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

Students Being Briefed (Sept. 21st)

 On September 21st, seventeen students came here from Kanazawa College of Art to learn how to introduce specialized research and study into their Aesthetics & Art History course. Leading researchers briefed their operations at the Performing Arts Studio of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Library of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, and the Restoration Materials Section of the Center for Conservation Science.


Donated Materials Related to Kikuji YAMASHITA

“Part of the Materials Owned by Masako Yamashita”

 The materials related to Kikuji YAMASHITA (1919-1986) previously possessed by his wife Masako YAMASHITA (1926-2014) were donated from a certain person as of September 30th, 2016. Kikuji is one of the artists representing the Showa era. His works and materials, as well as related works, had also been donated to the Itabashi Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama, and the Tokushima Modern Art Museum. The materials provided for this Institute had been kept on hand by Masako until she passed away. Their volume is so large that the book racks about 6 m in length are filled with them. These materials include photos Kikuji may have taken, and materials cut off to be used for his works, which help us to research and understand him deeply. Among them, the photos taken during World War II, when he served on active duty, and after the war as an employee working at the Educational Movie Division of Toho are valuable in the study of the modern history of Japan.
 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems has accepted the archives of modern artists including Taketaro SHINKAI and Hotsuma KATORI to make them available at the Library. We are now organizing these donated materials owned by Masako to make them accessible while giving consideration to private information, privacy or material conservation issues.


Participation in the 27th Annual Conference of the EAJRS (European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists): “International Cooperation between Japanese Studies Libraries”

On-going 27th Annual Conference of the EAJRS

 The annual conference of the EAJRS (European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists) was held at the Central Library of Bucharest University in Romania from September 14th through 17th, 2016. The EAJRS is mainly composed of librarians, university professors, museum and art gallery staff members, and other experts who are stimulating interest in and encouraging research in Japanese studies in Europe. At its annual conference for 2016 titled “International Cooperation between Japanese Studies Libraries,” a wide variety of presentations and reports were made through 11 sessions, including the history of Japanese studies, the history of collecting Japanese materials, the program to dispatch Japanese librarians to overseas, the program to invite overseas Japanese studies librarians to Japan, the latest trends in digital humanities, and the project to conserve old Japanese books. (For more information, please access the website of the EAJRS: http://eajrs.net/.) I made a presentation under the title of “Expansion of Cultural Archives at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP): Providing Contents of The Yearbook of Japanese Art for Global Academic Information Infrastructure” to introduce information transmission projects we have been working on this year, including the provision of data for the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). During the exchange of opinions after the presentation, many people expected us to release our research information accumulated in the Institute. During the term of the conference, lots of exhibition booths were installed by relevant institutions and companies in the lobby of the venue for information sharing and PR activities. At the general assembly held on the final day, it was decided that the next annual conference for 2017 would take place in Oslo, Norway, and the conference ended. With many suggestions on improvement of the accessibility to Japanese cultural property information, attending the conference was a good opportunity for me to think over our archive activities in the large framework of transmitting information on Japanese studies.


Research on Production of Spiderwort-dyed Paper – Start of Joint Research with Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture

Petals of Asiatic Dayflowers Are Being Picked (Photo Provided by Kusatsu City)
Extract from Asiatic Dayflowers Are Being Applied to Japanese Paper (Photo Provided by Kusatsu City)

The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage started a joint research on the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique with the Kusatsu Municipal Government in Shiga Prefecture from FY2016. Spiderwort-dyed paper is Japanese paper soaked in the extract from Asiatic dayflower petals.
Spiderwort-dyed paper was a specialty of Omi Province, Tokaido, which was also referred to in an old book titled “Kefukigusa” ‘(written in 1638). The paper is used for Yuzen dyeing and tie dyeing even today. As for Yuzen dyeing, the water-soluble feature of the blue pigment of Asiatic dayflowers has been utilized. For Yuzen, coloring is performed after drawing a fine pattern with a solution prepared by submerging spiderwort-dyed paper in water, and placing paste for fine line printing like a levee to prevent dyes from penetrating. Spiderwort-dyed paper is indispensable for colorful dyeing with silk fabrics.
However, there are only three producers of spiderwort-dyed paper left. In this joint research, with cooperation from such producers, we will organize its value as local and eventually national cultural property or heritage for utilization as basic data for future protection.
We will examine how we will be able to hand down the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique transferred from person to person to the coming generation while making comparisons with cases in other districts.


Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 3)

Presentation at the Session to Report Our Investigation Outcomes
Residents of Khokana Expressing Their Opinions

 Under the above-mentioned support project through the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we continued to dispatch staff to the site in Nepal. This time (August 31st through September 11th, 2016), we sent four members including outside experts.
As part of this project, we conducted investigation activities at the village of Khokana, which is on the Tentative List of World Heritage Sites, so as to examine how to rehabilitate damaged historical villages. In Khokana, many residents are forced to live in temporary housing. How to balance early reconstruction with the conservation of historical streetscapes is a challenge in rehabilitation.
 As one of the main activities in this dispatch, we organized a debriefing session for local residents to explain the outcome of our last year’s investigation. The session was attended by more than 100 residents with greater interest, who asked questions and expressed their opinions after the presentation. They were highly suggestive for us in considering how we should conduct a further investigation or make contributions to them.
 Our investigation revealed that not only Khokana but the whole country lacks sufficient systems to preserve historical villages, which results in preventing the passion of citizens from promoting the conservation of their streetscapes. Japan, which had not conserved historical villages thoroughly in the past, established its legal system through a process of trial and error for the protection of historical villages and landscapes, including the system for the Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings. Referring to this experience in Japan, we will continue to provide technical support for local institutions to contribute to the conservation of historical villages in Nepal.


Investigation of Damaged Murals in Bagan (Myanmar) after the Earthquake

Devastated Temple
Mural Pieces Scattering over the Ground

On August 24th, 2016, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake, the epicenter of which was located in Chauk, Central Myanmar, occurred. Many pagoda temples of the Bagan Archaeological Zone also suffered from the earthquake. From September 24th through 30th, 2016, we investigated the murals conserved in that Zone for confirmation.
 Together with the staff from the Bagan Branch of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, the Ministry of Culture, we conducted an on-site investigation to check the extent of the damage to the murals mainly at the temples in which serious damage had been reported in advance. As a result, we found that cracks on the brick temples supporting the murals and the movements of the brick pieces led to plaster damage, and the damage levels differed according to the various mural production techniques and materials used in the Pagan Dynasty. In addition, we revealed that some of the materials used in the past restoration were not suitable for the murals in Bagan, even going so far as being detrimental to them.
 In the Bagan Archaeological Zone, the rehabilitation activities to protect its old temples are still proceeding. Me-Taw-Ya Temple (No. 1205), for which we are considering emergency measures and conservation/restoration methods for its external walls as our project, was also damaged. We will work on further activities while paying attention to the restoration materials to be introduced with a focus on the negative factors unveiled by the earthquake, establishment of emergency measures, and development of experts involved in these processes.

/ MAEKAWA Yoshihumi)

Holding International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper 2016

Demonstration of lining in a practical session

 International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper took place from August 29th through September16th, 2016. This course has been held jointly by the Tokyo National Research Institute for CulturalProperties (TNRICP) and theInternationalCentrefor theStudy of thePreservation and Restoration ofCultural Property (ICCROM) since 1992. The course aims to disseminate techniques and knowledge on the preservation and restoration of cultural properties made of paper in Japan so as to contribute to the protection of cultural properties overseas. In 2016, among 64 applicants from 36 countries, we invited 10 specialists in conservation, each of them from Lithuania, Poland, Croatia, Iceland, South Korea, New Zealand, Egypt, Spain, Belgium and Bhutan.
 The course consists of lectures, practical sessions and a field study. The lectures covered the overview of the protection of cultural properties in Japan, the protection system for intangible cultural properties in Japan, restoration materials and their basic science, and the tools for restoration. The practical sessions were comprised of mainly restoring a paper object and mounting it to a handscroll, and were conducted by restorers from a certificated organization holding “soko” (restoration technique based on traditional mounting) which is selected as Techniques for the Preservation of Cultural Properties by Japanese government. In addition, the participants learned Japanese-style book binding, and handling a folding screen and a hanging scroll. As the field study, the participants went to Nagoya, Mino and Kyoto cities to visit producers of handmade Japanese paper, the stores selling restoration materials and tools, historical buildings decorated with cultural properties such as wall paintings and hanging scrolls, a traditional restoration studio, and so forth. On the last day, the participants exchanged opinions on how Japanese paper is used and issues in each country. We expect the participants to gain a deeper understanding of not only Japanese restoration materials and tools, but also related knowledge and skills through this course so as to apply them to restoration of their cultural heritage.


to page top