|■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
Signing ceremony at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia: Arev Samuelyan, Deputy Minister of Culture (left) and the author (right)
Director General KAMEI Nobuo, accompanied by YAMAUCHI Kazuya, Head of the Regional Environment Section of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation and HIRAIDE Hidefumi, Chief of General Affairs of the Department of Research Support and Promotion, was invited and visited the Republic of Armenia from May 25 to June 2 at the invitation of the Ministry of Culture. This invitation was in response to a project by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan that invited Arev Samuelyan, Deputy Minister of Culture to Japan last year to inform her of the current state of safeguarding of Japan’s cultural properties. A networking core center project of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan had conducted workshops on the conservation of bronze objects since 2011. With the conclusion of these workshops, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia and the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo signed an Agreement for Cooperation in the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage for the next 5 years. The Japanese representatives also attended the workshop’s closing ceremony and an opening ceremony for an exhibit of items that had been conserved.
The signing ceremony for the new memorandum of agreement took place at the Ministry of Culture and the opening ceremony for the exhibit took place at the History Museum on the 26th. Addressing numerous members of the press, Deputy Minister Samuelyan expressed appreciation and thanks for Japan’s cooperation in training Armenian personnel. On the 27th, KAMEI delivered a lecture entitled “The current state of and issues with safeguarding Japan’s cultural properties.” In this lecture, he explained the necessity of fostering personnel to pass on techniques and providing materials and tools needed to safeguard various cultural properties. KAMEI also emphasized that he had the sense of an impending crisis regarding the safeguarding cultural properties in Japan, given its shrinking society. The Japanese representatives visited Armenia’s foremost monasteries, convents and churches along with museum conservation facilities from 28th. Through the on-site visit, the Japanese representatives experienced Armenia’s wonderful culture while they realized the necessity of further technical exchanges between Japan and Armenia.
Top page of The Information retrieval system for the Research Materials Database
The Information retrieval system for the Research Materials Database (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/) has been redesigned. This redesign reflects some of the work to create an Institute-wide research materials archive by the Archives Working Group last year. The Working Group falls under the Institute’s Archives Management Committee. The redesign involved extensive revamping of both the operability of the Information retrieval system and database content.
The Institute’s Research Materials Database made information on Japanese volumes and in sales catalogs available online in 2002. Since then, the database has made available library information from different departments, information on sources in related fields, information on exhibitions, and information on traditional musical instruments. The database distributes useful content specific to institutes researching cultural properties. That said, database users asked for improved operability since they wanted to be able to Search Across Multiple Databases in the System, perform an Advanced Search Using Multiple Keywords, or Sort Search Results. The database was previously constructed using SQL, which is a database language, and Microsoft’s ASP.NET, which is a web application framework. These components have been changed to a combination of MySQL and WordPress (PHP). As a result, problems have been resolved and the database’s operability has improved.
Content has been increased so that the database now has 530,000 pieces of information on papers and articles featured in the Institute’s publications. Previously, the database only included papers featured in the research journals Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies), Geino no Kagaku (Performing Arts Studies), and Science for Conservation. Now, however, the database includes various reports of research results, the Yearbook of Japanese Art, TOBUNKEN News(News from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo), and Annual Reports. The database also includes bulletins and articles besides papers. As a result, access to articles describing the status of research projects and the Institute’s research results has improved.
Approaches to facilitate access to highly specialized information and allow its efficient use are being considered. If you have any comments or questions about using the system, please let us know by using the database’s Comments or Questions form (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/ご意見・お問い合わせ).
