|■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 gave to the visitors in a chemical science laboratory.
A group of 5 visitors from the Korea National University of Culture Heritage
The group visited the Institute on November 18th to examine the Institute’s preservation and restoration facilities to learn about case studies of international collaboration. The visitors were shown round a chemical science laboratory at the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques as well as the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation with the staff explaining the work conducted at these facilities.
Image of Resolve by SHINKAI Taketaro (created in 1907, no longer extant) from a photographic plate
SHINKAI Taketaro (1868–1927) studied sculpture in Europe and he presented works such as Bathing (an important cultural property created in 1907). SHINKAI is known as a sculptor who contributed significantly to the modernization of Japanese sculpture. SHINKAI Takashi, grandson of SHINKAI Taketaro, donated a set of photographic plates through TANAKA Shuji (Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education and Welfare Science, Oita University). The plates feature SHINKAI’s works and Nanga (Southern School paintings) by HOSOYA Fuo and his son HOSOYA Beizan whom SHINKAI studied under in his home prefecture of Yamagata. SHINKAI himself was asked to take the photos. The plates also include images of works that are no longer extant, such as Resolve, which won first prize at the Tokyo Industrial Exhibition in 1907. SHINKAI’s photographic works are valuable materials that relate the history of modern Japanese sculpture. SHINKAI Takezo, Taketaro’s nephew, posthumously compiled photos by his uncle, and these photos joined the Institute’s collection prior to World War II (they can be viewed in the Library). The donated plates were used to produce the photos compiled by SHINKAI Takezo. Plans are to make copies of all of the images featured in the plates and include them in digital archives on the Institute’s website.
A general discussion underway
The 8th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was held on November 15th. The Conference covered “Passing down Techniques: Traditions and Their Use,” and the central theme of the Conference was folk techniques, which the national government began designating in 2005.
A system of national designation to preserve folk performing arts and manners and customs has been in operation since 1975. Although preservation of these practices has been amply discussed in the past, there has been limited awareness of the concept of folk techniques and a system to designate them. Moreover, performing arts and festivals essentially fall under practices or events that are out of the ordinary while folk techniques basically fall under routine practices, so a number of people make their living performing these techniques. Thus, these techniques are more susceptible to social and environmental changes.
Given this reality, the Conference featured reports and a discussion of current issues encountered in efforts to preserve folk techniques and what types of preservation efforts are feasible. The Conference featured 2 individuals who are working to preserve nationally designated folk techniques and 3 individuals who have worked to preserve craft techniques in Tokyo prior to the system that nationally designated folk techniques. After these individuals delivered presentations, they were joined by 2 commentators to participate in a discussion.
Reports and the discussion highlighted various issues such as the reduced demand for folk techniques (products), the breakdown of specialization, the shortage of raw materials, and the lack of individuals to carry on techniques. There is no magic bullet to resolve the difficulties in carrying on traditions, but the Conference emphasized the fact that concerned parties in different positions need to discuss issues and share information.
The Conference also emphasized the need for coordination that bridges the divide between production sites and compartmentalized government administration. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage hopes to share and disseminate information by assembling examples of efforts in different areas.
Plans are to publish a report on the conference’s proceedings in March 2014.
On-site study of painted wall panels of the Yomeimon Gate
Positioning of a device for X-ray imaging
As part of the Study of Traditional Techniques and Materials Used in Cultural Properties, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques is currently conducting a study in line with restoration of the paint pigments on the Yomeimon Gate of the Toshogu Shrine. Large Panels with a Relief Sculpture of a Peony Design that were created in 1796 are currently installed on panels on the east and west walls of the Yomeimon Gate. According to historical documents, however, the walls had contained paintings produced by a technique known as “tung oil sprinkled with Makie” in much earlier years, such as 1688 and 1753. During restoration of these Panels in 1971, the east wall was removed, revealing a painting of 3 Zebra Finches Perching atop a Japanese Plum Tree on a Crag with Bamboo Grass that is thought to have been produced in 1753. The painting was studied by the Department of Conservation Science at the time. In addition, X-ray imaging at the time also revealed a painting of Nesting Cranes in a Pine Tree atop a Crag with Bamboo Grass beneath the panels on the western wall. However, the wall panel overlaying it was not removed, so the actual painting was not visible. The current study removed the overlaying panel on the western wall in order to restore its paint. Its removal revealed the painting beneath for the first time in 218 years or so. However, the painting had deteriorated markedly, as was evident from its discoloration and peeling. Thus, the Center examined the painting’s materials and its deterioration in cooperation with the Nikko Toshogu Shrine and the Association for the Preservation of the Nikko World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples in order to prevent further deterioration. In addition, X-ray imaging was done so that researchers in the history of painting could verify that traces of paintings from earlier periods were beneath the painting (Photos 1 & 2). Results of this study will help to reveal the state of paint pigments that have adorned the Yomeimon Gate since the Nikko Toshogu Shrine was completed in 1636. Results will also help to maintain the works in somewhat better condition.
