|■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
Installing the reproduced fusuma in the main hall of Myōhōji Temple
Reproduced fusuma of Hanshan and Shide by Yosa Buson dedicated to the main hall of Myōhōji Temple
As detailed in the monthly report for August 2021 (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/919761.html), the painting Hanshan and Shide by Yosa Buson (housed in Myōhōji Temple, Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture) was damaged by scribblings made with marker on Shide’s face, and parts of Hanshan’s face were lacking; however, the appearance of the painting before the damage could be ascertained from monochrome photos taken by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) in 1959.
TOBUNKEN initiated a joint research project with Myōhōji Temple to create a reproduction of this painting before it was damaged using the aforementioned monochrome photos and contemporary imaging technology, mounted on fusuma (sliding doors), and dedicated it to Myōhōji Temple.
First, the outline of the monochrome photos was superimposed on high-resolution images of the current status of Hanshan and Shide to create a reproduced image of the painting before it was damaged. The image was then printed by splitting it on multiple sheets of washi (Japanese traditional paper) of the same size as the original. This part of the process was performed by TOBUNKEN.
Myōhōji Temple coordinated the mounting of the image on fusuma to accommodate it in the current main hall of the temple. The task of mounting the image on fusuma was carried out by SHUGO Co., Ltd, a studio member of the Association for Conservation of National Treasures (ACNT). The base of the fusuma was made using the same specification, techniques, and materials as those used for the designated cultural properties. The original metallic door pulls were also copied.
Mr. USUI Hiroaki of Kuroda Studio carefully conducted the final adjustment and fitting of the fusuma in the building. On November 22nd, 2022, the reproduced fusuma was successfully set inside the main hall.
The overwhelming effect created by the size and appearance of the fusuma after it was installed inside the main hall brought the brush touches of Yosa Buson and his pictorial universe to life. This is the first time TOBUNKEN has used old monochrome photos to create a reproduction of a painting. We hope that this project can serve as a reference for the future utilization of the vast volume of archives accumulated by TOBUNKEN over more than 90 years.
Buddha statues wear various clothes. These include Jōhaku (a scarf-like band of cloth), which Bodhisattva and Vidyaraja statues wear crossing their upper bodies; however, research on jōhaku itself is insufficient.
KUROSAKI Natsuo, Associate Fellow of the Department, conducted her presentation titled Bodhisattva Statues Wearing Jōhaku or Not: A Clue for Consideration of the Yakushi Triad Enshrined in the Kondo of the Yakushiji Temple on November 28th, 2022.
The Yakushi Triad (consisting of Yakushi Nyorai, the Healing Buddha, flanked by two attendants, the Bodhisattvas Nikko (Sūryaprabha) and Gakko (Candraprabha)) enshrined in the Kondo (Main Hall) of the Yakushiji Temple in Nara Prefecture is one of the objects representing Buddha statues of Japan. Despite this fact, there is a lack of consensus on where and when it was constructed: at the Yakushiji Temple of Fujiwara-kyō at the end of the 7th Century or newly molded in Heijō-kyō after the Yakushiji Temple was moved there at the beginning of the 8th Century.
The Bodhisattva images of the Buddhist Mural Paintings of the Kondo of the Horyuji Temple, the Hokeiji Stone Images of Buddha, and the others were constructed around a similar period of the Yakushi Triad and are depicted wearing jōhaku. However, the Bodhisattvas statues of the Yakushi Triad do not wear jōhaku. This fact deserves attention because such characteristics could be used to identify these statues’ construction background and time. In this presentation, I overviewed in terms of whether wearing jōhaku, the objects of Bodhisattva images of senbutsu (a Buddhist image carved on a clay surface via a middle-relief technique and then fired) made in Japan and China in the 7th Century and Bodhisattva images enshrined in grottoes in China. The upper bodies of the Bodhisattva images of senbutsu that are made in China are naked, which is recognized as Indian style. In contrast, the Bodhisattva images of senbutsu made in Japan during a similar age as the Yakushiji Triad wear jōhaku. The Bodhisattvas of the Yakushiji Triad have the older forms. The next challenge will be to deepen this consideration from the historical and ideological viewpoints on its background.
