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

Lecture on cultural property archives held – for students from Gakushuin University

Lecture presentation in the conference room.
Lecture tour: Introduction of materials in the stacks.

 On October 16 2023, about 40 students from Gakushuin University (under the supervision of Prof. KYOTANI Yoshinori and Prof. SARAI Mai) visited the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), and as part of the course “Museology: Media and Information,” TOBUNKEN introduced its activities related to cultural property archives. The students attending this lecture were not only from the Department of Art History, but also from other faculties, and the lecture provided a good opportunity for them to learn about some of TOBUNKEN’s activities.
 First, Mr. KIKKAWA Hideki, Head of the Archive Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, gave an overview and history of the Institute in a meeting room of TOBUNKEN, and introduced the collection and publication of materials useful for future activities of museum curators, and materials created in the course of museum activities. The presentation also explained how research activities are supported in specialized libraries, using the TOBUNKEN library as an example. The participants then moved to the library and the stacks and were divided into two groups, where Mr. KIKKAWA and Mr. TASHIRO Yuichiro, Researcher of the Department, introduced the significance of the digital archives and cultural property research photographs, showing them in person and explaining how they could be used.
 The Cultural Property Archives Laboratory will continue to actively provide guidance for students and professionals under the research project called ‘Enrichment of Professional Archives and Comprehensive Reference.’ If you would like to participate in a session, please submit a request to “TOBUNKEN Library Guidance for undergraduate/graduate students and museum staff” (, Japanese only).

Tour of the Library of the Japan Art Documentation Society held during the 16th Fall Seminar

An explanation of the activities of the TOBUNKEN's Library provided during the tour.
Photo by Ms. TERASHI Taro (Art Documentation Society).
An explanation about investigational photographs of cultural properties in the Library provided during the tour.
Photo by Ms. TERASHI Taro (Art Documentation Society).

 On October 28 2023, the 16th Fall Seminar of the Japan Art Documentation Society was held at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), including a tour of the library.
 The Japan Art Documentation Society is an organization engaged in research on methodologies for recording, managing, and digitizing materials related to art, and in the pursuit of practical application of these methodologies. There are approximately 350 members, including librarians, curators, archivists, information science researchers, and art historians, and the tour was attended by 13 members.
 During the tour, Mr. KIKKAWA Hideki, Head of the Archive Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, first gave an overview of TOBUNKEN and introduced the activities and the composition of the library collection in the conference room on the second floor, and then moved with the participants to the library and stacks to explain the significance and actual use of digital archives and investigational photographs of cultural properties. Specialists in cultural property materials were included among the participants, and the event also provided an opportunity for a productive exchange of views, with questions from the perspective of practitioners regarding the collection, organization, publication, and preservation of materials, as well as questionss from the perspective of users.

 Among the tasks of the Archive Section are to provide experts and students with information on materials related to cultural property and to develop an environment for the effective use of these materials. In the future, we would like to provide more opportunities for such specialists to become aware of the TOBUNKEN collections via tours and guidance.
 If you would like to participate in a session, please submit a request to “TOBUNKEN Library Guidance for undergraduate/graduate students and museum staff” (, Japanese only).

Consultation and lecture at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC), and visits to institutions related to art books and documentation

Visit to the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum
A scene from the gallery talk at the Sainsbury Centre

 Since 2013, the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) in Norwich, UK, and Tokyo National Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) have been working on the joint project, “Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art.” SISJAC staff regularly provide information on literature and exhibitions related to Japanese arts held outside of Japan, and in previous years researchers from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems have travelled to the UK for a site visit, consultation, and lecture. From 2020 until last year, online discussions were held, as it was not possible to visit the site, but this year two TOBUNKEN members, Mr. KIKKAWA Hideki and Ms. MAIZAWA Rei, have visited the UK for the first time in three years to tour the site, hold a consultation, and give a lecture.

