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 54th Open Lecture

A scene from the open lecture

 Every autumn, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems invites a wide range of audiences to the “Open Lecture” where researchers give lectures on the results of their research. A lecture titled “Road from Shape, Way to Shape” was held on October 30th, 2020. It is the fifth year for us to hold the lecture under the title. In previous years, lectures were held over two days with outside lecturers. However, in this year, we shortened the period to one day and reduced lecturers to two, selected from our institute, as prevention measures against COVID-19. The number of audience was also limited to 30, chosen by raffle. In the venue, temperature check was conducted and the speakers and audiences were asked to wear a mask and sanitize the hands.
 In the first session, Mr. SHIOYA Jun, Director of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems and Head of the Modern/Contemporary Art Section delivered a lecture, titled “Neoclassicism in Modern Japanese Painting: Focusing on the Works of KOBAYASHI Kokei.” Mr. SHIOYA introduced the emergence of sophisticated and quiet styles in Japanese paintings represented by KOBAYASHI Kokei in the pre-war period of the Showa era. He also showed many slides and materials, explaining that those styles were influenced by older paintings from either Japan or China.
 In the second session, Ms. FUTAGAMI Yoko, Head of the Cultural Properties Information Section made a presentation titled “Japanese Lacquer Products Exported to Thailand: Focusing on the Lacquer Doors of Wat Rajpradit, a first-grade royal Buddhist temple”. Wat Rajpradit was built in Bangkok in 1864 by order of King Rama IV. Ms. FUTAGAMI reported that Japan-made door panels decorated with lacquer paintings are used in the temple. She also explained the findings of the optical survey conducted on the doors and other lacquer products imported from Japan.
The results of the questionnaire survey of the audience shows that more than 90% of the participants of the lecture were “satisfied” or “generally satisfied” with the lecture.

Opening Commemorative Lecture at Exhibition “BVNGO NAMBAN: Namban Culture Lord Ōtomo Sōrin Cherished” held at Oita Prefectural Center for Archaeological Research

Lecture at Heiwa Shimin Koen Noh(能)Theater, Oita City

 Bungo Province (the south-central region of Oita Prefecture) was ruled by OTOMO Sorin, a famous Christian feudal lord during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. It is a land with a history of missionary work by Francis Xavier and many other European missionaries. An exhibition, “BVNGO NAMBAN: Namban Culture Lord Ōtomo Sōrin Cherished,” was held at the Oita Prefectural Center for Archaeological Research from October 10th to December 13th, 2020. It introduced the relationship between the province and Namban culture and/or Christianity, as well as the results of scientific analysis of Namban cultural artifacts, which has been making great progress in recent years.
 The exhibition consisted mainly of the artifacts of the Namban culture, including ceramics excavated from the Bungo-Funai archaeological site, a stronghold ruin of the OTOMO clan, as well as related works preserved in different areas in Japan, including the Namban lacquer and paintings that Tsukumi City has collected over the years. Mr. KOBAYASHI Koji, Head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, spoke at the opening commemorative lecture held on the first day of the exhibition at the request of the organizer. His lecture, titled “Catholic Missionary Activity and Namban Lacquer -Consideration by Scientific Analysis, Comparison with Medal Research- ,” focused on the latest research findings on Christian artifacts and the Namban lacquer, which correlated with the exhibition.
 Although the venue was set up with a large seating space in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection, about 200 people attended the lecture, showing the deep interest of the local residents in Namban culture and the history of Christian missionary work.