The seminar was held online so that some specialists outside of TOBUNKEN in Buddhist art history could also participate. In the following Q&A session, active discussions were held from various viewpoints, including jōhaku, Japanese Buddhist monks visiting the Tang Empire, the international situation in the latter 7th Century, and the relationship with other objects of the same age. This occasion revealed precious opinions that will further my research, and where we shared the significance of the issue of the Yakushiji Triad.
A part of the Collection
MAEDA Seison watching Joshishin (reprinted from BUNKA vol.246-247, October 1974)
The Maeda Seison’s Collection (referred to as the Collection) was donated to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) on October 11th, 2022. It comprises materials that were collected and owned by MAEDA Seison (1885-1997), a Japanese-style painter. It was donated by Ms. AKIYAMA Hideko, the third daughter of Seison, via her eldest son, Prof. AKIYAMA Terufumi (professor emeritus of Ochanomizu University, Director of Meguro Museum of Arts, Tokyo). TOBUNKEN gave a letter of gratitude to Ms. AKIYAMA on November 8th, 2022.
The Collection consists of the materials of 113 titles of 275 items: 109 titles of books (total of 270 books), three cassette tapes, and a set of two records. It includes texts on the ancient practices of arms including armors, printed books of the Edo era such as history books, art books of KŌNO Bairei, orihon* associated with the title piece of KAJITA Hanko’s Original Painting Draft, and collections of sketches of KOBAYASHI Kahaku and SAKAI Sanryō, who are his junior fellows from the Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Art Institute). They are indispensable materials for future studies on MAEDA Seison.
Further, the Collection includes cassette tapes of “Seison’s Reunion with Joshishin: the Admonitions of the Court Ladies (Copy)**.” This is a recording of the investigation on Joshishin painted by KOBAYASHI Kokei and Seisen held at Seison’s house in Kita-Kamakura, including an interview of Seison in 1974. This was arranged by Dr. AKIYAMA Terukazu, professor at the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Letters; researcher emeritus of TOBUNKEN; husband of Seison’s daughter; and father of Prof. AKIYAMA Terufumi. Dr. KAMEDA Tsutomu and Prof. HARADA Ryukichi of Tohoku University as well as Dr. TSUJI Nobuo, Ms. SEKI Chiyo, and Mr. KONO Motoaki of TOBUNKEN at that time participated in this investigation. Therefore, they are also precious as TOBUNKEN’s activity records. Considering its nature, the Collection is essential for the research of Seison and his artworks. Furthermore, it is useful for the current wider research of cultural properties as the materials show how the cultural property investigation was conducted at that time.
The MAEDA Seison’s Collection, donated in 2022, will be available at the TOBUNKEN Library. We plan to make the book materials of the Collection open to access through a joint operation with the Getty Research Institute, and digitize cassette tapes and records to enable long-term utilization for research. We hope that the Collection will contribute to research on MAEDA Seison, modern Japan-style paintings, and further, on cultural properties.
*orihon: a long strip of paper with writing on one side that is then compacted by folding in zig-zag fashion
**Joshishin: Admonitions of the Court Ladies (Copy): Reproduction painted by KOBAYASHI Kokei and MAEDA Seisen of the Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies housed in the British Museum. This is housed in the Tohoku University Museum.
The leaflet of the seminar
Lecture by EMURA Tomoko
Lecture by YOSHIDA Akiko
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held the 56th Public Lecture: Look at Form, Read Form on November 8th, 2022. This series of public lectures is organized every autumn for the public, and research outcomes are presented. The event used to take place for two days with invited presenters outside TOBUNKEN. However, it has held for one day with two internal presenters and a limited audience (50 individuals) pre-selected by the rotary due to the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020. The venue was TOBUNKEN’s seminar room, and the meeting room was prepared for the internal audience as a satellite venue.
The lecture this year included two presentations: A Look of Amusement Pictures Featuring Amusements (Sooji Temple Folding Screen) Housed in the Tokugawa Art Museum by EMURA Tomoko, the director of the department; and The Still Life Paintings by KISHIDA Ryusei—Thematization of “Look,” by YOSHIDA Akiko, Researcher.
