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

Facility Tour in August

Committee Members Receiving Explanation (Aug. 31st)

 On August 31st, twelve members of the executive committee for the program of “Cultural Properties Protected by People and Museums Protecting People” visited the Institute to refer to its research activities on disaster prevention and risk management. The members were given an explanatory tour by researchers at the Biological Science Laboratory of the Center for Conservation Science, as well as a lecture from Director Ken OKADA.

Seminar Held by Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems — Letters to Seiki Kuroda from His Foster Mother, Sadako

Seiki Kuroda and his foster mother, Sadako
Part of a letter from Sadako to Seiki Kuroda dated July 9th, 1886

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) possesses a number of letters addressed to Seiki Kuroda (1866-1924), a Western-style painter who contributed greatly to the foundation of the Institute. As these letters are important materials for understanding his human network, the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems has been working on their transcription and investigation. Among them, there are letters that were exchanged between Kuroda and his family. With the objective of also focusing on such communications with his family, Mr. Jun TANAKA, Research Assistant of the Department, gave a research presentation titled “Transcription and Bibliographical Introduction of Letters to Seiki Kuroda from His Foster Mother, Sadako Kuroda” at the Departmental seminar.
 Sadako Kuroda (1842-1904), the wife of Kiyotsuna Kuroda who adopted Seiki as his heir, raised Seiki from his infancy. The letters sent to Sadako from Seiki during his period of study in France had already been transcribed and published in “Diary of Seiki Kuroda” (Chuo Koron Art Publishing Corporation, 1966). At this seminar, over 70 letters from Sadako to Seiki were introduced. As was the case with the letters from Seiki to Sadako, the letters from Sadako were also written in plain kana characters with colloquial expressions inserted here and there. The contents pertain mostly to family news, telling Seiki, who was studying abroad, the recent events of family members in detail and her husband Kiyotsuna’s intention. She thus seems to have been serving as a mediator between the father and the son. In particular, when Seiki, who had left for France to study law, decided to direct his efforts toward becoming a painter, it is worth noting that Sadako, together with Kiyotsuna, expressed her support by writing, “It’s a very, very good idea” in her letter dated July 9th, 1886. It would be no exaggeration to say that the painter Seiki Kuroda came into being thanks to such emotional support from his foster parents. This seminar has given us an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of family ties in Kuroda’s accomplishments as a painter.

Liaison Council for “Disaster Prevention of Intangible Cultural Heritage”

Liaison Council meeting

 A meeting of the Liaison Council for “Disaster Prevention of Intangible Culture Heritage” was held at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), on August 22nd and 23rd, attended by persons in charge of cultural properties in eastern Japan.
 Since July 2014, the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage has been working on the “promotion program of the National Taskforce for the Japanese Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Under this program, with the objective of studying and promoting disaster prevention of intangible cultural heritage, for which sufficient measures have not yet been established, the TNRICP’s Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has carried out activities to collect and share information on the locations of cultural assets as the basic information in disaster prevention and to build a network among the parties concerned in cooperation with the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems. This Liaison Council meeting was held as a part of these activities by inviting persons in charge of cultural properties in each prefecture of eastern Japan. The collection of information was urged and information concerning the situations of each area and activities/challenges in disaster prevention was exchanged. On the 22nd, 11 members from East Japan Study Group of Museum Attendants Specialized in Folklore , the co-host of this meeting, also participated, bringing the total number of participants to nearly 40.
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to hold a Liaison Council meeting for people in western Japan in late autumn and a meeting of the Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties in December under the theme of disaster prevention. We will continue to make efforts to further study and promote “disaster prevention of intangible cultural heritage”.

Presentation Meeting of the Results of Japan-Korea Research Exchange on Intangible Cultural Heritage

Presentation meeting of the results of the research exchange

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), has been conducting a joint study on intangible cultural heritage with the National Intangible Heritage Center of the Cultural Heritage Administration of the Republic of Korea. As a part of this project, the “presentation meeting of the results of the Japan-Korea research exchange on intangible cultural heritage” was held at the National Intangible Heritage Center located in Jeonju-si, Korea, on August 30th, where the results of the joint study were presented. Six persons, including mainly staff members of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, attended the presentation meeting from the TNRICP.
 Representing the Institute, Researcher Riyo KIKUCHI gave a presentation titled “Japan-Korea Research Exchange (2012-2016) on Protection and Handing Down of Intangible Cultural Heritage,” which was followed by a proposition titled “Approach of the Future Study Exchange” presented by Hiromichi KUBOTA, Head of the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section. In response to the above, two presenters from the Korean side presented a report and a proposition. Subsequently, there was a comprehensive discussion by all the participants.
 Through the joint study, it has been clarified that there are some similarities and differences between Japan and Korea in terms of approaches to intangible cultural heritage. At the presentation meeting, it was decided as a policy that both parties would be able to exchange information concerning common problems and challenges and to promote discussion based on mutual understanding of these similarities and differences.
 For example, it was explained that Korea is now very interested in how to promote intangible cultural heritage and the major issue is how it can be supported by the public sector such as the National Intangible Heritage Center. On the other hand, today in Japan, although the involvement of the public sector in the field of intangible cultural heritage is not as notable as in Korea, we consider it one of the Institute’s missions to carry out studies that can contribute to cultural handing down and inheritance. In this regard, we believe that we will be able to devise a better approach for both the parties by addressing the common challenge of “how to hand down intangible cultural heritage” though the exchange of opinions and discussion on each possible approach. This should also be one of the merits of a joint study carried out between the two countries.
 It is our hope that, on the basis of the results of this presentation meeting, the research exchange between the two countries will be further accelerated, bringing about constructive discussion.

Completion of the restoration works for the mural paintings in the Kitora tumulus

Packing for transportation

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (Tobunken) has been conducting the project “Work on the investigation of the preservation measures for Kitora Tumulus, a special historic site” since 2004. As the mural paintings in the tumulus required conservation treatments, it was decided that they would be removed from the tumulus and currently conserved externally. Three types of conservation treatments were conducted: maintaining the mural paintings in the tumulus, removing the mural paintings from the tumulus stone, and reconstructing the mural painting fragments. The removal of the mural paintings had been conducted for over 6 years, and the paintings were separated into 1143 fragments. The paintings have been reconstructed in the restoration facility in Asuka-mura, Nara prefecture. The Tobunken team has developed conservation techniques and performed experimental checks for this project, and the Association for the Conservation of National Treasures, an association of conservators for Japanese paintings, has applied the developed techniques.
 On August 24th and 25th, 2016, three reconstructed mural paintings, the south wall with suzaku, west wall with byakko, and the ceiling with an astronomical chart were moved from the restoration facility to “Shijin no yakata”. This museum opened on September 24th, and the three mural paintings was exhibited for a month.

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