|■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
Explanation provided in the Physical Laboratory of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques
44 new staffs for the Independent Administrative Institution of the National Institutes for Cultural Heritages
As part of the training for new hires of the Independent Administrative Institution of the National Institutes for Cultural Heritages, 44 staff members visited the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, on July 10. They toured the Library of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, the Performing Arts Studio of the Intangible Cultural Property Section and the Physical Laboratory of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques. The staff members in charge of each section explained the work they do.
The first issue of “The Bijutsu Kenkyu” was published in January, 1932, based on a concept proposed by Yukio Yashiro, then director general of The Institute of Art Research affiliated with the Imperial Arts Academy, the predecessor to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. Since then and up to the present day, the magazine has been playing a leading role in cultural property research at home and abroad by publishing articles on cultural properties, pictorial commentaries, research materials and other documents while covering Asia widely. The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems has been making preparations for the publication of the magazine’s back issues on the Web as part of the entire institute’s archives and in response to opinions and requests for the publication by the Evaluation Committee.
For articles published in issues from the first to the 200th, we contacted their authors and their inheritors to obtain approval for the publication. As for articles for which we obtained approval, we have made, or will make, them accessible on the Web sequentially, and now users can search and browse texts of those articles on the “TOBUNKEN Research Collections” website. However, we prioritized efforts to establish an environment where users can search and browse texts of articles on the Web as early as possible. Therefore, concerning plates carried in the magazine along with the articles and possessed by temples, shrines and museums, we did not obtain approval for the publication from individual possessors, but instead we masked these pictures or drawings. For articles published in issues up to the 200th and the authors of which are unknown, we will follow a prescribed procedure. For articles published in issues later than the 200th, we are making preparations for their serial publication. We hope that the publication of the PDF files will promote further utilization of “The Bijutsu Kenkyu” by a wider range of people and organizations.
World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB), the venue for the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee
The scene of discussions
The 39th Session of the World Heritage Committee was held from June 28 to July 8 in Bonn, Germany. Representatives from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, attended the session to investigate its trends.
Among the 24 properties inscribed on the World Heritage List in the latest session, 23 are cultural sites and one is a mixed (both natural and cultural) site while there is no natural site. By region, 12 are located in Europe or North America while no property is in Africa except Arabic-speaking northern Africa. In this way, disparities between types of properties or between regions have widened. Meanwhile, industrial heritage sites, such as a railway bridge, dock warehouses, factories for articles of export in high demand globally in the early 20th century, such as nitrogen fertilizers and corned beef, were inscribed on the list, increasing the diversity of cultural properties. As for the nomination from Japan, no remarks were made by committee members during deliberations on the inscription of the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining (Japan). After adding a footnote to the decision and adopting it as amended, Japan and South Korea respectively read out their statements on the decision, which was a different procedure from normal. One property was deleted from the List of the World Heritage in Danger, while three sites – Hatra (Iraq), the Old City of Sana’a and the Old Walled City of Shibam (both Yemen) –, were added to the list. Kathmandu Valley (Nepal), which was affected by a recent major earthquake, was not inscribed on the list because of the necessity to understand the actual conditions and the Nepalese government’s preference for no inscription of the property.
Meanwhile, as for recommendations deliberated in the session, there were more dialogues made between the Advisory Bodies and respective States Parties over the contents of their respective recommendations. Advice by the Advisory Bodies became more positive, and no major change was made to advice on recommendations receiving a low evaluation from the Advisory Bodies at the session. In addition, the upstream process, in which the Advisory Bodies or the World Heritage Centre provide States Parties with technical assistance for drawing up recommendations and other issues at their request, was institutionalized at the session. In this way, support measures for inscription on the World Heritage List were enhanced, but the Centre and Advisory Bodies have pointed out that some States Parties are not utilizing such support. The World Heritage Centre is making efforts to raise its operational efficiency, but there are limitations to such efforts. All States Parties need to realize the fact that their respective cooperation is necessary to maintain the World Heritage framework.
Inau honogaku (votive tablet) brought to the Monzenmachi district of Wajima
Three inau existing in the town of Fukaura, Aomori Prefecture
This fiscal year, we started an investigation on inau (equipment used for Ainu religious rituals) existing in Honshu and below. A large number of materials related to Ainu from the early-modern times to the Meiji era, which are believed to have been brought through the Northern Trade, were introduced to port towns on the Sea of Japan side, which once flourished as anchorage sites for kitamaebune trading boats. Among the materials, we found that inau dedicated to shrines or temples still exist in Ishikawa, Aomori and other prefectures, and we are currently investigating them together with Mr. Mikio Toma of the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of History and Mr. Jirota Kitahara of the Center for Ainu & Indigenous Studies at Hokkaido University.
