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


The 57th Public Lecture: Look at Form, Read Form

Lecture by Ms.HARUKI Shoko
Lecture by Mr. OKAMURA Yukinori

 The “Public Lectures” organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, are held every autumn and present the research outcomes of the researchers to the public. From 2020 to 2022, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, the lectures were held on a small scale with limited audiences and presented only by internal researchers on a single day. However, this year the lectures returned to the program design of four years ago, with external lecturers invited and the lectures held for two days.
 On the first day, October 20, 2023, lectures titled Nishinoto’in Tokiyoshi’s garden: a study of the Hasegawa school’s wisteria screens by Ms. ONO Mayumi (Head, Japanese and East Asian Art History Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) and Wish to protect the nation in the Ishūretsuzō depictions of Ainu chieftains by Ms.HARUKI Shoko (Curator, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum) were presented, demonstrating the latest knowledge and interpretations of Edo period paintings.
 On the second day, October 21, the lectures were How to preserve and utilize art gallery materials, presented by Mr.KIKKAWA Hideki (Head, Archives Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) and Connecting the history of Hiroshima Panels to the future, presented by Mr. OKAMURA Yukinori(Curator, Managing Director of Maruki Gallery for the Hiroshima Panels). These lectures provided concrete examples of how modern and contemporary materials and works should be passed down.
 There were 139 participants from the public on both days. As a result of a survey of the audience, 86% of the respondents answered that they were “very satisfied” or “generally satisfied.”


International Cooperation on Safeguarding Living Heritage in Sudan

UNESCO Experts Meeting in Cairo, September 2023

 Since 2022, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been conducting research exchanges on the safeguarding of living heritage with the National Ethnographic Museum of the Republic of Sudan, as part of a research project called ”Heritage studies for realization of cultural diversity and peacebuilding in post-conflict countries,” funded by a Grant-in-Aid for Challenging Research (Exploratory), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Principal Investigator: Dr. ISHIMURA Tomo, Director of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, TOBUNKEN; Co-Investigator: Dr. SHIMIZU Nobuhiro, Associate Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Hokkai Gakuen University; Collaborate Investigator: Ms. SEKIHIRO Naoyo, Instructor, Kyoto City Archaeological Research Institute).
 Sudan has been in political turmoil for many years, due to civil war and dictatorship; however, the dictatorship that had lasted for thirty years recently collapsed, an interim democratic government was established, and the country has since been rebuilding. Under these circumstances, the significance of cultural heritage as an expression of Sudan’s history and cultural diversity, in particular, living heritage, including intangible cultural heritage, is receiving increasing attention.
 In May 2023, we planned to invite Dr. Amani Noureldaim, Director, and Mr. Elnzeer Tirab, Deputy Director of the National Ethnographic Museum to Japan to sign a memorandum of understanding on joint research with TOBUNKEN. However, on April 15, 2023, a clash occurred between the Sudanese National Army and the Rapid Reaction Support Force (RSF), a paramilitary organization, and Sudan was placed in an armed conflict. As a result, the invitation scheduled for May was postponed at the last minute.

 Even under these difficult circumstances, Sudan’s cultural heritage stakeholders are making efforts to continue their activities to safeguard their cultural heritage. Museums in Khartoum, such as the National Ethnographic Museum and the National Museum of Sudan, have been forced to close; however, related personnel, including staff of the National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), have been evacuated outside of the country or to safe areas within the country while continuing operations. For example, from June 3 to 5 and July 6 to 10, emergency workshops and forums were held both face-to-face and online, mainly by people who had evacuated to Egypt, under the initiative of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). Project members were also invited to the meeting by Sudanese experts and participated online in some parts of the workshops.

 In response to these circumstances, we have revised the objective of this project to “safeguarding of cultural heritage in times of conflict,” and we have decided to respond to these movements as far as possible. In August, we visited the British Museum in the United Kingdom and exchanged opinions with Dr. Julie Anderson, Mr. Michael Mallinson, and Dr. Helen Mallinson, who have been involved in the protection of cultural heritage in Sudan for many years. We participated in the UNESCO conference “Expert Meeting on Living Heritage and Emergencies: Planning the Response for Safeguarding Living Heritage in Sudan,” held at the Child Museum of Cairo from September 10 to 13, where we held discussions with international experts. At the same time, at the Embassy of Japan in Sudan, which has a temporary office in Cairo, we held a meeting with the Sudanese cultural heritage personnel who had evacuated to Egypt (nine people, including Prof. Ibrahim Musa, Director of NCAM) and staff members of the Embassy and JICA, including Mr. HATTORI Takashi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Sudan, and Mr. KUBO Eiji, Director of JICA Sudan Office, to exchange information and discuss the possibility of international cooperation with Japan on the protection of cultural heritage in Sudan.

