|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
Art Library of the RijksMuseum
Although there are innumerable libraries in the world including Japan, the United States and European countries have art libraries which specialize in art books and materials. Every two years, these countries hold an international conference for art libraries. During the 8th International Conference of Art Libraries held at the National Museum (Rijksmuseum) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on October 4th and 5th, 2018, we made an oral presentation titled “The Contribution of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties: Art Bibliography in Japan for OCLC Central Index.” The Institute has been collecting information on art exhibitions held in Japan, including literature-based information found in exhibition catalogues. We have provided data on approximately 50,000 items of literature appearing in exhibition catalogues from 1930 to 2013 to the OCLC Central Index. Although these Japanese art exhibition catalogues are highly specialized, they have had insufficient results in providing the public useful information compared to general magazines and papers. This initiative has resulted in offering OCLC users of the world new chances to find required materials. This conference is operated mainly by European countries and the United States, but after the presentation, we received feedback that this initiative in Asia is important to reinforce international cooperation among the art libraries.
We have been continually providing this kind of information in the OCLC Central Index. Recently, we offered approximately 2,800 items of literature-based information published in 2014. We are going to add additional literature data from 2015 by the end of 2018.
The results showing on the Getty Research Portal
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been promoting a joint research project with the Getty Research Institute in the United States. On May 2017, the digital data of exhibition catalogues and art magazines published during the Meiji period that are controlled by the Institute became searchable and accessible on the Getty Research Portal (GRP). We became the first contributor of such data in Asia. The digital data of the “Year Book of Japanese Art” was published in 70 issues by the Institute from 1936 to 2013. “Bijutsu Kenkyu (Journal of Art Studies)” (the 1st issue to the 419th issue) and “Science for Conservation” (the 1st issue to the 57th issue) have also become searchable and accessible on the GRP. As a result, the total number of titles provided by the Institute is over 636. Although these publications were accessible from our website (Tobunken Research Collections: http://www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/; “Science for Conservation” in PDF: http://www.tobunken.go.jp/~ccr/pub/cosery_s/consery_s.html) and our repository (https://tobunken.repo.nii.ac.jp/), the searchability and accessibility of this data from the GRP that has numerous users in the world, through a virtual art library resulted in a drastic change. This initiative enhanced the potential of overseas countries accessing our achievements in the research of cultural properties. As part of this joint project between the two Institutes, we are currently digitalizing valuable information owned by the Institute such as the exposition and exhibition publications during the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa periods. We will also add these digitalized publications to the GRP by the end of June 2019.
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a two-day open lecture on October 26th and 27th, 2018 in the seminar room of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. Every autumn, the Institute invites people from the general public to attend presentations delivered by its researchers, along with outside lecturers on the outcomes of their research that they conduct on a daily basis. This program is not only held as part of the Lecture Series of the Ueno no Yama Cultural Zone Festival organized by Taito City but is also associated with Classics Day on November 1st, 2018.
This year, the lectures covered four topics: “Creating a Database on Cultural Properties and Its Significance” (Tomohiro OYAMADA, Researcher of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems); “SESSON Shukei and the Genju School of the Rinzai Sect—Based on Daiyu-zan Hounji Temple” (Dr. Yuji MIZUNO, Assistant Professor at the University of Tsukuba); “Locality Expressed in Women in the Nude—In the Cases of Fujita, San Yu, and Chen Cheng-po” (Emiko YAMANASHI, Deputy Director General of the Institute); and “Linking Tradition to Modern Age: Forms of Flowers and Birds Painted by Qi Bai-shi” (Motoyuki KURE, Senior Researcher of Kyoto National Museum). The first two lectures were delivered on the 26th of October and the latter two on the 27th. The audience on both days totaled to 134 people. According to the results of the questionnaire survey, nearly 90% of the audience responded “satisfied” or “almost satisfied.” Thus, the open lecture received favorable reactions.
For the fifth seminar in FY 2018, held on October 2nd by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, Dr. Yoshimi KAMIYA from Kanazawa University delivered a presentation titled “Shapes of Metal Materials Used for Hira Maki-e Technique—Mainly Focusing on Namban Lacquer Examples .”
Hira Maki-e (flat maki-e) is one of the Maki-e (Japanese lacquer technique sprinkled with gold or silver powder) techniques started in the Azuchi–Momoyama period. Compared to the existing mainstream techniques such as Togidashi Maki-e (polished maki-e) and Taka Maki-e (raised maki-e), it is a simpler technique, where gold or silver powder is sprinkled over the pattern drawn with Urushi lacquer. This technique is considered to have been used for maki-e works in Kodaiji style and Namban lacquerware produced in Kyoto as exports to Europe and Americaby orders from Europeans.
