|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
Round table talk (from the left, SANO Masaki, Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi, Ms. KOIZUMI Yurina)
Mr. ISHIDA Katsuyoshi reporting the first case study
The 16th Public Lecture was held on October 28th, 2022.
On the morning prior to the Lecture, the videos individually produced by the POLA Foundation of Japanese Culture, the Japan Arts Council, and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) were shown.
At the Public Lecture held in the afternoon, first, MAEHARA Megumi, head of the Intangible Cultural Properties Section, explained the aim of the Lecture. Then, the following sessions were presented: Intangible Cultural Heritage and Visual Documentation by ISHIMURA Tomo, head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section; Practice at TOBUNKEN: Visual Documentation of Intangible Cultural Properties by SANO Masaki, associate fellow; Conservation Techniques for Traditional performing Arts by Mr. ISHIDA Katsuyoshi, manufacturer and biwa musician (Japanese traditional lute) and MAEHARA; and Visual Documentation of Craft Techniques by Mr. SETO Takashi, Associate Professor at Bunka Gakuen University and KIKUCHI Riyo, Senior Researcher. At the following round table talk, Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi, Executive Director of the Japan Arts Council and Ms. KOIZUMI Yurina, Curator of the POLA Foundation of Japanese Culture, introduced their respective video projects for intangible cultural properties. Together with TOBUNKEN researchers, they identified the characteristics of each institute and reached a common understanding regarding the aims, methods, and publication of “intangible cultural property visual documentation.” Furthermore, it was concluded that the intangible cultural heritage can be documented comprehensively by archiving and publishing the diversified visual documentation to the fullest possible extent and methods based on a mutual understanding of each institute’s characteristics.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage strives to continue facilitating occasions to share and discuss various challenges on documentation methods and the utilization of intangible cultural properties. A report of this Lecture will be published, and also available online in the coming fiscal year.
Craftworks that were broken by the earthquake (provided by Suzu City)
Intensity of earthquake in the Noto Region, Ishikawa Prefecture, on June 19th, 2022, and damages to each workshop (created by combining the Suzu Ware map and Japan Real-time Information System for earthQuake)
Suzu Ware is a type of pottery produced in Suzu City and the east part of Noto Town (formerly Uchiura Town) from the mid-12th to late-15th century. It is characterized by a grayish black color produced in a reductional fire without applying glaze. Its reproduction project was started by Suzu City and its Chamber of Commerce in 1976, and Suzu Ware was designated as the Designated Traditional Crafts of Ishikawa Prefecture in 1989. Currently, around 50 of its potters are working individually or in workshops in Suzu City.
The earthquake in the Noto Region of Ishikawa Prefecture occurred on June 19th, 2022; damages to some of Suzu Ware workshops were confirmed. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center jointly conducted on-site investigations to grasp the extent of the damage and follow-up on September 6th and October 24th and 25th, 2022, respectively. These investigations were conducted in cooperation with the Industrial Promotion Section of Suzu City, Suzu Ware Museum, Suzu Pottery Workshop, and “Suzuyaki Soenkai,” the association of Suzu Ware potters.
The areas of Shoin, Choku, and Iida were most severely hit by the earthquake. The workshops in these areas suffered from the damage to their craftworks, and wood-fired kilns, which are mandatory for production. The day after the earthquake, the Industrial Promotion Section called each workshop and potter to examine the damages and requested photographs of them. Thereafter, mainly Mr. SHINOHARA Takashi, chairman of Suzuyaki Soenkai conducted detailed questionnaires on the damages. Based on the questionnaire outcomes, the Suzu City staff who oversaw this, visited the damaged workshops, and recorded the necessary information for recovery. Currently, the information has been compiled and the discussion of its application to the “Subsidy for Operational Cost to Support Reconstruction of Business that Suffered from Damages” by Ishikawa Prefecture for repair and reconstruction to some kilns is underway.
This case study highlights the importance of community “Soenkai” (meaning an association of creating fire) which connects potters horizontally, and significance of promptly understanding and recording the damages in such emergencies.
The Department and Center will continue the research on disaster risk management for craft techniques through various on-site investigations.
Mikoshi (portable shrine) tumbled dramatically
Ritual in front of the temporary shrine
On October 29th and 30th, 2022, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted a performing status survey of the Tsumori Shrine’s Ohoshi Festival (the Festival), which has been passed down in Mashiki Town, Kamimashiki County; Nishihara Village, Aso County; and Kikuyo Town, Kikuchi County, Kumamoto Prefecture.
The Festival is one of the rituals of the Tsumori Shrine located in Jichu, Mashiki Town, held every October 30th. A total of 12 areas across Mashiki Town, Nishihara Village and Kikuyo Town, in turn, build an “Okariya” (temporary shrine) in their own area and enshrine Ohoshi, a deity, in it for one year. This festival is famous for the activities of violently shaking and throwing in the air the mikoshi (portable shrine), which holds the deity in it, during the procession to the next area.