EMURA featured Amusements (Sooji Temple Folding Screen), known as a representative of early modern genre pictures, and introduced its detailed depiction using high-resolution images. She then described the characteristics of the depicted designs and architecture, as well as the detailed painting expressions, such as overpainting, associated with it. YOSHIDA examined the process of painting over the completed painting in terms of how it was made and what critiques it provoked, as well as the relationship between its characteristics of depiction and KISHIDA’s painting theory using Still Life (with Hand that has been erased) by KISHIDA Ryusei during the Taisho era based on novel images obtained through optical investigations.
We received a positive reaction from the audience: 80% of the feedback questionnaire responses were “satisfied” or “relatively satisfied.”
Jiuta sangen (right: Mr. OKAMOTO Shintaro; left: Ms. OKAMURA Ai)
Roundtable discussion (from right: Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi, Mr. NUNOME Aito, Mr. EZOE Junichiro, and Mr. NAKAMINE Miki)
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held Forum 4: Traditional Performing Arts amid COVID-19 Pandemic: Dissemination and Succession for the Future on November 25th, 2022.
First, ISHIMURA Tomo, MAEHARA Megumi, and KAMATA Sayumi of the department presented international case studies regarding traditional performing arts and education, the current status of traditional performing arts amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and last year’s progress in Japan.
Following three presentations, Mr. SAKURAI Hiroshi (from Independent Administrative Agency, Japan Arts Council), Mr. NUNOME Aito (from Public Interest Incorporated Association, Geidankyo, Japan Council of Performers Rights and Performing Arts Organization), Mr. EZOE Junichiro (from Toppan Inc., Secretariat of Dissemination and Empowerment for Hogaku of the Agency for Cultural Affairs), and Mr. NAKAMINE Miki (from Association of Okinawa Sanshin Manufacturing) reported their respective case studies, in which they tackled the topic of dissemination and succession of traditional performing arts from different positions and frameworks. Between case reports, Mr. OKAMURA Shintaro and Ms. OKAMURA Ai—who teach Japanese traditional music to the schools selected for the Dissemination and Empowerment of Hogaku, by the Agency for Cultural Affairs—performed jiuta sangen, a type of Japanese traditional music played on the shamisen, Kurokami (black hair), and Hashizukushi (bridges).
The roundtable discussion was held by four case study reporters, in addition to ISHIMURA and MAEHARA. Through this roundtable discussion, we shared the dissemination and transmission of traditional performing arts from different positions. Moreover, it revealed that the challenges of increasing demand were inherent even before the pandemic, and that it became increasingly apparent during COVID-19. Furthermore, based on the common understanding that dissemination is the basic foundation for the succession of traditional performing arts, we recommended the following steps to seamlessly disseminate traditional performing arts: meet the needs of various ages from various positions and by various frameworks; and grasp a variety of demands by sharing this information among the people who work on the dissemination and succession of traditional performing arts.
This forum was held with limited seats to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The recorded video is now available for free on the TOBUNKEN webpage （https://www.tobunken.go.jp/ich/vscovid19/forum_4/） in Japanese till March 31st, 2023. We plan to publish a report and make it available on our website by the end of this fiscal year.
Since 2012, the International Course on Paper Conservation in Latin America: Meeting East has been jointly organized by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and Coordinacion Nacional de Conservacion del Patrimonio Cultural – Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (CNCPC-INAH) at CNCPC in Mexico City. This year, the in-person teaching course returned after two years of cancellation. A total of nine conservation specialists from eight countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and Uruguay) participated in the course held from November 9th to 22nd 2022.
The course sought to provide attendees with basic knowledge and techniques regarding traditional paper conservation in Japan. Japanese specialists were in charge of the first part of the course (November 9th to 14th). They presented lectures on the protection system of traditional techniques, tools and materials used in restoration, and Restoration Techniques for Mounts, which is one of the Selected Conservation Techniques in Japan. Methods useful for various situations were taught by working on linings with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste. In the latter half of the course (November 16th to 22nd), experts from Mexico and Spain gave lectures. They spoke about how to select materials and apply their techniques to Western paper cultural properties.
We would like to express our gratitude to the participants for their cooperation in preventing the spread of coronavirus throughout the course. We hope that the knowledge and techniques the attendees acquired will be applied to the conservation and restoration of cultural property overseas.
