|■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
Scene of the seminar
The 3rd seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on June 25th, 2019. Taiki MISHIMA (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) gave a presentation titled “Aggregation of regional cultural heritage information based on Linked Data,” and Mr. Ryoji MURATA (Tokyo National Museum) was invited as a commentator.
Linked Data is a way to realize the Semantic Web. By tracing the links between structured Linked Data, relevant information based on individual needs can be gained. Linking open data to external resources based on Linked Data will improve data discoverability and its potential uses. In recent years, the attention is being paid to the utilization of regional cultural heritage because of the amendment made to the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties, and MISHIMA has focused on the utilization of regional cultural heritage “information” in Japan and has proposed the metadata schema and pointed out the issues involved when aggregating and publishing this information as Linked Data.
As a result of an analysis of the information regarding a designated cultural heritage, published by local public bodies in Tokyo, commonalities and differences were clarified in terms of description items such as name, category, and location of cultural properties, the vocabularies used in the description items, and the description formats. In order to aggregate this information based on Linked Data, a metadata schema was created wherein information with unified vocabulary and description format prevailed along with the original information. One of the issues be highlighted was the relationships between vocabularies, such as “tangible cultural property” and “buildings,” which are specific to cultural property categories as data, and which would need the model for constructing the thesaurus.
At the seminar, participants exchanged opinions on a broad range of topics, such as how cultural heritage information has been created, shared, and published on the basis of their experiences in dealing with cultural heritage.
Barking the Japanese lime
Separating the bark of the Manchurian elm into outer and inner parts
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been researching folk techniques using wooden materials. As part of this research, we have conducted a field study on barking to manufacture fabrics in June 2019.
“Bark fabrics” refer to the cloth woven using yarn made of fiber obtained from the inner bark of trees. In Japan, the Manchurian elm, Japanese lime, Japanese wisteria, Kozo paper mulberry, and East Asian arrowroot etc. are renowned as raw materials. We researched and recorded how to bark the Manchurian elm in the central part of Hokkaido Prefecture on June 15th and the Japanese lime in Sekikawa, Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture on June 30th.
The traditional fabric of the Ainu, comprising the Manchurian elm called “attus,” and “shinaori,” of Sekikawa comprising the Japanese lime, are designated as traditional crafts by the national government (“Nibutani-attus” and “Uetsu-shinafu”). In this case, the Manchurian elm was barked by the Nibutani Folk Crafts Association, whereas the Japanese lime was barked by the Sekigawa Shinaori Cooperative Association.
These trees are barked from June to early July when they grow by drawing water. Smooth barking is allowed only during this period. Basically, barking is applied to the standing Manchurian elm and the fallen Japanese lime. The bark is separated into outer and inner parts using only hands and simple tools. The inner bark is further processed into water-resistant strong yarn by devoting a considerable deal of time and effort.
To ensure efficient and sustainable use of natural materials, people have accumulated knowledge and techniques by deepening their understanding and increasing their experience over a long period of time. You can find some of the human interaction with nature through folk technologies that target natural materials.
Preparing to measure ventilation volume
From 2017, Rikuzentakata City have entrusted Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties with inspecting and improving the storage environment of cultural assets at the City Museum that were damaged by a natural disaster. Based on our inspections, we were consulted on issues and countermeasures relating to atmospheric pollution and indoor air pollution affecting cultural assets and the human body, proposals to improve on the management of cultural assets, and proper methods to care for damaged materials.
The first on-site inspection of 2019 fiscal year was performed on June 27th and 28th, 2019. The Rikuzentakata City Museum stored the damaged cultural assets in an elementary school building by making requisite modifications. This year, efforts are focused on the ventilation of a classroom used as a storage room. We hope to be of assistance in this project while cooperating with the several groups involved in the restoration of the damaged materials.
Participants at the expert meeting
Case study of the utilization of traditional houses (Fukusumi)
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) provides the Royal Government of Bhutan with technical support and human resource development for heritage conservation and sustainable utilization of historic buildings, including traditional houses, under the scheme of International Cooperation Project for Cultural Heritage by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Fiscal Year 2019. TNRICP invited two staff members of the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) from June 23rd to 28th to Japan to hold the first expert meeting and a case study tour in western Japan.
