|■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
TANAKA Atsushi lecturing on artist KISHIDA Ryusei
As a part of the comprehensive study meeting program for the researchers of the Institute, the lecture meeting of TANAKA Atsushi (Deputy Director General) who was retiring at the end of this fiscal year was held on March 1st. Tanaka has been with the Institute since 1994 and engaged in research study on the contemporary art and published many literatures concerning Japanese modern Western paintings especially in the Meiji and Taisho eras. His books include “TAIYO TO JINTAN: Aspects of Japanese post-impressionism and modernism, 1912-1945” (Brücke Co., Ltd., 2012).
In the lecture titled “The substratum of the modern Japanese art ― with the focus on KISHIDA Ryusei,” the relationship between KISHIDA Ryusei as an artist of Western painting and the collectors surrounding him was viewed and discussed as the “substratum” that had supported his creative work. Tanaka’s view has deep-rooted in his research approach that was adopted in the above literary works and that he has developed over the past years. Furthermore, his lecture using abundant materials based on solid research has revealed that Kishida’s network with SUMITOMO Kanichi who was the eldest son of SUMITOMO Shunsui (the founder of the present Sumitomo Group and a well-known art collector), ODAKA Sennosuke who was a staff member of the Institute of Art Research (the predecessor of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo), and others led the artist of Western painting to become an ardent admirer of the Eastern art such as Ming & Xing-era paintings and Ukiyo-e.
In addition to the Institute’s staff members, the lecture meeting was also attended by many former staff members of the Institute who used to work with Tanaka. A reception was held after the lecture, which was filled with a warm and friendly atmosphere just like that of an alumni reunion.
After retirement, Tanaka will continue to support the Institute as its honorary fellow and a visiting researcher of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems.
The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo established the Archives Working Group in FY2013 to make further efforts to widely and effectively transmit the results of various studies on cultural properties that the Institute has worked on.
In FY2014, as a part of the efforts above mentioned, a new system was established to organize a vast amount of research information/information resources and facilitate their disclosure. Furthermore, the existing retrieval system for the material database of the Institute was renewed as “TOBUNKEN Research Collections” ( http://www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/). Users comment favorably that a scope of accessible information has expanded as the retrieval of variety of information related to cultural assets has become facilitated.
In FY2015, with the aim of providing the entire list of research products that have been published by the Institute since its foundation till today, a new page “List of Publications of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo” (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/japanese/publication/index.html ) was added to the Institute’s website. Based on this list of research products, it is planned to sequentially post those research products which can be published on the website (as PDF files etc.). In addition to the Institute’s website, those research products will also be included in the “open access repository” currently being promoted by the National Institute of Informatics, thereby developing a usage environment open to more people.
Nowadays, “opening of academic information on natural science” seems to be entering the new phase, where the Cabinet Office issued the open science policy. The Archives Working Group is planning to hold an active discussion also on how to handle the experimental data, useful illustrations, etc. in the field of natural science that have not been able to be sufficiently included in the paper medium.
Seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
Once a month, by inviting not only the Institute’s staff members but also researchers from other institutions as the presenters, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems holds a seminar to discuss cultural assets mainly focusing on arts and crafts. On Tuesday, 29th March, Yoshiya YAMASHITA (Curator of Japanese Painting of the Tokyo National Museum) delivered a presentation under the title mentioned above. This Emaki, owned by the Sumo Museum in Ryogoku, has an overall length of over 12 meters. Its existence had not been well known until it was recognized as a Sansetsu’s work and was displayed and publicly shown in the special exhibition “Kano Sanraku and Sansetsu” (March 30th to May 12th 2013) that Yamashita organized during his tenure at the Kyoto National Museum.
First, the presentation has drawn attention to the Japanese style motif that changed the previous image of Sansetsu having been created based on the works of Chinese type motifs. Then, the scenes that depicted the moments of various sumo techniques such as “Kawazu-gake” winning technique and the viewers’ excitement were explained in detail and Sansetsu’s characteristics were confirmed from his way of depicting portraits, including especially the faces and looks. Further, focusing on the postscript by his heir Einoh, the presenter gave his view on the issue of Sansetsu’s supporters and the background of the birth of this Emaki.
