|■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
Receiving an explanation of the display in the Institute’s Lobby
13 visitors from the Graduate School of the National Taipei University of Education in Taiwan
As a part of student training, visitors from the National Taipei University of Education visited the Institute on April 3 to learn about the Institute’s projects and the results of its research. The visitors toured the Library of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems and the Performing Arts Studio of the Intangible Cultural Properties Section. The visitors also viewed a display of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques on “Conservation of Modern Cultural Properties: The role of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo” at the lobby of the Institute. Leading researchers in each sections explained their work. In the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, researchers described the Institute’s international efforts.
The moment during the 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee when an announcement was made that Mt. Fuji would be inscribed on the World Heritage List
The Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems held a seminar on April 21. Entitled “Problems with the World Heritage Committee and Their Solutions: Capitalizing on Those Approaches to Safeguard Cultural Properties under the World Heritage Convention,” the seminar featured a presentation by the author, who has been observing the World Heritage Committee since 2008. In her presentation, the author analyzed what was discussed at Committee sessions.
The public is highly interested in World Heritage, and flocks of visitors visit World Heritage sites. Many of the books on World Heritage cover specific heritage sites. In contrast, only a few books in Japanese specifically discuss the World Heritage Committee and related issues.
During her presentation, the author described the process from nomination of a site to its inscription on the World Heritage List, and she also explained how sites were considered during Committee sessions. The author described how the Committee Members are chosen from 21 of the State Parties to the Convention and how the Advisory Bodies act as expert advisors to the Committee. The author also noted the issues facing the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (Secretariat of the World Heritage Committee). In addition, the author offered her own views on the utility of the World Heritage Convention from her perspective as an expert in safeguarding cultural properties.
The original role of the World Heritage Convention was to establish a framework to safeguard and preserve cultural heritage and natural heritage for posterity. The nomination dossier nominating a site for inscription on the World Heritage List must describe how the site will be protected. The process of nominating a site for inscription on the World Heritage List involves a process of verifying and improving the framework for protecting that site. This approach facilitates international support for effective protection of the site. Gleaning the tendencies of the World Heritage Committee should allow Japan to more effectively prepare nomination dossiers and reports on the state of conservation of given sites. Thus, Institute personnel plan to study the World Heritage Committee and World Heritage Convention in the future as well.
English-language version of the TOBUNKEN Research Collections search page
The Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems has now made databases that were created by departments of the Institute publicly accessible. Information that is essential to research on cultural properties is available via the TOBUNKEN Research Collections (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/).
On April 30, 2015, an English-language version of the TOBUNKEN Research Collections was made available. A button for Japanese and English on the top right of the page allows uses to switch between Japanese and English language versions of the page. This project is one of the results of “Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art,” which is a project that the Institute conducted with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) in England. In addition to the page having an English-language version, the following features have been added.
＊Within References on Cultural Properties, a search limiter has been added for Information on Japanese Art Outside of Japan (compiled by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures).
Five databases of art-related publications have been accessible thus far, but these databases have now been joined by a database of foreign publications on Japanese art (approximately 718 sources that were published since 2013, which is when the project began) compiled by the SISJAC.
＊A page to search Information on Modern-Contemporary Art Exhibitions and Film Festivals was added under Information Search.
Compiled by the SISJAC, this information includes exhibitions and film festivals (approximately 520 events that took place since 2013, which is when the project began) that took place overseas (primarily in Europe and the US) in English.
The Art-related Publications database was made publicly available online by Tobunken. The SISJAC collected information on Japanese art overseas, and this information is now publicly available in the Institute’s Art-related Publications database. This work was done to help provide a platform for research on Japanese art in Japan and overseas. Hopefully, the databases will prove of benefit to users, and plans are to add subsequent data in the future.
Signing of an agreement between the Institute and the Tokyo Art Club
An art catalogue is a brochure that is handed out before items in an individual or a family’s collection are sold at sale place on a certain date. An art catalogue features photographs and it lists the name and medium of artworks such as paintings, calligraphic works, and art objects. Such a catalogue is a vital source with which to determine an artwork’s provenance. Such catalogues enjoy a limited distribution, so only a handful of facilities nationwide curate auction catalogues as a whole.
In its collection, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has a total of 2,532 art catalogues that were printed from the late Meiji Era to the Showa Era. The Institute has the largest number of these catalogues among public repositories in Japan. The Tokyo Art Club has long been involved in the sale of artworks since its founding in 1907.Over this period, the Tokyo Art Club has amassed a number of catalogues it has published.
In the past, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo recorded information in art catalogues on cards with attached photographs and made these cards available to researchers in the Institute’s Library. However, original art catalogues were often poorly preserved. Thus, the Institute joined with the Tokyo Art Club to start a project to create digital copies of art catalogues.
This project will fully reproduce older art catalogues (i.e. catalogues printed prior to 1943) in the collections of the Institute and the Tokyo Art Club in digital format. These images and information will then be shared in an effort to preserve these important sources.
Reproducing images and information in these art catalogues in digital format should further enhance databases of important materials in the Institute’s collection.
