Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

An Exhibition of Japanese Art in Rome in 1930: The 5th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Exterior of Palazzo delle Esposizioni, where the Roman Exhibition was held.
Exhibited Japanese-style paintings at tokonoma set in the gallery.

 An Exhibition of Japanese Art held in Rome, Italy in 1930 (called the “Rome Exhibition”) can be called a “legacy,” as it influenced the following generations, while at present, exhibitions that introduce Japanese art and culture are more commonly held outside of Japan. This Rome Exhibition, held with full financial backing by Baron OKURA Kishichiro, the second president of Okura Zaibatsu (Okura conglomerate), is highly recognized by its size and uniqueness. It exhibited as many as 168 modern Japanese-style paintings, and had 16 tokonoma of various sizes, recessed spaces in Japanese-style reception rooms to show paintings in an original Japanese manner.
 At a seminar on this Rome Exhibition, held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on September 22, 2023, three researchers made presentations of the outcome of their research, which was conducted under grant by the Pola Art Foundation. Ms. TANAKA Sachiko of the Okura Museum of Art talked about Four Aspects of the Holding the Exhibition of Japanese Art in Rome in 1930, with details about the process of how the decision to hold the Rome Exhibition was made, and the involvement of the Italian contributors. Mr. YOSHII Daimon of the Yokohama History Museum presented Materials Related to the Exhibition of Japanese Art in Rome, owned by Okura Museum of Art, providing an overview of various materials, including minutes and reporting letters, held by the Okura Museum of Art. Mr. SHINOHARA, Satoshi Shinohara, of the Teaching Qualification Center and the Matsumae Commemoration Hall of Tokai University presented Japanese-style Painting Syndrome: Mainly on the works of KABURAGI Kiyokata’s Works discussing how the painters set their strategy to reach outside of Japan based on trend analysis of the painters whose works were exhibited, especially the works of KABURAGI Kiyokata.
 Because of its importance, much previous research has focused on this exhibition. The research presented in this seminar demonstrated great progress in the aspect of the discovery of related materials owned by the Okura Museum of Art. We expect further utilization of these precious materials related to the holding of the Roman Exhibition.

Donation and Publication of Materials of MATSUSHIMA Ken

Mr. KAWAI Masatomo (center, left) and Director General SAITO Takamasa (center, right)
Examples of the donated materials

 Mr. MATSUSHIMA Ken (1944~1998) was the head of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), known at the time as the “National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo.” Materials related to his work were donated to TOBUNKEN by his brother-in-law, Mr. KAWAI Masatomo., and we have begun to make some of the materials available to the public. Mr. MATSUSHIMA had worked for a long time in the cultural properties administration at the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and has been a lifelong researcher of Japanese Buddhist sculpture. The donated materials, including research documents, photographs, and restoration records of Buddhist sculptures throughout Japan, are extremely valuable. We have been in possession of some of the materials since 2015, and since then have made some progress in organizing them; finally, all of the materials were officially donated in September 2023. In response to the donation, Mr. SAITO Takamasa, Director General of TOBUNKEN, presented a letter of gratitude to Mr. KAWAI on 2 October 2023. We have posted a list of the materials on our website as “Materials of MATSUSHIMA Ken” ( and the materials are also available in our library. We will continue to add data as needed. Please make use of this valuable resource.

Guide for the TOBUNKEN Library – for Researchers from Korea National University of Cultural Heritage

Prof. Yi Ki Sung, viewing the collection of books at the library of TOBUNKEN.

 On September 1, 2023, a group of researchers and graduate students from Korea, including Professor Yi Ki Sung from the Korea National University of Cultural Heritage, Department of Archaeology, visited the library of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN). The group came to Japan for a research presentation at the Korea-Japan Cultural Properties Forum, held at Waseda University on August 31, and TOBUNKEN was selected as a destination to visit during their stay in Japan.
 The library tour was followed by an explanation of the history of TOBUNKEN and the structure of its library collection provided by the staff. The institute’s collection of books, accumulated since 1930, contains valuable materials on Korean art history and archaeology, which attracted the group’s full attention.
 One of the tasks of the Archives Section* is to provide information on cultural properties to professionals and students and to create an environment in which materials can be effectively used, including visitors from overseas. We hope that the priceless materials of our institute, which are highly valued worldwide, will be widely utilized and contribute to the research and development of our cultural assets, a common heritage of humankind.

*The Archives Section provides guidance sessions as occasion demands for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as museum staff. If you would like to participate in a session, please submit a request with reference to “TOBUNKEN Library Guidance for undergraduate/graduate students and museum staff.” : (Japanese only)

Investigation of Techniques and Raw Materials to Conserve Cultural Properties Related to Traditional Musical Instruments in the Republic of Korea

Tapping lacquer in South Korea
A Daegeum in which red lacquer was applied to the inside