The shapes of the metal powders found on lacquer fragments from Namban lacquerware and similar works produced in the early 17th century, which can be found both at home and abroad, as well as those for maki-e lacquer works made by the presenter for comparison, were observed carefully in a non-destructive manner by using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and reported.
As a result, Maru-fun, round powders rasped off from the metal body were found for a piece of Namban lacquerware. However, some pieces for in which powder made from gold foil had been used was were recognized for the first time. And even, indicating the possibility that powder. This discovery requires us to re-examine the actual states of production techniques, producers, and workshops for exported lacquer in the early Edo period. This is also an important fact when considering the process of how Keshi-fun Maki-e (maki-e technique using powder from metal foil) first appeared and its history.
For the seminar, Mr. Kazumi MUROSE, a holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (maki-e) and lacquer art historians in and around Tokyo were invited for an active discussion about the kinds of materials the reported metal powders originate in, the relationship with maki-e masters or artisans depicted in the paintings of craftsmen (Shokuninn-e), the need of factual research in maki-e technical history, and issues on the definition of maki-e.
This presentation revealed the fact that observation of fallen lacquer fragments with an electron microscope is very effective for verification of lacquer production techniques, particularly maki-e technique. Further accumulation and study of analyzed works are much expected for the positioning of and attaching significance to each reported case. Deepening of this research may contribute to clarification of the actual state of the painting technique history since metal powder is among the materials used widely not only for lacquerware but also for paintings.
Screenshot of the data from “Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Art Bibliography in Japan” represented by ADGC
The 11th fall seminar of the Japan Art Documentation Society was held at Ochanomizu University in Tokyo on October 13th, 2018. Researcher Hideki KIKKAWA from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems delivered a joint presentation with Ms. Masako KAWAGUCHI from the National Museum of Western Art, which was titled “Efforts to Enhance the International Visibility of Japanese Exhibition Catalog Papers: Contribution of ‘Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Art Bibliography in Japan’ in OCLC.” The presentation was based on the past report (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/katudo/249516.html) regarding the entry of data as “Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Art Bibliography in Japan” in the OCLC Central Index that was started in January 2018, with a focus on the project’s background and contribution. Ms. Kawaguchi mentioned that the Art Discovery Group Catalogue (ADGC) was launched by the committee organized by world-famous libraries—following negotiations with OCLC—as one of the products of the framework of international collaboration in the field of fine arts library for the last ten years. She also stated that overseas art history databases were entered in the OCLC Central Index—one of the basic databases of ADGC—as the backdrop for the project. Kikkawa reported where “Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Art Bibliography in Japan” originated from, how the required data was collected and organized for the entry in OCLC, and how bibliographic data was provided for WorldCat.org and ADGC, in addition to the project’s further development in the coming years. “Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Art Bibliography in Japan” created during the editing process of the “Yearbook of Japanese Art” covers the latest outcome in fine arts research from Japanese galleries, museums, and universities. By transmitting such information widely, we would like to improve the research environment of cultural properties in Japan.
Researchers at an agehama-style salt farm in the Okunoto area
Researchers at a tea field in Uji
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been participating in a research exchange program with the National Intangible Heritage Center in the Republic of Korea since 2008. As part of the research exchange program, we hosted Ms. Yun Soo Kyung, researcher of the National Intangible Heritage Center, as a visiting researcher from October 15th to November 2nd, 2018.
Ms. Yoon Soo Kyung’s theme in this research exchange program is Japanese folk technology as an intangible cultural heritage, particularly focusing on salt production and tea production. Therefore, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage supported her research expertise by traveling with her to the following cities: Suzu City in Ishikawa Prefecture in the Okunoto area, known for agehama-style salt production designated as one of the nation’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties and Shizuoka City in Shizuoka Prefecture as well as Uji City in Kyoto Prefecture, reputed for tea production.
Folk techniques as an intangible cultural heritage is regarded as one of the three categories in intangible folk cultural property in Japan along with manners and customs, and folk performing arts. However, in 2004, when the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties was amended, folk techniques were added to this list. In 2018, 309 items were designated as the nation’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties but only 16 items were classified into the category of folk techniques. With regard to salt production, the production of agehama-style salt in the Okunoto area is designated by the country as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property while tea production is designated as a folk property, not by the country but by the prefectures. “Uji Tea” is produced in Uji City and the tea fields and tea factories are considered as elements comprising the “Cultural Landscape in Uji,” designated as the nation’s Important Cultural Landscape, as well as components of “A Walk through the 800-year History of Japanese Tea,” designated as Japan Heritage.