A demonstration of infilling techniques
International training in Paper Conservation in Latin America was conducted jointly by the Institute, ICCROM, and INAH (Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History) as part of the ICCROM-LATAM Program (conservation of cultural heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean). Training took place at the INAH from November 6th to 22th and was attended by 9 experts in conserving cultural properties from 8 countries: Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Spain, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Peru, and Mexico.
Training sought to provide attendees with basic knowledge of traditional Japanese paper, adhesives, and tools. It also sought to enhance attendees’ understanding of Japanese mounting and restoration techniques by having them practice reinforcing, infilling, and lining using actual Japanese paper, adhesives, and tools. The first half of the training consisted of lectures by Japanese experts on materials and tools used in mounting and restoration techniques and then practice by the attendees. In the latter half of the training, lecturers from Mexico, Spain, and Argentina with experience conserving works using mounting and restoration techniques described how Japanese materials, tools, and techniques were actually used to restore cultural properties in Europe and the US, and then attendees practiced those techniques. Given the likelihood that Japanese mounting and restoration techniques will be used to conserve cultural heritage in different countries, plans are to conduct similar training sessions in the future as well.
Practice surveying a cultural heritage site (the Hulbuk site)
Documentation practice using CAD
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) has been commissioned by UNESCO to provide support for nomination of World Heritage sites in Central Asia along the Silk Road. Since 2012, JCICC has conducted a series of training workshops on documentation of cultural heritage in Central Asia and the Republic of Tajikistan.
Following a workshop in 2012, a second training workshop was conducted jointly with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tajikistan. The workshop took place from November 7 to 14, 2013. Training during the workshop took place on-site at the Hulbuk site, a medieval fortified town nominated as a World Heritage site. On-site training was conducted by experts from Japan, and training consisted of surveys using equipment (total stations), documentation using CAD, analyses using GPS and GIS.
Trainees participating in the second workshop were 9 young Tajik experts. Of these experts, 2 were from the National Museum of Antiquities, 2 were from the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences, 1 was from Historical and Cultural Reserve “Hissar”, 3 were from the Hulbuk Museum, and 1 was from the Kulob Museum. Through intensive lectures and practice over a period of about a week, participants planned and implemented surveys to document sites and they learned specialized processes used to analyze the survey results. Participants also learned how to use survey equipment and GPS devices that had been donated for use in the project. This experience and the equipment that was provided will help participants who completed the training to study, safeguard, and document cultural properties in their country. JCICC plans to conduct various training workshops to safeguard the cultural heritage of Central Asia in the future as well.
Deliberations at the General Assembly meeting
From November 27 to 29, 2013, Director General KAMEI Nobuo, KAWANOBE Wataru, and SAKAINO Asuka of the Institute attended the 28th General Assembly of ICCROM in Rome, Italy. The decision to found ICCROM was made at the 9th UNESCO General Conference in 1956. This intergovernmental organization has been headquartered in Rome since 1959. ICCROM works to conserve a wide range of cultural heritage, both movable and immovable. The Institute has specifically helped with these efforts by conducting training in the conservation of paper and laquerware.
The General Assembly meets biennially. At this meeting of the General Assembly, 13 new members of ICCROM’s Council were elected to replace members who had completed their terms. Serving Council members from 12 countries (United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Canada, South Korea, Greece, Guatemala, Sweden, China, Tunisia, Japan, Brazil, and France) have been joined by newly elected Council members from the US, India, Egypt, Switzerland, Sudan, Spain, Tanzania, Chile, Germany, Bahrain, the Philippines, Belgium, and Mexico. The meeting of the General Assembly also reiterated to Member States the need for ICCROM to improve its finances. Japan’s monetary contribution is second only to that of the US, and Japan is cognizant of the severity of this problem. Hopes are that the new Council will consider specific approaches so that ICCROM can continue its activities in the future.