 On the 14th, 15th, and 17th of November, we visited institutions related to art books and documentation in London. This included the art libraries and photographic archives attached to the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, the Courtauld Institute of Art, the University of London, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as other libraries with substantial collections of Japanese materials, such as the British Library and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. We were given a tour of the facilities and presented with materials by the staff of each institution and discussed the possibility of holding joint projects with some of the institutions. These visits were coordinated by Mr. HIRANO Akira and accompanied by Mr. HIRANO Ms. HAYASHI Miwako of SISJAC.
 The consultation was held at SISJAC on the November 16, and Ms. MAIZAWA gave a gallery talk and lecture at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts that afternoon. The Sainsbury Centre, attached to the University of East Anglia, houses the collection of Sir Robert Sainsbury and Lady Lisa Sainsbury, the founders of SISJAC, which includes Japanese arts. A gallery talk on Buddhist and Shinto statues was held in the exhibition room, followed by the lecture in the basement conference room on ‘The activities of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and its research on rakanzu (Arhat painting).’ In addition to the local general audience, Japanese officials visiting SISJAC also attended and listened attentively. Ms. MAIZAWA has been at SISJAC as a visiting researcher since October, and will continue to work on research and studies in the UK until the end of February next year.

Korean Art History Colloquium at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.

The seminar room on November 18.

 The Archives Research Center, Archives Section, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Propertiesis currently carrying out a project to organize Korean art research materials, including pre-war glass plates and albums*. Researchers not only from Japan but also from South Korea are consulted for the project. On November 17th, the institute invited Professor Chang Chin-Sung, a leading Korean art history scholar at Seoul National University, to a review meeting on materials. In conjunction with the meeting, the Korean Art History Colloquium, headed by Professor Chang, was held in the institute’s basement seminar room on November 18th (Saturday). The colloquium was designed as an opportunity for researchers and students in Japan to come into contact with the trends and current state of Korean art history research. The colloquium, organized and interpreted by researcher TASHIRO Yuichiro, covered paintings from the early Joseon period under the title “Reading Dream Journey to the Peach Blossom Land by Ahn Gyeon.” Researchers and graduate students from related fields, including Professor Itakura Masaaki (University of Tokyo) and Professor Kanno Chiaki (University of Tsukuba), participated in the colloquium to engange in full and frank academic discussion. The institute will continue to organize the accumulated data, and at the same time serve as a bridge between researchers in Japan and from abroad.

*Funded by the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation. “Research on Photographs of Korean Painting at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties” (September 2023 – August 2024, research representative: TASHIRO Yuichiro)

Donation of Materials of MORIOKA Ryuzo

An example of the materials of MORIOKA Ryuzo (photo of Madonna with Child by Carlo Crivelli, 1482, Pinacoteca, Vatican)

 MORIOKA Ryuzo (1878-1961) was a painter who studied under KURODA Seiki (1866-1924). Materials of MORIOKA Ryuzo were donated to TOBUNKEN by his family on November 8, 2023. In response to the donation, SATO Takamasa, Director General of TOBUNKEN, sent a letter of gratitude to a representative of the family by surface mail. The materials consist of 85 sheets of photos of western paintings collected by MORIOKA.
 MORIOKA was born in Tottori Prefecture and came to Tokyo when he was twenty years old. He studied painting in KURODA’s private painting school, the Tenshin Dojo, and entered Tokyo Fine Arts School (Tokyo Bijutsu Gakko) in 1901. He also became a private student of KURODA earning his favor. He stayed in Paris for 3 years starting from 1922 and returned to Japan via the U.S.A, where he is thought to have collected the photos.
 The collection is composed mainly of religious paintings by Renaissance painters such as Giotto and Raffaello, and all photos were produced by Fratelli Alinari, one of the world’s oldest photography companies, founded in 1852, which treats a large number of photos of Italian artworks . MORIOKA used to lend them to painters in Japan, and most of the photos have an ownership stamp on their reverse side, which suggests they were highly valued.
 The materials are being kept at TOBUNKEN Library. We also plan to open their digital images for viewing, so that researchers can access them without causing stress on the original materials.

About the Yakushi Triad Enshrined in the Kondo of the Yakushiji Temple – The 6th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

The author at the seminar.