The class at the Hometown Center
The Description of Folk Customs in Goishi is a report that was produced by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage last year documenting religious festivals and life in the Goishi region of Massaki-cho in the City of Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture. The region was stricken by the massive tsunami that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake. An attempt to read this report together with local residents and put it to use has begun. The Kasumigaseki Knowledge Square has been active in the Massaki region. As part of the Square’s Digital Community Center, a class was conducted entitled “Learn in Massaki! A look back at our hometown…via the Description of Folk Customs in Goishi.” KUBOTA Hiromichi of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage attended the class. The class took place at the Hometown Center in the Massaki region and it had about 30 attendees. After a lecture, attendees exchanged various types of information. In the future, local residents will take the lead in creating descriptions of more familiar folk customs and in passing on those customs to local children. This approach was evident in the class. Preserving local identity is a concern since communities are scattered or they are relocating to higher ground. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to continue its efforts, and its efforts in the Goishi region may serve as a case study. The Description of Folk Customs in Goishi (in Japanese) is available in PDF format on the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage .
2014 Conference (National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Republic of Korea)
The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Conservation Science Division of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Korea. Both institutes are proceeding with “Joint research on the effects of environmental pollution on cultural properties and R & D of conservation techniques.” Specifically, both institutes are conducting joint field studies of outdoor stone heritage in both countries and they are both hosting an annual conference. Researchers from both institutes are endeavoring to share their results with their counterparts.
National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, the Republic of Korea is overseeing the research this year, so a conference was held on May 27 in a lecture hall at the Cultural Heritage Conservation Science Center. The conference was attended by OKADA Ken, KUCHITSU Nobuaki, and MORII Masayuki from the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques. The conference garnered interest, as was evinced by the almost packed venue. At the conference, lead Japanese and Korean researchers and cooperating university professors gave presentations on stone heritage, and an active discussion took place with attendees asking numerous questions and offering numerous comments. Plans are to conduct joint studies of cave tombs in the future.
Exhibition of workshop achievements at the History Museum of Armenia
The opening ceremony for the exhibition (KAMEI Nobuo, Director General of the Institute, is on the far right)
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation held its 6th workshop at the History Museum of Armenia from May 20 to 27, 2014. This workshop is part of the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. The project is planned to last 4 years, and the aims of the project are capacity building and technical transferring in the conservation of archaeological metal objects. This year is the final year of the project, and the theme of this year’s workshop was “Exhibition in Museums”.
The workshop was held for 6 experts from Armenia and 2 experts from Georgia and Russia. Japanese experts gave lectures on the case studies of exhibitions at Japanese museum, the effects of light, temperature, and humidity that must be considered during exhibition, the exhibition explanation panels, and materials used for exhibition works. Then, the participants took the lead in displaying the archaeological metal objects that had been conserved in the previous workshops. Not only to publicize the achievement of the joint Armenian-Japanese projects but also to inform the visitors about conservation activities of this project, various opinions regarding the exhibition plan were exchanged among the participants. Specifically, photographs of the object before conservation were displayed beside the conserved objects to show the difference while the slide show depicting every step of the conservation works was shown. More detailed information achieved through the studies on the exhibited objects was included in the brochure. The exhibition preparations finished on the final day of the workshop. The opening ceremony for the exhibition took place on the same day, and both the persons concerned in this project as well as persons not related with the History Museum of Armenia attended the ceremony.
The workshop has concluded, and a report on the workshop is planned to be published in the future.
General Director of Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums, Syria reporting on the extent of damage to Syria’s cultural heritage
In April 2011, a large-scale pro-democracy movement developed in Syria, and that groundswell shows no sign of stopping. In actuality, Syria is currently in a state of civil war. There are over 140,000 dead in Syria, and over 4 million people have fled the country.
Damage to Syria’s cultural heritage has made major news as the civil war unfolds. World heritage sites that epitomize Syria, such as Aleppo, Palmyra, and Krak des Chevaliers, have become battlegrounds. Many archaeological sites have been looted and many museums have been plundered. The illegal export of cultural properties from Syria is an international concern.
In light of this situation, UNESCO began a new project, Emergency Safeguarding of Syrian Cultural Heritage, this March to safeguard Syria’s cultural heritage with the support of the EU.
