|■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
X-ray film database screen (Digital images can only be viewed in the reference room.)
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) was one of the first in Japan to research and investigate cultural properties using scientific methods. In the 1950s, we began photographing cultural properties using X-rays and have accumulated a vast number of X-ray films over many years of experience. Some have already been published as ” List of X-ray film, ” available in PDF in the ” Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Institutional Repositories – Publications “.
However, TOBUNKEN has many X-ray films in addition to this catalog, and we have made this list available on our website as the “X-ray Film Database,” and digital images are also available in our library.
The approximately 4,150 films released recently include many works, such as Buddhist sculptures, Buddhist paintings, crafts, and modern Western-style paintings, These are valuable images that contribute to research. We will continue to add data as needed; please use it.
Since 2021, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties（TOBUNKEN）, in collaboration with Myohoji Temple in Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture, has been researching the restoration of damaged portions of “Hanshan and Shide” by Yosa Buson by combining black and white film taken by TOBUNKEN in 1959 and modern image formation technology. It is an Important Cultural Property owed by Myōhōji Temple.(Refer to the August 2021 Activity Report)
As a result of this research, the restored sliding doors were dedicated in the main hall of Myohoji Temple in November 2022. (Refer to the November 2022 Activity Report)
The report focuses on the results of the production and dedication of these restored sliding doors and presents the history and findings of the two previous restorations of Buson’s works at Myohoji Temple. The possibilities of utilizing the photographic materials and archives that TOBUNKEN has accumulated over the years are published as a joint research report that includes a wealth of images.
The report includes two essays, “In Search of the Lost Collection of Hanshan and Shide: Miracle of the Cultural Properties Archive” (by EMURA Tomoko, Director of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) and “Reconsidering Hanshan and Shide by Yosa Buson from the collection of Myohoji Temple” (by YASUNAGA Takuyo, Head of the Department’s Trans-Disciplinary Research Section), along with 1) a color image, 2) a near-infrared ray image, 3) a 4 x 5 inch black and white negative photo image taken in 1959, and 4) a restored image compiled using image forming technology.
In addition, color and near-infrared ray images of “Cycad” and “Landscapes (4 pieces),” and color images of “Bamboo” and “Jurō (God of longevity)” are included, and each piece is accompanied by detailed explanations, covering all of Buson’s works in Myohoji Temple.
Buson’s works at the temple are all designated as Important Cultural Properties. They represent standards of the period during which Buson stayed in Kagawa Prefecture. However, images of Buson’s works at Myohoji Temple have never been published in detail. Moreover, this report, and the restored sliding doors dedicated to the temple, are essential for future Buson research.
The report has been donated to major museums, art museums, libraries, and universities throughout Japan. Therefore, those interested in reading can access it in their local libraries.
Web Contents " KURODA MEMORIAL HALL: KURODA Seiki Oil Painting Optical Survey" Top Page
"Lakeside" color photograph
"Lakeside" color photo (left) and near-infrared photo (right)
KURODA Seiki (1866–1924) left a significant mark on the history of modern Western-style painting in Japan as a painter and educator. The Japan Art Academy–affiliated Institute of Art Research was established as an institution to conduct research on art as part of KURODA’s will. The Institute’s successor, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has, to this day, as one of its activities, conducted research on KURODA’s paintings and his activities.
From October to December 2021, as part of its research on KURODA Seiki, TOBUNKEN conducted an optical survey of 148 oil paintings by KURODA that are housed in the KURODA MEMORIAL HALL. In the optical survey, color photographs were taken to record colors, shapes, and textures at high resolution; near-infrared photographs to record differences in the reflection and absorption of near-infrared rays; and fluorescence photographs to record the fluorescence emitted by a material when irradiated with light of a specific wavelength on a screen to obtain information that cannot be read by the naked eye. In addition, X-ray fluorescence analysis was conducted on KURODA ‘s representative works such as “Lakeside,” “Maiko,” “Reading,” and “Wisdom, Impression and Sentiment,” as well as on the palette used by KURODA, to determine the elements contained in the painting materials. These photographs and the results of the analysis were published as the web content “KURODA MEMORIAL HALL: KURODA Seiki Oil Painting Optical Survey” on March 31, 2023.
