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

Analysis of the Coloring Materials and Painting Expression on the Pigments and Paintings by Kuwayama Gyokushū and Iwase Hirotaka – the 5th Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Discussion and Q&A session

 Kuwayama Gyokushū (1746-1799) and Iwase Hirotaka (1808-1877) were painters who worked actively in Wakayama in the Edo period. Both of them left their own painting tools, including various pigments. This is important because they can be clues to identify coloring materials in the Edo era, such as the pigments. In addition, many of their artworks still exist now. This means that the coloring materials used for their actual artwork can be compared with the pigments in their painting tools, providing a valuable study target.

 The 5th Seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on September 15th, 2022, in TOBUNKEN and online, featuring the interim report of the coloring material analysis of pigments and paintings of Gyokushū and Hirotaka. First, HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro, Deputy Director General reported the results of X-ray fluorescent and visible light reflectance analyses on the coloring materials of both artists. Then, new perspectives including the fact that both gofun (calcium carbonate) and enpaku (lead white) were applied as white pigments, and further challenges were presented. After that, YASUNAGA Takuyo, head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section discussed how Gyokushū used white pigments differently for human faces, as well as the issues of backside coloring referring to the painting of Tosui rakanzu (Luohans crossing the river). Next, Mr. KONDO Takashi of Kyoritsu Women’s Educational Institution introduced the biography of Hirotaka, who was first, an ukiyo-e artist and then became an artist of the FukkoYamato-e (Yamato-e revival) group later. Finally, Mr. KONDO discussed the relationship between Hirotaka’s artworks and the coloring materials referring to the painting of King Lanling and Nasori.

 After the presentations, discussions among the three presenters and a Q&A session were held. An active discussion was conducted regarding the interpretation of the analysis results. The period between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries is important for the understanding of the transition of coloring materials. However, few analysis has been done on coloring materials, including pigments and those of artworks. Consequently, we expect that these studies will reveal the use of coloring materials in the mid and late Edo period.

Seminar on the Documentation of Cultural Properties –Documentation and Information Dissemination, and Utilization of Image Compression

Lecture by Mr. WATANABE Naoto
Lecture by Ms. KONNO Saki
Lecture by Dr. IMAIZUMI Shoko

 The Cultural Property Information Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a seminar on the Documentation of Cultural Properties in the seminar room on the underground floor of TOBUNKEN on September 2nd, 2022. The Act Partially Amending the Museum Act was established in April 2022. Through this act, digital archiving and dissemination of museum materials were added to museum roles. Furthermore, the demand for exhibitions in virtual fields, such as websites, has been increasing because of the prolonged difficulties in visiting cultural property sites and exhibitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Considering these situations, we organized a seminar with the following three lectures. Mr. WATANABE Naoto, curator of Sendai City Museum of History and Folklore, presented the video documentation of the annual festival and kagura (Shinto music and dancing) tradition of Oidenomori Hachiman Shrine and its dissemination on YouTube during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. KONNO Saki, curator of Tohoku Fukushi University Serizawa Keisuke Art and Craft Museum, introduced their activities, such as conducting a tour of the exhibition rooms online, with curators also explaining their exhibits online. Dr. IMAIZUMI Shoko, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Chiba University, conducted a lecture on the fundamentals of image and video compression, and points to note at its utilization.

 Dr. IMAIZUMI showed visually that compression brought disadvantages of the compromising image/video quality, despite its positive effect to decrease the file size. Mr. WATANABE and Ms. KONNO introduced hands-on methods for disseminating information by utilizing their own human resources, equipment, and free software with public support, such as subsidies and support from local cooperation. All of the lectures provoked thoughts useful in tackling respective challenges. The participants focused on the presentations as they were facing similar challenges and have asked many questions.

 The Section will continuously provide information about documentation and information dissemination applicable to the daily activities of curators and officers involved in cultural property protection through various media.

Final Investigation of the Higo Biwa Tradition and Related Materials

Biwa used by Mr. NAGAMATSU Daietsu (owned by NAGAMATSU Mitsutoyo at that time)
Biwa used by Mr. HASHIGUCHI Keisuke (owned by HASHIGUCHI Kenichi)

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has investigated the Higo Biwa Preservation Society and the successors of Higo biwa technique, who have dedicated to pass down the Higo biwa, and its related materials including the biwa. We conducted the third on-site investigation from September 7th to 9th. We studied the biwa used by Mr. NAGAMATSU Daietsu, a sighted Higo biwa player and the one used by Mr. HASHIGUCHI Keisuke (HOSHIZAWA Tsukiwaka), a successor of Hoshizawa school, whose root is Sumoto, Amakusa City. Both were preserved by their bereaved families. Therefore, we visited them and studied the biwa there. We had precious opportunities to learn about these two Higo biwa players from their families. Mr. NAGAMATSU’s biwa will be donated to Historical Museum Kokoropia of Tamana City associated with his related hand-written books of relics and records via the curator who accompanied us. We expect them to be widely available for studies.

