|■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
An explanation at the Library (July 24)
Thirty-one New Staff Members from the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage
On July 23–24, thirty-one New Staff Members from the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage visited the Institute as part of their training.
They toured the Library of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, the Performing Arts Recording Studio of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the Conservation Laboratory of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques.
The staff members in charge of each section explained the work they do.
Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures
The signing ceremony
The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) was founded in 1999 in Norwich in the County of Norfolk, UK. A site for research on Japanese art and culture, the Sainsbury Institute has actively developed projects using an international cooperative research network. In addition, the Sainsbury Institute has ties to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo through donation of part of the collection of YANAGISAWA Takashi , a former expert of the National Research Institute, to the Sainsbury Institute, the National Research Institute, and the Asian Art Museum in Seattle. In February 2010, HIRANO Akira , Librarian of SISJAC’s Lisa Sainsbury Library was invited to attend a seminar held at the National Research Institute. Both institutes have conducted exchanges and both are exploring continuing ties.
A joint project, the Project to Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art, was instituted. On July 24, 2013 (Wed.), KAMEI Nobuo, Director General of the National Research Institute, visited UK to sign a memorandum of agreement with MIZUTORI Mami , Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute. The Project seeks to create a common basis for Japanese art research in Japan and abroad. The National Research Institute previously unveiled the Art-related Reference Database, which contains information on references in Japanese published in Japan. To complement this database, the Sainsbury Institute will create and unveil a database containing information on references in English published outside of Japan. The memorandum of agreement is valid for 5 years, but both parties are aware of the need to foster medium- to long-term cooperation, given the basic and ongoing nature of the Project.
TANAKA Atsushi and WATADA Minoru of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems accompanied Director General KAMEI of the National Research Institute. The day after the signing, July 25 (Thurs.), TANAKA and WATADA discussed specific directions for the Project with staff of the Sainsbury Institute. This year, the Sainsbury Institute estimated what routine work it can perform and the amount of data that will be assembled. This was done so that the Sainsbury Institute could determine the extent of the information to gather and so that it could begin gathering information and entering data in accordance with the techniques of the National Research Institute. Next year, the Sainsbury Institute will unveil the database and include links to its counterpart in Japan once the Sainsbury Institute has assembled a sufficient amount of information. More effective techniques for cross-searching both databases will then be explored, and plans are to make the databases accessible to the general public.
A survey of Japanese paintings in the collection of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts of the University of East Anglia was conducted on July 23 (Tues.), the day before the memorandum was signed. Plans are, via the Project, to subsequently cooperate with institutions in UK that are linked to the Sainsbury Institute, such as the Sainsbury Centre, as the need arises.
Drying araso (the bark of hemp stalks)
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage gathers information on and studies selected techniques to preserve traditional craft techniques.
Riyo KIKUCHI of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted a survey of techniques to produce araso (the bark of hemp stalks). This technique is selected preservation technique. Kurume Ikat uses araso (to prevent dye from penetrating to fiber).
Araso is currently made in the Yahata Family in the City of Hita, Oita Prefecture. July, this hemp is harvested, steamed, and the stalks are peeled and dried . By change of society, this technique is difficult to inherit technique with one family. In light of these circumstances, members of an important intangible cultural property Kurume Ikat instituted a system last year to help with work. The Cannabis Control Act made obtaining araso more difficult, and the material is not as easy to obtain as it once was. In the future, ways to remedy situations like this need to be considered from various perspectives.
Practice removing oxygen to control pests
Training for Museum and Art Museum Conservators was conducted for 2 weeks starting on July 8th and was attended by 30 curators and administrators from around the country. Training focused on gaining the basic knowledge and learning methodologies needed to conserve materials through lectures and practice. The curriculum consisted of 2 areas: (1) management of materials and conservation conditions grounded in basic natural sciences and (2) causes of the degradation of different types of cultural properties and steps to prevent that degradation.
“Case studies” that involved putting conservation conditions into effect in actual settings took place at the Shinjuku Historical Museum. Participants divided into 8 groups and conducted field studies and assessments of aspects such as temperature and humidity ranges, the effects of outside light, and pest control in galleries and repositories. The following day, they reported their results.
During the training session, a group discussion of the issue of reduced energy use at facilities handling cultural properties took place with the help of the Conservation Division of the Tokyo National Museum.
This session marks the 30th training session since training began in 1984. In total, over 700 individuals have attended the training. Individuals who underwent training early on and who have been at the forefront of materials conservation are beginning to give way to the next generation. As future generations carry on this conservation work, the Institute will determine what form this training should take in the future while remaining cognizant of the role the Institute needs to play in materials conservation.
Extracting core samples from a test specimen made of rammed earth
Interview with craftsmen at Yuta Goempa
Commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan, this project aims to understand and preserve construction techniques used to build traditional buildings in Bhutan in particularly rammed earth houses and temples, and to assess and improve their earthquake-proofing and safety. The project began last year with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites, Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Bhutan, as a counterpart, with whom the Japanese experts have jointly studied and tested on building techniques, structures and materials undertaking in such a way research exchanges and human resource development.
The first field survey this year was conducted from June 21 to July 3 involving 9 experts from Japan. Test specimens of rammed earth for materials strength tests were prepared using traditional construction techniques, as well as construction studies and micro-tremors measurement were conducted at several temples, houses and ruins in the districts of Thimphu, Wangdue Phodrang and Paro. In addition, the experts visited a rammed earth temple damaged by the last earthquake being restored, and sites where rammed earth residences are being constructed. Through interviews with craftsmen, the experts gathered information on the current state of restoration of heritage buildings and construction techniques.
Over the past few years, such traditional buildings have rapidly disappeared from the capital of Thimphu. However, the survey also revealed that some Bhutanese wish to somehow pass on the techniques they have inherited from their forefathers to future generations. We hope to continue providing technical support and conducting personnel exchanges so that Bhutan can properly preserve those techniques, which represent part of the country’s cultural heritage.
Practice with a Japanese calligraphic work during the basic course
Making a folding screen during the advanced course
This workshop is held annually as a part of the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas. This year, it was held at the Asian Art Museum, National Museums in Berlin, with the basic course, “Japanese paper and silk cultural properties,” from July 3rd through the 5th, and with the applied course, “Restoration of Japanese folding screens,” from July 8th through the 12th.
The basic course covered the process from production of a cultural property to its appearance before the public, i.e. its creation, mounting, exhibition, and viewing. Lectures, demonstrations, and training were conducted regarding materials such as paper, pigments, paste, and animal glue, techniques of creating Japanese paintings and calligraphy, aspects of mounting, and handling of cultural properties.
The applied course included a workshop primarily on practice restoring a folding screen using traditional conservation techniques. Attendees actually produced wooden lattice undercores, which are then covered with multiple layers of paper to create a folding screen, and paper hinges that join panels of the folding screen.
This workshop seeks to offer the opportunity to understand Japanese tangible cultural properties such as paintings and calligraphic works to thus broaden understanding of intangible cultural properties as well, such as papermaking and mounting, among as many foreign conservators as possible.