The two towns and one village that hold the festival were heavily damaged by the Kumamoto Earthquake that occurred in April 2016. The Tsumori Shrine, which plays a key role in this festival, also suffered extensive damage. Therefore, while this festival was conducted on a smaller scale in 2016, it was canceled consecutively in 2017 and 2018. The Sugido area of Mashiki Town was in charge this year. This area has not yet fully recovered from the damage caused by the earthquake. Some residents have only just moved back to their rebuilt houses from temporary housing.
At the departure ceremony of this year’s procession, the mayor of Mashiki Town and other related parties explained the recovery and reconstruction status and stated that the festival should be conducted in full scale on behalf of the areas that could not conduct it in the usual way. After the earthquake, people were hesitant to treat mikoshi roughly for some time. This year, people violently shook the shrine and walked around the areas as if people tried to regain the activities before the earthquake. Ohoshi was safely moved into the temporary shrine in the Uryusako area of Nishihara Village, which is in charge of the festival next year.
Intangible Folk Cultural Properties can be affected by natural disasters in unexpected ways because these are closely tied with local people’s lives. The recovery status of local life could affect the actual activities of the Ohoshi Festival. The Department continues to investigate how natural disasters may impact intangible folk cultural properties.
Common reed from the areas of Kanmaki and Udono, Nishino ko lake, and Watarase River (from the left)
Hishigi: flattening the reed using hishigi gote (flat irons)
Whittle the reed tip using a small knife over a kirosoku (Japanese traditional candle made of plant-derived oil)
Rozetsu made from the common reed from the areas of Kanmaki and Udono, Nishino ko, and Watarase River
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducts investigation and research of tools such as musical instruments associated with their parts, and costumes, and their raw materials essential for intangible cultural properties.
Rozetsu (reed) of hichiriki (Japanese traditional flute), a wind instrument used for gagaku (Japanese classical court music), is made from landward common reed (Phragmites australis), which grows in the riverbeds and near lakes. The common reed especially grown in the area of Kanmaki and Udono areas of the Yodo River riverbeds in Takatsuki City, Osaka Prefecture is considered the most suitable for rozetsu of hichiriki. However, the tick common reed suitable for rozetsu has decreased remarkably even in these areas due to various changes such as environmental changes that affect its habitat. The Department conducts investigations to identify the characteristics suitable for rozetsu by comparing the common reed of the Kanmaki and Udono areas, the Nishino ko lake (an inner lake of the Lake Biwa) and the Watarase Yusuichi (Watarase retarding basin) with the Center for Conservation Science. As a part of this investigation, we made rozetsu using reed from each area, recorded its making process with the support of, and interviewed Ms. NAKAMURA Hitomi, a hichiriki player. We measured each reed’s bore and outside diameter and plan to observe the cross-sections in detail and conduct further research on the characteristics and the suitability of each reed for rozetsu of hichiriki.
In the process of making rozetsu of hichiriki, there is a unique step called hishigi in which the reed is pinched with hishigi gote (flat irons) heated to a suitable temperature, and gently flattened. The shortage of high-quality hishigi gote is also reported. There may be challenges to sustainably obtaining a manufacturing tool (hishigi gote), not only a tool (rozetsu) and raw materials (common reed) mandatory for gagaku.
The Department is continuing comprehensive research of the current status, challenges, and solutions of techniques and materials mandatory for the succession of intangible cultural properties.
Measuring the surface temperature of the rock
Measuring the moisture penetration status above the rock
Measuring the surface temperature of the honden
The Center for Conservation Science conducts investigations for the conservation environment of wooden architecture built in rock caves.
The Natadera Temple in Komatsu City, Ishikawa Prefecture is a temple of the fusion of the Indigenous Hakusan Faith (the faith for Mt. Hakusan), and Buddhism. Its wooden honden (main shrine), which is an Important Cultural Property, was reconstructed in 1642 in a rock cave created via natural erosion. In recent years, aseismic reinforcing works have been installed. Since then, moisture condensation has often occurred during spring to summer time, which is problematic because it causes wood decay. Therefore, it is desirable to reduce the frequency of moisture condensation to conserve the shrine and its decoration in good condition.
To tackle this, the Center is conducting an environmental investigation to identify the occurrence factors of moisture condensation and to determine the appropriate countermeasures to reduce them. Rainwater, outer air, and heat capacity (ability to store heat) of the rocks affect the environment inside the cave. Therefore, the temperature and humidity in the cave, moisture penetration into the rocks, and surface temperature of the rock and the honden are being measured. We plan to pursue our investigation by continuous measurements of environmental data and analysis.