As part of this project, “International Expert Meeting: Rallying the International Community to Safeguard Syria’s Cultural Heritage” was convened by UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris from May 26 to 28. The meeting was attended by over 120 experts from 22 countries. Two of those experts were YAMAUCHI Kazuya and ABE Masashi from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The extent of damage to Syria’s cultural heritage was reported at the meeting, and future strategies to safeguard Syria’s cultural heritage were actively discussed.
Survey in the Jaffna Archaeological Museum
An exchange of opinions at the Office of the Department of Archaeology in Trincomalee
In February and in May, the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (JCIC-Heritage) supported surveys of the current state of museums and cultural heritage in Sri Lanka since the civil war. These surveys were part of a cultural cooperation program of the Japan Foundation (project participants: KOIZUMI Yoshihide, Supervisor of Planning in the Department of Planning of the Tokyo National Museum and FUKUYAMA Yasuko, Associate professor in the Faculty of Intercultural Communication of Ryukoku University). The project was implemented on the basis of survey studies on international cooperation of Sri Lanka by JCIC-Heritage in 2012. With the cooperation of the Department of Archaeology of Sri Lanka, exhibits and collections were surveyed and information on conservation of cultural properties was gathered primarily in museums in the north (the Jaffna region) and the northeast (the Trincomalee region). These regions had been affected by a civil war that lasted 26 years (1983–2009). Future strategies for conservation and use of cultural properties since the end of the civil war were discussed.
For several years, Sri Lanka has worked to establish cultural facilities and develop regions using cultural properties while taking regional characteristics into account. These efforts are led by the Department of Archaeology and they seek to restore regions affected by the civil war. Jaffna is a unique place in Sri Lanka where one can see the religious imprint of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity, and Jaffna retains various cultural heritage sites with surviving buildings from the colonial period. Trincomalee has many vestiges of Buddhism as well as a history as a center of maritime activity and foreign trade. Plans are underway to establish museums and cultural centers by reusing historic buildings in both regions to appeal to domestic and foreign visitors. That said, the regions face numerous problems in terms of managing cultural properties in existing museums, exhibiting those properties, and personnel to exhibit them. Survey participants provided instructions and suggestions on exhibition plans and management techniques as they exchanged opinions with local personnel.
Sri Lanka has just begun local development that draws on cultural properties in regions that have survived a civil war. The Department of Archaeology needs foreign support in the form of dispatched experts, instruction of personnel, and funds. JCIC-Heritage hopes to continue exploring the potential for cooperation in order to help the regions recover.
The fashion show underway
On May 8, an event entitled “Starting with the Days of the Nara Palace: A Fashion Show of Asuka & Tempyo Attire” took place in the Heiseikan of the Tokyo National Museum (organizers: Asuka Mura, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan, the Tokyo National Museum, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and Asahi Shimbun, Collaborator: the Nakagawa Laboratory of the Graduate School of Creative Science and Engineering of Waseda University). The event was related to a special exhibit of Wall Paintings from the Kitora Tumuli that took place at the Tokyo National Museum from April 22 to May 18, 2014. Models for the event included 13 members of the staff of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. This valuable experience of wearing ancient handmade attire was a first. All of the clothing was made by hand by ancient attire researcher YAMAGUCHI Chiyoko (who arranged the Tempyo attire). The historical setting of the Imperial Palace in Nara in year 3 of the Wadou era (710) was splendidly recreated thanks to planning and staging by SUGIYAMA Hiroshi, Head of the Department of Planning and Coordination of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
Acting as a model, I experienced joyous anticipation and elation as I joined my fellow models in setting the stage while dreaming of the ancient world. As I wore beautiful clothes, had my hair coiffured, and adorned myself with numerous accessories, I was able to envision how people from the long-gone Imperial court conducted themselves. However, my imagination had its limits and I was reminded again of the difficulty of studying history. The experience was visceral. I would like to express my appreciation to everyone involved for all of their hard work. I hope to tackle history with a renewed interest.