Dissemination and Utilization of Knowledge of Art Magazine, “Mizue”: The 4th Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

A scene from the seminar

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems is now actively moving forward with digitalization and open access of the archives.>
 The art magazine, “Mizue,” which was first published in 1905, became available on the web in 2012 ahead of any other archived materials. The digital archive was developed jointly by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) and the National Institute of Informatics. Pages from the first issue published in the Meiji era to the 90th issue are now available on the web at
 At the seminar held on October 8th, 2020, Dr. MARUKAWA Yuzo (an Associate Professor at the National Museum of Ethnology and a visiting researcher in the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems at TNRICP), one of the development members, lectured on the topic of “Dissemination and Utilization of Related Materials in the Study of Modern Art.” Although the site already has an index of articles by the author, Dr. MARUKAWA is continuously enhancing the index by further expanding the search function. He pointed out that an enhanced index would allow for both specialization and universalization as well as the sharing of information across professional boundaries. Using the paintings and writings in “Mizue” as examples that provide information on various regions in Japan and abroad, he presented its value and attractiveness as a collection of fieldnotes that have been unrecognized by art history specialists. He also made an impressive comment that dissemination and utilization of such knowledge with infinite potential has something timeless as well as in common with the “Technology of Intellectual Production” advocated by the ethnologist, UMESAO Tadao. The Thematic Exhibition UMESAO Tadao’s 100th Anniversary: The Front-runner of Intellectual Production, of which Dr. MARUKAWA was in charge, was held (September 3rd–December 1st, 2020) at the National Museum of Ethnology, which coincided with the seminar.

Thematic Exhibition “Records and Evaluation of Japanese Art: Trajectory of Art History Research Viewed through Scholars’ Notebooks”

Exhibit in Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 14 of the Tokyo National Museum
The Exhibition’s Dedicated Website

 An exhibition regarding research notebooks of Imaizumi Yusaku (1850–1931), Hirako Takurei (1877–1911), and Tanaka Ichimatsu (1895–1983) owned by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, as well as research notebooks of Doi Tsugiyoshi (1906–1991) owned by the Kyoto Institute of Technology, and others was held at the Tokyo National Museum from July 14th to August 23rd, 2020. The research notebooks of Tanaka Ichimatsu and Doi Tsugiyoshi were showcased at the exhibition “Making notes of Japanese Art History―The research notes of Aimi Kouu, Tanaka Ichimatsu, and Doi Tsugiyoshi” held in 2018 (organized by the Kosetsu Memorial Museum, Jissen Women’s University and the Museum and Archives of Kyoto Institute of Technology). However this time, their notebooks were exhibited together with two artworks owned by the Tokyo National Museum. In the past, when it was not easy to take photos, the principal method of research was to sketch artworks by hand. It is possible to go through the whole process of the study, from the way the researcher worked with each subject to how they recorded and evaluated them, by studying these research notebooks. Reservations were required for the exhibition with the purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, as a special exhibition “KIMONO: Fashioning Identities” was held at the same time, many people visited and enjoyed the exhibition. A special website was also launched for the exhibition (
 This website continues to be accessible. Please visit the site to view the pages of research notebooks that were not presented at the exhibition as well as transcriptions of the research notebooks.

The 3rd Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

A scene from the seminar
A page of “Portrait of a Man” in Duveen’s collection in Sandro Botticelli by YASHIRO

 At the 3rd seminar organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on August 25th, YAMANASHI Emiko delivered a presentation titled “Correspondence between Joseph Duveen and YASHIRO Yukio archived in the Getty Research Institute”.
 YASHIRO Yukio (1890-1975) played an important role in the establishment of the Institute of Art Research, which is now Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, studied in Europe from 1921 to 1925, and published a book titled Sandro Botticelli (Medici Society, 1925) in English as a result of his study under Bernard Berenson (1865-1959). Berenson was known as a masterful scholar of Renaissance paintings living in the Villa I’Tatti with a large garden near Florence, Italy. It is said that Berenson’s financial success had been based on a contract with Joseph Duveen (British nationality, 1869-1939). Duveen had galleries in New York, Paris and London and helped American millionaires such as Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) and John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) collect classical European paintings. He also founded the Duveen Wing in the Tate Gallery in the U.K.
 Yamanashi translated and analyzed the correspondence between Duveen and YASHIRO and found that YASHIRO sent letters to Duveen as a pupil of Berenson before the publication of his book on Botticelli asking for research of paintings in Duveen’s collection after whichYASHIRO sent his opinion on each work. Some letters reveal that Duveen had been interested in Japan in the 1920’s as a market for classical European paintings and expected YASHIRO to mediate. This seminar gave new aspects to the study of YASHIRO as an art historian as well as the history of European painting collections in Japan.