 The origin of the Yakushi Triad (consisting of Yakushi Nyorai, the Healing Buddha, flanked by two attendants, the Bbodhisattvas Nikko and Gakko) enshrined in the Kondo (Main Hall) of the Yakushiji Temple in Nara remains uncertain. Opinions are divided as to whether it was made at the end of the 7th century or the beginning of the 8th century. To this end, it cannot be said that the issue of the background of the construction, such as how an example that shows excellent formality such as this statue was realized in Japan at the time, was not sufficiently examined.
 In this regard, as an associate fellow of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, I conducted a presentation titled “About the Yakushi Triad Enshrined in the Kondo of the Yakushiji Temple: A View from the Relationship between Yakushiji Temple and the Shitennoji Temples in Gyeongju, South Korea on November 28, 2023.”
 The Yakushiji Triad has attracted attention not only for its realistic physical expressions, but also for the various patterns on the box-shaped pedestal on which the central statue sits. This presentation focused on the deformed figures with curly hair and fangs, and on the similarity with demonic figures attached to the Wall Tile with the Guardian Deity Motif Covered in Green-glaze from the site of the Shitennoji Temple in Gyeongju, South Korea. Since the Shitennoji Temple was founded at the end of the 7th century, I assumed that the Yakushiji Triad was also produced at the end of the 7th century, and examined the background of the creation of the Yakushiji Triad by examining the relationship between the temples of Silla, a former kingdom within present-day Korea and Yakushiji in the same period.
 The seminar was held in a hybrid on-site/online format. Experts on the history of Buddhist art from outside the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) also participated. They pointed out the need for further comparison with other objects of the same age. In the future, I would like to take a broader perspective and deepen my consideration of what concepts the pedestal was based on.

The 17th Public Lecture Held by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage: Exploring the Charms of Miyazono-bushi

Ms. MIAYAZONO Senroku (round table talk) 
Ms. MIYAZONO Senkazuya (round table talk)
Short talk about shamisen by Mr. TAKEUCHI Yasuo
Exhibition of kendai (book holder), shamisen, and materials.

 The 17th Public Lecture Held by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage: Exploring the Charms of Miyazono-bushi was held on November 22, 2023 in the seminar room and the lobby on the first basement floor of TOBUNKEN.

 The first half of the lecture began with an explanation of the purpose of this lecture by Ms. MAEHARA Megumi, the head of Intangible Cultural Properties Section, Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Presentations were then conducted with audio and video documentations by Mr. FURUKAWA Ryota (doctoral student, the University of Tokyo); Ms. HANDO Aya (Shokei-kan, Historical Materials Hall for the Wounded and Sick Retired Soldiers); Mr. IIJIMA Mitsuru, Senior Fellow of the Department, Dr. KAMATA Sayumi, Researcher of the Department, and Ms. MAEHARA.

 In the latter half of the lecture, a round-table-talk titled Talk with Ms. MIYAZONO Senroku and Ms. MIYAZONO Senkazuya was held. Both are individuals certified as Holders of Important Intangible Cultural Property. Ms. MIYAZONO Senroku and Ms. MIYAZONO Senkazuya talked about the characteristics of Miyazono bushi, and presented some episodes on how to learn it, and about the relationship of this genre with other types of hogaku (Japanese traditional music) genres. In addition, they answered pre-submitted questions from the participants. After that, an excerpt from the Live Performance recording of Miyazono bushi play, “Yugiri” was screened.

 In this lecture, several attempts were made to help the audience to understand Miyazono-bushi from several perspectives: through hands-on experience of Miyazono bushi Shamisen; a short explanation by Mr. TAKEUCHI Yasuo, shamisen craftsman; a small exhibition of materials and musical instruments borrowed from General Incorporated Foundations Kokyoku-kai, Ms. MIYAZONO Senroku, and Ms. MIYAZONO Senkazuya, and related materials owned by TOBUNKEN; and a poster exhibition of the Live Performance recordings of Miyazono bushi, which TOBUNKEN is currently working on.

 A questionnaire survey conducted after the lecture made us realize that this lecture became a meeting point for the traditional performing arts, based on answers such as “it is the first time to know TOBUNKEN,” and “it is the first time to listen to Miyazono bushi.”
We at the Department will continue our efforts to spread the charms of intangible cultural properties with the latest research outcomes. An edited video recording of this lecture will be broadcasted during a limited period. A report will be published both in paper and digital (pdf) formats in FY 2024, including each presentation and material introduction.