Arial view of Korphu village (from the west)
MoU signing ceremony (left: Director of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, TOBUNKEN, TOMODA Masahiko; right: Director-General of the DoC, Nagtsho Dorji)
From the scientific research aspect, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) provides technical support for the value evaluation and enhancement of heritage buildings to the Department of Culture (DoC), the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan, which aims to expand the scope of heritage conservation to all historic buildings, including traditional houses. While we have been forced to implement cooperation projects online since January 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, TOBUNKEN agreed with the DoC to resume joint surveys in Bhutan, following the significant easing of travel restrictions in Japan and Bhutan from July and September onward, respectively. From November 5th–15th, 2022, TOBUNKEN dispatched four staff experts, including an expert from the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
The mission targeted the traditional masonry houses found in the eastern part of Bhutan. The purpose was to recognize and analyze the fundamental features of settlements and buildings in the region as the preliminary stage of the comprehensive scientific survey, which will serve as the basis for appropriate heritage conservation and development. Effective survey strategies were also examined in the mission. The on-site survey covered Trongsa Dzongkhag, Bumthang Dzongkhag, and the surrounding area, located in the central-eastern part of the country, which is relatively easy to access from the capital city of Thimphu. Measurements, photogrammetry, and interviews with locals were conducted in villages and houses preselected by the Division of Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) of the DoC, based on the governmental archive and information provided by Dzongkhags. We found that the region had its own distinctive village forms. For instance, Trong and Korphu, located in the rugged mountainous area in the southern part of Trongsa Dzongkhag, are particularly unique as their houses are built in rows along a ridge, giving them merchant town-like appearance despite them being farming villages. In addition, while almost all houses in Trong are masonry structures, those in Korphu are both masonry and rammed earth structures, and rammed earth structures retain their older form. In other houses we surveyed, some were originally built in rammed earth, and later expanded or modified in stone. This suggests that, at least in the region surveyed this time, the structural manner of traditional houses shifted from rammed earth to masonry. We also found some masonry houses that have a very complex series of expansion and modification, and there is a possibility that the frequency of modification is generally higher in masonry structures than that in rammed-earth structures. Regarding the survey method, photogrammetry proved to be efficient and very useful in recording the masonry house, which shows random and complex patterns with natural stones and has many distortions in its shape.
After the on-site survey, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the cooperation in the conservation of architectural heritage was signed at the DoC headquarters, Thimphu, and a meeting was organized with the DCHS to discuss the results of the survey, as well as the prospects and needs of the Bhutanese counterparts. In the future, we expect to develop more on-site surveys and research activities targeting masonry houses in eastern Bhutan in close collaboration with the DCHS.
Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo Kote-e Kura
Flaking and chipping
Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo Kote-e Kura in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture was completed in 1926 by the plasterer KAWAKAMI Ikichi. The artwork was commissioned by YOSHIZAWA Nitarō, the founder of Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo (i.e., Kina Saffron Winery). The kote-e* (plaster reliefs) are mainly positioned around eaves and doors of the warehouse structured of lumber and with mud wall. The kote-e reliefs are three-dimensional representations of Daikokuten (Japanese deity of fortune and wealth) and animals and plants, and were created with the impasto technique mainly using plaster. The use of red and blue colors in the reliefs creates a contrast that enhances the three-dimensional visual effect.
Although these kote-e are placed in a harsh environment with exposure to rainfall and wind, they have remained in a relatively good condition considering that they were created almost 100 years ago. This can be attributed to the efforts made by people to protect the artwork and hand down it to generations as well as to the characteristics of the plaster and the ingenious plastering techniques.
Nonetheless, some damage such as flaking and chipping of plaster and color can be seen in every kote-e on careful observation. Hence, responding to the request by Nagaoka City, the owner of the warehouse, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) visited the site on November 11th, 2022 and conducted sampling investigation of color and plaster as a part of pre-investigation for conservation and restoration, which has been deemed necessary for the near future. Sampling investigation is conducted by extracting small samples from the target materials; this practice is also described as “destructive investigation.” Although the word “destructive” may indicate something “bad,” it is not so. Sampling investigation enables us to obtain reliable information that cannot be obtained by simply checking the surface. Therefore, destructive investigation, in fact, enables safer and superior conservation and restoration.
We will effectively utilize the outcome analysis of this investigation for planning the conservation and restoration project so that the Kote-e Kura, which has been maintained by prior generations, can be passed down to future generations and it remains well-preserved for at least another 100 years.
*Kote-e: colorful Japanese plaster reliefs created using a trowel