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

Visit from the Getty Research Institute

Everyone from the Getty Research Institute, listening to a general explanation of our institute in the conference room
The visitors from the Getty Research Institute were very interested in the talk on research results by HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro, Head of the Analytical Science Section

 On October 22, Dr. Thomas Gaehtgens, Director of the Getty Research Institute of the American J. Paul Getty Trust, together with four staff members and 11 of the institute’s trustees, visited our institute to observe our activities. The purpose of the party’s visit to Japan was to tour historic sites and other points of interest in Kansai and elsewhere in Japan, and to carry out fact-finding relating to cultural property research.
We welcomed the party at our institute, and began by explaining our organization and other general information. Then YAMANASHI Emiko (Deputy Director, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) discussed the paintings of KURODA Seiki, who was connected with the founding of our institute. Next, HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro (Head, Analytical Science Section, Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques) introduced some of the latest research results using fluorescent X-ray analysis of works such as the Chinese phoenix of the Phoenix Hall of Byodo-in temple.
 Dr. Gaehtgens said that the Getty Research Institute, which conducts a diverse range of research work including disseminating information on art research, has a strong affinity with our institute, and would like to collaborate and cooperate in the future. It was decided to continue discussions on fields with potential for research collaboration.

October Facility Inspection

An explanation in a restoration laboratory 2

 29 participants in “The Training Session for Restores of Cultural Properties (artworks and craftworks)” organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan.
 On October 31, training session participants visited the Institute in order to view the work it does as a national center for research on cultural properties. The visitors inspected restoration laboratories, a restoration studio (urushi), and a biology laboratory 1 of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques and a performing arts recording studio of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The staff members in charge of each section explained the work they do.

Optical investigation of “Portrait of KOYA Yoshio (Man Holding a Plant)” by KISHIDA Ryusei (National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo)

Photographing images of “Portrait of KOYA Yoshio (Man Holding a Plant)” by KISHIDA Ryusei

 In the research project “Research on Modern Art in Terms of the History of Cultural Interaction” of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, one aim is to conduct investigative research on cultural interactions, focusing on the East Asia region including Japan.
 As part of that work, an optical investigation was carried out on October 16 for two oil paintings by KISHIDA Ryusei held by the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo: “Portrait of KOYA Yoshio (Man Holding a Plant)” (1916), and “An Apple Exists on Top of a Pot” (1916).
 This investigation was carried in out only for works from the period when KISHIDA Ryusei was strongly influenced by European classic painters such as Albrecht Durer. Its purpose was to verify not only the design, but also the details of the picture surface such as technique and expression.
 The smooth surface seen in classic European art was obtained by layering, using techniques such as tempera and oil painting, but KISHIDA Ryusei originally picked up these techniques from reproduction plates, and thus it is important to observe works from that time to determine whether he understood the techniques, and to further explicate the history of reception. The photography went beyond just shining uniform light onto the picture surface to enable visualization of the brush strokes of the painter and the current status of surface. Light was also projected at an acute angle from the left side of the work to enable understanding of the unevenness of the surface due to oil painting (photographer: SHIRONO Seiji, Artificer, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems). Reflected near-infrared photography was also carried out at the same time. From the images obtained through this photography, it was possible to confirm that there were no traces of repainting, fumbling or other difficulties, and that the image of the painting was quite settled by the time the painting was executed.
 This optical investigation was made possible through the cooperation of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and the restorer SAITO Atsushi, and we would like to express our deep gratitude for their help. The results of this research will be published in The Bijutsu Kenkyu with the (provisional) title: “The Realistic Expression of KISHIDA Ryusei and the Formation of his Image as a ‘Poor Man’ artist: Focusing on His Recuperation Period in Komazawa Shin-machi.”

48th Public Lectures

Scene of lecture

 Over the two days October 31 (Friday) and November 1 (Saturday) of this year, the public lectures organized every fall by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems were held at 1:30 p.m. in the underground seminar room. The general title for the lecture series was “Dialogue between Objects and Images.” These lectures are held to raise awareness of the public about some of the general knowledge obtained through our day-to-day research on cultural properties. This year marked the 48th time these lectures have been held.
 At the first session, TSUDA Tetsuei, Head of the Art Research Materials Section, gave a talk entitled “The Concept and Function of Ichiryu Sōshō Keizu (Illustrated live of succession in Bukkoji community of Shinran’s School),” and this was followed by a presentation by Dr. ITO Daisuke, professor of Graduate School of Nagoya University, entitled “Two Principles of Beauty in Pictures of the Insei Period―The Rise of Portraits.” There was fair weather on the day of the lecture, and it was attended by 108 people.
 At the second session, SHIOYA Jun, Head of the Modern/Contemporary Art Section, spoke on the topic “The Shochuhi Memorial in Sendai―Toward Recovery from the Disaster.” After this was a lecture by KAWATA Akihisa, Professor, Chiba Institute of Technology, entitled “Representations and Realities.” During the talk by Mr. SHIOYA, he asked Mr. TAKAHASHI Yuji, who was actually engaged in the restoration work, to take the podium and give a report. Unfortunately, the day of the lecture was rainy and cold, but nevertheless there were 55 attendees.
 Based on figures from a questionnaire survey conducted on both days, 91.7% of attendees were satisfied on the first day, and 83.7% on the second day.