Video Recordings of Intangible Traditional Culture Donated by the POLA Foundation of Japanese Culture Are Now Viewable at the TOBUNKEN Library

Booth for video watching in the TOBUNKEN Library
Video recordings donated by the POLA Foundation of Japanese Culture

 Video recordings of intangible traditional culture produced by the POLA Foundation of Japanese Culture were donated and became available at the TOBUNKEN Library from December, 2023. The POLA Foundation produced three series of video recordings: “Masters of Traditional Craftsmanship,” “The Sophistication of Traditional Performing Arts,” and “The Heart of Folk Entertainment.” ( (Japanese only))

 Below is a list of the 26 titles donated in FY 2023.

1. Utilizing Lacquer in the Current Life – AKAJI, Yusai, Magewa Zukuri (hoop-built technique)
2. Women Weaving Bashōfu – Cooperative Handwork
3. Niino Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival) – Festivals with Gods and Villagers
4. Shujo Onie Festival in Kunisaki – a Night When Oni (Devils) Visit
5. Osauchi (weaving) – OGAWA Zenzaburo, Kenjo Hakata Ori
6. Hammer Forming, SEKIYA Shiro – Making Tomorrow
7. Full of GOSU – the world of KONDO Yuzo
8. The World of Beauty – SERIZAWA Keisuke , textile designer
9. MIYAKE Tokuro, Kyōgen performer
10. Nagahama Hikiyama Festival, Lake Biwa
11. Topography of a Local Windup Doll – Toro Doll of Yame Fukushima
12. The Moon and Big Tug of War
13. Chichibu no Yomatsuri (Chichibu Night Festival) – Voice of Mountains
14. Wajima Nuri, Important Intangible Cultural Properties
15. Zeami’s Noh
16. Furukawa Festival in Hida – Night with Drums
17. Like dancing, Like Flying – Flower Festival in Oku Mikawa
18. Protean Lacquer – TAGUCHI Yoshikuni, the beauty of Maki-e
19. Nebuta Festival – the Summer of Tsugaru People
20. Oni in Michinoku – the Village of Oni Kenbai (Devil’s Sword Dance)
21. Wood Life Revived – Wood Craft by KAWAKITA Ryozo
22. Shino Ware – SUZUKI Osamu
23. Living with Gods – Toya System Supporting Festivals in Japan
24. Kiraigo – the Village Where Both Oni (Devils) and Budha Live Together
25. Maki-e, MUROSE, Kazumi, the Beauty Over the Time
26. From NOMURA Mansaku to Mansai, and Yuki

 To view a video, please contact the counter of TOBUNKEN Library during opening hours. ( We plan to expand the available titles. Please refer to this page (Japanese only) for the latest information.
We hope you will visit the TOBUNKEN Library.

First Research Recording of the Azuma School Nigenkin, a Two-Stringed Zither

Recording scene (from left to right: TOSHA Rosen IX and TOSHA Rokou)

 On November 29th, 2023, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted the first research recording of the Azuma school two-stringed zither nigenkin in the recording room of the Performing Art Studio of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.

 The Azuma school nigenkin is a school of the Japanese two-stringed zither, an instrument in which two silk strings are stretched over a wooden body and played with a plectrum. The school was founded in Tokyo in the early Meiji era by TOSHA Rosen I, based on the two-stringed zither yakumogoto used in Shinto rituals. It is said that the Azuma school nigenkin became quite popular in the mid-Meiji era, as a female master of the instrument appears in NATSUME Soseki’s novel I am a Cat.

 In March 1973, TOSHA Rosui (later Rosen VI) and TOSHA Rosetsu (later Rosen VII) were selected by the government as holders of ‘Intangible Cultural Properties that need measures such as making records,’ and in March 2002, TOSHA Rosen VIII was registered as a holder of Intangible Cultural Property designated by the Taito Ward. However, as there are now only a few people carrying on the tradition and only a limited number of pieces have been recorded on publicly available audiovisual material, we decided to make new research recordings.