A Hands-on Seminar on Documentation and Database Compilation of Cultural Properties — How to Photograph Cultural Properties — Seminar on Practical Photographing as a Tool for Documenting Cultural Properties

Mr. Shirono showing how to hold a camera properly

 Study and documentation of cultural properties are means to develop a deeper understanding of them. Dissemination of the documented information provides many people with opportunities to become familiar with such properties. It also provides a basis for restoration if any cultural property were to be damaged. Therefore, documentation is necessary in terms of these properties’ preservation and utilization. On the subject of photography, which is a means to document cultural properties, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties held the seminar, referred to in the title, at the Uehara Museum of Art in Shimoda City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on August 24th, 2020. The seminar was organized with the support of the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum Association as well as in collaboration with the Museum. Eleven people, including staff of museums and art galleries, and local government officials in charge of cultural properties in Shizuoka Prefecture, participated in the seminar. For the seminar, the Uehara Museum of Art took proper measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which included keeping distances between seats, ventilation of the lecture rooms, and temperature checks of the participants.
 The seminar comprised a morning and an afternoon session. In the morning session, Mr. Tajima Sei, chief curator of the Uehara Museum of Art, shared his photography experience during his research on temples, followed by an open discussion on issues regarding photographing in the participants’ daily activities. Mr. Shirono Seiji, an artificer of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, answered participants’ questions. He also explained, using examples, the importance of photographing focused on the significance of the subject which should be recorded.
 In the afternoon, participants took photos of three artworks owned by the Uehara Museum of Art, using their own cameras. Mr. Shirono explained photographing methods and techniques, including the best lighting to draw out the character of the work, as well as how to properly record colors by manually setting the camera’s white balance. He also showed participants how to operate the photographing equipment. The afternoon session provided hands-on practice as curators of the Uehara Museum of Art, including Mr. Tajima, also gave an exposition of the research techniques of the work.
 The seminar was well received as participants said it was fruitful and productive. It was meaningful for us as well, as it provided us with an opportunity to hear about issues on photography directly from the participants. We would like to show our deepest appreciation to the Uehara Museum of Art and its staff for their great support in planning and organizing the event. We will continue to improve our hands-on seminars, building upon this valuable experience.

The reopening of the Library

Handing materials over the counter equipped with plastic sheets to prevent droplet infection due to COVID-19.

 We reopened the Library of our Institute on June 10th after keeping it temporarily closed since February 28th, 2020, as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19. As a continued preventive measure against infection, we have reduced the number of hours and the number of days it is open. Visitors are required to make a reservation in advance, wear a facemask and use nitrile rubber gloves in the Library. We regret the inconvenience caused by this policy. Our staff have been making their best efforts to provide necessary service, securing the safety of all users and staff, while the risk of infection is still high. We deeply appreciate your understanding and kind cooperation.
 Please visit the following link to make a reservation.
 We also provide a remote copy service, which enables you to obtain necessary materials from home. Although it may take some time before the materials reach you due to a lack of staff working here, it is still well worth trying. We highly recommend that you utilize this option.

“Tradition” Observed in Imperial Ceremonies in the Modern and Present Age: The 1st Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems.

