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

Study Meeting of “Art Historian, Yukio YASHIRO: between the West and the East”

A scene from the Study Meeting

 On January 13th, the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems held a study meeting titled “Art Historian, Yukio YASHIRO: between the West and the East” to discuss from various perspectives the roles and achievements in the field of Western art history and Japanese/oriental art history of Yukio YASHIRO who played a key role in establishment of the Institute of Art Research (the predecessor of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo). Art historian Shuji TAKASHINA was invited as a commentator. The study meeting consisted of the following programs: “Viewpoints towards the Western and Eastern art that linked Bernard Berenson to Yukio Yashiro” (Emiko YAMANASHI, Dept. of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems of the Institute), “Sandro Botticelli seen through Oriental Eyes―Yashiro’s 1295 monograph” (Jonathan NELSON, the Harvard University Research Center for Italian Renaissance Studies), “Rereading Yukio Yashiro’s The Annunciation” (Michiaki KOSHIKAWA, Tokyo University of the Arts), “The Emaki (Illustrated Handscroll) Studies by Yukio Yashiro” (Dr.Akira TAKAGISHI, the University of Tokyo) and “Yukio Yashiro and the Chinese Art Studies during 1930 to 1945” (Maromitsu TSUKAMOTO, the University of Tokyo).
 Dr. Nelson indicated that Yashiro had introduced a new method called “style analysis” by use of partial photos of a work into the Western art history through his book “Sandro Botticelli” and the method had come from the plates used in the Japanese art magazines in Meiji Period and their making process. Dr.KOSHIKAWA showed that The Annunciation written by Yashiro as a Western art historian after his return to Japan was a pioneering research in Japan concerning iconography in the Western Christian art, and also that he directly inherited Walter Pater’s aestheticism in this literary work. Dr.TAKAGISHI clarified Yashiro’s position as an Emaki researcher who had taken a great interest as a Japanese art historian in how the unique picture style of Emaki was positioned in the world’s art. Dr.TSUKAMOTO explained the current situation in which different historical perspectives of Chinese art had been established in the West, in Japan, and in China. He further remarked Yashiro’s visit to the International Exhibition of Chinese Art held in London in 1935-1936, which influenced Yashiro’s achievement in establishing the new historical perspective of Chinese art that had mediated the Chinese art boom in the West and the study of Karamono (Chinese articles) in Japan. The presentations were followed by discussion, where participants re-acknowledged the meaning of achievements of Yashiro who actively worked internationally, both in the East and in the West.

Cooperation in “the Workshops 2015 for Salvaging Contaminated Cultural Properties in Fukushima”

Practical training on use of radiation measuring instrument

 Two workshops titled above were held, including the 1st workshop at the Minami Soma City Museum on November 4th, 2015 and the 2nd workshop at the Shirakawa Branch of the Fukushima Cultural Property Center on January 28th, 2016. The workshops included lessons on basic knowledge of radial ray, practical training of how to measure radioactivity, and experience of dust removal. As for the 1st workshop that was the first of its kind held in Hamadori, the people seemed to have been looking forward to getting skill concerning the radiation accident and participated in the workshop in an enthusiastic manner. A practical training on how to deal with plants was also included by using botanical specimen in drying as teaching material. In the training, it was explained that radiation dose rate was higher in soil attached to the roots than in the leaves. Further, as it was found that there was a delay in delivering information regarding how to deal with materials damaged by the tsunami disaster that had been discussed in Tokyo in May 2011, the methods of the squelch-drying technique were offered (30 participants). As for the 2nd workshop, how to deal with materials damaged by water disasters that might possibly occur in the future was added to the training programs (17 participants). In nearly 5 years since the disaster on March 11th, 2011, the radiation dose rate in Fukushima has dropped except in some areas and the people who had worked on rescue of cultural properties in Fukushima at that time were subsequently replaced by younger generations. Aiming to prevent deterioration in disaster-prevention awareness and the related skills, we would like to continue holding the workshop every year and support people who work on excavation of Hamadori where post-disaster reconstruction is delayed and who work on rescue of cultural properties there.

Conservation of the Great Buddha of Kamakura, National Treasure

Conservation of the Great Buddha of Kamakura, National Treasure

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo was entrusted with conservation work of the great Buddha of Kamakura in Kotoku-in temple. In this work, for the first time in 55 years after the major conservation in 1959, the noble statue is enclosed by the scaffolding in order to perform recording the present condition, cleaning, metal analysis, climatic investigation, microtremor measurement, investigation of the seismic isolator, and high-resolution image photographing. With regard to the Great Buddha of Kamakura, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo was also involved in gamma-rays transmission photographing that was implemented during the major conservation in 1950s, and the sampling analysis relating to copper corrosion as well as the environmental research that were implemented in 1995. In this work, it was scheduled that the surface rust was analyzed for the first time by means of the non-destructive analysis method such as XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence analysis) and XRD (X-Ray Diffraction analysis) and further detailed damage record was taken, based on which we expect to accurately know details of the current preservation state. The scheduled work also included checking of the condition of the sliding base isolator that was installed as earthquake countermeasures at the time of the major conservation in 1959.