Donation of materials relating to SHINKAI Taketaro and release of a database of glass dry plates

Photos for production of Kane no Ne (“Sound of a Bell,” 1924) by SHINKAI Taketaro From the recently donated documents relating to SHINKAI Taketaro. In order to produce Kane no Ne, Taketaro asked ABE Insai, who he always relied on to cast his own work, to pose as a model. The photographs of the model, taken from various angles, have survived.
Search result for Kane no Ne (“Sound of a Bell”) from the database of glass dry plates relating to SHINKAI Taketaro

 SHINKAI Taketaro (1868–1927) learned sculpture in Europe, and produced many notable works such as Yuami (“Bathing,” 1907, an important cultural property). He is known for making a major contribution to the modernization of Japanese sculpture. As noted in our activity report for November of last year, SHINKAI Takashi, grandson of Taketaro, has donated to our institute a set of glass dry plates primarily featuring Taketaro’s works. Recently he also donated a set of documents relating to Taketaro, including his notebooks, and photos/documents relating to his sculpture production. These documents are mentioned in the book SHINKAI Taketaro (Tohoku Shuppan Kikaku, 2002, in Japanese) written by TANAKA Shuji (Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education and Welfare Science, Oita University), who arranged these donations, and they are known to be important documents for elucidating the productive activities of Taketaro. Taking the recent donation as an opportunity, we plan to ask TANAKA to describe these materials in The Bijutsu Kenkyu, our institute’s journal of art studies. The documents also contain the notebooks of HIRAKO Takurei (1877–1911), a scholar of Buddhist art from the Meiji period who was close to Taketaro, and in the future we hope to examine these materials not only from the perspective of the history of modern Japanese sculpture, but also the history of Buddhist art.
 The glass dry plates donated last year have been digitized, and we have begun releasing them as a database on the institute’s home page ( This site was produced by OYAMADA Tomohiro, Research Assistant, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems. It showcases digital images of 182 glass dry plate photographs of the works of Taketaro, and paintings in the Nanga style by the father and son artists HOSOYA Fuo and Beizan under whom Taketaro studied in his home region of Yamagata. The database can be searched with text strings such as the names of specific pieces. It contains images of representative works of Taketaro as well works which are no longer extant. We hope you will make use of this resource.

Meetings with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures in the UK to promote a Project to Establish a Platform for Research into Japanese Arts

The lecture at the Cathedral Hostry

 The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) is located in the small town of Norwich in Norfolk County, about 2 hours by car north of London. Founded by the Sainsburies in 1999, the SISJAC is readily familiar to specialists in Japanese art history and archeology as a site for research into Japanese arts and culture.
 In July 2013, the SISJAC and the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT) initiated a Project to Establish a Platform for Research into Japanese Arts. This Project gathers information in English on Japanese art exhibitions in the US and Europe and books and sources on Japanese art. The NRICPT previously made its Database of Literature on Cultural Properties, a collection of information related to Japanese art, publicly accessible. However, this information is solely from Japan. In the future, information gathered by the SISJAC will be included in the NRICPT’s database, and a system will be created to allow the NRICPT’s database to be searched for information on Japanese art in Japan and overseas.
 To promote this Project, SARAI Mai of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems spent 10 days at the SISJAC from October 9 (Thurs.) to October 20 (Mon.), 2014. Ms. SARAI and staff members of the SISJAC verified information that had already been collected and they verified procedures for work to make that information publicly available.
 During her stay, Ms. SARAI delivered a lecture on “Buddhist Wooden Sculptures in the Early Heian Period: From a Standpoint of Syncretisation of Shinto with Buddhism.” The lecture took place on October 16 (Thurs.) as one of the lectures that SISJAC hosts on the third Thursday of every month. Close to 80 citizens of Norwich listened to the lecture on Buddhist wooden sculptures during the Early Heian Period in a lecture hall in a cathedral near the SISJAC. After the lecture, members of the audience asked a number of questions, demonstrating a heightened interest in Japanese art.

The 9th public lecture at the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo

Kaido-kudari” by the Kyogen actor SATO Tomohiko

 On October 18, a 9th public lecture took place at the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The lecture was held in Heiseikan of the Tokyo National Museum. The topic of the lecture was “Michiyuki as Popular Songs: The Origins and Spread of Noh and Kyogen songs with a focus on ‘Kaido-kudari.’” Michiyuki, or a song describing sceneries seen along a journey, have long captured people’s hearts and have become popular songs. Led by a lecture by OKADA Mitsuko of the Osaka Institute of Technology, the public lecture dealt with how Michiyuki influenced Soga (ballads popular among nobles, samurai, and Buddhist priests that were popular in the Kamakura Period), Noh and Kyogen songs, and Michiyuki that have been passed down until today. In the third portion of the public lecture, SATO Tomohiko (an Izumi-style Kyogen actor) and ASAKURA Toshiki (a Hoshu-style Noh actor) performed chants and komai (lit. small dances), which were well received by lecture attendees.

