|■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
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties concluded an agreement with the Getty Research Institute on February 2016, concerning exchanges for researchers of both institutes and the collaboration on a project to make the digital information on Japanese art available on the Getty Research Portal. Research was commissioned by the Agency of Cultural Affairs, entitled “Research on the dissemination of Japanese art through inviting a foreign leading figure.” Thus, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems invited Ms. Kathleen Salomon, Associate Director of the Getty Research Institute to give a lecture and undertake inspections and meetings at art archives such as our institute, the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, the National Museum of Western Art, the National Art Center and the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto.
The seminar was held on December 6th, 2017, at the Kuroda Memorial Hall of the Tokyo National Museum. Ms. Salomon introduced the developments of and the current worldwide work of the Getty Research Institute and the library and spoke about the latest international trends in the information dissemination of art research materials. And then, Ms. Masako KAWAGUCHI from the National Museum of Western Art commented on the lecture, and the discussion as the chance of thinking the challenges and prospects regarding international information dissemination in Japan was hold with Emiko YAMANASHI, deputy director of Institute, as the chair. Forty-one people, —archivists from museums, librarians from universities and research organizations, researchers of art history and so on—participated in the seminar. The report of this seminar will be published as open access on our website in the near future.
Seiki KURODA (far-right in the back row) and his relatives. His birth father, Kiyokane, is on the left side of the front row while his adoptive father, Kiyotsuna, is on the right side.
Photographed at his home in Hirakawa-cho in 1904.
On December 26th, 2017, a monthly seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems and the following researchers presented at the seminar.
• Mr. Koji CHIKAMATSU (Visiting Researcher of the Department): “Interpretation of the Documents and Letters Related to Seiki KURODA”
• Mr. Atsushi TANAKA (Visiting Researcher of the Department): “Acceptance of Classical Works of Art by Ryusei KISHIDA from 1913 through 1916”
Mr. Chikamatsu reported on his research of letters written to a western-style painter Seiki KURODA (1866–1924), owned by the Institute. Research on the letters sent to this painter has been repeatedly reported at this seminar. Mr. Chikamatsu targeted his research on the letters written by his family members and relatives, including his birth father Kiyokane (1837–1914), his adoptive father Kiyotsuna (1830–1917), the Hashiguchi family, into which his adoptive sister married, and the Kabayama family, which adopted a child from the Hashiguchi family. Like the letters written by his adoptive mother Sadako presented by Mr. Jun TANAKA at the seminar held in August 2016, the letters reported here also showed that his relatives discussed Seiki’s change of profession from a lawyer to an artist during his stay in France.
Mr. Tanaka presented on the paintings of Ryusei KISHIDA (1891–1916), a western-style painter, during the period that he lived in Yoyogi, Tokyo (1913–1916). In his book titled “Ryusei’s Book of Paintings and Artistic Views” (published in 1920), he referred to the great masters in Europe, such as Albrecht Dürer, Andrea Mantegna, and Jan van Eyck, saying, “It was really nice and reasonable for me to be influenced by these classical works of art.” Among them, Mr. Tanaka paid attention to Andrea Mantegna, an Italian Renaissance artist. Following a discussion of his process of accepting classical works of art based on the European book of paintings, which Ryusei may have watched, the presenter closely examined Ryusei’s process of establishing realistic expressions in his representative work, “Sketch of Road Cut through a Hill” (painted in 1915), and others.
For festivals brought to the brink of extinction as intangible cultural heritage nationwide in Japan, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage organized the “Festival Network” meeting to establish a network connecting successors and supporters. The first meeting was held jointly with Omatsuri Japan Co., Ltd. at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on December 9th, 2017, attracting more than 40 lovers who were interested in “Festivals.”
During the first half of the meeting, Mr. Yohei YAMAMOTO (Omatsuri Japan), who has been working on regional revitalization by coordinating “Festivals” from a corporate perspective, Mr. Shutaro KOIWA (Japan Folk Performing Arts Association), who has been supporting national folk performing arts, and Mr. Hiromichi KUBOTA, Head of the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section, gave presentations under the theme “Challenges in Festivals.” In the last half, participants were divided into seven groups for discussion in response to the presentations. Finally, each group reported on “Challenges in Festivals,” expecting further progress at the next meeting.
This network meeting will be ongoing as an opportunity to share opinions among successors, supporters, lovers, researchers, and others who are involved in “Festivals” in various ways.
