, excavations, conservation, and site management will be held in the medieval fortified town of Ak Besim in the Chuy Valley, Kyrgyz Republic. This program has been commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan and aims to train young experts in Central Asian countries in the protection of cultural heritage in Central Asia.
 This year, two workshops on the documentation of cultural heritage were planned. The first workshop, which covered archaeological surveys, was conducted last October.
 The second workshop was held at the Institute of History and Cultural Heritage, National Academy of Sciences, Kyrgyz Republic from February 4 to 10, 2012. A total of eight Kyrgyz trainees participated in the workshop and keenly studied archaeological objects such as pottery, stone tools, and clay figurines. They also practiced rubbing techniques and photography and they visited a traditional pottery workshop in Bishkek to study pottery production.
 Such workshops should help to protect cultural heritage in Central Asia in the future.

Survey of Myanmar as a Partnering Country by the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage

Interview at the Ministry of Culture
Bagan archaeological site

 The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage surveyed the cultural heritage of Myanmar from February 22nd to the 28th. The main goal of the survey was to explore current and future developments in international cooperation to preserve cultural heritage in Myanmar by visiting sites firsthand and determining Myanmar’s specific requirements for cooperative efforts. Sites such as temples in Bagan and wooden structures in Mandalay were visited along with museums and libraries. Survey members gathered information and interviewed relevant personnel.
  Results of the survey indicated that cultural heritage sites in Myanmar are deteriorating overall. Systems for protection are inadequate, and heritage sites are in danger. Tourists to Bagan have increased sharply from last year, and the current tourism infrastructure is reaching the limits of its capacity. In addition to site protection, sustainable development is also a problem given urban conditions and disparities in income levels. In addition, museums have a serious lack of conservation and research facilities.
 In line with changes in Myanmar in recent yearst, the country will need even more support from Japan and the rest of the international community in every area, including the protection of cultural heritage. Such support projects will need to be coordinated in the future. Plans are to extensively discuss the future forms of Japan’s cooperation to preserve cultural heritage with relevant institutions.

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