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

Seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems held

The seminar underway

 A seminar was held in the Seminar Room in the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems starting at 2:00 PM on March 24 (Tues.). The seminar featured a research presentation from KAWAI Daisuke, an Associate Fellow of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems, on “Anti-art, De-subjectification, and Anonymity: Focusing on the Yamanote Line Event and AKASEGAWA Genpei” and a research presentation from KIKKAWA Hideki, another Associate Fellow of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems, on “A Panorama of Sightseeing Art at Tama: Mount Fuji, locomotives, girls, and wells”.
 KAWAI’s presentation mentioned the “de-subjectification of works,” which is one of the features common to art from around the world in the 1960s. This “de-subjectification” became evident as “anonymity” in Japanese art of the period. KAWAI substantiated this point through an analysis of materials related to the Yamanote Line Event put on by NAKANISHI Natsuyuki and other artists in 1962 and the activities of AKASEGAWA Genpei at the time (since AKASEGAWA was affected by the Yamanote action).
 KIKKAWA’s presentation covered An Exhibition of Sightseeing Art at Tama, which is the first event put on by the Tourist Art Research Institute. KIKKAWA used the drawing A Panorama of Sightseeing Art at Tama and the video piece Das Kapital by NAKAMURA Hiroshi to look back at the exhibition. KIKKAWA’s presentation included information that was presented at a symposium commemorating the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the PoNJA-GenKon listserve in September of last year as well as subsequent research he had done.
 The seminar was attended by the painter NAKAMURA Hiroshi and the artist and post-war art researcher SHIMADA Yoshiko. NAKAMURA arrived after KIKKAWA’s presentation and provided attendees with an explanation of the Tourist Art Research Institute and his own work at the time in a question-and-answer session following the presentations.

A database of images from Bijitsu Gaho (The Magazine of Art) is available for public access

Imaging of A Painting of Mahamayuri

 Bijitsu Gaho(The Magazine of Art) is an art journal that was first published by Gahosha as Nihon Bijitsu Gaho in June 1894. In addition to “new works” by artists at the time, the journal also featured artworks and handicrafts dating from before the Edo period as “reference works.” The journal provides a glimpse into what works were considered classics in the Meiji era. The name of the journal changed to Bijitsu Gaho in 1899, and the journal continued publication until 1926.
 A database featuring images from Nihon Bijitsu Gaho and Bijitsu Gaho is now available for public access via the Institute’s website. The database allows searches by the names of artists and the names of pieces.
The database currently contains images from Japanese Art Pictorial Vol. 1, No. 1 (June 1894) to Vol. 5, No. 12 (May 1899). Plans are to make images from subsequent volumes available as well. In addition, volumes prior to Vol. 3, No. 12 (June 1897) can be viewed with a book viewer, which users can peruse like flipping through a book, so we invite you to have a look.

A catalogue of the collection of KUNO Takeshi is now available

 KUNO Takeshi left an indelible footprint on the history of Buddhist sculpture. KUNO’s collection has been organized, and a catalogue of photographs and other images of Buddhist sculptures in Japan and elsewhere around the world is now available to the public. The collection is massive, with more than 7,000 images, and was assembled by KUNO, who was a researcher at the Institute. After KUNO passed away in 2007, his family donated the collection to the Institute.
 KUNO joined the Institute of Art Research (the forerunner of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo) in 1944, and he researched history of Buddhist sculpture for 38 years until he retired in 1982. After retiring, he founded and sponsored the Buddhist Art Research Institute near his home. He collected materials over a number of years and made those materials available for use by researchers (a brief biography of KUNO can be found at the link below).
 Most of the photographs are of Buddhist sculptures that have been categorized by the temple or shrine where they are found in prefectures and major cities. Providing an extensive view of Buddhist statues throughout Japan, the photographs convey the zeal of an extraordinary person. The photographs are extremely important materials and include images of Buddhist statues as they were being restored. KUNO oversaw the editing of A Compilation of Buddhist Statues (Gakuseisha), and some of the photographs can be found in that work. A Compilation of Buddhist Statues features descriptions of major Buddhist statues in different regions.
 The catalogue allows searches by the name of the shrine or temple where the statue is found and by the name of the piece. If you would like to view this collection, please fill out the Application for Use Form (word / PDF) and submit it to the Library.