In the investigation conducted so far, we have found four inau honogaku (votive tablets) with inscriptions showing years from 1887 to 1890 in the Monzenmachi district of Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, while one inau honogaku with an inscription of the first year of the Meiji era (1868) was found in Hakusan, the same prefecture. These tablets carry ink-written letters meaning such things as “dedication” or “maritime safety,” suggesting that they were dedicated by the owners of kitamaebune boats to a prayer for, or in appreciation of, a safe navigation. Meanwhile, in the town of Fukaura, Aomori Prefecture, which provided an important port for kitamaebune boats to wait for a good wind to sail, there are 27 inau, the years of which are unknown, implying that they were dedicated in relation to the belief in the sea.
While these inau are not well known so far, they can be regarded as very valuable historical materials that are the oldest next to one believed to have been collected by Juzo Kondo in 1798, and those possessed by the Tokyo National Museum (1875) and by the Botanic Garden, Hokkaido University (1878). In addition, these historical materials suggest that the owners of kitamaebune boats carefully brought inau used for Ainu religious rituals back to Honshu and have been protecting them up to the present day by dedicating them to temples or shrines in their respective communities. In addition, it can be said that they are very suggestive materials reflecting the realities of exchanges between wajin and Ainu people through the Northern Trade. As there are possibly undiscovered inau in areas along the coast of the Sea of Japan, we will continue the investigation in cooperation with relevant institutions.
Joint research regarding the structural reinforcement of stone pagodas (Seven-storey stone pagoda at Myodo-ji Temple)
Following the concluding of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques and the Conservation Science Division, National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Republic of Korea, the two organizations have been collaborating on “Joint Research between Japan and Korea—Research on the Effect of Environmental Pollution on Cultural Properties and Development of Conservation Techniques.” More specifically, they have been undertaking joint field studies of cultural properties made of stone in outdoor locations in both countries, and have been holding annual research results presentation sessions, with the venue alternating between Japan and Korea, with the aim of sharing the research results achieved in each country.
This year’s research results presentation was held in Japan on July 8, 2015, in the Basement Level Meeting Room of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The theme for the presentation was issues relating to the structure of stone-built cultural properties. The Japanese and Korean researchers reported on and discussed their respective research results. In addition, taking advantage of the Korean researchers’ visit to Japan for the presentation, a study visit was arranged to examine the nine-storey stone pagoda and seven-storey stone pagoda, etc. at the Myodo-ji Temple in Yunoma Town, Kumamoto Prefecture (where the Japan-based joint field studies have been undertaken), and to exchange information regarding new developments in structural reinforcement methods.
The venue for a lecture at the forum
The scene of the satellite venue 1
The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held the “IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Forum: 10 Years after the Abolition of Methyl Bromide Use: The Current Situation of IPM for Cultural Properties” on July 16, 2015. This event was jointly hosted by the Japan Society for the Conservation of Cultural Property, and was also held as a regular meeting of the society. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the abolition of methyl bromide use in and after 2005 decided by the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. In this milestone year, we held the forum to review past activities, share information about the current IPM activities in the field of cultural properties, their progress and problems, and consider current challenges and the future direction. On the day of the forum, Mr. Takamasa Saito of the Cultural Affairs Agency, Ms. Rika Kigawa of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT), and Mr. Sadatoshi Miura of the Bunkazai Chukingai Kenkyujo (research institute on insect and bacterial damage to cultural properties), respectively introduced fumigation techniques and subsequent IPM practices in Japan as well as countries around the world. In addition, various measures by individual museums were introduced from various perspectives by Ms. Mitsuko Honda of the Kyushu National Museum, Ms. Natsuko Nagaya of the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Ms. Naoko Sonoda of the National Museum of Ethnology, Mr. Shingo Hidaka of the National Museum of Ethnology, Ms. Akiko Saito of the Natural History Museum and Institute, Chiba, and Ms. Mutsumi Aoki of the National Institute of Japanese Literature. Furthermore, Ms. Miyuki Asakawa of Ninna-ji temple introduced concrete examples of IPM activities in temples, while Mr. Yoshinori Sato of the NRICPT introduced an example of IPM practices at a conservation and exhibition facility for a decoratedtumulus, which is an environment for burial.
