|■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
Briefing at the Chemical Laboratory II
A Researcher from the National Museum of Iran and Another Researcher from the Research Center for Conservation of Cultural Relics (RCCCR)
On October 30, two Iranian researchers toured the Institute to see how environmental management is conducted at Japanese museums for the protection of the items housed there. They visited Chemical Laboratory II and other sections, where they received a briefing from the persons in charge.
Village N in the eastern part of Viti Levu Island, where the on-site survey was conduced
Hearing survey with local residents
The International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI), one of the Category 2 centres under the auspices of UNESCO, located in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture has been conducting a research survey on disaster prevention for intangible cultural heritage in the Asia-Pacific region since 2016. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of this Institute has continually cooperated in its program. Mr. Tomo ISHIMURA, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department, joined the on-site survey conducted by IRCI in Fiji as its collaborative researcher.
Fiji is an island nation in the Pacific region. Many of its areas suffered tremendous damage due to a direct hit of Tropical Cyclone “Winston” in March 2016. This on-site survey was implemented in two villages with particularly serious damage in the eastern part of Viti Levu Island, where the capital is located. Interviews with local residents about intangible cultural heritage and disasters were made there. The hearing survey was conducted by four members from September 23 through October 3, 2017: Ms. Yoko NOJIMA, Associate Fellow from IRCI, Ms. Elizabeth EDWARDS from the Fiji Museum, Ms. Ilaitia Senikuraciri Loloma from the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, and Mr. Ishimura from the Institute.
Although most buildings had been destroyed by the cyclone in both villages, houses were being reconstructed with the aid of the Fijian government and overseas NPOs. However, most of the new houses were built with lots of modern construction materials such as galvanized plates and concrete blocks. Regrettably, traditional-style wooden thatched houses called bures disappeared completely.
Interviews with local residents disclosed the fact that much of their traditional knowledge was related to disaster prevention, including one heralding a cyclone. For example, they said that they had regarded trees bearing too much fruit as a warning sign of a cyclone. It was particularly true when a branch of the bread tree bore multiple fruits. In recent years, however, people have made light of such knowledge without utilizing it fully.
The hearing survey also revealed the fact that the number of traditional bures had gradually decreased since the 1960s. Most of them disappeared due to the damage of Tropical Cyclone “Bebe” in 1972, and they were completely eradicated after the hit of Tropical Cyclone “Kina” in 1993. On the other hand, some people said that bures were optimum to ward off the heat and the cold and that it was comfortable to live there. They also said that there were few people who were capable of building bures these days.
This on-site survey tells us that disasters change our traditional lifestyles and that intangible techniques are also apt to be lost accordingly. We understand that these tendencies are also greatly affected by globalization and modernization, not just resulting from disasters only.
Based on these findings obtained through the on-site survey, we would like to seek the best way to maintain a good balance between “Reconstruction” and “Protection of Culture”.
On-site seminar in the Performing Arts Studio
The Cultural Heritage Protection Cooperation Office of the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) (Nara City) conducted the “Training Course on Cultural Heritage Protection in the Asia-Pacific Region 2017: Recording, Conservation and Utilization of Cultural Properties at Museums” from October 10 through November 3, 2017. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of this Institute cooperated on this program by delivering a lecture titled “On-Site Seminar: How to Record Intangible Cultural Heritage” at the Institute on the afternoon of October 30, 2017. The lecturer was Mr. Tomo ISHIMURA, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department.
This seminar attracted six trainees from the Pacific region, who were experts engaged in practical affairs at museums (three from Fiji, two from Papua New Guinea, and one from the Solomon Islands). In the first half of the seminar, the Japanese system to protect intangible cultural properties was explained while in the last half, how to record intangible cultural heritage was presented concretely. Particularly, focus was placed on image recording by using videos recorded actually by the Department (Kodan storytelling, a technique to make winnowing baskets from Japanese wisteria in the Kizumi area, and others recorded as videos) as visual aids.
Although there is a wide variety of intangible cultural heritage in the Pacific region, from which the trainees came, it seems that records have not been sufficiently prepared yet. They recognized the significance of video recording well since most of the intangible techniques require manual movements in particular, which cannot be fully covered with written records in many cases. We felt that they had much interest in recording while answering their specific questions, including one referring to “how oral traditions have been recorded in Japan.”
We realized that it would be meaningful to utilize the research outcomes accumulated by the Department for the protection of cultural heritage not only at home but also abroad.
Map screen of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Archives
Individual screen of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Archives
As part of the “Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network Promotion Project” (commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs), the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems have been working on the “Project to Collect, Organize and Share Cultural Properties Designated by the Local Governments.” The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage is now compiling a database of intangible cultural heritage information collected throughout Japan while establishing archives of its related data as one of its missions.
We have already published our “Intangible Cultural Heritage Archives” subject to Wakayama Prefecture as its pilot version (http://mukeinet.tobunken.go.jp/group.php?gid=10027). You can learn the name of each intangible cultural property, its place of publication and overview, as well as view its photos and videos, by searching it with a map, classification, date of performance and keyword. We have disclosed the information and images on intangible cultural properties located in Wakayama Prefecture, which were collected thanks to the Wakayama Prefectural Board of Education.
We will expand the same data collection and publication to all prefectures while accumulating and disclosing related records as much as possible.
On-going lecture at the Institute
In March 2017, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) exchanged a letter of intent with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) so as to commit its cooperation in various academic fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage for the next five years.
During the survey conducted in Iran in October 2016, Iranian experts consulted us about serious air pollution in the capital Tehran, which resulted in damage to cultural properties. They said that even metal products displayed and housed in the National Museum of Iran were eroding.
Thus, we invited two researchers, one from the National Museum of Iran and the other from the, RICHT for a seminar and a study tour of the Institute, expecting the improvement in exhibiting and housing environments at Iranian museums.
We provided lectures on the museum environment and air pollution at the Institute, in addition to a study tour at the Tokyo National Museum (TNM) so as to inspect its display and storage environments and to the Great Buddha of Kamakura.
We will continually provide cooperation next year for Iranian museums, aiming at enhancement in their exhibiting and housing environments.
Group photo with trainees
Survey at Tagar Church (St. Theodore Church)
As part of the above-mentioned program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we provided a seminar titled “Challenges and Issues to Wall Painting Conservation” from October 30 through November 2, 2017. The seminar held at Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli University attracted 30 conservators and restorers from 10 national conservation and restoration centers in Turkey.
This seminar aims to review the existing emergency procedures, which are important in conserving mural paintings in Turkey, as well as to establish the protocol. For this first seminar, we delivered introductory lectures on “Mural Painting Techniques and Main Causes of Deterioration,” “Principles in Conservation and Restoration” and so on. An opportunity provided to exchange opinions on lectures between lecturers and trainees resulted in motivating the members to work on challenges together in a united effort.
On the last day of the seminar, we visited Tagar Church (St. Theodore Church), where on-site training is planned from the next year, to check the conservation state of the mural painting in the church based on the knowledge learned from the lectures delivered to date. We discussed how emergency procedures should be as important steps in conserving and managing mural paintings unlike general conservation and restoration projects, eliciting a variety of views from them.
At present, a system to conserve and manage mural paintings well has not been established fully in Turkey. It is important for us to proceed with this program in step with the Turkish government.
Before starting this seminar program, we visited the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties, Faculty of Fine Arts, Gazi University to exchange opinions for enhancement of the seminar program. Four training courses will be provided by 2019. We hope to build up a practical and feasible system for experts engaged in conservation activities for cultural properties by all the members attending these seminar courses.