In Korea, salt production and tea production are classified into one of the categories for intangible cultural properties, “traditional knowledge,” and they are also selected as national cultural properties. Under the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties in Japan, designation of a certain intangible folk cultural property requires the authorization of its conservation group(s). In Korea, such a property inherited in a wide area can be designated comprehensively without identifying its holders or conservation groups. It is interesting to know the differences in the Japanese and Korean protection systems for intangible cultural properties.
The advantage in this kind of a research exchange program is an understanding of the differences in the classification of intangible cultural properties by the two countries, which results in knowledge of the differences in how conservation should be supported. It is meaningful for both countries to start seeking better ways to conserve cultural properties in their own country through the cultural exchange programs.
Opening ceremony of the workshop
Trainees classifying and organizing actual materials
The Cultural Heritage Protection Cooperation Office of the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) in Nara City organized the “Cultural Heritage Workshop 2018 (Fiji)” from October 22nd to 27th, 2018 in Fiji. The workshop was co-organized by ACCU, the Fiji Museum, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs with an aim to teach the trainees to record specific items, such as archaeological items and ethnic materials, stored in the museum. The workshop attracted twelve Fijian people involved in museums in addition to one participant from the Kingdom of Tonga, Fiji’s neighboring country. Mr. Tomo ISHIMURA, the Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, gave lectures in the first half of the workshop, i.e., October 22nd to October 24th.
First, the trainees classified and organized the earthenware unearthed from actual archaeological sites according to their patterns and parts (rims, bodies, etc.). Following this, they recorded notes in a ledger in order to document these earthenware pieces. Then, they gathered characteristic relics from the classified ones to prepare rubbed copies and measured drawings (sectional views) of the relics. Next, they prepared measured drawings of the unfragmented earthenware with replicas for practice. Finally, they prepared and organized cards based on the rubbed copies and measured drawings.
The advantage of the on-site workshop was that it provided a concise understanding of technological transfer in a more practical manner by actually allowing the participants to work with local materials. However, the disadvantage was in the planning of the workshop which was more suitable for the local materials, the features being different according to each site. For example, in Fiji, it is rare for an archaeologist to unearth an unfragmented piece of earthenware from the site. In many cases, the earthenware is discovered in small pieces. The focal point of the archaeological workshop organized by ACCU in Japan was the practice of measuring unfragmented earthenware whereas in this workshop in Fiji, a lot of time was spent in the classification and organization of earthenware pieces and recordings of their rubbed copies in accordance with the local conditions.
Many trainees attending this unique workshop were interested in the topic since they had practically handled materials in diverse manners without systematic processes to classify, organize, and record the materials. We would be honored if this workshop contributed to the conservation of cultural properties in this region.
The Center for Conservation Science has been developing materials required for the restoration of cultural property. One of the items subject to our research is glue. Glue, an animal collagen hydrolysate, has been used as an adhesive since ancient times. According to the information found, the kinds of animals used for producing glue vary and different measures have been used to find better ways to manufacture it. On the other hand, it has not been scientifically defined whether the raw materials and manufacturing methods have any effect on the properties of glue. In recent years, research on the raw materials of glue and its manufacturing methods has finally been carried out. Based on these results, the Restoration Materials Section has been conducting research studies on the characteristics of glue as a restoration material.
On the case of the restoration of a famous Japanese-style painting, “Jo-no-mai (Noh Dance Prelude,” designated as an Important Cultural Property, the suitable glue was selected based on the outcomes of the studies. It is notable that by using glue which keeps whiteness of shell chalk, restoration, which minimizes the possibility of changes in original works, was implemented.
These outcomes were displayed in the Chinretsukan Gallery of The University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts for the Exhibition “Animal Glue and Conservation – To Keep ≪Jo-no-mai≫ -.” The exhibition was co-organized with the Conservation Science Laboratory, Graduate School of Conservation, Tokyo University of the Arts from October 14th to 19th, 2018. In cooperation with Nikawa Labs as one of the organizers, the exhibition displayed the actual glue used for restoration, scientific data, and numerous images including enlarged ones taken during the restoration process. In addition, a visiting researcher, Kentaro UDAKA, delivered gallery talks. This exhibition provided a valuable opportunity for visitors to gain a broad understanding of the relations between research outcomes and the workplace for the restoration of cultural properties.
