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

Photographic Survey of the Ekin Byōbu

Photographic survey
Replica of Ekin byōbu displayed at Ekingura

Twenty-three byōbu (folding screens) painted by Hirose Kinzō (1812–76), known as Ekin, have been passed down in Akaoka Town, Konan City, Kochi Prefecture. They are certified by Kochi Prefecture as Tangible Cultural Properties for Protection. They are usually stored in Ekingura (Ekin Museum), which is a facility for storage and exhibition. Ekin byōbu are attractive because the dramatic scenes of popular kabuki plays were depicted with a dynamic composition using vivid color pigments. Eighteen of them were originally devoted to the Suruda Hachimangū Shrine located in the north of Akaoka Town. They have been shown at the Suruda Hachimangū Grand Festival since the end of Edo era. In addition, the Ekin Festival has been held in Akaoka Town by local people since 1977 at the shopping district, where they are displayed. Ekin byōbu are popular as special cultural properties that share the same regional background, though the festivals were halted for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Five byōbu were discolored due to an accident in 2010. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) investigated how to conserve and restore them. Additionally, measures were taken to stabilize them. (Please refer to our monthly report: Later, a project for the conservation and restoration of the other 18 byōbu, which have deteriorated over time, has been started by the Ekingura Management Committee and the Akaoka Ekin Byōbu Preservation Association. TOBUNKEN has been investigating the painting materials of Ekin byōbu along with this project. We visited Ekingura on April 15th and 16th, 2022, and investigated them with high-resolution color photography of the 18 byōbu, whose restoration has been completed. All byōbu will be fully restored by the end of FY 2022. A research report is planned for publication after the completion.

Study Report on the 16th Century Historical Materials Related to Noh Masks and Senmen: the First Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Presentation about Noh masks

 Noh mask and Senmen (fan surface) are important study objects related to religion and celebrations from ancient times, from the viewpoint of not only Japanese art history, but also Japanese cultural history. OTANI Yuki (Research assistant of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) presented her research titled a Consideration on the Beshimi Mask Owned by Aizu Museum.

 This beshimi mask is from the Inaba family, the lord of the Usuki domain in Bungo Province. It has some inscriptions, such as “made by Sakai Sōzaemon”. The okina mask owned by the Nagataki Hakusan Shrine in Gifu and the okina mask owned by the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima are objects related to the beshimi mask from the Inaba family. It is interesting that they were devoted to the same petitioner of the beshimi in a similar period. OTANI studied the form of these beshimi masks as masks for devotion in the Muromachi period and considered them to be made in the transitional period to the Chorei Beshimi type. In this presentation, we invited Mr. ASAMI Ryusuke of the Tokyo National Museum as a commentator. He talked about the importance and challenges of the Noh masks study. He also pointed out the issues of regionality and acceptance of this mask’s craftsmanship.

 Following this, ONO Mayumi (Head of the Japanese and East Asian Art History Section) conducted a presentation titled Ōgiya Sōkyū, a painter mentioned in Kanemikyōki. Kanemikyōki is a diary of YOSHIDA Kanemi (1535-1610), a shinkan (priest) of the Yoshida Shrine in Kyoto. It is a precious historical source that tells us of the movements of court nobles and sengoku warlords. Among the people related to YOSHIDA, she focused on Kanō Sōkyū (Ōgiya Sōkyū), a painter mentioned more than 10 times in this diary. She found a relationship between court nobles and Ōgiya that was unknown earlier. Kanemi presented senmen made by Sōkyū to the houses of Oda, Toyotomi, Maeda, and others. Furthermore, YOSHIDA built a close relationship with Sōkyū by inviting him to dinner and banquets. With these facts, ONO added a new consideration to the importance and role of the painter Ōgiya.

Survey of the Tokakujinomatsue Performing Status: COVID-19 and the Publication of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

Rehearsal the day before the event
Reporting to the shrine that prayers are back from Shiokaki (purification with sea water)

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted a field survey of the “Tokakujinomatsue” of the Tokakuji area of Kanda Town, Fukuoka Prefecture, on April 16th and 17th, 2022. Tokakujinomatsue is a folk event that has been passed down at the Tokakuji area of Kanda Town, Fukuoka Prefecture. The people in that area have been actively making video documentation and reports in cooperation with the Board of Education in Kanda Town while they face the challenges of continuing the event under the pressures of depopulation and the aging of the population.

 Fuchisan Tokakuji, located in this area, was one of the bases for Shugendō called Buzenroppo (six peaks of Buzen) in Kyusu until the Haibutsu kishaku (a movement to abolish Buddhism and destroy Shākyamuni) during the Meiji era. Every early April, people in the area, who are said to be descendants of Shugenja, conduct “Tokakujinomatsue” to pray for good harvests, protection from plagues, and national prosperity. Matsue consists of shinkōretsu (the procession of the shrine god), dedication of shishimai (lion dance), “Tagyōji” (playing mimic activities to grow rice crops), and“Katanagyōji” (playing with masakari (broadaxes) and naginata (long handled swords)). At the end of the event, a person climbs a 12-meter pillar set in the field, reads the kiganbun (optative sentence), and performs “Heikiri” to cut ōnusa (paper-made streamers used for Shinto pray) with a real sword.

 Tokakujinomatsue has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, much as other folk events nationwide have been. The event was cancelled the last two consecutive years, and this year the event was held but not in the usual way. The Board of Education of Kanda Town contacted us to inquire how to conserve and utilize the videos and photos documented so far, which triggered this survey. In the beginning, we planned to survey the status of the recorded event. However, it was decided to hold the event, even though the event format was to be changed. As the result, this survey led us to think further about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on intangible cultural properties. During the last two years, the department has paid special attention to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on intangible cultural heritage. We will continue to investigate how folk events and folk performing arts that were forced to be cancelled or held in temporary different ways will be passed down in the future.

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