In “Lakeside,” for example, the artist drew every hair on the model’s eyebrows, used uneven white paint to express the stripes on the clothing, and changed the size of the fan held by the model several times based on the lines of the rough sketch. Currently, the above four works and color photographs of all 148 oil paintings in the KURODA MEMORIAL HALL collection are available on the web for your viewing and research.
the 9th Seminar
As in Japan during the Meiji era, Thailand in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had foreign experts in various fields working for government agencies, some of them Japanese.
One such artist was MIKI Sakae (1884–1966), a graduate of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (presently Tokyo University of the Arts), Department of Lacquer Technology, who went to Thailand in 1911 to work for the Imperial Household Agency’s Technical Affairs Bureau (the predecessor to the current Art Bureau of the Ministry of Culture). Thereafter, he served as a teacher and principal of a national art school and was active in the field of lacquer work until 1947, when he returned to Japan. At the 9th seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on March 2, 2023, FUTAGAMI Yoko (Head, Cultural Properties Information Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) gave a presentation titled Lacquer Work Expert MIKI Sakae’s Activities in Thailand –- Focusing on Materials from the Same Period –.
Because of the above background, MIKI Sakae is often featured in the field of prewar Japanese – Thailand exchange. However, most references to his activities in Thailand were limited to large-scale projects, such as the production of the throne for the coronation of King Rama VI, which he was involved in immediately after his trip to Thailand, as well as palace repairs, and did not go into the details of his daily work. Therefore, we used mainly the recent status reports MIKI contributed to in the alumni magazine Monthly Bulletin of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts Alumni Association to decipher the work he was involved in on a daily basis.
From an article in Monthly Bulletin of the Alumni Association we learned that, in 1917, MIKI had decorated the king’s daily articles with gold or silver lacquer and employed other Japanese techniques, using an abundance of materials imported from Japan. On the other hand, it also shows that, during the same period, materials and techniques were modified to suit the objects to be decorated and the climate of Thailand. MIKI was accepted in Thailand because of his Japanese lacquer craft skills and flexible application as well as his serious attitude toward his work which, due in part to personnel cutbacks caused by administrative reforms, led him to take on important work, including supervision of large-scale construction projects. This presentation is an interim report on MIKI Sakae’s activities in Thailand and will be further discussed and compiled into a report.
Lacquer door of Wat Rajapradit
Wat Rajapradit (built in 1864), a first-class royal temple located in the old city of Bangkok, Thailand, uses lacquered doors made in Japan for its worship hall. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) conducts research on those door components and provides technical support for their restoration. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the start of activities related to the repair of the door components of Wat Rajapradit, and a seminar entitled “Rajapradit Pisitsilp” (meaning “The Wonderful Art of Rajapradit” in Thailand) was held at the temple on March 20, 2023.
The seminar included a round table discussion on the background to the restoration project and one on technical matters and the restoration process.
In addition to experts from the Department of Fine Arts, Thailand Ministry of Culture, which is implementing the restoration project, and a monk from Wat Rajapradit, Japanese participants included FUTAGAMI Yoko (TOBUNKEN) for the former discussion and Mr. YAMASHITA Yoshihiko (lacquer art conservation researcher and expert) for the latter.
On the same day, a ceremony was held to attach several repaired door components to the door frame of the worship hall. There was also a tea ceremony and Japanese food stalls on the temple grounds, a dance performance by a dancer wearing traditional Thailand costume and Japanese kimono, and cosplayers dressed as Touken-ranbu* characters, providing an opportunity to deepen familiarity with Japan. Due to the spread of COVID-19, our research and study in Thailand was suspended for three years, but we would like to once again deepen our research and research exchange regarding cultural properties.
* video game with a Japanese sword motif
Application form for membership in the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai, 1952.