 Furthermore, we conducted studies on the biwa owned by Shinwa Museum for History and Folklore and Amakusa Hondo Museum of History and Folklore and concluded this investigation series. We may conduct a few supplementary studies and plan to issue the report in FY 2022.

 We noticed that a village manages a single Higo biwa instrument in turn and plays it as an offering every new year. We cannot study this case in our investigation series, but we hope that our analysis inspires further research on Higo biwa tradition status.

Air Quality Investigation in the Museum Display Cases

Injecting nitrogen into the bag set in the display case
Extracting the air from the bag using a pump

 The Center for Conservation Science investigates the conservation environments of museums. Recently, the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History requested us to investigate the air quality in their exhibition cases. They detected some organic acids, however, the emission source was not identified. The emission source was needed for taking appropriate counter-measures. Moreover, the ratio of acetic acid and formic acid is called for as the current measurement was taking them collectively as organic acids.

 Therefore, the Preventive Conservation and the Analytical Science Sections decided to investigate the emission source by applying the air quality investigation methods developed by the Analytical Science Section. Five points including the floors of two wall display cases (big and small size), the display surface of a tabletop case, the display stand, and the back panel, were targeted. As shown in the photos, the targeted measurement points were covered with bags made of airtight film and the 4.5 kg lead rings were set to seal them. Then, after replacing the air inside the bags with nitrogen and leaving them for 24 hours, the air was extracted from the bags using a pump, dissolved in ultrapure water, and analyzed using ion chromatography. Consequently, we measured the amount of acetic acid and formic acid emissions. Simultaneously, we checked the sealing degree by the measurement of CO2 density change inside bags over time.

 We have identified the density of acetic acid and formic acid at each measurement point and will leverage these outcomes for future air quality improvement.

International Symposium: 20 Years of Research, Conservation and Promotion of the Values of Thang Long Imperial Citadel Heritage Site


 Hanoi was previously called Thang Long and has been the capital of Vietnam most time since the establishment of the Lý dynasty – the first Vietnamese independent and unified nation at the beginning of the 11th century. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was where a group of imperial palaces, serving as both the emperor’s residences and the political control base, were located. The original palace remains were considered lost because the site was turned into an army facility in the modern age, while it was known that the palaces used to exist at the location.

 However, the many remains, such as the foundations of the original palaces and related artifacts in each dynasty, including those from the Lý dynasty, were unearthed by a large-scale excavation investigation beginning in 2002, which was associated with the rebuilding of the Parliament House Building. This partially revealed how the Thang Long palaces used to be, although they were hidden for a long time. It was decided to conserve this site and it was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 2010, the 1,000th anniversary of the establishment of the capital. Responding to the request of the Vietnamese government, Japan has been cooperating in the research and conservation of this heritage since 2006. I had the responsibility of supporting architectural study and conservation management, as well as the overall implementation of this cooperation program from 2008 to 2013.

 International Symposium: 20 Years of Research, Conservation and Promotion of the Values of Thang Long Imperial Citadel Heritage Site was held at the site co-sponsored by the Hanoi People’s Committee and UNESCO Ha Noi Office on September 8th and 9th, 2022, the 20th anniversary of the commencement of its investigation. Many representatives from governmental organizations, UNESCO, ICOMOS, and ICOM, and experts from and outside Vietnam participated and shared the research outcomes in each field. They also provided over 20 reports and conducted discussions regarding the challenges toward its future conservation and utilization. I made a presentation titled International Cooperation between Japan and Vietnam for the Conservation of Thang Long Imperial Citadel Site and also played the role of a commentator at a discussion.

 Some have wished for some time now to reconstruct the Kính thiên palace, the main building, on the existing foundation of the later Lê dynasty (16th century or later). Several reports concerning the materials indicating reasonable grounds for the reconstruction were provided, and the study progress was stressed at this symposium. On the other hand, as the former military headquarters from the French Colonial period stand on this foundation and its front, it is necessary to demolish or relocate these buildings to reconstruct the palace. However, these buildings, founded later, are exactly parts of evidence indicating this heritage’s longevity and a layered record of vestiges identified as the World Heritage Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). Therefore, it is difficult to reconstruct the palace without OUV modification. Later, at the symposium, this topic was discussed in detail and it became the focus of discussion. After these in-depth discussions, the proposal of the Heritage Site Management Plan, including this reconstruction plan, was shelved, and the discussion summary to continue the discussion regarding the reconstruction of the Kính thiên palace was adopted.

 While the cooperation program between Japan and Vietnam has been completed, I will closely monitor the conservation management movement of this heritage site.