 Currently, the security situation in Sudan is still unstable; however, those involved in cultural heritage protection who remain in Sudan are still engaged in activities to safeguard the cultural heritage in local museums and other locations. We will make every effort to keep in touch with them and continue our research exchanges.
 Additionally, a 90-day campaign titled “#OurHeritageOurSudan” has been underway since November 1, led by Mr. Michael Mallinson and Dr. Helen Mallinson from the UK. The purposes of this event are to learn about Sudan’s living heritage, to share it, and to support Sudan’s recovery and the people working for it. On the website for this campaign, the purpose of which we agree with and are cooperating with, you can view photos and videos of Sudan’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. Please take a look:
https://www.sslh.online/ [External website]


Ninth Recording of the Live Performance of “Miyazono-bushi”

Preparation for the live recording.
Live recording being filmed (from left: MIYAZONO Senyoshie, MIYAZONO Senroku, MIYAZONO Senkazuya, and MIYAZONO Senkoju).

 On October 31, 2023, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted the ninth recording of Miyazono-bushi at the Performing Arts Studio of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN).

 Miyazono-bushi, one of the Important Intangible Cultural Properties of Japan, originated in the Kamigata (Kyoto-Osaka) area in the mid-Edo period and has since been handed down mainly in the Edo area. Today, Miyazono-bushi is collectively referred to as ‘kokyoku’ (lit. old music) along with other voice genres Icchū-bushi, Katō-bushi, and Ogie-bushi, and there are not many opportunities to hear it performed. The department has continued our attempts to record the live performances of Miyazono-bushi since 2018, archiving the target pieces in their entirety, without omission.

 For this recording, two of the ten pieces in the Miyazono-bushi repertoire classified as ‘modern pieces’ were selected: “Sonoo no Haru” (Garden Spring) and “Wankyū.” The former was composed in 1888 to commemorate the official recognition of the Miyazono-bushi genre by the Meiji Government in 1884 and includes flamboyant kaede (another melody played in coordination with the basic melody) in the shamisen part, which is unusual for Miyazono-bushi compositions. The latter is a more recent work, composed in 1949. It tells the tragic love story between Wanya Kyūbē (also known as ‘Wankyū’), a wealthy merchant in the Osaka Shinmachi area, and Matsuyama, a courtesan in Shinmachi, and depicts a scene in which Wankyū falls into insanity. The roles were performed by MIYAZONO Senroku (lead jōruri voice performer: an individual certified as a Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property or what is called a “Living National Treasure”), MIYAZONO Senyoshie (supporting jōruri voice performer), MIYAZONO Senkazuya (lead shamisen player: an individual certified as a Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property, commonly called a “Living National Treasure”), and MIYAZONO Senkoju (supporting shamisen player).

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continue to make live recordings of classical and rarely performed modern pieces of Miyazono-bushi.


The 15th International Conference of the Infrared and Raman Users Group (IRUG)

IRUG group photo
A practical research workshop

 The 15th International Conference of the Infrared and Raman Users Group (IRUG) was held for the first time in Asia, at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (“Tobunken”) from September 26 to 29, 2023, in collaboration with the Conservation Science Laboratory of Tokyo University of the Arts (“Geidai”).
 IRUG is establishing a forum for the exchange of infrared and Raman spectroscopic information and reference spectra for the study of the world’s cultural heritage. Both FT-IR and Raman spectroscopic analytical methods are very effective for determining material information when surveying cultural properties. In recent years, the investigation of cultural properties using these analytical methods has progressed, and many results have been reported.
 There were 51 oral and poster presentations at the international conference. The keynote talk, covering aspects of the theory and challenges of reflectance-mode infrared spectroscopy, was given by Dr. James A. de Haseth, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Georgia (USA). A featured workshop covering reflectance infrared spectroscopic techniques, with focus on data acquisition, processing, and interpretation, was led by Dr. Marcello Picollo (Senior Researcher at IFAC-CNR) and aided by Dr. Suzan de Groot (RCE, The Netherlands), Prof. Manfred Schreiner (Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Austria), with sponsorship and other aid from Thermo Fisher Scientific Corporation, and Bruker Corporation.
 Throughout the conference, active discussions were held on methods of analysis and conservation of cultural property materials. The Center for Conservation Science will continue to observe international trends as it works to advance our research projects.


Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture II -Field Survey in European Countries-

A sample of an ACR label prepared by the Ministry of Culture for distribution (France)
Auditorium Parco della Musica, designed by Renzo Piano, considered a contemporary architectural work of "cultural properties in progress" (Italy)
Erik Christian Sørensen's own home, being preserved, renovated, and operated as a rental property (Denmark)