FINGER PAINTING by Ruth Faison Shaw, edited by MIYATAKE Tatsuo; 1968 edition on the left, 1955 edition on the right (Cover art by EI-Q)
SHIMAZAKI Kiyomi (1923–2015) was an art educator who served for many years as the head office secretary of the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai, which had a profound influence on postwar Japanese art education. SHIMAZAKI left behind a vast amount of materials related to the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai, some of which were donated to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) by his bereaved family.
The materials of SHIMAZAKI Kiyomi have been researched and studied by Ms.NAKAMURA Maki, part-time employee, Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History and temporary staff, Tokyo Keizai University Historical Data Office, and were presented at the seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems in 2021. The report is available at the following URL:
Activities and Archives of the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai: the 5th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems :: 東文研アーカイブデータベース (tobunken.go.jp)
Ms. NAKAMURA also catalogued the donated materials and contributed an article titled “Art Education in Post-war Japan as Seen in the Activity Records of the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai” to The Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies) No. 439 (March 2023), which includes an introduction. As described in this article, the donated materials include pamphlets, journals, letters to SHIMAZAKI Kiyomi, schedule books, and diaries published by the Sōzō Biiku Kyōkai, which reveal the activities of the Society as well as its interactions with artists and critics such as EI-Q and KUBO Sadajirō. We will take some time for sorting before the exhibition is open to the public, but we hope you will find it a valuable resource for research on the history of Japanese art education and art history in the postwar period.
On March 7, 2023, the symposium of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan entitled “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Disaster Prevention-Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Based on the Experience of the Disaster” was held at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN). The event was co-sponsored by TOBUNKEN and implemented as a project of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan.
The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 has brought attention to the important role that intangible cultural heritage plays in the recovery process and the need for protecting it from disasters. While the unprecedented disaster certainly caused much damage to intangible cultural heritage, it also served as a reminder of the value such heritage brings to local communities.
This symposium was planned to showcase the work done by the National Institute for Cultural Heritage, present examples of damage caused by disasters, and discuss ways of working together with everyone who is involved in caring for intangible cultural heritage throughout Japan. The symposium was attended by 87 people, including government officials, researchers from universities and specialized institutions, and community members who carry on intangible cultural heritage.
In the morning, TOBUNKEN described the work done by them in the past, and the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan presented research results related to disaster prevention of intangible cultural heritage. In the afternoon, reports were shared by local government officials, leaders, and researchers on three examples of folk events affected by recent disasters “Tokakuji no matsue” (Tokakuji area of Kanda Town, Fukuoka Prefecture), “Ogatsu Houinkagura” (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture), and “Hikiyama Parades of Nagahama Hikiyama Festival” (Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture), focusing on disaster response and the process of resuming the events. In the final general discussion, based on the reports, presentations, and discussions of the day, five experts who have been actively involved in this subject at the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan gave a summary.
The presenters also provided an opportunity for active discussion and sharing of ideas on specific methods of disaster prevention and mitigation in the future. The Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan and TOBUNKEN will continue to further develop the discussions at the symposium and work to propose concrete measures in cooperation with both institutions.
Lid in place (east wall)
The Kitora Tumulus Mural is a national treasure that depicts the four deities, the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac with beast heads and human bodies, and astronomical images. It has been repaired after it was removed from the inside of the tomb, and is now stored with the mural face up at the Kitora Kofun Mural Conservation and Management Facility in the “Hall of Four Deities” located in Asuka Village, Takaichi County, Nara Prefecture. Until now, dust has been prevented from entering the storage room using a dust remover in the front room. However, the visible dust on the wall painting that was brought into the room and could not be removed has been an issue for many years. As there is risk of damaging the mural when removing dust, the installation of a lid to prevent the accumulation of dust on the mural was considered. The Agency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and the Association for Conservation of National Treasures (ACNT) have discussed the elements required for the lid, which does not adversely affect the mural, is easy to handle, allows the mural to be seen with the lid in place, and made of a material that does not attract dust. At the Kuroda workshop (Representative: Mr. USUI Hiroaki), a manufacturer of traditional fittings, whose technique is designated by the government as one of the Selected Conservation Techniques, a wooden frame covered with a transparent antistatic sheet was made as a prototype lid. Because it was confirmed in FY2021 that there is no difference in temperature and humidity inside and outside the lid, the possibility of adverse effects on the mural is extremely low. Thus, the finished product, with improvements in terms of strength, was delivered on March 24, 2023, and the lid was installed on the Kitora Tumulus Mural. We plan to confirm the effectiveness of the installation of the lid and discuss with the relevant parties how to handle the lid during mural inspections, public openings, and inspections.