Recording of Noh chanting by SEKINE Shouroku of the Kanze school

Recording SEKINE Shouroku

 Noh chants from Sotoba Komachi were performed by the preeminent SEKINE Shouroku, a lead actor in the Kanze school of Noh, and recorded on March 13. A Noh play intended primarily for the initiated, Sotoba Komachi features the part of an old woman that can only be performed by veteran actors with years of experience. Somewhat more complex techniques than are normally used are used to portray the old woman’s mindset. Plans are to continue with this recording work after April and record the old woman’s part.

A lecture by ISHIZAKI Takeshi, the former Deputy Director General of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo

During lecture

 ISHIZAKI Takeshi, the former Deputy Director General of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT), retired at the end of September 2014. He has continued his research as a professor at the Institute for Conservation of Cultural Properties of the Tohoku University of Art and Design. He delivered a lecture about the results “Conservation of Cultural Properties and Their Surrounding Environments: A specific focus on water-related problems” (Fri. March 6 2015, at the Seminar Hall in the basement) describing the results of his previous and current research.
 Professor ISHIZAKI, he clearly explained how moisture in soil freezes to form ice lenses and he described the movement of these ice lenses based on soil physics, his field of expertise. He described his study of rainwater penetration to stone through an analysis of moisture and heat transport. He also cited examples that explained the causes of the weathering of the stone Buddhist statue in Ayutthaya and low temperature control method during the dismantling of the stone chamber of the Takamatsuzuka Tumuli. These topics illustrate how he has focused on moisture movement in porous materials such as soil, brick, and earthen walls. He also talked about applying the outcomes of his research to the conservation of historic buildings, storehouses with plaster walls, stone structures, and exposed archeological remains. He remarked on the fact that there are few researchers in the field of safeguarding cultural properties, and he encouraged joint studies with universities and other research institutions.
 Since retiring, he has participated in research as an emeritus researcher and visiting researcher at the Institute’s Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques. (The audience included 53 attendees who were not affiliated with the NRICPT)

Research of the mural painting fragments from archaeological sites in the Republic of Tajikistan

Photographing mural paintings unearthed at the Penjikent site
Piecing together mural painting fragments unearthed at the Khulbuk site

 From March 3 to 8, unearthed mural painting fragments were researched, pieced back together, and photographed at the Tajikistan National Museum, the Khulbuk Museum, and the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan.
 Four mural paintings (dated to the 7–8th centuries) that were unearthed at the site of the medieval fortified town of Penjikent in Sogdiana are being stored and exhibited at the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan. These are a valuable scholarly resource given the limited number of similar paintings. The painting techniques and the state of their conservation were researched and the paintings were photographed in detail in order to better understand their value in terms of art history and the state of their conservation.
 Fragments of mural paintings (dated around the 10–11th centuries) were unearthed at the Khulbuk site in the early 1980s. Since then, those fragments were simply stored in the Khulbuk Museum without any effort to piece them back together. During the research, these fragments were pieced back together and photographed. The mural painting fragments had been piled up in a wooden box for storage, so work began by transferring individual fragments to a plastic container and assigning each fragment a reference number. Fragments in each container were photographed and the condition of each fragment was recorded to provide basic information for use in conservation work.
 Fragments of mural paintings (dated around the 8th century) from the Kala-i Kakhkakha 1 site are being stored and exhibited at the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan. The current condition of them was recorded, and the fragments were visually inspected in detail.
 The results of this study should effectively facilitate future conservation of mural painting fragments in the Republic of Tajikistan.