Moisture condensation causes many problems at many masonry constructions and stone chambers of burial mounds. In recent years in particular, the rise of temperature and absolute humidity in the summer season increases the condensation occurrence risk. There is an urgent need to tackle the global environmental challenges. However, for now, we suggest the achievable countermeasures in everyday management.
Participants at the opening ceremony
In recent years, the investigations of conservation and restoration for cultural properties have expanded their targets not only to traditional cultural properties but also to modern artifacts and documents made of various types of materials. The Restoration Materials Section of the Center for Conservation Science invites experts from overseas and conducts workshops to meet these needs. In 2022, we invited Mr. Remy Dreyfuss-Deseigne, an expert who conducts research and application of nanocellulose films for conservation and restoration, to conduct a three-day workshop beginning on October 5th, 2022. Nanocellulose films are a kind of cellulose made from natural materials, which are transparent and stable. Therefore, nanocellulose films can be applied to transparent materials such as tracing paper and photo film with which traditional conservation materials do not work well.
We received applications more than double the official capacity of 15 seats for this workshop from conservators. This indicated high expectations for the workshop. We accepted all applicants to the lectures for the morning sessions, but we needed to limit participants for the practical sessions in the afternoon. The workshop began with an inauguration ceremony, with opening remarks by SAITO Takamasa, Director General of TOBUNKEN, and then the lecturer, Mr. Dreyfuss-Deseigne was introduced. During the workshop, the lectures were held in the mornings and practical sessions in the afternoons. On the last day, a tour of TOBUNKEN was conducted to see TOBUNKEN equipment related to the workshop.
This workshop with a lecturer invited from overseas was held for the first time in 3 years since the last one. The “face-to-face workshop” encouraged participants to raise very active questions and discussions. Participants said that they could build mutual collaboration among the workshop members. We recognized again the significant impact of in-person workshop, which could not be achieved online. We believe that our workshop helped in the actual reconstruction of cultural properties and conservation of archives.
Cultural landscape of Katsushika-Shibamata
National District Liaison Council on Cultural Landscape at ex Kawajin restaurant building
Since 2018, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been holding the World Heritage Seminar (WHS), which aims to share international trends and information about cultural heritage protection, including UNESCO’s sites, within our country. In the fiscal year 2022, the seminar entitled Re-question on Landscape as Cultural Properties will focus on areal protection, which has become increasingly important in recent years. To understand the inclination for landscape protection in Japan, I participated in Practical Workshop on Cultural Landscape 2022 and National District Liaison Council on Cultural Landscape organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs from October 27th to 29th.
Both were held in Katsushika-Shibamata, the first district nominated as a cultural landscape situated in the metropolitan area of Japan. At the workshop, after two case-study lectures on charm publicity and tourism town planning related to cultural landscape, the participants, who were divided into groups, walked around the venue and investigated the issues of sharing cultural landscape information among the residents and visitors. They also presented solutions and discussed their ideas. At the council, after a keynote speech on the cultural landscape features of Shibamata and three case reports on the inheritance of river fish food culture, the speakers discussed the theme.
Both administrative institutions and inhabitants and other concerned parties who participate proactively play a key role in inheriting cultural landscape significance. The training meetings focused on techniques to utilize cultural landscapes as ‟living cultural assets” rooted in daily life. Clearly, such utilization can work only if it is combined with protection system and its instruments, like two wheels of a chariot. Keeping this in mind, WHS 2022 aims to clarify the legal grounds on which foreign world heritage sites with landscape values such as cultural landscapes and historic city centers are protected. Through the seminar, we hope to look into the future of ‟landscape” protection in Japan.
The Symposium 2022 Climate Change and Cultural Heritage -What’s Happening Now?- was hosted by the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (JCIC-Heritage), which the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) operates, commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. The symposium was held at Ichijo Hall, Yayoi Auditorium, in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Tokyo on October 23, 2022, and was co-hosted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan.
This Symposium aimed to explore the international collaboration possibilities for the brighter future of cultural heritage by considering climate change from the viewpoint of the historical relationship between climate change and human societies, sharing and discussing the challenges faced by tangible and intangible cultural heritage under ongoing climate change.
Chairperson of JCIC-Heritage, Dr. AOYAGI Masanori opened the Symposium and emphasized that the first step in tackling the coming challenges to strengthen the international collaboration and cooperation on cultural heritage protection under on-going climate change will be that more people correctly understand the relationship between climate change and the cultural heritage.