 With the cooperation of the National Intangible Heritage Center in the Republic of Korea, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Center for Conservation Science of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) jointly investigated the current situation regarding procurement of bamboo materials and urushi lacquer used to adjust the inner diameter of Japanese traditional wind instruments, and the succession of related techniques that developed in the Republic of Korea, where bamboo is used for their traditional wind instruments as in Japan.
 In this investigation, we learned that bamboo logging associated with the development of residential and commercial lands is popular in Korea. Therefore, the general bamboo materials are in plentiful supply. On the other hand, the supply of some special bamboo materials such as ssanggoljuk (double-groove bamboo) used for daegeum, a traditional Korean bamboo flute, is unstable. Therefore, the Research Institute for Musical Instruments of the National Gugak Center developed a new material made by flatting bamboo to thin plates and bonding them under pressure, obtained a patent, and made this technique public. However, this new material is not yet widespread among instrument manufacturers or daegeum players. We understand the challenges involved.
 Regarding urushi lacquer, we were impressed that the workers involved are well-protected to increase domestic production and demand for urushi lacquer liquids to change the current situation that many lacquer liquids are imported from China. We understand that the challenges related to the tools and materials used to restore the urushi lacquer products are not as severe in Korea as in Japan. For example, people we interviewed said that in Korea there are more than ten shops that process and sell mother-of-pearl shells, which are especially used for decoration.
 In Korea, it is not popular to apply lacquer to wind instruments at present. However, red lacquer was applied inside of daegeum in the past. Even now, red lacquer is sometimes applied for decoration. We wonder about the original reason why the red lacquer was applied in the past.
 In Japan, multiple lacquer layers of urushi lacquer are applied inside of the wind instruments to adjust their inner size. In Korea, the inner size is adjusted by shaving the inside of the bamboo, which has thicker and denser walls. These very different techniques provide an interesting contrast.
 We will continue our investigation to find solutions to the challenges by comparing the challenges in Japan to secure the raw materials and success of the conservation techniques implemented in other countries that use the common raw materials, and by understanding the characteristics of each technique.

Participation in the International Training Course “Leadership Course for Cultural Heritage Stewards in Challenging Circumstances”

Lecture on funding(Photo by Almicheal Fraay)
A presentation by a participant
Participants, teachers, and coordinators at a certification ceremony held after the training(Photo by Almicheal Fraay)

 Mr. CHIBA Tsuyoshi, Researcher of the Center for Conservation Science, participated in the “Leadership Course for Cultural Heritage Stewards in Challenging Circumstances” held in The Hague, the Netherlands, from September 24 to 29, 2023.
 This training course was organized by Cultural Emergency Response ( and the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative ( It has been held annually since 2018, and this was the fifth session. This year there were 14 participants including Mr. CHIBA, who was the first from Japan. Among the others, there were two from Ukraine, and one each from Afghanistan, Barbados, Cameroon, Georgia, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, Peru, Turkey, USA, and Vietnam.
 The training had two main aspects: “planning and proposal” and “team planning and management,” with lectures given by experts in each field. In the planning and proposal training, participants developed plans and project proposals related to the protection of cultural heritage in challenging circumstances, and effective short presentations to persuade external organizations to provide funding and support. On the final day of the training, the participants presented their projects to an audience of four representatives of the actual funding agencies, who answered their questions, offered suggestions for improvement, and critiqued them. The training in team planning and management included analyzing the “strengths” of team members and developing ideas that complement each other, leadership skills for effective team management, and attitudes for maintaining healthy mental health.
 In Japan, it seems that there has not been much interest in funding related to the protection of cultural properties, and there have been few training programs regarding this subject. However, as the situation surrounding cultural properties changes in various ways, we believe that this type of training will become increasingly important for the future protection of cultural properties and disaster prevention of cultural properties. We plan to share the contents of this training course widely in the near future.

Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture I - A Field Survey in Taiwan

Huashan 1914 Creative Park: Shown are a historic red brick building of a former camphor factory, revitalized from ruins (registered historical buildings), and the teahouse of Dr. FUJIMORI Terunobu, a leading historian of modern Japanese architecture and an architect acknowledged for his shift from traditional techniques.
Songshan Creative Park: Creating a space for a rental artwork/performance studio that captures the ambiance of a historic tobacco manufacturing factory (municipal designated historical sites).

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) is currently undertaking a research project abroad that focuses on advanced initiatives in the conservation of modern architectural heritage. This project, titled “Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture,” is commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. From September 18 to 22, we conducted a field survey in Taiwan as a part of this project.
 In Taiwan, the 2000 Act on the Promotion of Private Sector Involvement in Public Construction, and the 2002 National Development Priority Plan, which included the promotion of creative industries, led to the proactive conservation and transformation of architectural and industrial heritage with the introduction of private sector vitality from the 2000s to the 2010s. In this survey, we visited two of the “Cultural and Creative Industrial Parks” (hereafter referred to as “Creative Parks”) in Taipei City led by the Ministry of Culture (until 2011, the Cultural Development Commission) and interviewed their management bodies about the current status, challenges, and prospects for the management of heritage buildings as business facilities.
 The Huashan 1914 Creative Park utilizes the facilities of a former government-run liquor factory established in 1914, while the Songshan Creative Park makes use of facilities from a former government-run tobacco factory established in 1937. The Huashan park is managed by the Taiwan Cultural-Creative Company Limited, funded by several private companies, while the Songshan park is operated by the Taipei Cultural Foundation, umbrellaed under the City of Taipei. Despite having distinct organizational structures and operational policies, both parks are financially independent and share a common goal of enhancing public awareness of the Creative Park as a unique destination. This objective helps the parks maintain their operational stability and generate profits. However, an issue arises from the fact that only the utilization aspect of architectural conservation has been entrusted to private-sector entities, leading to various misunderstandings between their approach and the administration responsible for preservation of the architectural heritage.
 We also visited the Bureau of Cultural Heritage (BOCH) of the Ministry of Culture to conduct interviews on topics including the evaluation of the Creative Park project. The BOCH has analyzed the reasons why Creative Parks have not progressed as originally planned, as stumbling blocks have arisen such as the fact that preservation is the responsibility of the government while utilization is the domain of the private sector, and the project has already started to change course. Since 2017, a ‘Reconsolidation of Historical Time and Space’ plan has been underway, which links the comprehensive management and utilization of cultural heritage linked to the land and people’s memories to policies for developing social infrastructure.
 The JCICC will continue to conduct field surveys in Europe with the cooperation of relevant organizations and experts in the target countries and compile the results into a final research report, together with the results of bibliographic study into the relevant legal systems in each country or region.

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