The 29th Study Meeting on the Conservation and Restoration of Modern Cultural Properties 
“Conservation and Restoration Philosophies for Modern Cultural Properties”

A scene from the presentation

 On January 15th (Friday), the Modern Cultural Properties Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a study meeting titled “Conservation and Restoration Philosophies for Modern Cultural Properties” at the Institute’s seminar room. The study meeting was featured by four guest speakers: Mr.Rorf Hoehmann (Owner and Head of Office of Industrial Archaeology), Dr. ITOH Takashi (Chairman of the Japan Industrial Archaeology Society), Dr. KIMURA Tsutomu (Professor, Nagaoka Institute of Design), and Dr. SUZUKI Jun (Professor, The University of Tokyo). Mr.Hoehmann made a presentation on the conservation and restoration philosophies for industrial heritage in Germany. Dr.ITOH spoke on the conservation and restoration philosophies for each of three categories of the modern cultural properties that included Architectural Heritage, Civil Engineering Heritage, and Industrial Heritage. Prof. KIMURA made a presentation on the current situations and problems of modern cultural properties that are observed through the efforts in conservation and restoration of modern western-style buildings. Prof. SUZUKI, in view of his expertise in industrial technology history, told about the necessity of conservation of heritage, because we can find the history of technology from such heritage. The lectures were all very convincing as they were based on practice, to which the audience listened in an enthusiastic manner. As many participants indicated in their responses to the questionnaire conducted after the meeting, we also feel it important to further deepen discussion on the issue of conservation and restoration philosophies not on an ad hoc basis but on a continuous basis. Aiming to contribute to deepening discussion, we will make further efforts to promote our research study.

Study Meeting on Records of Preservation Activities for Disaster-Affected Cultural Assets.

Study Meeting on Records of Preservation Activities for Disaster-Affected Cultural Assets.

 The “Study Meeting on Records of Preservation Activities for Disaster-Affected Cultural Assets.” was held on January 29, 2016. It was held as a part of the “research study for establishing the system of risk management and disaster prevention of cultural properties” now worked on by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo under the promotion project of the National Taskforce for the Japanese Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network implemented by the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage.
 From the past till now, a large volume and a wide variety of recorded materials have been produced with regard to preservation activities for disaster-affected cultural assets, including on-site activity reports and meeting/communication records among concerned parties. These materials tell us problems they faced and provide us with clues for a perspective on future activities. With this in mind, the study meeting consisted of presentations on how the past records on preservation activities were kept and being utilized, followed by a discussion on potentiality of the activity logs.
 The study meeting started with a report on collection and public release of materials that recorded an actual catastrophe (disaster-related materials), which was followed by reports based on a viewpoint of storage and use of activity records. Those reports were on activities of the Historical Records Network and the Committee for Salvaging Cultural Properties after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, activities of preservation of local historical records and collection of materials relating to the evacuation centers following the Niigata-ken-Chuetsu Earthquake, and activities of the Japanese Council of Art Museums after the Great East Japan Earthquake. In the following session, there was an active discussion on how records are positioned in the preservation activities and how records of preservation activities are treated from the standpoint of the study of disaster-related materials.
 In the field of preservation activities for disaster-affected cultural assets, not only the study from the aspects of techniques and systems but also continued discussion on the past activity records should be necessary. Through these activities, we hope to contribute to protection of historical culture against disasters.

Survey and Training on Conservation of Mural Paintings at the ruins of a Brick-Built in Bagan (Myanmar)

Survey of conditions of roof damage at the brick-built ruin

 During a period from January 7th to January 18th at the Bagan Ruins in Myanmar, we conducted training on preservation/restoration of murals and temporary conservation work associated with the falling mural at No.1205 Temple within the Bagan Ruins. This was the last survey/training that was performed under the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project that had been entrusted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan.
 The training programs consisted of lectures on the mural pigment analysis with X-ray fluorescence analyzer, photographing the exteriors of the Temples using a UAV (Drone), and the 3D model production technique (SfM, Structure from Motion) using the pictures obtained, as well as the discussions held at the mural conservation work site. The training was attended by 4 expert staff members of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum, Bagan Branch and Mandalay Branch who were engaged in preservation and conservation of mural paintings and architecture. The attendees commented that they would like to use what they learned in the training also in other conservation projects and we also expect such future utilization. At one conservation work site where the survey team visited, the team saw that the particular method to adjust conservation materials that had been instructed in the past training was then in use and thus realized a favorable effect of the training. Further, with regard to the falling of the mural paintings at No.1205 Temple, all the temporary conservation works that had continued since 2014 were completed. Through the survey under this project, it was confirmed that roof leakage was one of the main factors that caused damages to mural paintings and the importance of taking appropriate measures against it was re-recognized. It is expected that the results of the survey and training under this project will continue to be utilized in mural paintings conservation in Bagan.

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