The seminar

 The year 2019 witnessed the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (Great Thanksgiving Ceremony). These great imperial ceremonies marked the change of the era from Heisei to Reiwa. The memory of the events is still vivid in our hearts. The graceful attire used in those ceremonies must have captivated many of you. How have a series of events that remind us of ancient ceremonies been passed down through the five eras namely the Meiji, Taisho, Showa, Heisei, and Reiwa eras? The presentation, “Imperial ceremonies in modern ages and the usages or practices of the court or military households,” by Mr. TANAKA Jun, a Visiting Researcher, in the seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on June 23rd, 2020, depicted a few aspects of “the tradition” of the Imperial Household in the modern and present age.
 Western dress has become common even in the Imperial Household since the Meiji Era, limiting the attire of the Imperial Household to be only used in religious services and rites. Whereas the reduction of the usage of the attire threatened its discontinuation, research on the usages or practices of the court or military households began to increase in importance to avoid such a situation and the result of the research has played an important role in each imperial ceremony. As we compare the attire used in imperial ceremonies in different eras, it can be observed that it has been through not a few changes which can be attributed to visual effects and the question of expense. Mr. TANAKA’s presentation made me recognize the existence of something very common between the manner of imperial ceremonies handing down images of “tradition” while flexibly corresponding to the needs of the ages and the manner of conserving and handing down tangible and intangible cultural properties.
 This seminar convened approximately four months after the previous one with a recess in between caused by spread of the new coronavirus. As a preventive measure against viral infection, the venue was changed from the seminar room on the second floor to the seminar hall on the basement level to avoid a crowded place and close contact.

Publication of the Art Catalog Digital Archive and Its Future Prospects–Toward New Utilization of Art Catalogs–The 10th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

A scene from the presentation

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has provided its collection of 2,565 art catalogs issued from the Meiji period to the Showa period for public reading for many years. Due to the poor condition of the original art catalogs, we started their digitization jointly with the Tokyo Art Club in 2015 (refer to the April 2015 monthly report:, and they were opened to the public as the Art Catalog Digital Archive in May 2019 (refer to the April 2019 monthly report:
 For the 10th seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on February 25th, 2020, we invited three presenters, who introduced examples of utilization of art catalog digital archives in various fields under the title “Publication of the Art Catalog Digital Archive and Its Future Prospects–Toward New Utilization of Art Catalogs.” The first presentation titled “Utilization of Art Catalogs in the Studies of Buddhist Statues and the Significance of Their Publication” was delivered by Dr. YAMAGUCHI Ryusuke (Senior Researcher of Buddhist Sculpture at the Nara National Museum), the second one titled “Utilization and Development of Art Catalogs in the Exhibition of HIJIKATA Torei (at the Tottori Prefectural Museum)” was presented by Ms. YAMASHITA Mayumi (Curator at the Hosomi Museum), the third one titled “How to Utilize the Art Catalog Digital Archive in the Studies of Craftwork and Its Examples” was delivered by Ms. TSUKIMURA Kino (Curator at the Fukuyama Museum of Art), and the fourth one titled “Problems of Early modern Paintings from the Art Catalog Digital Archive” was presented by YASUNAGA Takuyo from the Institute. The seminar attracted an audience of around 50 people, including curators and researchers from all over Japan. After the presentations, the four presenters held an active discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of the digital archive, as well as its issues and problems. The presenters also answered questions from the audience. The questionnaire conducted at the venue showed that 87% of the audience was “very satisfied” with the seminar.

Presentation at the Meeting of International Terminology Working Group (ITWG), Getty Center