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) is currently undertaking a research project overseas, specifically concentrating on innovative approaches to conserving modern architectural heritage. This project is part of the “Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture,” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. After conducting a field survey in Taiwan in September, we extended our research to include field surveys in France, Italy, and Denmark from October 3 to 13.
 Over the past three decades in Europe, the recognition of modern and contemporary architecture as a valuable social asset has gained widespread acceptance. This was notably encouraged by the Council of Europe in 1991, which recommended that member countries adopt specific strategies to safeguard 20th-century architecture. Furthermore, the guideline on “architectural culture (baukultur)” for social development was emphasized during the meeting of European ministers responsible for culture at the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos. Amidst these social trends, in 2017 a new law was implemented in France called the “Law on Freedom of Creation, Architecture and Heritage” (LCAP Law). This legislation incorporates the “Remarkable Contemporary Architecture” (ACR) labeling system, designed to promote the conservation and appreciation of modern architecture. In Italy, the Directorate General for Contemporary Art and Contemporary Architecture within the Ministry of Cultural Property and Cultural Activity (which is now the Directorate General for Contemporary Creativity within the Ministry of Culture) was established in 2001. Since its inception, the Directorate has consistently undertaken surveys aimed at identifying contemporary architecture with significant artistic value across the entire territory. In Denmark, while there are no specific administrative initiatives dedicated to conserving modern architectural heritage, a private philanthropic organization called “Realdania” has taken on this responsibility. Established in 2000 as an extension of a real estate financing business, Realdania is actively pursuing initiatives to safeguard Danish architectural heritage through investments. Their efforts also focus on the preservation and development of modern Nordic design masterpieces created by Danish architects.
 During this survey, we conducted visits to the French Ministry of Culture, the Italian Ministry of Culture, and Realdania, engaging in interviews to gain insights into their activities, challenges, and outlook regarding the conservation of modern architecture. The purpose was also to verify the status of the targeted modern architecture on-site. While significant efforts have been made to conserve modern architecture, it remains challenging to assert that modern architecture has fully garnered recognition and status as cultural heritage in each country. It was confirmed that these organizations are seeking new forms of conservation suitable for modern architecture through continuous dialogues with diverse stakeholders and the implementation of experimental trials of conservation and sustainable development.
 The results of this survey, along with the results from our field survey in Taiwan and a bibliographic study into the relevant legal systems in each country or region, will be consolidated into a final survey report in November 2023. This report will be open to public via the Institute’s online repository.


A Study Tour on the Utilization of AR, VR, and Digital Contents in Japanese Museums and Archaeological Sites for Bahraini Specialists

Visit to Ichijodani Archaeological Site, Fukui Prefecture

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been involved with cooperative projects to preserve the cultural heritage in Bahrain for many years. Recently, Dr. Salman Almahari, Director of Antiquities and Museums in Bahrain, and colleagues requested to study the utilization of AR, VR, and digital contents in Japanese museums and archaeological sites, because they plan to introduce them in Bahraini museums and historical sites. Therefore, Dr. Salman Almahari and Dr. Melanie Muenzner, who is in charge of the UNESCO World Heritage Inscription in Bahrain, were invited to Japan from October 10 to 15, 2023 and a study tour was arranged.
 During their stay in Japan, Japanese specialists delivered lectures on several topics, including basics of 3D documentation of cultural heritage, the utilization of AR for tourism promotion in Japan, among others. The Bahraini specialists also visited the Tokyo National Museum, Ichijodani Archaeological Site, Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, NHK and NHK Enterprises to study the latest examples of AR, VR, and digital contents such as ultra-high definition 3DCG.
 The study tour was funded by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan. As a part of the same project, we also plan to organize a workshop, “3D Digital Documentation of Cultural Heritage and Its Applications,” for Bahraini experts to take place in December 2023.


Joint Survey on a Preservation and Utilization Plan for a Historic House in Kirtipur, Nepal

The historic house under investigation in the medieval settlement of Kirtipur

 Almost 8 years have passed since the Gorkha earthquake in 2015 that caused devasting damage in Kathmandu valley. Many historic buildings are undergoing reconstruction, including those with “Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site” status. While the rehabilitation of these recognized heritage sites is being carried out with public attention, the historic buildings that are not legally protected, especially privately owned properties, are decreasing in number due to reconstruction or demolition without any recognition of their heritage value.
 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been working to support the establishment of a network for conservation of historic settlements of Kathmandu valley, in collaboration with experts and governmental officers in Nepal, since just after the Gorkha earthquake and continuously during the pandemic. This series of dialogues led us to launch a new project for the conservation of a damaged historic house in Kirtipur as a cooperative project between Kirtipur municipality and TOBUNKEN.
 Built in traditional Newar style, the target house, a historical landmark of the town, is located within the area of the World heritage tentative listing, “Medieval settlement of Kirtipur.” Although the building is currently being used for residential purpose, it is said that it used to be a part of the former royal palace complex of Kirtipur in old times. A square with a historic pond surrounded by this house and a nearby medieval temple together comprise one of the symbolic historical landmarks of the old town of Kirtipur.
 In the first joint survey, conducted from October 11 to 16, 2023 with the aim of collecting basic information on the building, the project team carried out a measurement survey, investigation on the transition of the building, and interview surveys with residents on the ownership relationship, lifestyle of residents, family history, and intentions for future utilization of the building. Further discussions will be held with related stakeholders regarding the possibilities of the future utilization of the house and issues to be solved to enable its realization.
 Many countries, including Japan, share common challenges on the conservation of historic buildings that are not legally protected. Through this project, together with Nepalese experts, we will exchange knowledge through dialogue with the aim of establishing a process for conservation and utilization of historic buildings that would be compatible with the Nepalese cultural context.


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