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

Lecture at Kuboso Memorial Museum of Arts, Izumi and Keynote Lecture at the International Symposium in Rietberg Museum, Switzerland

Exhibition catalogues: “Love, Fight, Feast “(left) and “Tosa and Sumiyoshi Schools II—The Development of the Yamato-e Painting Style and the Outstanding Characteristic of Each School” (right)
Lecture at Kuboso Memorial Museum of Arts, Izumi
International Symposium at the Rietberg Museum (YouTube distribution screen)

 The exhibition “Tosa and Sumiyoshi Schools II—The Development of the Yamato-e Painting Style and the Outstanding Characteristic of Each School” was held from September 12th through November 7th, 2021 at the Kuboso Memorial Museum of Arts, Izumi, well known for its precious collection of Japanese and East Asian antiquities. The art works of the Tosa and Sumiyoshi Schools, from Tosa Mitsuyoshi’s work in the Momoyama Period till the modern period, were gathered and exhibited there. The exhibition was curated to highlight what each painter inherited and what each one innovated. During the exhibition, EMURA Tomoko from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems gave a lecture titled “Sumiyoshi School Paintings Overseas: Examining Shutendōji Handscrolls in Grassi Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig” at a lecture meeting held on October 16th, with Mr. KAWADA Masayuki, the director of the museum. EMURA introduced the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), as well as Japanese arts overseas. She discussed Sumiyoshi Hiroyuki’s Shuten-dōji handscrolls, considered to be painted in 1786. This exhibition also featured the Shuten-dōji handscrolls painted by Hiroyuki’s son, Sumiyoshi Hironao (owned by Nezu Museum), following his father’s works. EMURA clarified the contrast between their works.
 In the same month, on October 23rd, EMURA delivered a keynote lecture titled “A Great Tale of Exterminating Ogres: Shuten-dōji Handscrolls of GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig” at an international symposium marking the occasion of the special exhibition “Love, Fight, Feast – The World of Japanese Narrative Art,” held at the Rietberg Museum in Switzerland from September 10th to December 5th, 2021. The exhibition shows Japanese narrative scrolls owned by European museums. In her lecture, she explained the overall contents of Sumiyoshi Hiroyuki’s Shuten-dōji handscrolls and their characteristics as they were first exhibited there. This symposium was held online, connecting the museum in Zurich with Tokyo, Dublin (Ireland) and New York (USA), and broadcasted via the Internet.
 It was unfortunate that we could not gather in person at the same venue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was still a precious opportunity to discuss with many researchers and to exchange opinions. EMURA plans to publish her research about Sumiyoshi Hiroyuki’s Shuten-dōji handscrolls, which she talked about in her lecture, as an article in the Bijutsu Kenkyu (the Journal of Art Studies), No. 453.

Basic Research for Preservation and Restoration of Usuki Stone Buddhas, a National Treasure

Adherence sample setting for exposure test
Water content meter setting to measure the amount of water in the rock

 Usuki Stone Buddhas, a National Treasure, are a group of “magaibutsu” (Buddha statues directly carved into rock face) sculpted niches that were carved on ignimbrites between the late Heian period and the Kamakura period. They consist of the following four clusters: the Hoki First Cluster, the Hoki Second Cluster, the Sannosan Cluster, and the Furuzono Cluster.

 Weathering has partially progressed in these Buddha statues. Although protected by the niches from rainfall and winds, their surfaces have been impacted by repeated frosting and melting of underwater and rainwater during winters, and by flaking and granulating as a result of salt deposition due to evaporation in dry season. Therefore, weathering prevention methods such as building protective shelters, controlling river-bed water running behind the statues, and remounting falling pieces were adopted in the past. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been engaged in these efforts for a long time.

 A new joint research with Usuki City has now started to preserve and restore the Stone Buddha Statues. The surfaces around one knee of the seated Amitabha Tathagata Buddha statue in the Hoki Second Cluster have rebegun flaking and falling despite early preservation and restoration efforts. Via environmental research, we plan to monitor the change in temperature and humidity in the newly built protective shelters and review the water content in the rock, in addition to studying materials and implementing methods to strengthen and remount falling pieces. In preparation, we set the measuring equipment and adhesive samples for outdoor exposure testing on October 18th and 19th.

 We plan to regularly review the measured data and observe the efficacy of adhesive samples against the weather, while continuing to discuss appropriate actions for the preservation and restoration of the Usuki Stone Buddha Statues with the Agency of Cultural Affairs, Oita Prefecture, and Usuki City.

to page top