Investigative research on application of restoration materials 

Test application at Itsukushima Shrine

 The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques conducts investigative research on restoration materials for cultural properties. Various types of restoration materials are needed in a diverse range of fields such as architecture, and fine and applied arts.
 At Itsukushima Shrine, the center is involved in continuing investigative research on restoration materials for the large “Torii.” Itsukushima Shrine is located on the sea, in a severe temperature and humidity environment, directly exposed to wind and rain, and the effects of salts must also be taken into consideration. For such reasons, there are stringent conditions on the selection of restoration materials. Working time is also limited due to factors such as rise and fall of the tide. In selecting restoration materials, two types of testing are done in parallel: accelerated deterioration testing under various conditions in the laboratory, and exposure testing at the actual site.
 Specifications of filling material were finalized through research studies up to the last fiscal year, and surface finishing materials are currently being studied. Based on the results achieved to date, test application of a selected material was carried out on October 22 and 23. Going forward, the center plans to make follow-up observations, and continue investigations to enable proper selection of materials.

Investigation of Selected Conservation Techniques—brushes for Makie, dyeing with true indigo, and gathering Japanese cypress bark

Production of brushes for Makie
Dyeing with natural Japanese indigo
Gathering Japanese cypress bark

 Cultural properties must be protected and passed on to future generations as the shared heritage of humanity. If the materials and tools for producing cultural properties, and the techniques for restoring them, are not handed down and used, it will be impossible to keep cultural properties in good condition. Japanese conservation and restoration techniques for cultural properties are recognized for their usefulness and used in practice, even outside Japan. Traditional techniques that are essential for preserving cultural properties, and must themselves be conserved, have been selected by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as Selected Conservation Techniques. Individuals and groups possessing such techniques (holders) are also certified. At present, 71 techniques have been certified, as well as 57 individual and 31 group holders.
 The Japanese Center for International Cooperation in Conservation carries out studies relating to Selected Conservation Techniques, and widely disseminates information both inside and outside Japan. The center conducts interview surveys with technique holders, asking about topics such as their work process, the situation surrounding their work, and their social environment, and takes photographic records of them at work, their tools, and other items. In October 2014, surveys and documentation activities were conducted regarding production of brushes for Makie by Mr. MURATA Shigeyuki at the Murata Kurobei Shoten in Kyoto, dyeing with natural Japanese indigo by Mr. MORI Yoshio at Konku in Shiga, and gathering of Japanese cypress bark by Mr. ONO Koji at Awaga Shrine in Hyogo. The three cases investigated were traditional, specialized techniques in three different fields (lacquer, dyeing and architecture), but the point of commonality is that all of these individuals are keeping traditions alive through intelligence and skill—working earnestly with natural materials, and coping with changes in the environment. The results obtained through these surveys will be accumulated and used as research materials on cultural properties. At the same time, by distributing media overseas such as calendars incorporating images with high visual impact, we plan to internationally disseminate information on the nature of Japanese culture, and on materials/techniques for creating and conserving cultural properties.

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

Training for drawing of pottery unearthed from Ak-Beshim

 Since 2011, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been collaborating with efforts to protect cultural heritage in the Kyrgyz Republic and the countries of Central Asia, based on the framework of the Agency for Cultural Affairs’ Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. Previously, workshops to develop human resources have been held in the field of protection of cultural heritage, such as documentation, excavation, conservation, and site management.
 This year is the final year of this project, and in July inspection tours and workshops were conducted on site management and museum exhibition in Japan. Later in the year, over the six days from October 27 to November 1, the 8th workshop “Training Workshop on Exhibition and Publication of the Excavation Report” was held in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic. Twelve trainees from Kyrgyz participated in this workshop.
 At present, museums in Kyrgyz still lack adequate facilities and human resources. Therefore, this workshop featured lectures on exhibition techniques at museums, management of lighting, temperature and humidity, and exhibition hall management techniques. After that, there were lectures and training on techniques for preparing site reports, including topics such as drawing of archaeological finds and descriptions of their attributes. In addition, due to the diversification of archaeological investitgation techniques in recent years, today’s reports contain various types of natural science approaches. Therefore, lectures were given and training carried out regarding analytical techniques for animal and plant remains sampled from Ak-Beshim, where excavation training was conducted in 2012 and 2013.
 This will be the final workshop held under the current framework. However, considering the current situation in Kyrgyz and Central Asian countries regarding museums, conservation facilities, and site management, there remains a need for international support in all areas of cultural heritage protection. Going forward, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation plans to continue its efforts in various international cooperation projects for culture heritage, with the aim of protecting cultural heritage in Central Asia.

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