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

【Series】 Forum on Intangible Cultural Heritage First Forum: “Traditional Performing Arts amid COVID-19 Pandemic”

Presentation by Mr. OHTSUKI Bunzo, shite kata (main role) of Kanze (a school of Noh) [prerecorded]
Presentation by Mr. OKUDA Utanoichi, so performer

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage studies the impact of COVID-19 on intangible cultural heritage. It also collects information on related support, new initiatives, and related news in other countries. As a part of these efforts, the first forum of the series titled “Traditional Performing Arts amid COVID-19 Pandemic” was held in the seminar hall at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on September 25th, 2020.
 The forum was focused on the traditional performing arts, especially classical performing arts, which have been greatly affected since the onset of the pandemic. In the first half of the forum, we gave a lecture on the role that the “public sector” serves for traditional performing arts amid the pandemic. We also presented some topics from the standpoint of our organization which is engaged in studies and information gathering. In the second half, we took up two different genres of the traditional performing arts, Nohgaku (a form of classical Japanese dance-drama) and Hohgaku (traditional Japanese music by traditional musical instruments such as so, a traditional Japanese zither and shamisen, a three-stringed traditional musical instrument). Then, for each genre, current situations were explained from the standpoint of performers, organizers/producers, and preservation techniques which are indispensable in the traditional performing arts. This was a valuable opportunity to share difficulties amid the pandemic. In the round-table discussion that followed, the talk centered around “social integration” that the traditional performing arts need beyond each genre and role. Participants shared a common view that raising awareness of “social integration” of the traditional performing arts is critical for communicating the current situation accurately in order to receive proper support. It is also critical for promoting education and/or training in anticipation of an increase in demand.
 The video footage of this forum was released for free until November 3rd. We will publish a revised report with some additions online at the end of this fiscal year.

In-situ investigation of inner structure of Kongo Rikishi statues at Oiwayama Bishamonten

X-ray radiography of Kongo Rikishi statue

 The Oiwayama Bishamonten in Ashikaga city, Tochigi prefecture is said to be one of the three major bishamontens in Japan in addition to those at Kurama-yama in Kyoto and at Shigi-san in Nara. Wooden Kongo Rikishi statues, which are cultural properties designated by Ashikaga city, are enshrined at Sanmon gate. According to recent research, there are concerns about the deterioration of these properties over time. In particular, the inclination of the head of Agyo statue has been pointed out. Considering this situation, the owner plans to embark on a restoration project.
 To carry out the project, it is necessary to clarify the inner structure of the statues, especially how the parts are connected to each other. However, an in-situ and non-invasive investigation is required without transferring statues, which are about 2.8 meters tall, from Sanmon gate. At the request of the owner via Ashikaga city, Masahide INUZUKA conducted an investigation into the inner structure of the statues using X-ray radiography from September 9th to 10th, 2020.
 As shown in the photograph, the X-ray was irradiated on Kongo Rikishi statues from an X-ray tube set on the scaffold assembled in front of the statues. Before conducting the investigation, important discussions were done to determine how imaging plates (IPs) should be set in the limited space behind the statues. For this research, we used the developing equipment, which is dedicated to IPs, and proceeded with the research by confirming the X-ray transmission images each time they were obtained.
 From the X-ray transmission images obtained during the above research, the inner structure of the statues and the information about positions and numbers of nails used in past restoration works were revealed. Such information will be referred to during the restoration works in the future.

The 27th Seminar of the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage: “International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage under the COVID-19 Crisis”

27th Seminar: “International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage amid the COVID-19 Pandemic”

 International cooperation in cultural heritage is facing many challenges due to the spread of COVID-19. The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (JCIC-Heritage) held a webinar on “International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage under the COVID-19 Crisis” on September 5th, 2020. The purpose of the webinar is to share detailed information on how each project deal with the situation as well as to discuss the future possibilities of international cooperation in cultural heritage.
 For the first report, “Conservation Project of Angkor Archaeological Park under the COVID-19 Crisis,” Dr. NAGAOKA Masanori (from the UNESCO Phnom Penh Office) who participated in the webinar from Cambodia, explained that tourism around Angkor has been severely hit as the number of tourists has decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic while APSARA national authority, the administrative body of the Angkor, took advantage of the situation to undertake large improvement projects (which had been put on hold) around the site and new studies.
 For the second report, “An Example of International Cooperation Project Utilizing Digital Tools,” Associate Dr. WATANABE Nobuya from Chubu University introduced the cooperation project for remotely supporting the 3D documentation work of endangered cultural heritage in Syria during the ongoing conflict.
 Following the two reports, Mr. SEKI Yuji of the National Museum of Ethnology served as the moderator and the four panelists including Mr. TOMODA Masahiko of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and Mr. YAMAUCHI Kazuya of the Research Institute of Cultural Properties, Teikyo University discussed about the possibilities and difficulties of online training and remote research and conservation projects with digital tools.

 JCIC-Heritage will continue to make efforts to collect and disseminate information of the challenges and the trial of projects under the COVID-19 Crisis. We are hoping that the accumulation of these knowledge and experiences will be fully utilized for the post-Covid-19 international cooperation in cultural heritage.

 For details about this webinar, please refer to the URL below:

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