Meeting of International Terminology Working Group

 At the International Terminology Working Group (ITWG) Meeting held in the Getty Center located in Los Angeles, the United States, on February 6th and 7th, 2020, we delivered a presentation titled “Japanese artists, TNRICP”. This presentation reported on the development process of our providing Japanese artists’ name data for the Getty Vocabularies, as part of the joint project between Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) and the Getty Research Institute. The ITWG, led by the Getty Research Institute, aims to discuss the common topics on Getty Vocabularies (, the controlled vocabularies comprising Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), Union List of Artist Names (ULAN), Cultural Objects Name Authority (CONA), Getty Iconography Authority (IA), and other programs. The meeting generally takes place every two years. This meeting attracted about 35 people from the United States, Taiwan, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, Israel, Croatia, the UAE, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and other countries. Persons in charge of Getty Vocabularies programs reported their current situations and progress in function enhancement, while the institutions involved delivered presentations on pioneering practices in providing data for Getty Vocabularies. During the discussions about issues common to the Getty Research Institute and the institutions concerned, in response to these reports and presentations, useful advice was provided by participants from other countries.
 International technical terms and biographical dictionaries are essential in introducing Japanese cultural properties to overseas in local languages. Getty Vocabularies find another way by focusing on today’s technologies and the alliance among the institutions concerned. By providing Japanese artists’ name data accumulated by TNRICP for many years, we aim to disseminate Japanese cultural properties, and support international studies on Japanese cultural heritage.

Publication of a Brochure Titled “Techniques Supporting Traditional Performing Arts V: Shirabeo by YAMASHITA Yuji”

Brochure “Techniques Supporting Traditional Performing Arts V: Shirabeo by YAMASHITA Yuji”

 The fifth brochure of the series addressing “Techniques Supporting Traditional Performing Arts” has been published. This brochure focuses on Mr. YAMASHITA Yuji, manufacturer of “shirabeo” (also called “shirabe”). Shirabeo is a special hemp rope used to tie the front and back leather of small hand drums, large hand drums, and drums used for noh and kabuki plays and in festivals held all over Japan. Mr. Yamashita has been working on the production of shirabeo, nurturing the younger generations, and disseminating production techniques as the fourth head of a long-established store called Yamashita Keishudo (Kyoto), which has been dealing in shirabeo for generations. The brochure mentions a part of the secret technique involved in producing shirabeo as “firmly yet softly twist the rope.” The survey on Mr. Yamashita’s technique in producing shirabeo was conducted prior to the publication of the brochure. The outline of the survey is available in the “Investigation Report on Techniques for Preserving Cultural Properties with Focus on Musical Instruments 2” (MAEHARA Megumi & HASHIMOTO Kaoru, “Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage” 13, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, 2018). Please refer to the report along with the brochure. (Access here to download the report:
 The series of brochures is available to those who require it for any non-commercial purpose. It will be delivered by Yu-Pack parcel post for COD. (Please note that the brochure may be out of stock.)
 If you require any of the brochures, please send us details of 1. Your name, 2. Postal code & address, 3. Phone number, 4. The brochure you need (I-V) and the number of copies, by e-mail to (Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage).

• “Techniques Supporting Traditional Performing Arts I: Biwa by ISHIDA Katsuyoshi”
• “Techniques Supporting Traditional Performing Arts II: Koma (Bridge of Shamisen) by OKOUCHI Masanobu”
• “Techniques Supporting Traditional Performing Arts III: Futozao Shamisen (Three stringed lute with thickest neck) by ISAKA Shigeo”
• “Techniques Supporting Traditional Performing Arts IV: Wind Instruments for Gagaku music by YAMADA Zenichi”
• The latest “Techniques Supporting Traditional Performing Arts V: Shirabeo (Tension ropes for drums) by YAMASHITA Yuji”

 We will continue to publish brochures focusing on techniques to produce/repair musical instruments as skills to conserve cultural properties.

Temporary Closure of the Library and Guaranteed Open Access to Its Materials

The screen of Tobunken OPAC
An art exhibition catalog issued in the Meiji period, which is downloadable in PDF format

