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

Development and Operation of Databases: The 3rd Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

TOBUNKEN Research Collections (, which is available on the internet, allows for searches across 29 databases.
We are also continuing to develop databases for our internal work. The image shows the database we are developing to manage the photographic survey records by ODAKA Sennosuke, which are viewable online (

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has released more than 30 databases related to cultural properties and made them available online. These databases contain a variety of data, such as painters’ diaries, monochrome photos of cultural properties taken in the 1930s, and art magazines published in the 1890s.
 We operate two types of databases, one for releasing data to the public over the internet and the other for creating and storing data. The databases for public use do not require much functionality. However, they do require stability so that they can operate 24 hours a day, while security updates must be implemented frequently. On the other hand, the databases for internal work require advanced features such as special data manipulation for proofreading or batch replacement of specific character strings.
 We have been operating databases for public use and databases for internal work since around 2014. During that time, various events have impacted the development and operation of these databases, such as software upgrades, hardware updates, the use of database services built by other organizations and personnel changes. At the 3rd seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems in fiscal 2021, we reviewed the current status of the databases and examined how the development should be pursued. Following these discussions, we will not only continue to make these data bases available to the public, but also strive to develop new databases and improve user convenience.

Opening of the Lobby Panel Exhibition “Intangible Cultural Heritage Preserved and Communicated through Records”

 On June 3, 2021, this year’s panel exhibition “Intangible Cultural Heritage Preserved and Communicated through Records,” curated by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, opened in the lobby of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The purpose of this exhibition is to inform people of the importance of recording intangible cultural heritage, especially when many examples of such heritage are facing crises due to the spread of COVID-19.
 For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a sharp decline in the number of programs of classical performing arts, causing serious difficulties for the performers. Nevertheless, we continue to take measures against COVID-19 and make efforts to ensure that such arts are passed on even if the scale of performances has been reduced. The news that major Shamisen manufacturer Tokyo Wagakki was threatened with closing down has also been a great shock to the traditional entertainment world.
 Folk entertainment and festivals are also being forced to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The threat to their survival for future generations is becoming serious since even canceling an annual event just once would result in a two-year gap. Moreover, the risks associated with natural disasters, a declining birthrate, and an aging population are constantly threatening their survival. In particular, crafts and folk techniques that use natural materials are being greatly affected.
 Preserving intangible cultural heritage, which can be lost because of these various risks, through records is an important task. Furthermore, recording the current crisis situation will form a basis for examining future survival. We also hope this exhibition will give you a sense that transmitting such records will be a boost to such heritage being passed on to future generations.

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