|■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
The 17th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties: Food Cultures as Cultural Property – New Expansion of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was held on February 1st, 2023. Approximately 90 people from within and outside of TOBUNKEN participated, which was limited to participants in charge of public administration roles due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Those who have been working on food culture safeguarding presented their projects and discussed from their various standpoints.
Food cultures have been gaining increasing interest among a wider society year by year since “Washoku, traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese, notably for the celebration of New Year” was inscribed on the UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. However, measures to safeguard “Food Cultures as Cultural Property” have just started, triggered by the amendments of the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties in 2021. Therefore, more discussion needs to be accumulated on how its targets should be set and how they should be safeguarded (protection and utilization). Hence, this conference aimed to share various challenges around “Food Cultures as Cultural Property” and to discuss its potential.
Food has huge diversity and transformation by ages, regions, and households because every single person is a practitioner and bearer of food. This fact enhances its charm, and at the same time brings difficulties in identifying the representative types and protection targets as cultural property. In addition, selling local food could activate regional societies, thus, it provides positive aspects of good effects on “utilization.” On the other hand, another challenge is balancing between utilization and protection, for example, how to evaluate the potential changes and transformations happening through its commercialization and distribution. Furthermore, various related parties, including related ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan, and private sectors and corporations, have already been engaged in various promotional activities of food cultures. Therefore, how to collaborate with these on-going promotional activities and what values we should add as the administration of cultural property is an important challenge.
In the general discussion, various opinions and viewpoints on these unique challenges to food cultures were presented; for example, the importance of food education for children, the necessity of protecting not only making and cooking activities but also eating activities, food materials and tools, and the balancing functions between commercially treated food and food at home. A new viewpoint was presented. That is, newly engaging in protection and promotion of food cultures as cultural property can add significant value and is indispensable roles to target the food cultures reflecting the regional lives and histories and to protect them, not just from the viewpoints of “marketable” or “Instagrammable” food.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage keeps a close watch on the movement related to food cultures. This conference was compiled as a report at the end of March 2023 and is available on the department website.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been recording live performances of Heike or Heike Biwa. However, this tradition faces the crisis of not being inherited by the next generation because of the recent absence of sufficient successors. This series of recordings has been conducted with the cooperation of the Heike Narrative Research Society, led by Prof. KOMODA Haruko, Musashino Academia Musicae, and other members of the society, including Mr. KIKUO Yuji, Mr. TANAKA Naoichi, and Mr. HIYOSHI Shogo since 2018. The fifth recording session of the performance of Nasu no Yoichi and Ujigawa (Uji River) was held in the TOBUNKEN Performing Arts Studio on February 3rd, 2023.
Nasu no Yoichi is famous for the episode where Nasu no Yoichi shot down the targeted fan with his arrow, and he was praised and credited by Minamoto no Yoritomo. This scene has also been repeatedly painted. Therefore, working with the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties (CPCP) of the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage, which promotes the utilization of high-resolution reproduction of cultural properties, we recorded live performance that was set with the high-resolution reproduction folding screen of the Battles of Ichi-no-tani and Yashima, from the Tale of the Heike behind the player. This was our first trial. The Ujigawa episode has the theme of a majestic fight for the vanguard in front of the Uji River between Sasaki Takatsuna and Kajiwara Kagesue. We recorded the performance of Nasu no Yoichi. The first part and the last parts were performed by Mr. KIKUO and Mr. HIYOSHI, respectively, while Ujigawa was performed by Mr. TANAKA.
Heike started as a traditional performing art at the beginning and was transformed into the Tale of the Heike as literature and further developed into other genres, including paintings. We intend to explore new ways to spread awareness about Heike as an art form that has been represented in various cultural mediums presenting the same theme.
Mr. KIKUO Yuji playing Nasu no Yoichi, performing in front of the high-resolution reproduction folding screen of the Battles of Ichi-no-tani and Yashima, from the Tale of the Heike
Enlarged image of a part of the high-resolution reproduction folding screen
Investigation of " Hayate"
The air quality Investigation
Filming of the former Chiran Airport water tower
Investigation of the former Aoto Airfield pillbox
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) worked with Minamikyushu City for “memorandum concerning the conservation and restoration of cultural properties designated by Minamiyusyu City”, and recently started joint research in July, 2022.
