|■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
“Monkeys” painted by Kawanabe Kyosai, in the Kindai Nihon Gajo album of paintings possessed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
©The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Charles Stewart Smith Collection, Gift of Mrs. Charles Stewart Smith, Charles Stewart Smith Jr., and Howard Caswell Smith, in memory of Charles Stewart Smith, 1914
The Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a monthly workshop on the topic and with the presenters mentioned below on June 4.
– Takuyo Yasunaga (researcher at the department): About “Sansui Zukan,” said to have been painted by Gion Nankai (possessed by the Tokyo National Museum)
– Ms. Eriko Tomizawa-Kay (Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures) “Modern Japanese-style painters observed in collections of paintings outside Japan and their drawing activities – mainly about the establishment and acceptance of ‘Kindai Nihon Gajo (commonly known as the Brinkley Album)’ ”
On the topic of “Sansui Zukan,” a painted scroll in the Edo period that is said to have been painted by Gion Nankai and depicting the Kumano pilgrimage routes running from Wakayama to the Nachi falls via Nakahechi, Hongu, and Shingu, Ms. Yasunaga discussed the possibility of the work having been painted by Gion Nankai [1676-1751], based on the geographically accurate depiction of Kumano and the characteristics of its expression by comparing the scroll with Nankai’s other newly found works and other measures. In addition, she also pointed out the scroll’s relationship with the learning activities of Chinese paintings by early Japanese bunjinga (literati painting) painters and new expressions of actual sceneries. However, attendees of the workshop provided various remarks such as the issue of whether the painting scroll was just a sketch and the relationship with other paintings of the same age.
Ms. Tomizawa made presentations based on the survey of “Kindai Nihon Gajo” possessed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. While paintings included in this gajo are separated individually at present, it originally consisted of 95 paintings created by seven Japanese-style painters who were active in the Meiji era, including Kawanabe Kyosai, Hashimoto Gaho and Kawabata Gyokusho. Ms. Tomizawa’s research revealed that dealer and collector Francis Brinkley (1841-1912) originally asked Kyosai to create an album of 100 paintings. However, as Kyosai died in 1889, the creation of the album was divided among the other six painters, according to her research. Charles Stewart Smith, a prominent U.S. entrepreneur who stayed in Japan in 1892 and 1893, purchased the album from Brinkley and Smith’s bereaved family donated the album to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The album remains in the museum’s possession to this day.
Among the paintings included in the album, 12 painted by Kyosai were temporarily returned to Japan and exhibited along with their sketches (possessed by the Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum) at the exhibition “KYOSAI-Master painter and his student Josiah Conder” held at the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo, in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo from June 27 to Sep 6. The elaborate brushworks are prominently respected among other paintings in the album, so we recommend that you see them on this occasion.
Symposium “Advancement of Art Resources in a Global Context”
On June 6 (Sat.), the “Advancement of Art Resources in a Global Context – Contact point between global digitalization strategies and academic specialized research” was held at the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo as part of the annual meeting of the Japan Art Documentation Society. Representing the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Deputy Director General Atsushi Tanaka and Mai Sarai, senior researcher at the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, attended the symposium as presenters. With an eye to increasing the quantity of art resource information, which has been internationally requested, this symposium was intended to confirm the situations surrounding relevant organizations regarding issues related to the specialization and advancement of information in Japan and to deepen discussions on the issues.
First, representatives from the National Museum of Western Art, the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) and the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, respectively gave presentations on their own methods of offering information on art and cultural properties. Mr. Tanaka and Ms. Sarai from the institute gave a presentation under the title “Formulation of Specialized Archives on Cultural Property Information – Efforts by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo,” and introduced the history of the institute, archives activities and digital contents, and reported the institute’s efforts and measures on the provision of information at a global level (cooperation with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures and with the Getty Research Institute, etc). Following the individual presentations, a panel discussion between presenters and a keynote speech by Akiko Mabuchi, the director general of the National Museum of Western Arts, were held in the symposium.
In this symposium, we again presented the effectiveness of art and cultural property information and resources that have been accumulated and maintained by the institute over many years in research activities under the current situation surrounding art resource information to relevant officials at home and abroad. At the same time, we could obtain many suggestions on the provision and dissemination of information at a global level by learning pioneering activities of other institutions.