The venue of the 12th session of the Intergovernmental Committee
The 12th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held in Jeju, the Republic of Korea, from December 4th through December 9th, 2017, which three researchers of this Institute attended.
As the number of agendas to be addressed at the Intergovernmental Committee has increased in recent years, the session took place over six days, one day longer than the last session. At this session, six elements were newly inscribed on the “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding,” while 33 elements were inscribed on the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” This time, Japan did not propose any elements.
In the discussion under the Agenda 15 “intangible cultural heritage in emergencies,” the Japanese delegation introduced two cases: “disaster prevention for intangible cultural heritage,” which this Institute has been working on, and “Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage under Natural Disasters and Armed Conflicts in the Asia-Pacific Region,” which the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) has been tackling. We distributed brochures titled “Disaster Prevention for Intangible Cultural Heritage,” prepared by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Institute in March 2017.
The issue of how to safeguard intangible cultural heritage from natural disasters has been attracting global attention. Under the circumstances, the Institute has accumulated numerous experiences on protecting cultural heritage from disasters through rescuing cultural properties after the Great East Japan Earthquake, supporting recovery from the March 11 Earthquake, and establishing the Intangible Cultural Heritage Archives. We think it is an important role for this Institute to contribute to the international community by disseminating these outcomes.
Visit to a lacquerware production site in Myanmar
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties conserves and restores cultural properties, as well as conducts research and study in collaboration with educational/research institutes, private and other organizations, not only at home but also abroad. As one of these activities, the Institute reached an agreement on the protection of lacquer work cultural heritage in Myanmar with the Small-Scale Industries Department of the Ministry of Co-operatives, Myanmar in 2014 while organizing a workshop on lacquerware at Bagan Lacquerware Technology College in 2016. Even after the expiration of the agreement, another workshop was held at the College in February 2017, where lacquerware was practically observed and lectures on conservation/restoration cases and scientific analyses were given, maintaining the cooperative relationship.
On December 7th, 2017, we visited the College to decide on the policies for future cooperative programs by exchanging opinions. Its main topics were the safety and features of lacquerware sold in the Bagan area from a scientific perspective, and both parties agreed that mutual understanding should be promoted further. In addition, we visited lacquerware production sites in Myanmar for future cooperation on December 7yh and 8th, promoting a better understanding of Myanmar’s lacquerware.
Behavior measurement by the staff of the Department of Archaeology
Hearing survey with restoration experts
As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs (re-commissioned by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties), we dispatched experts to Myanmar for the fourth time in 2017. Two staff members from the Institute conducted structural behavior monitoring and a survey on traditional building techniques and production systems (from November 25th through December 3rd), while an outside expert tested brick materials (from December 9th through December 12th).
In the structural behavior monitoring checked for the fourth time, no progress was found in deformation of the three monitored historical brick buildings in Bagan in particular. However, many of the resin crack gauges installed on the external surfaces of the buildings had come off due to bird and animal attacks, so they were replaced by metal disks. We also trained the local staff of the Department of Archaeology to facilitate voluntary measurements.
Through the hearing survey with local experts who have engaged in restoration of cultural heritage for many years, we exchanged opinions on the details of traditional building techniques and production technologies surveyed in this project while confirming how to produce mortar used in past times and the materials in detail. Since we obtained all materials required for reproduction of this old mortar based on the collected information, we will analyze the mortar sampled from the structures built in the Bagan era in the past survey to compare with the reproduced mortar. We also contacted bricklayers to ask how the restoration work is implemented and their awareness of traditional building techniques and production technologies.
At the material testing carried out in a facility of Yangon Technological University in Yangon City, we implemented bending, shearing, and compression strength tests with the prisms (four-layered brick specimens) and mortar specimens produced in the previous visit (September).
We would like to continually accumulate useful data for better conservation and restoration of the cultural heritage structures in the Bagan area through such surveys.
Excavated terrace structure
Survey of the current condition of the temporary supports
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been carrying out technical cooperation with the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) in order to draft a conservation and management plan for Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia. From November 28th through December 8th, 2017, we conducted an archaeological investigation and a risk assessment for the structures at Ta Nei Temple for the second time.
The main purpose of the archaeological investigation was identifying the remains of the east approach to the temple located at its front and the remains of a structure situated on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered during the first investigation in July. The excavation was conducted jointly with staff from APSARA and with the cooperation of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
First, we set up and excavated a trench 2 m wide from east to west and 5 m long from north to south, approximately 50 m to the east of the east gate. We discovered a hardened surface, presumably the old approach to the temple, 70 cm beneath the current ground surface. The hardened surface was composed of yellow soil covering a layer of small sandstone gravel 5 mm in size overlapped on a layer of fist-sized sandstone cobbles.