The following surveys and investigation were conducted in Minamikyushu City in February, 2023.
Investigation and advice on preservation and restoration of the former Japanese Army Type 4 fighter “Hayate”
The “Hayate” (designated cultural property of Minamikyushu City), which is stored and exhibited at the Chiran Peace Museum, was captured by the US military in the Philippines during the Asia-Pacific War and is the only surviving aircraft.
After a test flight by the US military, it was sold and passed through multiple owners before it was returned to Japan in 1973. When the town of Chiran (now Minamikyusyu City) was established in 1995, the aircraft was transported there and has been on display at the Chiran Peace Museum since 1997.
Since 2017, Minamikyushu City has been conducting a conservation survey, and TOBUNKEN has participated in the survey from 2018. Our findings suggest that overall, the fuselage is in good condition, but some parts have worn out or been replaced because of the post-war test and demonstration flights. We will continue to check the status of the remaining original parts and consider the restoration policies. In this investigation, we mainly targeted the engine, checked the original parts, and the condition inside the engine and oil tank, among other things. Some parts removed from the aircraft were entrusted to TOBUNKEN for cleaning and component analyses.
The research was conducted in the exhibition room. Since the exhibition room was not closed during the research period; visitors were able to observe it at that time. Additionally, a report on the state of preservation was published in March, 2022.
Air quality investigation of exhibition rooms and storage in the Chiran Peace Museum
In this study, we conducted an air quality investigation (inspection of organic acids, aldehydes, and volatile organic compounds [VOC]) in the exhibition room and storage room along with a survey of ” Hayate.” In the future, we plan to consider a more stable exhibition and storage environment based on the results of this investigation.
Records of the current state of concrete structures during the Asia-Pacific War in Minamikyushu City
Minamikyushu City has there are cultural assets related to numerous wars and the former Chiran Airfield. They have remained in the city since the Asia-Pacific War period. Many of them are concrete structures, but nearly 80 years have passed since the end of the war, and they are deteriorating and falling debris. In this study, we recorded the current situation by obtaining actual measurements and photogrammetry (three-dimensional models were created from multiple photographs) of the former Chiran Airfield water tower (a city-designated cultural property) and two pillboxes (defensive positions) of the former Aoto Airfield as concrete structures in the city during the relevant period. In the future, we will analyze the progress of deterioration based on regular records and consider measuring concrete strength.
Courtesy visit to Rector Calcagnini
Italy is home to numerous cultural heritage sites and has been at the forefront of the conservation and restoration efforts undertaken to maintain these sites. The Department of Pure and Applied Sciences of the University of Urbino Carlo Bo is one the educational institutions in Italy that has made many contributions in the field of conservation science.
Recently, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties concluded an agreement with this department to enter into research cooperation for the conservation and restoration of cultural heritages. The content of the agreement is comprehensive, targeting cultural properties around the world. The agreement aims to foster cooperation in scientific investigation and in development of techniques and materials for the formulation of conservation and restoration plans. Furthermore, a mutual exchange of researchers through events such as workshops is envisioned.
On February 17, 2023, I visited the University and exchanged opinions with Rector Giorgio Calcagnini regarding the future cooperation.
Also, under the guidance of Prof. Maria Letizia Amadori, Department of Pure and Applied Sciences, I toured the university facilities and had the pleasure of learning about an analytical study on cultural heritage preservation that is currently being undertaken.
In the future, through research cooperation that utilizes the expertise of both institutions, we hope to go beyond simply collecting analytical data, and develop activities that will lead to concrete preservation of cultural heritages.