 The first recording included six pieces: ‘Mado no tsuki (lit. The Moon at the Window),’ ‘Hototogisu (Lesser Cuckoo),’ ‘Hatsuaki (Early Autumn),’ ‘Kinuta (Fulling Block),’ ‘Shiki no En (The Beauty of the Four Seasons),’ and ‘Sumidagawa (Sumida River).’ All the pieces were composed by Rosen I and their lyrics were included in Azuma-ryū Nigenkin Shōgashū published in 1885. They are performed by TOSHA Rosen IX and TOSHA Rokou, members of Azuma-kai, the performing group of the Azuma school of two-stringed zither music.

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to continue recording rare performances and precious full-length performances.

Participation in the 58th Autumn Conference of the Korean Society of Conservation Science for Cultural Heritage

A presentation by a participant
Kongju National University, the venue of the event

 Mr. CHIBA Tsuyoshi, Researcher of the Center for Conservation Science, participated in the 58th Autumn Conference of the Korean Society of Conservation Science for Cultural Heritage held at Kongju National University, South Korea, on November 10-11, 2023.
 In recent years, interest in the protection of modern cultural heritage has been increasing in South Korea. At the conference, a special session entitled “Research on Establishment of Standard Specifications for Conservation Treatment of Nationally Registered Cultural Properties (Movable Property) (1st round)” (hosted by the Cultural Heritage Administration and chaired by Dr. KIM Gyu-Ho, Kongju National University) discussed what kind of systems and conservation methods should be used to protect modern cultural heritage.
 Under the title of “Overview and Examples of Modern Cultural Heritage Protection in Japan,” Mr. Chiba reported on the current status of modern cultural heritage protection in the Japanese cultural property protection system, and outlined the characteristics of modern cultural heritage and the technical, theoretical, and institutional issues involved in its preservation.
 The modern era (Meiji era of Japan; late 19th to early 20th century) was a time of internationalization in many parts of the world, and in Japan, cultural heritage produced during this period often incorporates new materials and techniques brought from abroad. In addition to the diversification of materials and techniques, there are many unique aspects of modern cultural heritage, such as the “large number of industrial products,” and “many items still in use today.
 In addition to domestic research, international exchange is also important for the preservation of modern cultural heritage, which uses many common materials that transcend national borders, in contrast to traditional materials and techniques that are based on regional characteristics. We would like to continue to learn from each other’s efforts in both countries and deepen our research and exchange.

Conclusion of Agreement on Collaboration and Cooperation on Production of Raw Materials to Conserve Cultural Properties with Shibetu Town, Hokkaido Prefecture

Mr. Saito and Mr. Yamaguchi at the agreement signing ceremony
An exhibition on noriutsugi with panels and a documentary movie

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) and the government council of Shibetsu Town, Hokkaido Prefecture, concluded an agreement on collaboration and cooperation, and conducted a conclusion ceremony on November 2, 2023. Though production of noriutsugi* was almost lost, the people of Shibetsu Town is now working on its revival, as an official town project. This agreement is aims to promote discussion on appropriate ways to preserve and store produced noriutsugi; interaction for scientific identification of the characteristics of neri (dispersant) extracted from noriutsugi barks and exchange and provision of any related information. Noriutsugi is a material used in the manufacture of uda washi paper, and is essential to conserve hanging scrolls. Success of the project in Shibetsu Town will lead to a sustainable and stable supply of the material.

 Four members from TOBUNKEN, including the Director General, Mr. SAITO Takamasa, participated in the ceremony. The Mayor of Shibetsu Town, Mr. YAMAGUCHI Shougo, and Mr. SAITO each provided greeting remarks and signed the agreement.

 After the ceremonial signature, the lecture session was conducted. Dr. TATEISHI Toru, Director of the Center for Conservation Science, TOBUNKEN, conducted a lecture titled The Important Role of Shibetsu Town on Cultural Property Protection in Japan about the tight relationship between cultural property protection and Shibetsu Town, including the management of the Ichani Karikariusu Historical Site. Afterwards, Dr. HAYAKAWA Noriko, Head of the Restoration Materials Section of the center, spoke about the importance of Shibetsu Town for noriutsugi-neri production in a lecture titled Cultural Property Restoration and Noriutsugi.

 At the venue of the lectures, an exhibition related to noriutsugi and uda washi paper with related materials, panels, and documentary movies used for TOBUNKEN lobby exhibition was held. Many participants attended across the Town.

