|■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
Open Seminar: “Toward Sharing Information on Art Magazines”; On-going Discussion
One of the sources for information regarding any exhibition or art museum is the art magazine. In recent times, there has been an increasing use of TV or the internet as an information source. However, before TV and the internet became popular and accessible to all, the art magazine, regularly published with pictures of various works of art, was a visual and immediate source for transmitting/supplying information to persons involved in the fine arts and art lovers. In the research on Japanese modern art, these art magazines play an important role as materials that reflect the details of the trends and movements in the fine arts of the time. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is a rich source of information as numerous art magazines published in the Meiji era and thereafter are in its possession. An open seminar titled “Toward Sharing Information on Art Magazines” was held on March 16th to provide an opportunity for participants to discuss the organization, publication, and sharing of such information.
In this seminar, the following three researchers specialized in Japanese modern art delivered presentations, whose titles are as shown below:
○Jun SHIOYA (Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties): “Art Magazines of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties – History of Its Collection and Publication”
○Shogo OHTANI (The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo): “Another Art Scene in the Period from the Mid-1930s to the Mid-1940s from “Nikkan Bijutsu Tsushin (Daily Art Journal)”
○Hitoshi MORI (Kanazawa College of Art): “The Art Magazine – Its Value and the Obstacles to its Production”
Mr. Shioya unveiled the Institute’s history of collecting art magazines and described the project started by its predecessor, The Institute of Art Research, in 1932, to compile the art history of the Meiji and Taisho eras and the project to publish the “Yearbook of Japanese Art” initiated in 1936. Then, Mr. Ohtani pointed out the scarcity and the significance of the art industry journal published from 1935 through 1943, “Nikkan Bijutsu Tsushin (Daily Art Journal)” (the title was changed to “Bijutsu Bunka Simbun (Art Culture Newspaper)” in 1941), by introducing its articles on reorganization of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and the inside story of the organization that led to it publicly seeking works for its exhibition. Finally, Mr. Mori presented a comprehensive view on the friction between the concepts of “fine arts” and “magazine” brought in from Western Europe and the scope of Japanese pre-modern art, after presenting an overview of modern art magazines.
After the presentations, the three researchers held an active discussion together with Mr. Hideki KIKKAWA (Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) as the MC taking questions on the presentations from the audience and settling on the proposed ways of sharing information using art magazines as a topic. In addition, Mr. Kikkawa mentioned how there has been steady progress regarding international information sharing among art magazines, and he introduced the efforts of the Institute, such as (a) a joint project with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures to build a database of Japanese fine arts literature mentioned in European magazines; (b) providing metadata of “Mizue” published in the Meiji era for the Getty Research Portal operated by the Getty Research Institute; and (c) uploading “The Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies)” and “Yearbook of Japanese Art” on JAIRO, operated by the National Institute of Informatics.
The seminar, which functioned as a site to exchange valuable information, attracted 80 persons involved in archive operations at art museums, universities, and publishing and other companies. Related to the presentation by Mr. Mori, a book editorially supervised by him and containing information on art magazines from the Meiji era through the pre-war period of the Showa era, will be published soon by TOKYO BIJUTSU Co., Ltd. titled “Overview of Japanese Art Magazines 1867-1945” (temporary title).
