|■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
OYAMADA Tomohiro of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems made a presentation titled Long-Term Preservation of Digital Data on June 27, 2023. With the ongoing digitization of many areas of society and industry, it goes without saying that the long-term preservation of the digital data we produce is critical. Various technological tests have been conducted on the preservation of digital data, and many recording media for long-term preservation are now available. However, we know that many types of recording media and playback devices have disappeared from the market. Therefore, we must say that for long-term preservation of digital data, media management is more necessary than media technology.
In this presentation, the long-term preservation of digital data was examined from both technical and operational perspectives. For technical aspects, Blu-ray Discs, LTO, HDD, and SSD were compared as representative recording media. For operational aspects, the contents of the OAIS reference model, an international standard for the long-term preservation of digital data, were shown. Finally, our own proposal for a long-term preservation system for digital data that would be less burdensome for daily operations was reported and discussed.
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has created digital data on valuable cultural materials and made it available on its website and other media. To ensure that these digital data can be used forever, we will continue to investigate the preservation of digital data.
Handwritten books by Mr. FURUGORI Yoshio
On May 9, 2023, the FURUGORI family donated materials of historical significance to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN). In response to the donation, SAITO Takamasa, Director General of TOBUNKEN, presented a letter of gratitude to a representative of the family on June 15, 2023. The materials are on KURODA Kiyotsuna (1830-1917) and his son-in-law, KURODA Seiki (1866-1924), with whom the family had a special relationship.
KURODA Kiyotsuna was from the Satsuma domain of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and held important positions in the Meiji government, and KURODA Seiki was a painter and contributed much to the modernization of the Japanese art world. As the precursor of TOBUNKEN was the Institute of Art Research, with an endowment bequeathed by KURODA Seiki, we have continued research on his paintings and other achievements since the founding of the institute. The donation was brought from such research.
KURODA Kiyotsuna received personal care from Ms. FURUGORI Shizuko at his villa at Kogaicho, Azabu-ku (formerly called Nishiazabu, presently Minato-ku), and the bereaved FURUGORI family has a painting by KURODA Seiki that he had given them. SHIOYA Jun and YOSHIDA Akiko, Special Research Chair and Researcher of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, respectively, visited the family to inspect the painting and were informed of the donated materials.
The core of the materials, which comprise books bound in Japanese style, publications, letters, and other printed matter, is composed of 10 books written by Mr. FURUGORI Yoshio who was the son-in-law of Ms. FURUGORI Shizuko. Among them, Articles on KURODA Seiki and Articles on KURODA Kiyotsuna present a combination of the author’s personal memory of the KURODAs and rich information acquired from his survey, and two volumes of Azabu in those days provide details on the villa in Azabu, mentioned above, which had also been a subject of a painting by KURODA Seiki. The books are valuable primary sources with an original viewpoint and abundant information.
The materials are being kept and prepared for access at TOBUNKEN Library. In addition, we plan to digitalize selected contents to facilitate contributions to a wide range of research.
Fan-paper album of Hoke-kyo Sutra in Kokka Vols. 419
Kokka is an art magazine that was first published in 1889, and its publication has continued to the present day. It is known as a significant academic publication in the field of Japanese and Asian art history. Since its first issue, Kokka has introduced outstanding works of art with gorgeous illustrations, each of which has become an important basic resource for art historical research. Over the past 130 years, researchers publishing in Kokka have painstakingly accumulated and provided an enormous amount of fundamental data.
In 2014, Kokkasha, the publisher of Kokka, donated camera-ready copy (kamiyaki) illustrations of the artworks published in Kokka to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) Library. These camera-ready copy illustrations were pasted on mounts, amounting to 45 cardboard boxes in volume. While organizing the materials, we previously released the illustrations from Kokka Vols 800  to 1200 , and now we are releasing additional illustrations from Vols. 400  onward. These are valuable documents from the Taishō era (1912–1926) to the beginning of the Shōwa era (1926–1989).
These illustrations are arranged in the TOBUNKEN Library cabinets in order of volume number, along with the illustrations previously released. As the staff have rearranged all the illustrations in Kokka, we believe it will now be easier to view the materials than before. Visitors to the TOBUNKEN Library can browse the collection freely. We hope you will make use of these valuable materials.