The forum was attended by 200 participants, and we set up two satellite venues at a meeting room (see photo 2) and a lobby in addition to the main venue at a basement seminar room of the NRICPT (see photo 1). In the lobby, we displayed copies of articles on IPM for cultural properties and measures against biological deterioration as well as related materials, and allowed participants to take them home for free. While it was regrettable that there was little time for discussion due to a series of heated presentations, we again appreciate that we could end the forum on a high note thanks to the cooperation from those concerned.
The training session in progress
This follow-up training session (the first for three years) was held on July 6, 2015, with the aim of helping to disseminate the latest knowledge in the field of materials conservation, aimed mainly at people who have already completed the “Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation” training program; a total of 107 people attended the session.
With the coming into effect of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, under the terms of which restrictions will be imposed on the use of mercury and products containing mercury from 2020 onwards, production of certain types of fluorescent lamp will cease, and there will be a reduction in the quantity of incandescent light bulbs produced; as a result, switching over to the use of white LED lights for display lighting will no longer be optional and will in effect become “compulsory.” Following an overview of the Minamata Convention on Mercury (given by Chie Sano, Deputy Director of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques), Naoto Yoshida outlined the current situation regarding the development of white LED lights. Kyoko Kubo of the Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords, Yusuke Kawase of the National Museum of Western Art, and Takako Yamaguchi of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography were then invited to talk about the effectiveness of white LED lights as display lighting for Japanese swords, oil paintings and sculptures, and photographs, as well as the types of problems that have been experienced so far. Yamaguchi also discussed the impact that the Minamata Convention will have on daguerreotypes (a photographic technique that required the use of mercury).
There is still considerable uncertainty as to how things will develop in the future in regard to the production of the fluorescent lamps and halogen lamps that have been used up until the present to provide the extremely high color rendering performance needed for display lighting; more work needs to be done in this area in terms of the collection and presentation of relevant information. It was also made clear from the talks given at the training session that there is a real need for clarification, from a natural sciences perspective, of the reasons why objects look different when viewed under LED light (compared to how they appear when viewed under conventional lighting), despite the fact that, statistically speaking, LED lights should in theory possess adequate color rendering performance.
Cultural property pest identification hands-on training in progress
The “Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation” training program has been held every year since 1984, with the aim of imparting basic know-how and skills to curators responsible for conservation work. This year’s training program was held over a two-week period starting on July 13, 2015, with 32 participants from all over Japan.
The curriculum for this year’s training program focused on two key areas: facility environmental management (including temperature and humidity, air circulation, and prevention of biological damage, etc.), and the factors behind, and forms taken by, deterioration of different types of materials. Experts from the Institute’s staff, as well as external experts, gave lectures and led practical, hands-on training sessions. The Museum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds (in Saitama Prefecture) kindly made available its facilities for the implementation of a hands-on museum environment survey case study, in which the training program participants were divided into teams of eight trainees each to undertake surveys focusing on different themes; the trainees subsequently gave presentations on the results obtained in these surveys.
This year marked the 32nd year that the “Training for Museum Curators in Charge of Conservation” training program had been held; a whole new generation of curators is now receiving training. Today, many of Japan’s public museums in particular have reached an age when they need to undergo renovation or renewal of their facilities; the Institute will be working to strengthen the provision of this type of training program in the future, with the aim of ensuring that know-how relating to both the theory and practical methods of materials conservation can be handed down to a new generation of curators.
Practical training session on the preparation of materials used for restoration at No. 1205 temple
Workshops and investigations on the conservation of mural paintings in the brick-made monument
From June 14 to 23, we conducted workshops on the conservation and restoration of mural paintings that have been conducted since last year, and carried out investigations on the environment inside the No. 1205 temple of the Bagan Monuments and damage conditions of its roof, as well as emergency restoration of collapsed parts of mural paintings. Workshops were held for three officials specialized in the conservation of mural paintings from the Bagan and Mandalay branches of the Department of Archeology and National Museum (DoA) of Myanmar’s Ministry of Culture. While inspecting past restoration cases involving mural paintings of Bagan temples, we debated such topics as causes of damages to mural paintings and the countermeasures. After that, the trainees had a practical training session at the No. 1205 temple to learn methods of keeping investigation records for an actual restoration of mural paintings, ways of preparing materials used for restoration, and other issues. Meanwhile, as a measure to address contamination and damages caused by beasts, birds, and insects, a problem pointed out in the investigation in fiscal 2014, we provided instructions on how to use termiterepellent and installation of the entrance door to the temple, and introduced the repellent in the temple together with the staff from the DoA. The trainees said that they would like to make use of what they learned in the workshops for other restoration projects, so the future utilization of the techniques can be expected.