 We also visited the noriutsugi planting site before and before the ceremony. We expect that further research and exchange with the people involved at the site will lead to an outcome beneficial to cultural property restoration.

*Noriutsugi-neri, a component used as a neri (dispersant), for traditional papermaking (uda washi), has been produced by barking and extracting from wild noriutsugi plants (Hydrangea paniculate); however, it has become difficult to keep producing it in the traditional way. Therefore, an attempt to produce a sustainable supply of noriutsugi-neri product by systematically harvesting noriutsugi for barking, and scientific studies are on-going.

Architectural survey on vernacular stone masonry houses in Central Bhutan

Survey scene at an old house
A vernacular house in which rammed earth and stone masonry structures coexist.

 Since 2012, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been continuously engaged in research on vernacular houses in Bhutan, in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Dzongkha Development (DCDD), Ministry of Home Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan. The DCDD promotes a policy of preserving and utilizing vernacular houses by integrating them into the legal protection framework of cultural heritage, while TOBUNKEN supports the initiative from academic and technical aspects.

 Following the previous survey conducted in the eastern region from April to May 2023, the second field survey mission of this year was implemented from October 29 to November 4. Four staff members of TOBUNKEN, one from Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (NABUNKEN), and two external experts were dispatched, and the team was joined by two staff members from DCDD. We jointly carried out a field survey in the two provinces of the central region, namely Bumthang and Wangdue Phodrang.

 Most of the target houses had been identified in our preparative survey conducted in 2022. Eleven houses in total, including those newly found, were investigated this time in a detailed manner that included taking measurements and interviewing the residents. Two houses among them were rammed earth houses commonly seen in the western area of the country, and six were stone masonry houses widely located in the eastern area, while both construction techniques were combined in the other three houses. Especially in the eastern part of Wangdue Phodrang province, a tendency had been observed that the rammed earth technique was exclusively used further in the past, and stone masonry has gradually become dominant over time. However, our analysis of the transitional history of each house suggests that things were not so simple, and present more complex pictures.

 On the other hand, although we had been focusing on such aspects as building type, construction technique, and transitional history of the houses, this time during the interviews we started to pay more attention to ethnographic factors such as oral traditions about houses and how each room is used. By adding information about villager’s lifestyles, which reflected on the transition and locality of the housing type, into our consideration, hopefully diverse values of the Bhutanese traditional houses as cultural heritage will become clarified.

 The survey was implemented with the financial support of a JSPS Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research (B), “Vernacular stone masonry houses of Bhutan: study on the architectural characteristics and the suitable approach for protection as cultural heritage” with TOMODA Masahiko as the principal researcher.

Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part XIV) – Excavation Survey of the Terrace on the West Embankment of the East Baray

Excavation of the Terrace on the West Embankment of the East Baray
The newly installed (left) and the existing (right) supports at hazardous spots inside the East Tower of the Central Complex

 Ta Nei Temple is located facing the East Baray, one of the huge reservoirs that used to supply water for the Angkor capital. The terrace at the eastern end of Ta Nei Temple was built on top of the West Embankment of the East Baray, being not only significant as the main entrance of the temple, but also connected to the other temples through the Embankment. However, due to the extremely poor condition of the terrace, its construction period and structural features have remained uncertain.

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has so far conducted excavation of the terrace in three periods: November 2017, March 2018, and August to October 2018, aiming to delineate the plan of the terrace and consider the intention of construction. These previous surveys revealed plans of the terrace, especially the structure of the west wing. In this term, four staff members were dispatched from November 5 to 30, 2023 to carry out archaeological and architectural studies to understand the northern and the southern sections of the terrace as well as the construction process, in cooperation with Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA).

 Although traces of the stone masonry structure at the northern and southern sections of the terrace were scarcely identified, the excavation provided some clues to enable estimation of the original construction process of the terrace based on stratigraphical analysis of the mound structure. Additionally, a structure made of stones and bricks, which appears to be the foundation of a wooden pillar, was discovered on the surface of the terrace. Those remains indicate that a wooden structure was presumably built on the terrace at a certain time of its history. A level directly below where many roof tile fragments were unearthed by this excavation is thought to be the ground surface at the time when the wooden structure was built on the terrace. The details of the structure of the terrace still have not been ascertained, requiring further investigation.