Confirmation of paint stain removal status
Confirmation of surface using microscope
3D model obtained by SfM-MVS
Unlike ancient cultural heritage items created using traditional materials and techniques, many modern cultural heritage items were created using relatively new technologies brought to Japan after the Meiji period (1868-1912). Furthermore, modern industrial products created for mass production and mass consumption are generally difficult to preserve over the long term. One of the research themes of our laboratory is how to preserve cultural heritage from such a relatively recent era for the future.
In March 2023, we conducted a survey of aircraft components from the 1910s stored and displayed at the Matsuiya Sake Brewery Museum (松井屋酒造 Tomika-cho, Gifu Prefecture). The survey aimed to collect information about the appropriate preservation method and the direction of utilization of the materials, following an actual inspection of and discussion about the materials with the Tomika-cho Board of Education, the Matsuiya Sake Brewery Museum, and others in May 2022.
The surveyed part is believed to be the horizontal tailfin of a French Salmson Model 2 double-seat reconnaissance aircraft (Salmson 2A2), manufactured by another company in France under license from Salmson(YOKOKAWA Yuichi, “On the Salmson 2A2 Fuselage Parts Remaining at the Matsuiya Brewery,” Aviation Fan, December 2021). In 1918, at the end of World War I, the Japanese Army purchased 30 of these planes, and it is estimated that the material kept at the Matsuiya Sake Brewery Museum comes from one of them.
The paint is visible on the entire front and back of the tailfin. It is highly likely that it is the original paint from the 1910s, and if so, it may be the only aircraft component in the world that still has the original paint from that period (YOKOKAWA, above).
To examine the possibility of conservation and restoration and its methods, we checked stain removal status with partial dusting and the removal of dirt using water and other methods. With the cooperation of the repair technician, we confirmed that there was a high probability that the original paint was still extensively in place and discussed specific cleaning methods.
Although the survey confirmed which cleaning method is to be used, many points still need to be considered in its implementation. We will continue to work with the Matsuiya Sake Brewery Museum, Tomika-cho Board of Education, and other concerned parties to find solutions for the preservation of the aircraft components.
Flyer for the symposium
The keynote lecture by Deputy Director General HAYAKAWA
The keynote lecture by Deputy Director General KOHDZUMA
In recent years, developments in analytical chemistry have led to the discovery of new values of cultural properties.
On March 4, a symposium was held to commemorate the retirement, in March 2023, of HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro, Deputy Director General of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) and KOHDZUMA Yohsei, Deputy Director General of Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (NABUNKEN) who have, for the long time, contributed to the scientific research and conservation of cultural properties. The symposium aimed to discuss the new world of cultural properties opened up by the development of analytical chemistry from the perspective of “color,” one of the most fundamental and important values of cultural properties. The event was organized by TOBUNKEN and NABUNKEN, and co-sponsored by Nittetsu Technology Co.
The symposium was held in the seminar room of TOBUNKEN, and many participants also gathered at the satellite sites of TOBUNKEN and NABUNKEN (Participants: 69 [TOBUNKEN seminar room], 36 [satellite site of TOBUNKEN], 26 [satellite site of NABUNKEN]). The symposium was also simultaneously streamed on YouTube, and was watched by many people.
In the keynote lecture by Deputy Director General HAYAKAWA entitled “Transition of White Pigments in Japanese Paintings,” the presentation showed the transition of white pigments (lead white, artists’ chalk, and white clay) used in Japanese paintings based on the results of his analytical surveys.
