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

Activities and Archives of the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai: the 5th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

SHIMAZAKI Kiyomi in a classroom; photo taken in 1950s.
He taught arts as an elementary school teacher, while playing a key role in Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai
Presentation at the seminar

 Have you ever heard about an organization called “Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai”? This private organization was founded in 1952 to pursue new art education that respects and nurtures children’s individual personalities. Artists such as KITAGAWA Tamiji and EI-Q, and the art critic KUBO Sadajiro played key roles in its founding. These educational activities have grown and expanded, and have resulted in the establishment of the organization’s branches all over Japan. Thus, these activities have had a huge impact on post-war art education in Japan.
 Ms. NAKAMURA Maki (part-time employee, Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History and temporary staff, Tokyo Keizai University Historical Data Office) was invited by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems to the seminar held on September 24th, 2021 on the materials left behind by SHIMAZAKI Kiyomi (1923-2015). SHIMAZAKI was an art educator and served as the Bureau Chief of the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai. Ms. NAKAMURA gave a presentation titled “Art Education in Japan after World War II, tracked with the activity records of the ‘Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai’ – referring to the materials left by SHIMAZAKI Kiyomi.” She had interviewed SHIMAZAKI in the past, and after his death, has been engaged in organizing and studying the large amount of materials he had left behind. She explained that this organization has made immense contributions, not only by helping art education to evolve, but also by supporting artists, popularizing print arts, and nurturing art collectors.
 In the discussion following her presentation, Dr. KANEKO Kazuo, Professor Emeritus at Ibaraki University, delivered a commentary on the positioning of the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai in post-war art education in Japan. Following this, participants from the institute and other facilities actively discussed how to conserve and utilize the materials of SHIMAZAKI Kiyomi. In the discussion, we also recognized the difficult situation related to the art education archives, for example, the fact that no institute so far has accepted these materials permanently.
 Ms. NAKAMURA brought some of the actual materials to the seminar and participants had an opportunity to see them in person. We hope that this seminar provided the participants an opportunity to understand the importance of these materials.

Seminar on the Documentation of Cultural Properties – “Documentation of Cultural Properties for Protection and the Principle of Image Compression”

Lecture by Mr. NAKANO Noriyuki
Lecture by Dr. IMAIZUMI Shoko

 To obtain fundamental data for their research, protection, and utilization, the documentation of cultural properties and artifacts through both texts and photographs is an important activity for museums, fine art museums, and municipal governments managing cultural properties. The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems is actively discussing methods for documenting cultural properties as well as the compilation of a database to organize and utilize these documentations. To this end, we conducted a seminar titled “Documentation of Cultural Properties for Protection and the Principle of Image Compression,” on September 21st, 2021, in the seminar room at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties while following the appropriate countermeasures against COVID-19 infection.
 Mr. NAKANO Noriyuki (Senior Specialist of the First Cultural Properties Division, Agency for Cultural Affairs) delivered a lecture titled “Documentation of Cultural Properties for Protection.” He explained the importance of documenting cultural properties to ensure their protection and reiterated the areas of special care that must be taken into consideration during the documentation process, based on the abundance of materials with actual cases. In addition, Dr. IMAIZUMI Shoko (Associate Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Chiba University) delivered a lecture titled “Concepts and Basic Technologies of Image Compression” as the second session in the series on “Digital Image Compression from the Basics of Images to Moving Images.” She explained digital image compression, the processes involved, and finally, the basic technologies and techniques of major compression formats for still and moving images, such as JPEG and MPEG.
 The significance of documenting cultural properties continues to increase as it is crucial to securing opportunities for research and appreciation in the current situation wherein it is difficult to access cultural properties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to actively disseminate useful information for documentation, preservation, and publication of cultural properties by providing lecture-style and hands-on seminars.

A Workshop on Basic Science for Conservators

Lecture on how to handle lab instruments

 The Center for Conservation Science conducts scientific research on the conservation and restoration of cultural property. In 2021, we introduced a workshop on basic science, based on our research, for conservators who have diverse experience in restoration of cultural properties and museum curation and archiving.
 The workshop was held for three days from September 29th through October 1st, 2021. We provided lectures and practical sessions on basic scientific knowledge that is important for conservation and restoration. It included basic chemistry, science of adhesion and adhesives, chemistry of paper, and pest damage control. The researchers of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties delivered the lectures, based on their areas of expertise.
 We received 44 applications from across Japan for 15 seats. Fifteen applicants, who either resided in or commuted to Tokyo, and had the desirable expertise, participated in the workshop keeping in mind the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
 The participants expressed their appreciation for this workshop through the questionnaires that were provided. We received requests for further scientific information on more advanced conservation and restoration cases. We intend to continue this workshop series to meet these expectations.

Donation of Materials related to Dr. ITO Nobuo

Dr. ITO with his colleagues of the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Properties and their families (Third from left. Right end is HINAKO Moto’o who served as Director of the Buildings Division (1966-1971) before Dr. ITO, and IHARA Keishi who served as Director of Restoration Engineering Department (1988-1990) of the Institute on his left.)