Aganchen Temple of Hanumandhoka palace, Kathmandu
Sorting/storage work of architectural members collected from the collapsed Shiva Temple
A team of experts was dispatched to Nepal on a further four occasions up to March 2016 for the Investigation of Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal, which was introduced in the last issue and was conducted under the Project for International Contribution to Cultural Heritage Protection, which was commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan. The experts engaged mainly in the following activities.
Survey on Building Damage
The experts checked the state of damage to traditional buildings centering on Dubar Square, which is part of the World Heritage site of Kathmandu Valley. Aganchen Temple (partially damaged) and the Shiva Temple (totally collapsed), both located inside Hanumandhoka Palace, were selected as the target of detailed surveys.
Survey on Traditional Building Techniques
Among others, a survey was conducted on the distinctive traditional building techniques of the Newar culture, including building elements that had been revealed for the first time by the damage, such as the timber pillars concealed inside brick walls. Regarding Aganchen Temple in particular, the experts conducted measurement surveys, checked the state of damage in detail, and studied past alterations in order to assess the present situation and assist the restoration.
Building Structure Survey
The experts conducted surveys mainly on two multi-tiered tower-style temples in the square, including measurements using a 3D laser scanner, a detailed investigation of the state of damage, and measurement of their vibration characteristics. Using a model compiled on the basis of the results, they carried out a structural analysis and examined the damage mechanism and other issues.
Emergency Protection Work
The team of experts sorted, stored, and documented architectural members retrieved from the collapsed building of the Shiva Temple and offered advice on work methods to personnel of Nepal’s Department of Archeology and other organizations. All of the components were arranged by type and stored in temporary shelters, and a survey was conducted on the state of damage to each part as well as on past modification of the building.
Survey on Historical Settlement
The experts also visited the village of Khokana, which has an old townscape and is registered on the World Heritage Tentative List, investigating the state of damage, the transformation of housing up to the present, and the village’s intangible heritage value such as those of various cultural spaces. Here they carried out the survey in collaboration and cooperation with a local residents’ organization that is making strenuous effort both to reconstruct lives as quickly as possible and preserve the historical townscape.
Meanwhile, three Nepalese engaged in the preservation of cultural heritage in the Nepalese government and the UNESCO office in Nepal were invited to Japan in February 2016 for the seminar on Cultural Heritage Damaged by the 2015 Nepal Gorkha Earthquake, which was held at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo on February 5th. At the seminar, the three Nepalese invitees gave presentations on the situation after the earthquake, restoration measures, and other issues, and then the Japanese experts participating in the project gave interim reports on survey results in their respective special fields. As difficult conditions continued to prevail in Nepal, the two sides were able to share the latest information and, through discussions, exchange opinions on how to respond to damaged cultural heritage and so on.
Through such cooperation, we hope to continue providing appropriate assistance to Nepal’s efforts to restore damaged cultural heritage and transferring Japanese technology, such as survey methods for the repair of cultural properties.
Exhibition at the Lobby
Process for producing Urushi Kanna
The entrance lobby of the Institute on the 1st floor is used to introduce the results of research and projects. This time, the survey by the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is being publicized. The Center has conducted a survey on the Selected Conservation Techniques since 2014, in order to gather the information on each technique, its process, and the present problems. As a result of the survey, a calendar and a survey report have been published to share the information with the related organizations. This exhibition focuses on the Selected Conservation Techniques related to Urushi. Urushi trees used to be grown throughout Japan. However, as the amount of Urushi imported from overseas increased, the low price foreign Urushi spread out in Japan and today, the domestic Urushi accounts for only a few percent among all the Urushi distributed in Japan. In addition, since the whole Urushi industry declined due to the change of lives, the conservation and restoration of cultural properties using Urushi are facing a serious crisis. Makie, a decorative technique of Urushi, is an artifact that represents Japan, and there are a large number of Urushi objects kept in museums both within and outside Japan. We believe it is the duty of the Japanese to inherit the conservation and restoration techniques relating to Urushi. Today, several techniques related to Urushi are selected as the Selected Conservation Techniques by the Government; the technique to make the tools for tapping, the technique to tap the sap, the technique to refine the sap, the technique to make the filtrating paper and the technique to make the brushes for coating and Makie. The bearer or conservation body of each Technique is recognized under the Law. Every technique is highly specialized that needs to be surveyed and documented to disseminate information as well as to recognize the present issue on passing down these techniques. We hope this exhibition promotes the understanding of the techniques, materials and tools for the production and conservation of Urushi.