|■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
Masakatsu ASAKI, Chairman of the Tokyo Art Club (center) and Nobuo KAMEI, Director General of TNRICP (right)
Tadahiko MITANI, President of Tokyo Art Club (left) and Nobuo KAMEI, Director General of TNRICP (center)
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has received charitable contributions from the Tokyo Art Dealers’Association (Director: Jun NAKAMURA) to support research publication (the publishing enterprise) and from the Tokyo Art Club Co., Ltd. (President: Tadahiko MITANI) to support research projects. The transfers into TNRICP’s bank account were made on November 30th, 2016.
As a token of gratitude for the donations, Nobuo KAMEI, Director General of TNRICP presented a certificate of appreciation to both Masakatsu ASAKI, Chairman, and Tadahiko MITANI, President, of the Tokyo Art Club. As Jun NAKAMURA, Director of the Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association was unable to attend, Mr. ASAKI accepted a certificate of appreciation on his behalf.
We are very thankful for the donations and for the understanding of the work we do at the research institute. We aim to make good use of the funds in upcoming endeavors.
Teachers from Kyoritsu Women’s University and Metropolitan Museum of Art receiving an explanation
Two teachers visit from Kyoritsu Women’s University Faculty of Home Economics
On December 5th, 2016, a professor from Kyoritsu Women’s University visited Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) to learn things that would assist in student education regarding textile preservation and restoration theory and hands-on museum training. Also, a member from the Metropolitan Museum of Art joined to attain knowledge of restoration of textiles. They toured the Library, the Performing Arts Studio, and the Chemistry Laboratory and received explanations about the work being done in these areas from the researchers in charge.
Image: Dated April 5th, 1895, a handwritten letter from Hosui YAMAMOTO to Seiki KURODA The illustration depicts Hosui himself returning from China with a dog in his rucksack and a daffodil in his basket.
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) owns several letters written to painter Seiki KURODA(1866–1924) who later in life was closely involved in the establishment of the institute. These letters are valuable materials for elucidating KURODA’s network of personal contacts during his life. For the reprinting and annotation of the letters, the TNRICP sought the cooperation of researchersoutside of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems. As part of the research work, the department hosted a seminar on Dec. 8th, 2016, inviting Mr.Akifumi SHIINO of the Fukui Fine Arts Museum to give a talk on “The Reprinting and Annotation of the Letters of Hosui YAMAMOTO to Seiki KURODA.”
Hosui YAMAMOTO (1850–1906) was a leading Western-style painter of the early Meiji Period. During his time studying painting in France, he is known to have encouraged KURODA to become a painter instead of a lawyer. After returning to Japan, he established a painting academy, the Seikokan, which he later handed over to KURODA. He also joined the new artists’ society formed by KURODA, the Hakubakai, maintaining a strong friendship. The institute owns 14 letters written by YAMAMOTO to KURODA, documenting their friendship in Japan. Of these, nine were date-stamped in 1896, when they had both just returned from service as artists in the Sino-Japanese War. The letters dealt with their painting activities and YAMAMOTO’s thoughts on KURODA’s “Morning Toilette,” which sparked a controversy on nude painting when it was submitted for the 4th National Industrial Exhibition. One letter includes a self-drawn image of YAMAMOTO immediately after his return to Japan from China; many things he writes are amusing. These letters are noteworthy primary materials that shed light on YAMAMOTO’s disposition after his return to Japan, whereas he is primarily known for his lighthearted character in the social world of Paris’ artists and intelligentsia. SHIINO’s talk also touched on the positions of the two artists in the world of Western-style painting in Japan, both of whom were held in high esteem while being 16 years apart in age.
On December 9, 2016 the 11th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties washeld on the topic titled “Intangible cultural heritages and disaster prevention—risk management andrecovery support.”The meeting featured four presenters and two commentators for a day of reports anddiscussion.
The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and numerous smaller natural disasters in recent years have brought crisis to intangible cultural heritages, leaving many vulnerable to total demise. Significant physical and societal devastation occurs throughout Japan due to earthquakes, tsunamis, torrential rains, and other extremes of nature. While awareness is growing toward safeguarding cultural properties from disasters, little thought has been given to intangible cultural heritages. At this conference, many issues were raised regarding this situation and measures being taken were shared. Discussions arose regarding what kind of preparations are needed to safeguard intangible cultural heritages from natural disaster and what kind of support could be given after such an occurrence.
The first report was from Iwate Prefecture, which presented findings on the current state of harm to intangible cultural heritages resulting from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the ongoing recovery process. The second report was from Ehime Prefecture, which presented a survey of the region’s history of damage due to past Nankai Trough earthquakes and the building of a disaster prevention and mitigation system network. This was followed by a report on the replication of Buddhist statues as a means of preventing the theft of cultural properties.
Finally, there was a report on how to keep the necessary records for the repair and restoration of festival implements. In the general discussion that followed, comments were shared on efforts that are being taken in the Kansai area based on the experience of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake; examples were also shared from outside Japan. Based on such comments there was a discussion on the need to form networks, also touching upon the political issues involved in risk management.
The content of this conference was published in a March 2017 report that is scheduled for release on the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Practical training on making a material sample book
Practical training on Ryukyu decoration techniques
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation holds these workshops every yearas part of the project ‘International Courses’. Urushi objects are an important part of collections inmuseums around the world, and a certain amount of knowledge and techniques are required in their handling. These workshops contribute to better conservation and restoration of cultural properties by enhancing theunderstanding of materials and techniques used for urushi objects.
Two advanced workshops, ‘Investigation, Storage and Exhibition Conditions of Urushi Objects’ from November 30th to December 3rd, and ‘Finishing and Decoration Techniques’ from December 6th to 10th, 2016, were held at the Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne. Both of the workshops had been renewed to cover more specialized contents, and the conservators attended the workshops from several countries around the world. The first workshop provided lectures on storage and exhibition conditions of urushi objects and a storage tour of the Museum of East Asian Art led by the Director of the museum. The practical training sessions covered investigation of the urushi objects which belong to the museum collection and allowed the participants to understand various materials such as wooden substrates, various types of urushi and ground layers by making a materials’ sample book. In the second workshop, a specialist in Ryukyu lacquerware from the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts gave lectures about the history and the decoration techniques. In the practical training, the prevalent decoration techniques of Ryukyu lacquerware were presented. The participants also experienced roiro-age, which is one of the final step of urushi coating, to understand the finishing process of Japanese urushi objects.
A series of workshops will be planned and continued to be held in the future, taking into account the opinions and wishes of the participants and the related staff members to contribute to the conservation and restoration of urushi objects.