 To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Library of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been temporarily closed since February 28th, 2020, like other facilities of the Independent Administrative Institution, National Institutes for Cultural Heritage. We apologize for any inconvenience. Since the government declared a state of emergency, many staff members of this Institute have been staying home. Thus, countless numbers of people have been forced to suspend their studies at school or at work throughout the world.
 Under the circumstances, you can make full use of databases or open access materials via the Internet. The Institute has been working on digitalizing its collection and promoting their further utilization. Through the joint project with Getty Research Institute, we opened to the public more than 900 art exhibition catalogs issued from the Meiji period to the early Showa period on the Internet in October 2019. We are now digitalizing almost 730 titles (1,700 issues) of books printed from woodblocks in the Edo period, which are owned by the Institute, to guarantee their open access. These books will be searchable for browsing from the Getty Research Portal in 2020.
 You can browse the digital collection through the joint project with Getty Research Institute from here:
You can access “Journal of Art Studies,” “Science for Conservation,” “Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage,” “Yearbook of Japanese Art,” and other publications from the repository of the Institute:
In addition, you can search for a wide variety of research materials stored in the Institute’s databases through “Tobunken Research Collection”:
We will continue to provide access to free research materials from anywhere, at any time, for the convenience of more researchers.

Important Cultural Property “Yojinsogakuzu Byobu” in the Eisei Bunko Museum’s collection: Digital Content Released

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems creates digital contents of any artworks investigated and studied at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, to release it for the Library. We have released the digital content of “Yojinsogakuzu Byobu” (Scenes of European Ways of Life; Important Cultural Property), owned by the Eisei Bunko Museum—it is one of the early Western-influenced works in Japanese painting, where Western people, manners and customs, and landscapes are depicted with Western-influenced techniques. A careful examination of this work shows that unique techniques, different from those of ordinary Japanese paintings, are used for the folding screen, a typical painting format in Japan. We created this digital content according to the report issued by the Institute in 2015. The dedicated computer in the Library shows the research results, such as the high-resolution color image, near infrared image, and the results of the analysis of coloring material using X-ray fluorescence technologies. This computer may only be used for academic or research purposes, and copying or printing the digital content is prohibited. However, you may freely access the large amount of artwork information containing a variety of digital images. The dedicated computer is available during the Library’s opening hours. Please refer to the following URL for the instructions on use:

Investigation of the Japan-made Lacquerwork Found in Bangkok, Thailand

The investigation at Wat Rajpradit

 Wat Rajpradit, which was built in 1864 as per the wish of King Rama IV, is a first-grade royal Buddhist temple located in Bangkok, Thailand. For the entrances of its ordination hall (ubosot), Japan-made door panels, created by employing the “mother-of-pearl with underpaint” technique, were used. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is providing technical support to restore these panels at the request of the temple and the Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture of Thailand. The restoration work is also an opportunity to better understand this cultural property. Even in Japan-exported lacquerwork, there are few instances of research being pursued into works produced in the 19th century, and the background of the door panels is unclear. Therefore, we conducted detailed investigation of the Japan-made lacquerwork, including the works of mother-of-pearl with underpaint, in Bangkok from January 12th through 18th, 2020.
 During the mission, we checked the condition of the door panels at Wat Rajpradit, and exchanged ideas on the restoration plan to be implemented proactively from the Thai side, in the presence of the Director of the Fine Arts Department. Having an opportunity to do research at Wat Pho, one of the most prestigious first-grade royal Buddhist temples, we observed in detail a pair of long cover plates (to protect palm leaf manuscripts on which sutras or other documents are written) decorated with mother-of-pearl and lacquer. This year, we also scrutinized part of the cover plates of the palm leaf manuscripts created during the reigns of King Rama I through V, which are stored at the National Library of Thailand. In addition to those already known, we found a piece of cover plate decorated with mother-of-pearl and lacquer.
 Furthermore, we researched a toolbox used by Mr. MIKI Sakae (1884–1966), who had arrived in Thailand in 1911 and worked as a craftsman and educator in the field of lacquer art. We feel that our investigation reveals that the communication between Japan and Thailand has spread further through the Japan-made lacquerwork, including the works of mother-of-pearl with underpaint created from the late Edo period to the Meiji period.