Damaged cultural properties in the collection
First aid treatment
Since 2017, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been carrying out a cooperative project to improve the conservation management system for cultural properties in the Republic of Turkey. On February 6, 2023, an earthquake centered in southeastern Turkey occurred, causing extensive damage mainly in Turkey and the Syrian Arab Republic, and affecting the state of preservation of cultural heritage. Obviously, for the time being, humanitarian aid should be prioritized. However, in the near future, it is anticipated that international support will also be needed for conservation and restoration of cultural properties.
Meanwhile, Central Italy suffered a series of major earthquakes in 1997, 2009, and 2016, and recovery efforts for damaged cultural heritage are still ongoing. The investigation was conducted from February 13 to 16, 2023, in the regions of Marche and Umbria, with the aim of learning how to respond to possible future contingencies, as well as to consider future support for Turkey and Syria, which have similar cultural heritages. Located in the city of Spoleto, the Sainte Quiord Art Collection was built following the 1997 earthquake as a shelter for cultural properties in the event of a natural disaster and as a place to provide first aid.
The facility still houses approximately 7000 pieces of damaged cultural properties, and emergency measures are being taken by nationally certified conservators.
Through repeated experience, Italy has developed an organizational structure and procedures for rescue operations immediately after a disaster and for subsequent handling of the situation. There are many things to be learned from countries that continue to make advanced efforts in disaster recovery and reconstruction activities related to cultural properties. We would like to continue our research and use the learnings in our future activities.
Flyer for the 32nd Research Meeting
The 32nd Research Meeting
The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is entrusted with the administration of the secretariat by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan) held its 32nd seminar, “Past and Future of International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage in Central Europe” via webinar on January 28, 2023.
In considering the severe damage that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had on international cooperation for cultural heritage, it is necessary to know the region’s geographical and cultural characteristics, and to give due consideration to its historical background. From this perspective, the program’s purpose was to learn about Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European, including Ukraine, and to review Japan’s international cooperation activities related to cultural heritage in the region while considering how future cooperation should be conducted.
Mr. SHINOHARA Taku (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies) presented “The Historical World of Central Europe,” MAEDA Koki (Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage) presented “International Assistance to Central Europe and Japan’s International Cooperation,” Ms. SHIMADA Sachi (Jissen Women’s University) presented “Cultural Heritage Protection and International Cooperation in Serbia,” and Mr. MIYAKE Riichi (Tokyo University of Science) presented a report titled “Historical and Cultural Heritage in Romania and its Protection’.
Following these lectures, Mr. KINBARA Yasuo (Chairman of the European Subcommittee, Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage/ Tokai University) as a moderator and the speakers actively discussed the importance of international cooperation based on mutual understanding and the need for developing local human resource and building organizational structure to link to sustainable cultural heritage protection. The need for developing local human resource development, building organizational structure, and supporting sustainable cultural heritage protection was pointed out, and active opinions were exchanged. For details on the seminar, please see the consortium’s webpage below.
Research at the Bahrain National Museum
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been cooperating with the excavation survey and maintenance of historical sites in the tombs of Bahrain for many years. When we visited the site in July 2022 and met Salman Al Mahari, Director of the Bahrain National Museum, he asked us to help protect the historical Islamic tombstones that remained in the mosques and cemeteries. Currently, approximately 150 historical Islamic tombstones remain in the country, but they are deteriorating due to salt damage and other factors.
In response to this request, as the first step of new cooperative activities, 3D measurements were taken of tombstones in the Bahrain National Museum’ collection and Al-Khamis Mosque from February 11 to 16, 2023. Structure-from-Motion/Multi-View-Stereo (SfM-MVS), a technology that creates 3D models from photographs, was used for photogrammetry to complete measurements of 20 units in the Bahrain National Museum and 27 units in the Al-Khamis Mosque’s collections. Tombstones made of limestone are highly compatible with photogrammetry, and from the 3D models created, the inscriptions on the tombstones can be seen much more clearly than from photographs or with the naked eye. These models will be made publicly available on a platform that can be accessed widely both domestically and internationally and will be used as a database for tombstones in the future.
In the following fiscal year and beyond, we plan to further expand the scope of our 3D measurement work to other cemeteries in Bahrain.