On September 13th, a set of materials related to the administrative work for the protection of cultural properties, where Dr. ITO Nobuo served as Director of the Institute for nine years from April 1978 to March 1987, was donated to the Institute by his son, Mr. ITO Akio. Dr. ITO was a technocrat and architectural historian who led the development of cultural property protection in the postwar period. In particular, he played a central role as director of the Buildings Division of the Agency for Cultural Affairs (1971-1977) in the planning of the traditional town/village conservation system, which was newly established as a result of the revision of the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties in 1975. He has also left a significant mark in the international field of heritage conservation by actively communicating Japan’s conservation philosophy and repair methods, and by leading “the Nara Conference on Authenticity” held in November 1994, which led to the international development of authenticity, a concept of conservation originating in Western Europe.
 The donated documents are mainly primary materials related to the administration of cultural property protection and international cooperation that Dr. ITO was involved in as part of his work, as well as various materials related to research activities, private activities, and manuscripts related to architectural history and cultural properties. These materials were accumulated during the active life he led, and since they have not been systematically collected and organized, it is certain that among them are many items for which detailed information is not clear at this stage. However, from the viewpoint that it is important to make the materials available to researchers who need them as soon as possible, we plan to make them accessible to the public after classifying all the materials according to activity and sorting each item mechanically.
 Among the donated materials, I would like to bring to your attention a photograph of a young Dr. ITO with his colleagues from the Buildings Division of the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Properties. Considering the appearance of Dr. ITO and the other photographs enclosed, my guess is that it was taken around 1965 when he was working hard as an architectural conservation officer at the site. The carefree demeanor and lively smiles of all in this photograph seem to indicate that the cultural properties administration was carried out during an era when Japan’s economy was booming. This fact is not easily perceivable in the formal photos from official reports.

・“To the Memory of Dr. Nobuo Ito” by SAITO Hidetoshi
2016 Volume 66 Pages 148-159

・ITO Nobuo2016 Year Book of Japanese Art, page 557-558, Online in 2018 (Japanese only)

A trial for the introduction of digital technology in international courses

Practical session
The satellite venue

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) have been jointly organizing “the International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper” (JPC) since 1992. The course aims to contribute to the protection of cultural property outside Japan by disseminating the knowledge and techniques of conservation and restoration of paper cultural property in Japan to participants from around the world. Every year, we have invited 10 specialists in conservation from all over the world; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we could not hold the course in 2020 and 2021. Under these circumstances, we conducted a trial experiment for the introduction of digital technology in international courses from September 8th to 15th. The trial aimed to examine the possibility of holding online courses, which are mainly composed of practical sessions such as the JPC, and to clarify problems toward the realization of the online course itself.
 Before the trial, lectures were held on basic knowledge of adhesives and paper, which are major conservation materials for cultural properties on paper. The lectures were livestreamed and archived. As for the practical sessions, five simulated participants from the staff members of TOBUNKEN were divided into two groups; the one received in-person teaching and the other was given online instructions at a satellite venue. The practical sessions were led by conservators from a certified group holding the Selected Conservation Techniques on “Restoration techniques for mounts.” The participants experienced the process of restoration of a handscroll from cleaning to mounting. On the last day, the lecturers and participants discussed the effectiveness of online courses. Although the merits of the use of ICT devices were recognized, issues of doing practical sessions online, such as the necessity of having basic knowledge and experience of paper conservation in advance, the limitations of technical training through a computer, and the difficulties of troubleshooting the network environment and communication devices were highlighted.

A Research Survey into Stucco Decorations and Clay Statues (Part 2)

“Dio Fluviale”, a clay statue by Michelangelo Buonarroti, the restoration of which was completed in 2017
Stucco Decorations in the 17th century (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta)

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been conducting research and surveys investigating stucco decorations in fiscal year 2021 as part of the “International Research on Technology for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage” program, which offers grants for research expenses. On September 11th, 2021, we held a second discussion with experts from Europe involved in the conservation of stucco decorations.
 In this discussion, the use of glue made of seaweed and “Kami Susa” (binder made of “Washi” – Japanese paper – and used as part of plaster) attracted participants’ interest. These materials began to be made in order to control the plaster thickness and prevent plaster from cracking in the Edo era, when the demand for plaster walls increased. While many creative techniques and materials have been developed in Europe, where there is a long history of stucco decorations, their materials are different from those in Japan. Thus, we agreed to add the data of additives, which have been used in each country and region, as well as in different periods, as the comparative target items in our ongoing research and create a database of them.
 In relation to these findings, we plan to pursue our research on how the constituents included in various additives chemically affect stucco decorations. Different materials, their natures, and the techniques used to create stucco decorations, have different impacts on the deterioration due to aging as well as how the decoration is damaged over a long period. These studies are extremely important for determining the most suitable methods for their conservation and restoration.
 This research and survey began with the focus on stucco decorations. However, our deep analysis of their history enabled us to recognize the close relationship with clay statues. We plan to expand our research on the clay statues that share many common materials and creation techniques and pursue research on how to conserve them and preserve their heritage in the most suitable ways.

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