The dialogue with Leiko Ikemura
We held a public dialogue with Leiko Ikemura, an artist living in Berlin, Germany, on June 9 (Tue.) Before this, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held an international symposium “Reconsidering ‘Form’: Towards a More Open Discussion” in January 2014, and Ms. Ikemura served as a speaker in the symposium. (We published a report on the symposium. For details, please see
The dialogue event was the second phase of the symposium. Emiko Yamanashi and Mai Sarai from the department asked Ms. Ikemura questions and she gave answers to the questions. In the trilateral dialogue, Ikemura delivered various talks, starting with the production concept of her most recent work “Usagi Kannon,” a terracotta statue more than three meters in height. Then she talked about practical issues including production techniques, materials, the selection of media, and ways to realize production concepts. In addition, she frankly and fully discussed the act of creation, such as her attitude toward production, inner feelings and conflicted feelings at the time of creation, and the state of mind she is trying to reach through art.
When she draws a picture, Ikemura said, “I capture the moment when the object and I are integrated. What I want to draw is not an object. I want to capture the sense that the object is connected to me and my body. That is the connection between myself and the world and experience, and I am trying to make it into a painting.” That statement was very impressive.
The contents of the dialogue will be made available on the website of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. We hope you will look forward to this.
Getty Research Institute
On June 16 and 17, Atsushi Tanaka, deputy director general of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (Tobunken), and Mai Sarai at the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems visited the Getty Research Institute (GRI) that plays a leading role globally in the dissemination of information on artworks and art research with the help of Ms. Ann Adachi, a video art researcher living in Philadelphia. They had a consultation with officials at the GRI to seek the possibility of joint research. In October 2014, GRI Director Thomas W. Gaehtgens and other staff members inspected Tobunken. Following the visit, both institutions decided to hold a consultation to seek concrete ways of cooperation.
The GRI is located on a hill overlooking the coast in Santa Monica in Los Angeles and the UCLA campus. The GRI is part of a complex facility generally referred to as the Getty Center that comprises such institutions as the Getty Conservation Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum having five pavilions.
Jean Paul Getty, the founder of the Getty Center, had an idea that the revolutionary digital technology in the 21st century would enable the integration of art, humane studies and natural science, and that the Getty Center should offer a platform for the integration. Based on the idea, the GRI has been organically organizing a range of projects in cooperation with museums and research institutes not only in the United States but also in Europe, aiming to form a cooperative model to integrate accesses to all artworks.
Sarai gave a presentation titled “Approaches to the Creation of Japanese Cultural Properties Database at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo; Tobunken,” and introduced Tobunken’s current efforts to disseminate research information on cultural properties to Mr. Gaehtgens and other senior officials at the respective departments.
Tobunken’s digital archives on cultural properties and artist database are contents that are highly likely to be linked to the Getty Center, and we received favorable reviews from staffers at the GRI. We will reach an agreement to promote cooperation between both institutions and eventually exchange memorandums.
If Tobunken’s digital contents could be searched on the GRI’s portal site, which is connected to the world, information on Japanese art and cultural properties will certainly become available to a larger number of people in the world. We will continue to enhance Tobunken’s ability to disseminate information.
Art historian Aki Ueno, who had worked for the Tokyo National Research Institute of Cultural Properties, the predecessor to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, from November 1942 to April 1984, passed away on Oct. 12, 2014. Ms. Ueno specialized in the Art of Western regions such as Kizil Caves and Mogao Caves. In addition, she was awarded the Imperial Prize of the Japan Academy in 1960 for her joint research on the mural painting of the five-storey pagoda at Daigo-ji Temple with Osamu Takata, Takuji Ito, Taka Yanagisawa and Tsugio Miya, becoming the first woman to receive the award along with Yanagisawa. Her bereaved family will donate Ueno’s research notes, related materials and part of her book stock to the institute so that they can be utilized for future research. They are a valuable collection of materials that show the traces of research on the history of the Art of Western regions and other issues. After organizing them, we plan to make them available to the public.