In the keynote lecture, “Across the Boundaries ,” Deputy Director General KOHDZUMA spoke about the importance of conducting research with a broad perspective and mutual understanding while honing one’s own expertise in the field of conservation science of cultural properties. In addition to the keynote lectures, there were seven research presentations related to the “color” of cultural properties and an exhibition of various analytical instruments during the lunch break. Also, the lecture was followed by a lively panel discussion that went beyond the topic of color analysis of cultural properties to include future prospects of the conservation science for cultural properties.
We are thankful for the leadership of the two Deputy Director Generals which greatly helped the staff of TOBUNKEN, NABUNKEN, and Nittetsu Technology to collaborate with each other effectively and plan and conduct a very successful symposium.
Interview at the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency
Field survey at the archaeological site of Hedeby in Schleswig
Since FY 2007, Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been collecting and translating foreign laws concerning the protection of cultural properties and has so far published 27 volumes covering 16 Asian and 6 European countries. The project is intended to be Japan’s contribution to international cooperation in the field of cultural heritage protection and provide a reference for reevaluating the system used by Japan to protect its cultural properties. A field survey was conducted in the Netherlands, the target country for the current FY, and in Germany, the target for last FY. The survey was conducted from March 3 to 13, 2023.
Recently, in the Netherlands, there has been a discussion on the need to include heritage protection in land use and environmental preservation planning. A new Environmental Planning Law, integrating the existing related laws, will come into force on January 1, 2024. This law will introduce an environmental permit system for the use of cultural heritage sites with basic provisions for municipal environmental planning and similar purposes. This legislative amendment is constructed on the foundation of various agreements of the Council of Europe, such as the Valletta Treaty of 1992 on archaeological heritage and the Florence Convention of 2000 on landscapes.
On the other hand, in Germany, each of the 16 states have their own laws for protection of monuments. There are also slight differences in the protected objects, and only three states have regulations on cultural landscapes. Schleswig-Holstein, the northern state I visited this time, is one of them, but cultural landscapes are not yet in operation. A similar provision can be found in the Federal Nature Conservation Law. However, the German government has not signed the Florence Convention, which is a topic of great debate within the country.
One of the objectives of the Florence Convention is to recognize landscapes that express the “form” of Europe, woven by diverse histories, cultures, and nature, as a common heritage of the EU member States, and to protect them appropriately. Certainly, landscape protection is deeply linked to global issues such as climate change and sustainability that cannot be resolved by a single country. In future research, I think it will be even more important not only to translate laws, but also to specifically clarify the organic relationship between cultural properties and the comprehensive framework that surrounds them.
The Church of St. Mary on skriljinah
Istria is a peninsula that is largely located in northwestern Croatia, with some parts governed by Slovenia and Italy. Istria has a history of frequent changes in rulers: the Roman Empire in ancient times, the Venetian Republic in the Middle Ages, and the Habsburg Empire in modern times.
In this region, the practice of beautifying churches with wall paintings flourished from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, giving birth to numerous remarkable works. Unfortunately, the need to preserve this heritage was recognized only in the late 19th century in the wake of the activities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s Commission for Research and Conservation of Art and Historical Monuments. Later on, in the 20th century, after several wars and conflicts, the political situation finally calmed down after 1995 and the Croatian government established the Croatian Conservation Institute for cultural heritage. This led to a joint investigation by the Institute and the Archaeological Museum of Istria, and the term “Istrian-style wall painting” was coined as a general term for murals unique to this region.
From March 1-7, 2023, with the assistance of Dr. Sunčica Mustač of the Historic and Naval Museum of Istria and Associate Professor Neva Pološki of the University of Zagreb, we visited about 20 major churches in Istria to conduct field research on the wall paintings. In the process, technical cooperation was sought for the creation of a data archive on production techniques and conservation conditions, as well as for the study of conservation and restoration methods for the future. In the Istria region, there are approximately 150 surviving church wall paintings have been confirmed to exist. With the desire to pass on this irreplaceable cultural heritage to future generations, we will work to establish international collaboration while building networks with experts in related fields.