Training session at Bagaya Monastery
The Fourth Session of Training on the Conservation of Wooden Buildings
We conducted the fourth session of training on the conservation of wooden buildings at the Bagaya Monastery in Innwa, and the Mandalay branch of Myanmar’s Department of Archeology and National Museum (DoA) from June 30 to July 11. Ten officials from the DoA and one graduate of Technological University (Mandalay) as an observer participated in the session. Following investigations of damaged parts on the floor framing and exterior walls as well as replaced materials, we also implemented exercises to keep a comprehensive observation record for railings surrounding the inner sanctum including carvings on them. While investigations by a group of several people have been conducted in the past training sessions, we gradually increased individual activities in the latest session, and each of the trainees made the final presentation at the end of the session. Their investigation reports were at a fairly high-level, indicating that the trainees are steadily acquiring the results of the training.
Practice with a Japanese calligraphic work during basic course
Making a folding screen during advanced course
This workshop is held annually as a part of our project to expand the understanding of tangible and intangible cultural properties, e.g. paintings and traditional mounting techniques, respectively. This year, it was held at the Asian Art Museum, National Museums in Berlin, with basic course, “Japanese Artworks on paper and silk” from July 8 to 10 and with advanced course, “Restoration of Japanese Folding Screen”, July 13 to 17.
In basic course, lectures and practical sessions were conducted on creation, preservation and utilization of Japanese art works on paper and silk for 20 participants. The lectures covered the topics of materials such as paper, pigments and adhesives, the protection system of cultural properties in Japan, as well as mounting culture. Based on the lectures, participants practice creating artworks and handling of hanging scrolls.
In advanced course, it was conducted for 10 participants on the practice of creating a folding screen, with related lectures and demonstration of its emergency treatment, regarding the traditional mounting techniques. During the course, each participants created a folding screen from underlying paper on wooden lattice core until applying of a painting, learning of its structure, functions of parts, tools and mounting techniques.
Restorers, museum curators and students from across Europe, Asia and Oceania participated in this workshop and discussed on various topics through the course. The conservators from the world pay attentions to the conservation of Japanese art works. The workshop will be conducted to contribute toward the preservation of Japanese cultural properties overseas for as many conservators as possible.
Silk thread for strings of traditional Japanese instrument
Cypress bark roof
Gathering the ramie plant
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducts surveys on the Selected Conservation Techniques and disseminates information about them to overseas as traditional techniques preserving and supporting Japanese cultural properties. In July 2015, we conducted surveys on the production of Silk thread for strings of traditional Japanese instrument, Cypress bark roof and Ramies in Showa Village.
Shamisen and koto are traditional Japanese musical instruments, and indispensable for presenting Japanese traditional performing art such as Bunraku and Kabuki. Strings made of synthetic fibers are also used nowadays, however those made of silk are said to have the best tone. It goes without saying that such strings support the play and sounds of the instruments. With the help of Association for Silk Thread for Strings of Traditional Japanese Musical Instruments, Kinomoto, in Shiga Prefecture, we conducted a survey on the process of zaguri (spinning silkworm cocoons into a thread). In recent years, the domestic sericultural industry has been declining, so the handing down of traditional techniques to later generations is becoming an important issue.
The cypress bark gathered from a standing tree has been traditionally used for roofing, and the technique has been used to build traditional temples and shrines. As such roof needs to be reroofed periodically, it is important to ensure good quality materials and to hand the technique down to later generations. Following a survey on the gathering of cypress bark conducted in October last year, we conducted a survey on the roofing at the Shotendo hall of Hozan-ji temple in Ikoma, Nara Prefecture, with the help of Tomoi Shaji Inc., a company belonging to Association for the Preservation of National Temple and Shrine Roof Construction Techniques, Inc..
Ojiya-chijimi and Echigo-jofu are textiles designated as the Important Intangible Cultural Properties under the Japanese law. These textiles are made from the ramie plant cultivated and processed in the village of Showa, Onuma District, Fukushima Prefecture. With the cooperation of Showa Village Association for Conservation of Karamushi Production Techniques and its members, we investigated the respective processes of gathering more than two-meter-high ramie plants, peeling the skin off, and extracting the fiber. Similar to other traditional craft industries, those engaged in the ramie production and processing have started to age, so training and developing successors and handing the technique down to later generations are becoming pressing issues.
The results of the survey will be compiled in a report and we plan to make a calendar for overseas users.