At the meeting, Mr. Yeshi Samdrup of DCHS presented a report on the progress of the development of the legal system concerning cultural heritage, and Mr. Pema Wangchuk of DCHS made a presentation on the prospects for the protection of traditional houses and settlements. Participants shared the recent challenges and dilemmas concerning the protection of cultural heritage in Bhutan through their presentations and the subsequent discussion. The subject of the field survey scheduled for this August was also discussed, and the specific survey method has been almost fixed.
In the case study tour, we visited the Ozaki family residence (Yurihama, Tottori), which is undergoing conservation work, and the Open Air Museum of Old Farm Houses (Toyonaka, Osaka) where typical traditional houses from all over Japan have been collected to study basic concepts of the protection of traditional houses as cultural property in Japan. We also visited historic towns and villages where historic townscapes have been rehabilitated, namely Shikano (Tottori), Oyacho-Osugi, Sasayama, Fukusumi (all above, Hyogo), and Miyamacho-Kita (Kyoto), to spread knowledge about community involvement and heritage tourism where traditional houses can be utilized as accommodation. The invitees were particularly interested in the nongovernmental management of cultural heritage that should be treated under the new law in Bhutan, and there was a lively exchange of views and opinions with the local presenters at each site.
We would like to extend our deep appreciation to all the people involved in the tour for providing this opportunity.
Site visit by members of the Ad Hoc Experts Group of ICC
Removal of scattered stone blocks with the mobile crane
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) provides technical support to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) for the conservation and sustainable development of the ruins of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. TNRICP dispatched a total of five staff members to Cambodia from May 19th to June 29th, 2019 in order to carry out preparatory work before the examination of the restoration plan for the East Gate by the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) and the start of the restoration work.
APSARA and TNRICP submitted the plan for dismantling the structures to the ICC technical session, which was held on June 11th and 12th. As a result of careful deliberation including a site visit by the three members of the Ad Hoc Experts Group, the plan was adopted as proposed with minor corrections. As necessary preparation for the restoration work, we cleaned out and organized scattered stone blocks around the East Gate, and also carried out excavations for drainage route examination.
We recorded and numbered scattered stone blocks and moved them out of the way of the restoration work. Thanks to the mobile crane provided by Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (NNRICP), which is restoring the Western Prasat Top Site, we were able to move the stone blocks in a short time.
During the excavation we tried to clarify the difference in the old ground surface level between the northeast end of the Cruciform Terrace and around the East Gate, in order to examine the natural drainage route from the East Gate area. The elevation around the East Gate is lower than the surrounding area, and it is feared that rainwater may stagnate there, which is why we plan to set up a drainage channel to the North Moat for future maintenance. In addition, we found laterite stone paving which is presumed to be a part of the approach that connects the Cruciform Terrace and the East Gate. It is expected that further excavations will provide clearer information.
Group photo of training course participants
Fieldwork at Ala Church
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted the training for “Examination and Implementation of Emergency Procedures for Wall Painting Conservation” last June 11th–15th, 2019. The training targeted conservators and restorers from national conservation and restoration centers in the Republic of Turkey.
Following the inspection of the result of the workshop for experiments with restoration materials conducted in the previous training program, teachers from a wide range of specialty fields such as geology, structural design engineering, and art history were invited to the final training program (4th training program). The teachers were requested to consider comprehensive emergency procedures from the perspective of the various elements comprising the rock-hewn church, including the wall paintings, as forming a complex of cultural heritage. To verify what participants learned, fieldwork involving the creation of a hypothetical project plan to make emergency procedures on the wall paintings found at Ala Church in the Ihlara Valley was included in the training activity. On the last day, the training course came up with three themes arrived at based on the information gathered on the site: “environmental conservation,” “wall painting techniques and materials,” and “wall painting damage and emergency measure.” A discussion on the content of the presentations on these themes ensued. Following the training course, a questionnaire passed among the participants revealed a common sentiment: ”we reaffirm the importance of ’maintenance,‘ which we have largely ignored during the performance of our daily work duties.“
Over the course of three years, this project that has sought to improve the conservation and management system for wall paintings in the Republic of Turkey has today reached a milestone. While nurturing the network created between Japan and the Republic of Turkey in the course of this project, we hope to continue our endeavors aimed at contributing to the conservation of cultural heritage.