Yashiro and Berenson-Art History between Japan and Italy
Art historian Yukio Yashiro (1890-1975), who served as the director general of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, went to Europe in 1921 and studied under Renaissance art researcher Bernard Berenson (1865-1959) in Florence, Italy, from the autumn of that year. Yashiro learned his teacher’s method of stylistic comparison, and published “Sandro Botticelli” in 1925, a bulky English work on Botticelli that made Yashiro internationally recognized. After returning to Japan in 1925, he participated in the foundation of the “Institute of Art Research,” the predecessor to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. Based on the Institute of Art Research, he made efforts to compile the history of Oriental art using Berenson’s methodology. After World War II, he was involved in the opening of the Museum Yamato Bunkakan from the preparatory stage and served as the first director general of the museum. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, has been conducting research on the correspondence between Yashiro and Berenson. On June 30, we started a Web exhibition on the extant correspondence titled “Yashiro and Berenson-Art History between Japan and Italy,” presenting the republications of all 114 letters between Berenson and Yashiro and related documents in cooperation with the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, which is housed in the former villa of Berenson, and Michiaki Koshikawa, professor at Tokyo University of the Arts. (See http://yashiro.itatti.harvard.edu/) You can enjoy various materials showing the exchanges between the two art historians in the Web exhibition comprising the following chapters: letters, a list of people appearing in the letters, “Sandro Botticelli,” English versions of Yashiro’s literary works including an English translation of “My Life in Fine Arts” (from Chapter 7 to 10) published in 1972, studies on Yashiro, Berenson’s literary works on Oriental art and a gallery including Yashiro’s water-color paintings and sketches. Yashiro and the letters shed light not only on the individual activities of Berenson and Yashiro and their master-discipline relationship, but also on the international circumstances surrounding research on Renaissance art and Oriental art from the 1920s to 1950s.
During the Conference
On June 30 (Tue.), the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems invited Mr. Matthew Mckelway, professor at Columbia University, and held a workshop titled “NAGASAWA Rosetsu before his Sojourn in Nanki (Kii Province): His Relations with Temples of the Zen Sect”.
Rosetsu Nagasawa (1754～99) is a painter who was active in the mid-Edo period. Substituting for his master Okyo Maruyama, Rosetsu visited several temples of the Zen sect in the southern Kii Province (Nanki) from 1786 to 1787. Rosetsu is known as having drawn a large number of sliding panel paintings during his sojourn of a few months. His experience in Nanki gave him significant momentum to obtain his own painting style. However, there are quite a few unclear points over Rosetsu’s movements and painting education before his sojourn in Nanki.
Based on a detailed analysis of a sanja (person who appreciates the work and writes an appraisal of it) of Rosetsu’s works currently possessed in overseas countries and his collaborative works, among other materials, Mr. Mckelway pointed out that Rosetsu had had close relations with Zen monks at Myoshin-ji temple such as Shikyo Eryo and Shishin Sogin since before his sojourn in Nanki. By examining the motifs of Rosetsu’s sliding panel paintings at temples in Nanki with this fact in mind, Mr. Mckelway also pointed out the possibility that Rosetsu was inspired by a sliding panel painting at Myoshin-ji temple. Given that the current research on Rosetsu lacks works before his sojourn in Nanki, Mr. Mckelway offered a very significant and attractive theory. After his presentation, there was an active exchange of views on Rosetsu’s works in overseas countries introduced by Mr. Mckelway. Such a presentation about works possessed in overseas countries provided important information to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, and we expect further progress in the research in the future.
Mibu no Hana Taue
Miyoshi no Ukai
Since 2011, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been conducting the second Research Exchange between Japan and South Korea in relation to the Safeguarding and Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage with South Korea’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Center (the former National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage). As part of the program, Mr. Ban So Young of the center visited Japan from June 1 to 22 and conducted a joint survey. Aiming to conduct concrete case studies on activities of conservation groups and others for the safeguarding and utilization of intangible cultural heritages, we inspected Mibu no Hana Taue, the ritual of transplanting rice in the Mibu area of Kitahiroshima town in Hiroshima Prefecture, (designated as a national important intangible folk cultural property and inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity) and Miyoshi no Ukai, a traditional fishing method using a cormorant conducted in Miyoshi, the same prefecture, (designated as a Hiroshima prefectural intangible folk cultural property), and interviewed the people concerned. For their transmission to later generations, both Hana Taue and Ukai are indivisibly connected to tourism. Especially because of that, not only successors but also a wide range of actors such as local governments, related organizations, people in relevant communities, researchers and audience are interrelated in various ways for the transmission of the intangible folk cultural assets, and these assets have been passed down to later generations in more flexible ways while having relations with local economies. In the latest survey, we could learn a part of the actual situations.
In South Korea, a new law concerning intangible cultural heritages will be implemented in March 2016, which will greatly change the environment surrounding the conservation of intangible cultural heritages in the country. At the same time, this research exchange program will end in this fiscal year, and we will summarize the program in the next fiscal year. In the future, we will compile the results of the second research exchange, while both countries plan to discuss ways of bilateral exchange in the year after next and beyond with moves after the revision of the law in South Korea in mind.