Participation in the World Heritage Leadership Forum 2022 – 50th anniversary initiative of the World Heritage Convention

Main street view of Bryggen area, Bergen, World Heritage site (hotel facilities of the forum venue are shown on the left side)
Forum room (whiteboard used in group discussions)

 The year 2022 marks 50 years since the establishment of the World Heritage Convention at the 17th UNESCO General Conference in 1972. During the past half-century, 1154 World Heritage Sites (897 cultural, 218 natural, and 39 mixed properties) from 167 countries have been recognized. They have all played an important role in raising global awareness and fostering an understanding of the importance of heritage conservation. Moreover, the World Heritage Committee discusses various matters of international concern every year. Recent years have seen unprecedented challenges, such as the threat of climate change being raised. The ICCROM and IUCN—World Heritage Committee advisory bodies —launched the World Heritage Leadership (WHL) program in 2016. The WHL supports activities and discussions aimed at improving the World Heritage site’s conservation and management practices for culture and nature.
 The World Heritage Leadership Forum 2022 was held in Bergen, a world heritage city in Norway, on September 21st and 22nd, 2002. The forum aimed to review the results of the WHL’s past activities and look ahead to future initiatives. Around 60 representatives attended from international organizations, national institutions overseeing world heritage issues, and site managers/communities of world heritage sites. The forum was divided into three sessions: the first session organized the key points from the 2016-2022 achievements, the second session discussed needed actions and future priorities, and the third session laid out action plans for the future of World Heritage Capacity Building. The author made a speech on the case of Japan during the second session. They reported that, although no administrative framework has been implemented on World Heritage, a new policy has been implemented. The “regional conservation plan,” introduced by the 2019 amended Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, shares the same awareness of issues as the discussions at the WHL forum. It could be an effective tool in rebuilding or improving the heritage management capacity sought by the WHL. Moreover, the plan aims to implement a more comprehensive approach in on the following domains: natural, cultural, expert, custodian, and communities. In the second session, participants were divided into three groups: (1) ensuring effective management, (2) applying resilience thinking for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, and (3) preparing for change by enabling impact assessments and engaging in active discussions. In conclusion, after the discussions in the third session, it was concluded that WHL would focus on the next phase of strengthening the heritage-people network. This was a key topic raised by the forum participants, in addition to enhancing capacity-building efforts that link the World Heritage Committee to heritage conservation on the ground. At the same time, it is important to establish a system of close collaboration for heritage conservation with local networks that accommodates the diverse languages and contexts of each country/region.
 Japan is one of the countries where the link between local network activities and World Heritage trends is particularly weak. Consequently, challenges and efforts to link domestic heritage conservation to international community dialogue might be required as a new modality of international cooperation in heritage conservation.

World Heritage Leadership Forum on the ICCROM website

Evaluation Seminar 2022: International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper


 Since 1992, the 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 jointly organized The International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper (JPC). The JPC contributes to the wider protection of cultural property; we invited professionals from abroad and provided them with information about Japanese paper, from its manufacturing process to its practical use in conservation.

 This year, we held an online evaluation seminar on September 5th, 6th, 7th, and 12th. Former JPC trainees were invited to share how they applied the knowledge and techniques acquired during their time in the JPC. This was the second seminar to evaluate this project.

 The presentations covered the lining technique used to conserve architectural drawings. They also covered workshops in Iran and Malaysia inspired by Japanese handmade papermaking. They all indicated that the JPC triggered the flourishing research and application of traditional Japanese conservation techniques tailored to regional circumstances. Some studies have highlighted Japanese approaches to conservation that differ from Western countries. Studio visits in Japan inspired participants to rethink work organization in their daily practice. In addition, the aim of the project and its practice-oriented features were recognized. Thus, our course methodologies have been identified as good references for education and studio training in other institutions. Following a review of the presentations, the symposium on the last day addressed issues in the distribution of Japanese papers and tools.

 The JPC can be summarized as a life-changing experience for those involved in conserving and restoring cultural properties. The Institute has renewed its recognition of the significance of the JPC and is committed to continuing the project.

International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage from the Viewpoint of Technologies ― the 31st Seminar Held by JCIC-Heritage

The 31st seminar
The 31st seminar logo

 JCIC-Heritage, whose secretariat is commissioned to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, held the 31st Seminar ―International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage from the Viewpoint of Technologies on August 28th, 2022 online.

 The introduction of new technologies brings a shift in the investigation and research methods of the international cooperation themselves, and makes various tasks related to cultural heritage far more efficient and sophisticated. The objective of this seminar was to discuss how we should work with new technologies appearing one after another in our activities held in various social and cultural backgrounds, while introducing case studies in actual international cooperation projects concerning Japan.

 First, Dr. KAMEI Osamu from the National Museum for Nature and Science reviewed the technology characteristics in a report titled the Changes of Technologies in Societies: How We Should Work with New Technologies. Then, Prof. SHIMODA Ichita from the University of Tsukuba introduced the case of a large-scale technology implementation by the cooperation of multiple nations titled Multilateral Cooperation for Adapting New Technology: Research and Protection of Cultural Heritage by Cambodian Archaeological LiDAR Initiative. Lastly, Mr. NOGUCHI Atsushi from Kanazawa University reported the cases of human resource development utilizing prevalent technology products such as digital cameras and smartphones titled Extending Cultural Heritage Protection Using the Latest Technologies at Hand: Towards Documentation which Anyone Can Work Together.

 At the end of the seminar, an active panel discussion was held, moderated by Dr. KAMEI and TOMODA Masahiko, the secretary general of JCIC-Heritage (Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) and the other lecturers. Please visit JCIC-Heritage website for the seminar’s details: (Japanese only).

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