Lecture on environmental management at museums
Insect damage survey in the library of the National Museum of Iran
In March 2017, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties 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) to commit its cooperation in various academic fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage over the next five years.
During the preliminary survey to explore the partner country’s needs conducted in Iran in October 2016, we saw serious air pollution in the capital city of Tehran and Iranian experts consulted us about the pollution that resulted in damage to cultural properties. They said that even metal products displayed and housed in the National Museum of Iran might be eroding. Based on this information, we invited two researchers to Japan for a seminar and a study tour on environmental management at museums in 2017.
This year, we organized an on-site seminar by delivering lectures on environmental management at museums in the National Museum of Iran. The seminars were held over two days and were mostly led by Director Chie SANO of the Center for Conservation Science and Visiting Researcher Toshitami RO, who specialize in that field. The lecture explained how to measure and analyze chemical substances related to environmental pollution and indoor air conditioning. In addition, using equipment brought from Japan, a presentation was given on how to measure chemical substances. An Iranian expert also delivered a presentation on the results of air pollution monitoring conducted in Iran. This successful lecture attracted 20 or more local specialists from neighboring museums.
This year, instruments to monitor environmental quality were installed both inside and outside the Museum to survey the actual status of air pollution. The results showed with near certainty that air pollution was affecting the items housed and displayed in the Museum. A report proposing concrete measures and advice is to be submitted to the Museum.
In response to the insect damage consultation at the Museum’s library, Associate Fellow Yukio KOMINE and other members completed a survey of the situation. A termite path was found in the library wall during the survey, but it was an old one, not a current one. They will now continue to monitor the situation by installing adhesive traps brought from Japan to check for other insect damages.
In 2019, we will continue to cooperate in various fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage.
Unearthed west wing of the terrace structure
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) for the project to conserve and manage Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia. From August 20th to October 7th, 2018, the fourth archaeological investigation was conducted.
With the cooperation of staff from APSARA, the archaeological investigation was carried out at the terrace structure on the upper surface of the embankment of the East Baray reservoir discovered thus far. In addition, the approach, which is expected to have existed between the terrace structure and the east gate of the temple, was also investigated.
As for the terrace structure, because of the extension of the investigation area to the west, the west wing, which measures 6 meters east to west and 2.5 meters north to south, was unearthed; this was in addition to the east wing discovered last year. Although the upper stone materials were missing, the foundation existed in all circumferences. This discovery resulted in clarifying the fact that the structure is 18 meters in scale from east to west. According to a parallel case, the original terrace structure was assumed to be cross-shaped along with the north and south wings, which are still unexcavated. Further excavation should provide evidence that backs up this speculation.
As for the approach, we attempted to clarify its width and the condition of its sides by further expanding the 2017 investigation area. This resulted in revealing the fact that the approach is approximately 11 meters in width and that certain facilities might have existed on both sides, which are around 50 centimeters higher than the approach.
We are planning to prepare explanation boards for tourists visiting the site. In parallel with the academic investigation, we will also proceed with establishing a management system for access and utilization.
Making a presentation on research outcomes
Workshop for experiments with restoration materials
As part of the above-mentioned program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the training for “Examination and Implementation of Emergency Procedures for Wall Painting Conservation” was conducted at the St. Theodore (Tagar) Church in Cappadocia from October 15th to 20th, 2018. Like the previous training in June, this third training program attracted 30 conservators and restorers from 10 national conservation and restoration centers in the Republic of Turkey.
This training aims to review the existing emergency procedures working as the linchpin to conserve mural paintings in Turkey, as well as to establish the protocol. In this third training program, we conducted experiments for various effective restoration materials to use in emergency procedures from diversified perspectives, and all the trainees verified the results. On the last day of the training, the Head of the Analytical Science Section, Dr. Masahide INUZUKA, delivered a presentation on the research outcomes of the terahertz imaging technology used for wall paintings in the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus at Cappadocia University. During the training, opinions were also exchanged over how mural paintings should be conserved and restored in Japan and Turkey.
The participants commented that they learned a great deal from the process of reverifying the characteristics of the restoration materials with which they were familiar, as well as from knowing the efforts being made for conservation and restoration of wall paintings outside of Turkey, where those opportunities are rare.
The next training will be conducted in June 2019. With the goal of skill enhancement through continued on-the-job training, the trainers and trainees will invest their efforts into establishing the protocol for emergency procedures in Turkey.