Demonstration of Microfading device
On June 4, 2015, Dr.Paul Whitmore, professor at Yale University (the U.S.) and director of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, visited the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, and conducted a demonstration of Microfading, the state-of-the-art spectroscope capable of measuring color deterioration in a microscopic region. Microfading is a most-advanced technology that has not been introduced in Japan yet, and Mr. Whitmore introduced the purpose and structure of the device as well as its application cases in the United States to researchers of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques as well as teachers and postgraduates of Tokyo University of the Arts. According to Mr. Whitmore, the method of grasping changes in color fading with the passage of time by exposing an object through fiber to the high-intensity light of a xenon lamp with an aperture width setting of 0.3 millimeters is used to determine which color is vulnerable to light exposure among actual exhibits. The idea of the method is opposite to that of the conventional one that limits the exposed time by identifying an object and then judging its light resistance. While there are only a few application cases of Microfading, I felt that the technology has the potential to expand possibilities for the future. Concerning dyed textiles made at the institute (red: carminic acid, yellow: curcumin and blue: indigo), we conducted a color fading experiment to create a final color-difference level of 33, but we could not find discolored spots both visually and by using a stereomicroscope. (Of the attendees, eight were from outside institutions.)
We held a workshop on “the Minamata Convention on Mercury” at the Tokyo National Museum Lecture Room on June 9, 2015. The Convention stipulates comprehensive regulations to reduce the risks of mercury on human health and the environment, and was adopted and signed on October 10, 2013, at a diplomatic conference held in Kumamoto Prefecture. It includes limitations on the use of mercury as well as a ban on the manufacturing, import or export of mercury-added products, also having effects on cultural property conservation. Thus we discussed the contents of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and its impact with representatives from collaborative partners of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques having a large variety of expertise, such as the Tokyo National Museum, the Kyoto National Museum, the Nara National Museum and the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, as well as Cultural Affairs Agency officials in charge of the matter and representatives from the agency’s fine arts division.
As for cultural property materials and techniques using mercury, we agreed to carefully monitor the future direction of regulations in order to reduce negative effects as much as possible on the restoration and replication of cultural properties such as cinnabar as an electroplating technique or a drawing material and the replication of Daguerreotype pictures. In addition, we also agreed to act to express opinions when necessary. Meanwhile, before the production of mercury lamps and fluorescent lamps is discontinued, we decided to exchange views on the use of LED lights and its beam quality evaluation. In the workshop, we could shed light on problems from various perspectives such as a natural history sample, academic sample and modern industrial devices using mercury and the disposal of waste soil at excavation sites, and we realized the very wide range of expertise.
Photographing from a high altitude by remote shutter operation using a digital camera’s Wifi function and iPad.
Data processing using open-sourced software programs
Among the monuments of Angkor, many of which have been restored by various methods thanks to international cooperation, Ta Nei temple has never undergone full-scale restoration in the past and quietly remains unchanged as it was in a dense forest. In order to ensure an adequate conservation of the monument while also paying attention to the aspect of utilizing it for tourism without undermining its value, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, continues to provide technical assistance to APSARA (Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap) to draft a plan for the conservation and management project.
As for the three-dimensional photographic measurement at the remains using SfM (Structure from Motion), which began last year, we have been testing it to establish a method to keep records of the remains’ current conditions, which can be implemented by local staff members as cheap and easy as possible. In this mission conducted from May 27 to June 2, we photographed the remains in the inner side of the inside gallery and implemented the total station measurement of orientation points together with staff from APSARA. Next, we created a three-dimensional model of the ruin covering the inner side of the inside gallery by processing the obtained data using open-sourced software programs (Visual_SfM、SfM georef、Meshlab). While we are currently examining the accuracy of the model, if the method is established, it is expected to be applied not only to other monuments of Angkor but also to ones in other developing countries as a recording method that does not require special equipment or budgets.
Meanwhile, the outline and progress situation of the project were reported at the 24th technical session of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor held on June 4 and 5 at the APSARA headquarters office. The collection of basic data including those necessary to create the model of the entire site will be completed within this fiscal year.
Physical property test
As part of the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA)’ Project for cooperation with the Conservation Centre of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM-CC), a training course on “Japanese Paper for Conservation Treatment (Fourth term)” was conducted for two staff members who are in charge of organic conservation of paper such as papyrus in the GEM-CC from the 8th to 17th June.
This training course is the last one of a series of four that we have held to apply the traditional Japanese conservation technique called “SOKO” to the conservation of papyrus. Trainees learned the outlines of Japanese conservation of cultural property as well as the basic SOKO technique such as lining in the NRICPT and conservation ateliers in Kyoto for eight weeks. In addition, we gave lectures and held practice sessions on methods of dyeing Japanese paper with natural dyes, as per requested. Having such a keen interest displayed through their diligent asking of questions and discussions with instructors indicated that they had learned much from the training.