Myanmarese experts invited to Japan to attend training in conservation of mural paintings

Practice conserving simulated mural painting fragments

 As part of the “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, 2 mural painting conservators from the Department of Archaeology and National Museum (DoA) of the Ministry of Culture of Myanmar were invited to train in Japan from March 9 to 13, 2015. The training consisted of lectures on conservation of mural paintings and practice conserving those items, a visit to a restoration studio, and viewing of temple murals. The training further educated the Myanmarese conservators about conservation of wall paintings in Japan.
 During the first half of the training, the conservators received lectures on aspects of Japanese murals (decorated kofun [ancient Japanese tombs], mural paintings in kofun, mural paintings on plaster found in temples, panel paintings, etc.) such as their history and the materials and techniques used to make them along with examples of their conservation. The conservators also received lectures on the materials and techniques used to conserve kofun mural paintings, and they practiced conserving simulated mural painting fragments. The trainees were highly interested in learning about materials and techniques, and they actively asked questions. In addition, trainees visited a restoration studio that restores Japanese works such as paintings and books. Trainees observed actual restoration work and they talked about basic policies regarding conservation in Myanmar and Japan. During the latter half of the training, trainees visited Kyoto and Nara and they viewed surviving murals in Houkai-ji, Horyu-ji, and Yakushi-ji. Trainees discussed the conservation of mural paintings with Japanese representatives as they closely observed mural paintings that were described in the lectures. The hope is to continue cooperation in the future so that the information taught during training will benefit projects to conserve mural paintings in Myanmar.

A survey of Japanese paintings in Australia

A survey at the National Gallery of Victoria

 Japanese artworks in collections overseas play an important role in introducing foreigners to Japanese culture. However, there are few conservators of Japanese works overseas, so numerous works are not ready for exhibition, and those works are not properly conserved. The Institute conducts the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas so that these Japanese artworks can be conserved and exhibited. The program facilitates cooperation in conservation of works overseas and it conducts workshops in an effort to conserve and restore such works. The current survey examined Japanese paintings in Australia in order to identify works for future conservation by the cooperative program.
 From March 16 to 19, Institute researchers visited the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia. The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne is Australia’s oldest art museum while the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra boasts the country’s largest collection of art. During the survey, the detailed state of hanging scrolls, a hand scroll, and folding screens (8 works in total) were examined and the works were also studied from the perspective of art history. The works will be assessed in terms of art history and works in need of urgent conservation will be identified based on the results of the survey, and works will be selected for conservation under the cooperative program. In addition, information gleaned from the survey will be provided to the curating institution in order to formulate future plans to exhibit and conserve the works.

Production of a calendar: Traditional Japanese Technique to Conserve Cultural Properties

2015 Calendar: Preserving Cultural Properties: Traditional Techniques from Japan

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is studying Selected Conservation Techniques that must be preserved in order to preserve cultural properties. The center conducts interview surveys with the technique holders and the individuals from selected organizations, asking about their work process, the situation surrounding their work and their social environment and takes photographic records of them at work and their tools. Two versions of a 2015 calendar (a wall hanging version and a desktop version) for overseas were produced to inform the public of these efforts and provide information. The calendar is entitled Traditional Japanese Technique to Conserve Cultural Properties and it covers production of Japanese paper, production of sukisu bamboo screens for papermaking, plastering, dyeing with natural Japanese indigo, gathering Japanese cypress bark, Tatara smelting, and production of brushes for makie from among topics studied in 2014. All of the photographs were taken by SHIRONO Seiji of the Institute’s Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems. These visually stunning images capture an instant highlighting the aspects of traditional materials and techniques, and explanations of each photograph are provided in English and Japanese. The calendar will be distributed to foreign agencies and organizations dealing with cultural properties to promote of understanding of Japanese techniques to conserve cultural properties and Japanese culture.

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