Senior Statesman INOUE Kaoru and the Meiji Culture—The 9th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

From INOUE Kaoru’s catalog of collection, “Segaian Kanshō” (owned by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)

 INOUE Kaoru (1835–1915) was a politician with tremendous influence in the political and business circles during the Meiji period. During the disturbances before the Meiji Restoration, he emerged as a leader of the anti-foreigner movement in his native Choshu domain, and served in several important positions in the new Meiji government, such as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Home Affairs. He is well known for leading the Westernizing policies, including Rokumeikan diplomacy, and was also a man of refined tastes who enjoyed the tea ceremony with tea masters from the business world, such as MASUDA Takashi (called MASUDA Don-oh). He collected masterpieces of oriental art, including “Momohato-zu (Pigeon on a Peach Branch)” presumedly painted by Emperor Huizong of Song. The presentation titled “Meiji Culture and INOUE Kaoru,” delivered by Dr. YODA Toru (Chief of Curators’ Section, Toyama Memorial Museum) for the 9th seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on January 21st, 2020, highlighted Inoue’s significance in cultural history.
 It is said that Inoue started collecting antiques in the early Meiji period. During the 1880s, he acquired “Jūichimen Kannonzō (Eleven-Headed Kannon, Skt. Ekadasamukha),” an excellent Buddhist artwork from the Heian period, presently owned by the Nara National Museum. He sometimes acquired masterpieces in an ungentlemanly manner as well, and published a catalog of his collection tilted “Segaian Kanshō (Appreciation of Segaian)” in 1912. Earlier, he also had invited Emperor Meiji home in 1887, and played an important role in entertainment history by showing him a Kabuki program performed by ICHIKAWA Danjuro IX as well as interacting with the comic storyteller SANYUTEI Encho.
 After the presentation by Dr. Yoda, which revealed Inoue’s involvement in Japanese culture from diverse perspectives, Mr. SAITO Yasuhiko (Professor Emeritus at the University of Yamanashi), Mr. TANAKA Sendo (Director of Santokuan), and Dr. TSUKAMOTO Maromitsu (Associate Professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, the University of Tokyo) joined the discussion. How Inoue developed his aesthetic sense while working hard as a politician is still not known though. Future research is expected to focus on his various aspects veiled in mystery.

The Friendship between KURODA Seiki and KUME Keiichiro – The 7th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

KUME Keiichiro (left) and KURODA Seiki during their study in France
Part of the letter written to KUME Kei-ichiro by KURODA Seiki dated on April 1st, 1895, which includes the view of marriage expressed partially in French by him right after his marriage

 KURODA Seiki (1866-1924) and KUME Keiichiro (1866-1934), who learned oil painting from Raphael COLLIN––an academic painter in France––were close friends and shared an atelier. After returning to Japan, they founded a new fine art association named Hakubakai. Through their involvement in art education and administration, they endeavored to innovate and develop the sphere of Japanese oil painting.
 The Kume Museum of Art, which owns and publishes the works and materials of KUME Keiichiro, and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, which was founded with the inheritance of KURODA Seiki, began joint research in 2016 in order to investigate the materials pertaining to their friendship. The letters exchanged between them particularly attract attention as materials that illustrate their social and professional friendship. The 7th seminar titled “Reading the Letters Written by KURODA Seiki and KUME Keiichiro” was organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on December 10th, 2019. SHIOYA Jun of the Institute delivered a presentation regarding the letters written to Kume by Kuroda, while Ms. ITO Fumiko of the Kume Museum of Art addressed the letters written to Kuroda by Kume.
 The letters investigated by this research were written from the 1890s until 1925, after they returned to Japan from France. They wrote not in the epistolary style used generally at that time, but in a colloquial style to report their productions’ progress and their travel impressions. They occasionally wrote in French to secretly pour forth their feelings. In 1910 and 1911, Kume visited the UK to do clerical work for the association for exhibits for the Japan-British Exhibition. The letters written during the period¬¬––in which he detailed the exhibition, the reunion with Mr. Collin, and interaction with local painters––represent the network of oil painters of that time.
 After the presentation, two Visiting Researchers who helped us reprint the letters, Mr. TANAKA Jun and Mr. SAITO Tatsuya, joined the opinion exchange. We will release the outcomes of this research in “The Journal of Art Studies,” which will be published in the next fiscal year.