 In addition to the above-described investigation of the terrace, we conducted minor repair work on the East Gate that had been completed last year, and continued its documentation. Moreover, we installed additional supports at hazardous spots inside the East Tower of the Central Complex, and held on-site meetings to discuss future collaborative activities at the temple.

Participating in the 4th Intergovernmental Conference for the Safeguarding and the Development of Angkor

Remarks of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia
Reporting on the conservation and sustainable development project of Ta Nei Temple

 On November 15, 2023 Ms. KUROIWA Chihiro, Associate Fellow of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, attended the “4th Intergovernmental Conference for the Safeguarding and the Development of Angkor” held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.
 In 1992 following the end of the Cambodian Civil War, Angkor Monuments were inscribed on the World Heritage List, but at the same time, they were also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. At the first intergovernmental conference held in Tokyo in 1993, co-chaired by Japan and France and attended by 30 countries and 7 international organizations, the “Tokyo Declaration” was adopted calling for international cooperation towards safeguarding the monuments and sustainable development of the surrounding area. In the same year, the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Sites of Angkor (ICC-Angkor) was established to formulate technical guidelines and evaluate the activities of international conservation teams.  
 The Intergovernmental Conference takes place every 10 years to review and evaluate the ICC-Angkor and to discuss the policies for future conservation and sustainable development. The second conference was held in 2003 (France), the third in 2013 (Cambodia), and the fourth was held this time in Paris. In the past 30 years, numerous international projects for restoration and conservation have been implemented at the Angkor Monuments and Sambor Prei Kuk, another World Heritage Site.
 His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia, H.E. Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, H.E. Ms. Rima Abdul-Malak, Minister of Culture of the French Republic, Mr. KOMURA Masahiro, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, and other international members attended the conference. During the technical session, presentations were made by teams from various countries involved in the conservation of Angkor and Sambor Prei Kuk monuments. We also reported on the collaboration with APSARA for the conservation and sustainable development of Ta Nei Temple.

Workshop on 3D Digital Documentation for Overseas Research: Intermediate/Advanced Course

The workshop

 3D documentation using Agisoft Metashape and iPhone Scaniverse has been rapidly introduced recently. The introduction of this technology can not only reduce the working time, but also make it possible to document cultural heritage with very high precision.

 Following a beginner course held in July, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation arranged an intermediate/advanced course on 3D digital documentation for experts who are working abroad, held on November 26 2023. Dr. NOGUCHI Atsushi from Komatsu University was invited as the lecturer. The main aim of this workshop was for the Japanese experts to learn 3D documentation and then to spread their knowledge among foreign experts.

 In total, 18 specialists with a variety of backgrounds such as archaeology, conservation science, and conservation architecture joined this workshop and studied how to make orthographic projections, cross-sections, contour maps, and tiered color maps from 3D models using Cloud Compare.

Research study on the conservation and restoration of trowel paintings on the earthen storehouse of the former Kina-Saffron-shu-Honpo

Cleaning of adhering materials
Treatment of detached finish layers

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been conducting research and surveys investigating stucco decorations since fiscal year 2021 as part of the “International Research on Technology for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage” program.
 From October 25 to November 16, 2023, a research survey on the conservation and restoration of trowel paintings on doors and under eaves of the earthen storehouse of the former Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture was conducted. This work was carried out as part of the “Conservation and restoration research of trowel paintings in the earthen storehouse of the former Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo” commissioned by Nagaoka City, with the aim of establishing conservation and restoration methods for trowel paintings in Japan from the perspective of cultural property conservation studies.
 In recent years, the value of trowel painting in Japan as a cultural asset has been increasing, and the importance of an intervention method called “conservation and restoration” that can be advanced with clear evidence that it is compatible with existing materials is therefore also increasing. In this research study, conservation and restoration experts on stucco decoration were invited from Europe to discuss how to deal with the various types of damage found on trowel paintings. As a result, we were able to establish appropriate conservation and restoration methods for the removal of dust and other adherents and for damaged areas such as peeling and flaking, and achieved a certain level of success.
 In the future, the state of the wall paintings after conservation and restoration will be monitored, and methods for reinforcing the plaster, which has deteriorated over time, will be studied further.

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