A few of the materials possessed by Yoshihiko Imaizumi
On March 31st, the bereaved family of Yoshihiko IMAIZUMI (1931–2010), who was an artist and principal of an alternative art school “Bigakko,” donated the precious materials possessed by him. Mr. Imaizumi was involved in the avant-garde art movement while he was studying at the Department of Fine Arts, Nihon University College of Art. He wrote art critiques while creating paintings, and he was involved in the publication of a magazine “Keisho” in 1958. Since the foundation of the “Bigakko” in 1968, Mr. Imaizumi had been supporting the activities of avant-garde artists through widespread interactions with them until his last years. The papers donated this time include his diaries, photos, books and magazines, documents, and letters sent to him from the 1950s through the 2000s, which occupy book racks 6 m in length. Several materials are related to Yutaka MATSUZAWA, Hiroshi NAKAMURA, Natsuyuki NAKANISHI, Gempei AKASEGAWA, and Mokuma KIKUHATA, who taught at the art school. The letters exchanged with the Soviet Union in 1955 and 1957 when he was a member of the exhibition executive committee of the World Festival of Youth and Students, which was regarded as the Universiade for socialist countries, are also included. The letters enable verification of the relationships with non-American and non-Western European countries in the late 1950s. The papers are also valuable in the context of the cultural and social histories during the Cold War, in addition to art history. Members of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Institute visited his house to survey the papers before the donation by courtesy of his bereaved family. We will provide these precious materials as research data at the Library of the Institute after taking actions to conserve and organize the data for retrieval.
Exchange of ideas with the delegation from the Ministry of Culture in Thailand
Visit to the Performing Arts Studio of the Institute
On March 13th, 2018, five delegates headed by Mr. Pradit Posew, the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Cultural Promotion (the Ministry of Culture, Thailand), visited Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and exchanged ideas with researchers at the Institute
In 2016, the Thai government ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, a UNESCO Convention. At present, the government is preparing an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage of the country. In 2017, the government made an nomination files to have “Khon (traditional mask dance drama of Thailand)” and “Nuad Thai (traditional massage of Thailand)” included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The former will be examined at the 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Mauritius, scheduled for November 26th through December 1st, 2018.
The objectives of their visit to Japan were to update themselves on the current condition of conservation and utilization of intangible cultural properties and heritage in Japan, which has years of accumulated experience in these activities, and to exchange ideas with Japanese experts. At this Institute, Thai and Japanese experts reported the current status of their respective intangible cultural heritage and discussed the issues common to the two countries, along with related questions and answers. Particularly, all the members recognized that how to hand down intangible cultural heritage to the coming generations is an important issue both in Japan and in Thailand.
In the course of modernization, numerous traditional cultures have disappeared in Japan. Today, Thailand is experiencing rapid economic growth and accelerating development while facing the possibility of deterioration or extinction of its traditional cultures. Thus, the balancing of economic development with the preservation of culture is an important issue there. We believe that Thai people would be able to find a better way to hand down their intangible cultural heritage to future generations by referring to Japanese experiences not only of success but also of failure in preserving cultural heritage.
Scene of the private view
Scene of the exhibition
It is seven years since the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. We offer our sincere condolences on the death of victims of the unprecedented tragedy, and we express our gratitude to those who have worked in restoration assistance following the disaster. Iwate Prefectural Museum, where thousands of cultural assets that were damaged by tsunami have been treated for stabilization treatment, held panoptic exhibitions from March to May, which demonstrated to us the importance of conservation of tsunami-damaged assets. During these exhibitions, we exchanged information with specialists involved in stabilization work of damaged assets.
Two exhibitions, “Asu ni tsunagu Kesen no takaramono–Tsunami de hisai shita Rikuzentakata shiryo wo chushin ni (The treasures of Kesen that we pass on to the future generations –with a focus on tsunami-damaged assets in Rikuzentakata)” (March 3rd to 28th, 2018) and “Mirai heno yakusoku–ima katari hajimeta Kesen no takaramono” (A promise to the future–the treasures of Kesen that start to talk now)” (April 3rd to May 6th, 2018), introduced the damaged cultural assets that stabilization treatment of which was finished. During the opening ceremony, the deputy director general of our institution, Eriko Yamanashi, gave a congratulatory speech by guests, instead of the director general, Nobuo Kamei, who could not come to the museum. In the private view, the director of Center for Conservation Science, Chie Sano, gave an explanation of our study on the stabilization processing of tsunami-damaged documents. It seemed that the exhibitions were strongly motivated activities. There were descriptions of every asset’s condition before stabilization, and stabilization methods used, as well as the cultural assets that stabilization treatment of which was finished.