They learned a method for constructing various physical property tests such as “Determination of tensile properties” and “Determination of stiffness” by using papyrus samples in this session. They also developed an understanding of data collecting and sorting, and how to analyze it.
This project seeks to foster and enhance cooperation among staff of the GEM-CC so that what is taught in training courses can spread and raise the standard as a whole. This is achieved by having trainees describe and teach what they have experienced and learned to their colleagues. They will design an action plan to apply the knowledge obtained to actual daily work after the roll out.
The outer appearance of the Phya-sa-shwe-gu temple
Investigation of the inner side of a structural crack by using an endoscope
Excavation survey to investigate a foundation structure
This project is intended to contribute to enhancing the conservation management system of historical buildingscomprising Myanmar’s Bagan monuments, and provides technical assistance aiming for updating the monument inventory and establishing a method to assess the conservation state of structures. At the same time, the project is also aiming for contributing to the human resources development for the Department of Archeology and National Museum (DoA) of Myanmar’s Ministry of Culture, which is in charge of the conservation and management of the monuments. We have been working on the two-year project since 2014.
Commissioned by UNESCO, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, has been taking part in the project, mainly the assessment of conservation states of architectural structures. So far, we have been putting our efforts into drawing up a rapid condition assessment sheet to effectively understand in a short time the overall conservation states of all buildings in Bagan built during the Bagan Dynasty period. As a next step, we started a study on methodology for an in-depth condition assessment of structural problems that are detected by a rapid assessment. Even among the monuments in Bagan, individual historical architectures differ significantly not only in their scales and structures, but also in locations and damage conditions. Thus, it is difficult to standardize the process of the in-depth condition assessment as we did for the rapid condition assessment, while it is considered possible to develop a certain pattern for detecting basic problems and creating a work flow. So, we decided to select the Phya-sa-shwe-gu temple (No. 1249) as it is an architecture with a typical scale and structure that has not undergone a full-scale restoration so far, and conduct a pilot case study for an in-depth condition assessment at the temple.
In a field study from June 11 to 19, we conducted detailed recording of crack distribution, non-destructive tests using a Schmidt hammer and an ultrasonic gauging device, a study on the inside of walls using micro drilling and an endoscope, and an excavation surveyto investigate the foundation structure together with an Italian expert in structural engineering, Myanmar engineers and staff members of DoA. On the last day, we discussed about an indoor strength test on brick samples taken from the temple at a research institution in Yangon.
The temple building’s structural degradation has been significantly progressing, and the outer wall of the back of the corridor is in a particularly dangerous condition. Through analysis of information and data obtained in the latest survey, we will examine the cause and mechanism of damage and continue the study aiming for presenting an appropriate diagnosis flow.
Production of onigawara roof ornament
Hand-spun ramie yarn in Miyako Island
Production of Ryukyu indigo
Bud picking of kozo plant that is used to produce Udagami handmade paper
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducts surveys on Selected Conservation Techniques to present their information overseas as traditional techniques to protect and support Japanese cultural properties. In June 2015, we conducted surveys on Roof ornaments, Hand-spun ramie yarn in Miyako Island, Ryukyu indigo and Udagami handmade paper.
For the tiling roof of temples and shrines, several types of tiles and ornaments are used, and it is necessary to hand down the traditional advanced skills and the techniques that can be used depending on the purpose to later generations. With the cooperation of Yamamoto Kawara Kougyou Ltd. in Ikoma District, Nara Prefecture, we surveyed the production processes of onigawara roof ornaments and other products.
In Miyako Island, there is a traditional technique to extract the fibers of ramie and hand-spin them to make ramie yarn. While it is an important technique for preserving and transferring Okinawa’s textile techniques including Miyako-Jofu designated as the Important Intangible Cultural Properties under the Japanese law, the ageing of skilled workers and training of their successors are becoming an urgent task.
Ryukyu indigo, which is also used for Miyako-Jofu textiles, is a dyestuff using a different type of indigo used in the main island of Japan, and the main production area of the material is currently limited to the Izumi area of Motobu town on the main island of Okinawa, indicating how valuable such materials are.
We also conducted a survey on the production process of traditional handmade Japanese paper using home-grown kozo plants (paper mulberry) at Fukunishi Washi Honpo in Yoshino District, Nara Prefecture. The Udagami paper of Yoshino is used mainly as the backing paper of hanging scrolls. It internationally receives high evaluation in the conservation and restoration of cultural properties such as calligraphies and paintings, and is widely used for such purposes. We will compile the results of the surveys in a report and produce a calendar for overseas.