This was followed by three presentations on the relationship between climate change and cultural heritage from different viewpoints: Potential of Cultural Heritages as the Memory of Past Climate Adaptation Inferred from Paleoclimatology by Dr. NAKATSUKA Takeshi, professor, the Nagoya University Graduate School of Environmental Studies, The Futures of our Past: Cultural Heritage and the Climate Emergency by Dr. William Megarry, a Bureau Member of the ICOMOS Climate Action Working Group, and Climate Change and Traditional Knowledge: Case studies from Oceania by ISHIMURA Tomo, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The following panel discussion was conducted by Dr. SONODA Naoko, professor of the National Museum of Ethnology as a moderator, and four panelists including the three aforementioned presenters and TATEISHI Toru, Vice Director of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center. TATEISHI introduced activities and challenges for cultural property disaster risk management, using the Great East Japan Earthquake as a case study. Various opinions were then exchanged among the panelists and participants, including the impact climate change will bring to the activities of cultural heritage protection and the possibility that traditional knowledge forming such heritage can be the key to tackling climate change. KOHDZUMA Yohsei, Director of Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center made a closing address to confirm the importance to continue tackling these challenges by collecting the “knowledge” from a wide range of people.
Please visit the JCIC-Heritage website for further details. https://www.jcic-heritage.jp/2022-symposium-report20221118/ (Japanese only)
Discussion with Iraq online
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) and Japanese-Iraqi Institute for Archaeological Education of Mesopotamia (JIAEM) co-organized an international symposium titled Water and People of Mesopotamia and the Surrounding Area: A Hopeful Way of Looking to Our Sustainable Future with Water from Viewpoints of Archaeological and Historical Heritages in the Regions held on October 22nd, 2022. This symposium activity aims to foster a deeper understanding of the Mesopotamian archaeology and livelihood of Iraqi people and resume archaeological survey as well as international cooperation in the future as the second co-organized activity by both institutes.
The Tigris and Euphrates rivers that nurtured Mesopotamian civilization face the issue of water decrease influenced by dam construction by neighboring countries located upstream in addition to the impact of global climate change. We invited his excellency Abdul Kareem Kaab, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in Tokyo. He presented a keynote lecture about the relationship with both rivers and people from ancient times, as well as the current difficult situation in the surrounding area in Iraq. Subsequently, several presentations were made from the multiple viewpoints focusing on the keyword “water” including the Water Resource Management in Transboundary Rivers, Riverine Life, and Water Supply of Ancient Mesopotamia, how to make a traditional Iraqi boat, history and current situation in Bahrain given its abundant spring water. In the second half of the symposium, Iraqi scholars were joined online, and talked on the field study of utilizing water in Eridu and Umma, and the crisis regarding buffalo in south Iraq. We discussed how they would be able to cope with their lives along with changing river conditions by overviewing what kind of water resources management were handled there from the archaeological viewpoint.
Dealing with a wide range of issues from the ancient to the present in three different languages (Japanese, English, and Arabic) presented a valuable opportunity to discuss livelihoods of the local people, not only focusing on academic themes surrounding the keyword “water.” We hope new international cooperation issue will be recognized through such activity.
Plaster remaining in the stone sarcophagus
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) visited the Oichi No.1 Kofun (tumulus) in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture and investigated the conservation status of the plaster remaining in the stone sarcophagus, in cooperation with the Culture Development Section, Economic Environment Division of Fukuyama City, on October 20th, 2022. Plaster, a type of construction material used for tumulus construction, requires specific knowledge and techniques regarding all processes from manufacturing to application. Therefore, it is a precious archaeological material which shows how technology was transferred when those tumuli were constructed. Hence, regardless of the coloring and/or decorations on it, plaster conservation is considered important and implemented in many cases outside Japan. Though there are more than 40 tumuli where plaster usage is confirmed in Japan, they are not widely known like Takamatsuzuka and Kitora Tumuli. While most of these tumuli were designated as cultural properties, plaster conservation measures are rarely taken up; the plaster is left to erode due to weathering and flaking every day.
The Oichi No.1 Kofun keeps the highest percentage of plaster in Japan. We wonder why it is not designated as a cultural property. Furthermore, it does not just keep the plaster, but we can even identify plaster application traces, which were considered to be made when the plaster was applied during the tumulus construction in the area, where the conservation status is good enough. It can be a precious clue to identify the tools used during the construction. In this investigation we discussed sustainable measures for plaster conservation based on the confirmation of its conservation status and environment, by considering the sense of morality on the cultural property conservation and restoration including material adaptability and aesthetic appearance.
Utilization of the cultural properties is required now more than ever. It is time to revise the methods of passing down the cultural properties to future generations in the given situation. The plaster remaining in tumuli is one of these cultural properties. We will discuss further the appropriate measures for conservation and methods to maintain and manage it for its future utilization by revising the current situation where the plaster has been decaying and lost, while also referring to the similar advanced cases in and outside Japan.