Through seven years of the work, stabilization treatment of 220,000 items, out of 460,000 damaged items, has been completed. However, 240,000 cultural assets are still awaiting stabilization in the museum. The number of tsunami-damaged assets is enormous. In addition, the assets have many types of problems such as unpleasant odor. We would like to contribute to the conservation of damaged cultural assets through scientific study.
Complete view of the Hien. The national marking (red sun) on the surface of the right-hand main wing is reproduced with projected red light.
The national marking (red sun) on the right-hand side of the fuselage is reproduced every two minutes by projection mapping.
Visible are two traces of the national markings (red sun) on the left-hand side of the fuselage. The larger one is a trace of one painted after the war.
The trace of the airframe number “6117” below the supercharger air intake.
The Kawasaki Ki-61-II Hien (flying swallow), possessed by the Japan Aeronautic Association, was manufactured at the Gifu Works of Kawasaki Aircraft Co., Ltd. in 1944. When World War II ended in 1945, it belonged to the Air Evaluation Department of the Imperial Japanese Army located at the Fussa Air Base in Tokyo. Although almost all Japanese aircraft were scrapped after the war, this fighter was not disposed of for some unknown reason and had been displayed at the US Yokota Air Base until 1953. This Hien is now the world’s only airframe displayed in a museum. (There have been several attempts to restore the Hien, using the wreckage retrieved from New Guinea.) This fighter was transferred to The Japan Aeronautic Association from the US forces for free in 1953. Until 1986, when it was exhibited in the Chiran Peace Museum (Minamikyushu City), the fighter was displayed all over Japan. Meanwhile, some of its parts were lost and the airframe was damaged. When necessary, temporary repairs were carried out while painting and marking distinctly different from the original ones were applied from 1965 onwards.
In recent years, the Japan Aeronautic Association has begun to recognize anew the Hien as a cultural property through joint research with the Center for Conservation Science. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (hereinafter KHI) offered full cooperation in restoration of the Hien as a commemorative project to celebrate the 120th anniversary of its foundation in 2016. In 2015, the fighter was restored at its Gifu Works for almost a year.
Prior to its restoration, it was decided that the Hien would be restored as a cultural property through negotiation between the Japan Aeronautic Association and KHI. As for individual items for restoration, KHI proposed restoration methods, which the Association checked and accepted. The restoration by KHI covered a wide range of issues, including the removal of the paint applied on the airframe surface, removal of non-original parts added after the war, and production of new replica parts such as the nose panel above the engine and the instrument panels of the cockpit.
Removal of the paint on the airframe surface revealed the traces of the drilling tool blade that slid over the skin of the wings during manufacture, as well as traces of national markings and caution notes on various parts of the airframe. It also revealed the fact that the airframe number (construction number) was “6117.” Repainting of the national markings, which was proposed by KHI, was not implemented due to a possibility that new paint might affect the airframe surface and for the value of exhibiting the discovered traces as they are. When the Hien was exhibited at Kobe Port Terminal Hall (Kobe City) for about one month in autumn 2016, the national markings were reproduced with wrapping film at the request of KHI. The film was peeled off after being delivered to the Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum (Kakamigahara City). Although the museum had been closed since September 2016 for renovation, the disassembled Hien was displayed in the repository from November 2016 through November 2017.
After the restoration by KHI, the Japan Aeronautic Association surveyed the Hien under the supervision of the Center. This led to the removal of deteriorated rubber parts and the replacement of the fabric on the control surfaces (the rudder, the elevators, and the ailerons). Like many other aircraft of that time, the control surfaces are composed of a metal framework covered with fabric. When the fabric was replaced in 1986, it was not sewed to ribs, which resulted in creating a different appearance. Therefore, the Center researched the material of the fabric used in the WW2 era so as to provide supporting data for replacement of the fabric. This replacement was carried out from autumn 2017 through February 2018. The Center also took photos of the airframe before and after the reassembly for the record.