In addition, we set up and excavated a trench 11 m long from east to west and 1 m wide from north to south on the embankment of the East Baray on the prolongation of this approach way. We found a laterite stone surface 30 cm beneath the current ground surface (Figure 1). Considering the surrounding topography and the distribution of exposed laterite, these remains can be presumed to form part of a terrace structure approximately 20 m long from east to west and 15 m wide from north to south.
Regarding the risk mapping of the site, we examined how to renew the existing temporary supports. Wooden supports had been installed in 16 places where there were safety concerns such as potential collapse of main structures, including the central tower, the east tower, and the inner gallery. However, apart from obstructing the view of the site, these supports are in need of renovation, as in the 20 years that have passed since their installation decay of timber members and loosening of joints have become apparent. Thus, we observed and recorded the current condition of these supports, and studied improvement proposals including a change to a more durable material and the adoption of a design enabling fine adjustment.
Group photo of the participants of the Mayors’ Forum
Lecture by Mr. Tatsuya KUMAMOTO, cultural strategy officer of the Agency for Cultural Affairs at the Mayors’ Forum
As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we have continually provided technical assistance for Nepal. From December 23rd through December 29th, 2017, we dispatched five experts to Kathmandu.
The main purpose of this dispatch is to cooperate in the “Mayors’ Forum on Conservation of Historic Settlements in Kathmandu, Kavre Valley.” The Forum was hosted by Panauti municipality, which has historic settlements inscribed on the Tentative List of World Heritage sites, and attended about 100 persons to its city hall, including mayors, deputy mayors or representatives from 16 cities located in Kathmandu, Kavre Valley and around Panauti City. Since 2016, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been providing support through workshops and training seminars for professional officers (engineers) of each city holding jurisdiction over historic settlements inscribed on the World Heritage List and the Tentative List of World Heritage sites. They have already established inter-city cooperative relationships. In this Forum, the necessity of networking the municipalities holding jurisdiction over historic settlements in Kathmandu, Kavre Valley (cooperation council) was shared among the mayors by expanding the coverage further. Lectures were also delivered by Professor Yukio NISHIMURA at the University of Tokyo regarding the survey of historic settlements in Kathmandu Valley being implemented under the framework of this cooperation project, and by Mr. Tatsuya KUMAMOTO, Councilor for Cultural Strategy of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, concerning the system for preservation districts for groups of historic buildings in Japan. We succeeded in conveying the approaches to conserve historic settlements, including the current issues and inter-government cooperation, to the participants.
To establish a system to conserve historic settlements in Kathmandu Valley, a great deal of effort is required from a variety of stakeholders. We expect that our research outcomes will be reflected more effectively and that broader technical assistance will be provided smoothly through the above-mentioned network.
The General Assembly
The 19th ICOMOS General Assembly and Scientific Symposium was held in Delhi, India from 11th to 15th December. The author took part in the General Assembly and made a presentation at the Symposium.
During the General Assembly, the triennial elections for the Executive Committee were held. Professor Toshiyuki Kono from Kyushu University was elected as president, becoming the second Asian and first Japanese president of ICOMOS since its foundation in 1965. Professor Kono has had a leading role in several initiatives engaging current issues surrounding cultural heritage from multiple perspectives, including the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Nara+20 Conference and the ICOMOS Project on Cultural Heritage Recovery and Reconstruction. The further development of such initiatives during his three year term is highly anticipated.
In addition, the General Assembly officially adopted the “Principles for the Conservation of Wooden Built Heritage”, redacted by the ICOMOS International Wood Committee (IIWC). This document is an updated version of the 1999 charter by the same committee. The updated version is more detailed and concrete, while at the same time placing a renewed emphasis on the intangible aspects of wooden built heritage.
The General Assembly also saw the adoption as one of its resolutions of a proposal redacted by the Emerging Professionals Working Group, aimed at strengthening the involvement of emerging professionals in the activities of ICOMOS.
At the Scientific Symposium, under the title “Heritage and Democracy”, speakers from different countries presented initiatives aimed at involving actively in the conservation process the local communities and other stakeholders who maintain, use and safeguard the heritage. As an example of such initiatives in Japan, the author made a presentation on the “heritage manager” system.