Report on the 9th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties
The 9th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was held on December 6, 2014, and a report on that Conference was published at the end of March. The theme of this year’s conference was “Local Identity and Folk Performing Arts: Relocation/Resettlement and Intangible Cultural Heritage.” How will folk culture be passed down and what role does folk culture play when people are relocated and resettled? The answers to these questions were posited and discussed through specific examples from the past. The Great East Japan Earthquake led to a reappraisal of the value that people attach to folk culture as a basis for their identity. This discussion is warranted both for communities that were stricken by the Earthquake and for areas with fewer young people and growing proportion of elderly.
A PDF version of the report is available for download from the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
A lion dance in the port. In the background, one can see the village being relocated to higher ground.
The Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section is conducting surveys to create an ethnography in order to document intangible cultural heritage in areas where residents were forced to move or relocate as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake. One of the sites currently being surveyed is the Town of Onagawa, Oshika County, Miyagi Prefecture. A survey was conducted on April 29 in conjunction with the Tohoku History Museum. The survey team visited the Takenoura area. Soon after the Earthquake, residents of a village of about 60 homes evacuated to the City of Senboku, Akita Prefecture. Temporary housing was subsequently built, but evacuees were scattered among 30 or so locations. There are few opportunities to bring this disjointed community back together. One such opportunity is the lion dance (“lion shake”) at New Year’s. A mikoshi (a portable shrine) is carried from a shrine and brought down to the pier in the new port. There, the lion dance takes place. The village’s landscape is changing as the village relocates to higher ground. Documenting life in terms of intangible cultural heritage such as festivals and performing arts will hopefully help the community to reunite and recover.
During a joint study of works in the Sannomaru Shozokan collection
On March 30, 2015, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and the Imperial Household Agency concluded an Agreement on Joint Studies of Works in the Sannomaru Shozokan Collection. Pursuant to the Agreement, works in the Sannomaru Shozokan collection that need to be conserved in the future and works that are significant to art history will be studied. Materials in these works will be analyzed and high-resolution photographs of these works will be taken in order to ascertain what materials were used in these works and how they were used.
An initial joint survey was conducted at the Sannomaru Shozokan on April 6-15, 2015. High-resolution photographs of 3 paintings were taken by SHIRONO Seiji (the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems), and X-ray fluorescence analysis of those works was performed by HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro (the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques).
Joint studies are scheduled to take place over a 5-year period ending in March 2020, with individual studies being conducted 2-3 times a year.
A lecture underway
A post-conference workshop
From April 8 to 10, 2015, a conference entitled “Adapt & Evolve: East Asian Materials and Techniques in Western Conservation” took place mainly at the Brunei Gallery at the University of London. The conference was organized by the Book and Paper Group of the Institute of Conservation (colloquially known as ICON) in the UK.
The conference consisted of tours of relevant institutions in the City of London, group events (presentations and question-and-answer panels), and various workshops. MASUDA Katsuhiko (an emeritus researcher at the Institute, currently a professor at Showa Women’s University), HAYAKAWA Noriko (a senior researcher at the Institute), and KATO Masato (a head of the Resource and Systems Research Section at the Institute) reported on the results of projects such as international training in Conservation of Japanese Paper (JPC) and the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas as well as studies of the materials used to restore cultural properties. In addition, post-conference workshops were conducted after the conference. HAYAKAWA Noriko and KUSONOKI Kyoko (an associate fellow of the Institute) explained the traditional adhesives used in the field of conservation in Japan, and showed how to make starch paste and they instructed attendees in its application.
According to the conference organizer, the conference was attended by about 300 people from around the world. During the question-and-answer session, the conference chair asked the audience about the JPC, and the answer revealed that 30 or more individuals who had completed the training were in attendance. Individuals who had completed other workshops organized by the Institute were also in attendance. Thus, the Institute plays a major role in introducing East Asian materials and techniques to Western conservation. In addition, many of the attendees asked that the Institute continue to provide information about conservation.
Making ornamental metalwork
Weaving gold brocade
Making a loom shuttle
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has conducted surveys of Selected Conservation Techniques. The Center interviews the technique holders, asking about topics such as their work process, the circumstances of their work, and how societal conditions are affecting them. SHIRONO Seiji (an artificer in the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems) photographed them at work, their tools, and other items. In April 2015, surveys on the making of ornamental metalwork., gold brocade, and loom shuttles were conducted in Kyoto.
MORIMOTO Yasunosuke IV, the fourth-generation director of Morimoto Traditional Ornament Metalwork Co., Ltd., showed how to make ornamental metalwork and ritual decorations for temple and shrine buildings. Making ornamental metalwork involves a series of steps from shaping copper sheets to engraving a design, gold plating, and then finishing the metalwork. These processes were observed during this survey.
At Hironobu Textiles Co., Ltd., which makes traditional textiles (such as gold brocade) for mounting, HIROSE Kenji discussed the current state of Nishijin textiles, and he showed how to make gold brocade by weaving gold thread into the weft of a fabric. A tool that is essential to weaving fabric is a loom shuttle, which is a wooden tool that is passed through a loom to weave the weft of a fabric. HASEGAWA Junichi makes loom shuttles. HASEGAWA explained the various types and uses of loom shuttles and he showed how he makes shuttles.
Cultural properties need to be preserved, but the materials and techniques used to make those cultural properties also need to be preserved. The results of these surveys will be compiled in a report. In addition, plans are to create a calendar for overseas countries in order to publicize Japanese cultural properties and the materials and techniques used to create and preserve those properties.