When the Museum was reopened after the renewal as “Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum” on March 24th, 2018, the Hien became one of the main exhibits there. According to the Museum, many visitors positively accept the unpainted national markings, and this fact indicates that the perception of aircraft as cultural property is spreading in our society.
Excavated terrace structure
Ongoing precise survey
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been engaged in 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 March 8th through 22nd, 2018, we conducted the third archaeological investigation at Ta Nei Temple and a precise survey of its surroundings.
The main purpose of the archaeological investigation was to further clarify the terrace structure on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered during the second investigation in December 2017. The excavation was conducted jointly with staff from APSARA.
The investigation disclosed the fact that laterite ashlars are laid to shape the entire structure as a cross, which is 13.8 m east to west and 11.9 m north to south. In addition, numerous roof tiles were found in its vicinity, and there were many holes and dents on the laterite ashlars, which seem to have been postholes. These findings implicitly show that there once was a wooden building on this terrace structure. Since the terrace structure is located on the east-west temple axis, we will continue the investigation to clarify the connection between the two structures.
At the same time, we also conducted a precise survey with a total station around the temple. Based on the collected data, we are preparing a detailed topographic map, which is expected to be effectively utilized for the conservation and management of the temple.
We also provided technical guidance for APSARA staff through technical transfer during the precise survey. We will continue such technical support, in addition to academic investigations.
Consultation on conservation plans for the paintings
Investigation of the hanging scroll
Among overseas art collections, there are numerous Japanese art objects that play a significant role in representing Japanese culture in their regions. However, since the conservators-restorers who are specialized in these objects are rarely overseas and the proper conservation treatment cannot be undertaken on the objects, quite a few objects cannot be shown to the public. Thus, the Institute conducts the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas in order to contribute to the conservation-restoration and utilization of these objects.
On 26th March, the Institute’s researchers and conservators visited Grassi Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig and investigated the paintings for the purpose of formulating conservation plans and selecting objects for conservation under the Cooperative Program. Two hanging scrolls and a pair of folding screens, which had been chosen based on the collection survey conducted last year, were observed to record their components and conditions in detail. After the investigation, we consulted with the Museum about future conservation plans by explaining the conditions of each object as well as details about the Cooperative Program. Moreover, there was also a discussion on the possibility of future cooperation in the techniques of conservation of painting in each country such as an exhibition of techniques seen from ethnologic perspectives.
A scene of the workshop
Old traditional house proposed as a subject to be preserved (in Haa province)
The traditional houses in the western region of Bhutan are built with earth rammed down into a formwork, a method called rammed earth construction. These houses have become a key element of the beautiful cultural landscape of the country with lush greenery. However, unlike religious and administrative buildings such as temples and castles, they are not protected legally as cultural heritage, and precious old houses are being lost rapidly due to natural disasters, modernization, and various other factors.
Since 2012, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been conducting architectural studies and research on buildings constructed in the rammed earth method jointly with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites, Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs in Bhutan. During the process, both sides became once again strongly aware of the value of old houses as cultural heritage and the urgency in their conservation. Therefore, on March 13th, 2018, we organized a workshop joined by Japanese and Bhutanese experts, persons in charge from the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement and local governments, and owners of traditional houses at the headquarters of the Department of Culture in Thimphu. We shared information about the survey outcomes including the chronology and the changing process of traditional house architecture, the legal framework for protection of cultural heritage in Bhutan, and how Japanese traditional houses are protected. We also exchanged opinions on specific traditional houses to be preserved and related future issues. We hear that soon after the workshop, a positive effect began to appear through a movement toward the preservation and utilization of important houses. We expect its great contribution to the consolidation of the legal system for cultural heritage, which has been stagnant in the country.