Audience participating in the Bon Odori dance
Bon Odori performance of Nishimonai
A symposium titled Dance, Soul! ― How to Enjoy the Furyu-odori Dance* ― was held at the auditorium of the Heiseikan in the Tokyo National Museum on June 24, 2023. The Tokyo National Research Institute of Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) and the Pola Foundation of Japanese Culture co-hosted this symposium. Members of the Nishimonai Bon Odori Preservation Society were also on the stage.
The symposium started with lectures on the appreciation of Furyu-odori dance. KUBOTA Hiromichi, the Head of the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of TOBUNKEN, talked about its history; Dr. KAWASAKI Mizuho, part-time lecturer at the University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo, talked about its music; Dr. HYOKI Satoru, a Professor at Seijo University, talked about its costumes; and Mr. MORIMOTO Sensuke of the Cultural Property Protection Division, Nara Prefecture, talked about the cases of West Japan. Discussion followed, in which all presenters talked about the charms of Furyu-odori dance from various aspects.
After a short break, Dream of Hanui – Nishimonai Bon Odori Dance, a documentary film made by the Pola Foundation of Japanese Culture was screened. Ms. SATO Ikuko and Ms. WAGA Yasuko of the Nishimonai Bon Odori Preservation Society provided explanations about the dance, and then Society members performed the dance, and the audience joined-in, led by Ms. SATO. At the end of the symposium, the majority of the audience stood up, danced, and enjoyed the time together.
The Pola Foundation of Japanese Culture produced many documentary films of various intangible cultural properties. Most of the films were kindly donated to TOBUNKEN. We will make them available for a wider audience.
* Furyu-odori dance: Various ritual folk dances, characterized by eye-catching costumes and lively dances and music in Japan. Inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2022.
Exhibition in the entrance lobby
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) is exhibiting panels in its entrance lobby to disseminate its research outcomes. We started the new panel exhibition named in the title on June 5, 2023.
Techniques for conservation and restoration are essential to pass cultural properties down to the future generations. However, the acquisition of more types of materials and tools necessary for these techniques is becoming difficult, because of a shortage of successors to make them as well as changes in social environment. Due to its urgency, we are conducting investigational research on these tools and materials in collaboration with the Agency for Cultural Affairs. We are working to clarify the materials used and to improve issues related to their use, from a scientific standpoint, to comprehend methods to use these materials and tools on the conservation, and to record the techniques of their manufacture. We comprehensively conduct both the investigations above and archiving of past restoration documentation reports.
This project involves various activities and sectors, and we are therefore conducting this project cross-sectorally across TOBUNKEN, utilizing the strength of TOBUNKEN in that has multiple sectors to facilitate comprehensive research on cultural properties.
The exhibition mainly involves the raw materials of Uda washi paper essential for hanging scroll mountings and the carving tools essential for sculpture restoration. As neither are replaceable with substitutes, the continuation of their supply is in danger, and on this basis, we chose them as our research target. TOBUNKEN, and particularly the Center for Conservation Science, has been working on scientific research on traditional materials in Japan even since before this project started. The outcomes of the research are also exhibited. We hope that you can experience the in-depth world of materials and tools related to cultural property restoration and the wide outcomes of the research through this exhibition.
(Free entrance. Open 9:00 – 17:30 from Monday to Friday (except for national holidays).
Exterior view of St Michael's Church
Cleaning tests for soot stains
Cappadocia, located in Central Anatolia, Republic of Turkey, was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1985 as Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, as a result of long-term erosion of the tuff plateau. More than 1,000 rock churches and monasteries had been built, and mural paintings were painted on the inner walls of these churches and monasteries.
Last year, a preliminary survey was conducted with Ankara Haji Bayram Veli University to establish a joint research project on the conservation and restoration of cultural properties, and as a result, it was decided to target the mural paintings in St, Michael’s Church (in the Keslik Monastery). In response, we visited the site from June 15 to 22, 2023 and conducted a survey aimed to establish a research plan. Research issues were then identified, such as the removal of soot stains covering the mural paintings surfaces and the conservation treatment of plaster layers that had detached from the bedrock support.
In the future, while sharing research issues with local experts, we will continue our activities to contribute to the conservation and restoration activities of cultural heritage in the Republic of Turkey.