Researching Medieval Glass in Japan – The 8th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

A scene from the seminar

 At the 8th seminar organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on December 24th, 2019, HAYASHI Yoshimi––a Part-time Lecturer at Tokai University––delivered a presentation titled “Researching Medieval Glass in Japan – Based on the Outcomes in 2018 and 2019.”
 Dr. Hayashi has been researching the history of glass in East Asia for many years. For this seminar, she introduced a part of her outcomes from the collection and observational research of Japanese glass products manufactured between the 13th and 16th century, which she has researched after writing her doctoral dissertation in 2018. The actual state of Japanese medieval glass has been almost unknown due to the rarity of its unearthed products. However, in recent years, glass products manufactured during the aforementioned period have been excavated in Kyoto, Hakata and other areas. An improved understanding of Japanese medieval glass is expected based on these products, which will add to the existing literature and materials. Dr. Hayashi mentioned the following three key aspects in the research of Japanese glass produced between the 13th and 16th century: (1) Getting a whole sketch, (2) Determination of production areas, and (3) Consideration from historical and broad-based viewpoints. Then, she presented her views on the manufacturing technique and origin of the glassware unveiled, through her study of written and excavated materials.
 Ms. INOUE Akiko, director of the Association for Glass Art Studies, Japan, also attended the seminar as a commentator so as to facilitate a discussion on various front-line topics pertaining to glass history studies, proceeding step-by-step alongside a few researchers.

Seminar on the Recording and Database Compilation of Cultural Properties

A scene from the presentation, showing the breakdown of the participants

 Inventories of cultural properties are very important for museums, galleries, and archives, as well as for local governments. It works as a principle source of information not only for the research/study and the conservation/management of cultural properties but also for planning exhibitions and rental schedules. Photos, which record the visual information of cultural properties, also support research and studies. Their management with listed cultural properties enables more appropriate conservation and utilization of cultural heritage and its related information. Thus, the recording of cultural properties and the database compilation of such records are essential to the conservation and utilization of cultural heritage. However, not a few persons concerned have budgetary and technological restrictions, which render them difficult. Therefore, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a seminar for the same on December 2nd, 2019.
 At the seminar, we used examples to explicate the significance of recording and compiling the databases for cultural properties. We also introduced a free system that facilitates building a database of cultural properties, which has been worked on by the Cultural Properties Information Section of the department in recent years. In addition, the Image Laboratory of the section presented various types of photography as a means to record information on cultural properties, along with relevant concepts and concrete examples.
 Almost 120 people attended the seminar, particularly those who are practically involved in the conservation and utilization of cultural heritage. The participants’ significant number of questions related to routine tasks made us believe that they were quite interested in this topic. Although we organized this comprehensive seminar as a first step, we seek to further transmit diversified information, such as seminars focusing on specific themes and workshops with practical training.

The 53rd Open Lecture

Ongoing open lecture

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems organized a two-day open lecture on November 1st and 2nd, 2019 in the seminar room of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. Every autumn, the Institute invites the public to attend presentations delivered by its researchers, along with outside lecturers, on the outcomes of their daily research. This program is held not only as part of the Lecture Series of the Ueno no Yama Cultural Zone Festival organized by Taito City but is also associated with Classics Day on November 1st each year.
 This year, the lectures covered four topics: Five Hundred Luohan Passed Down by Daitoku-ji Temple and Rules of Purity for the Chan Monastery (Chanyuan qinggui): Depiction of Monastic Life” (MAIZAWA Rei, Researcher of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems); “The Shape of the Seated Amitabha Statue Placed in the Lecture Hall of Koryu-ji Temple and Its Reflecting Wishes–Based on the Portrait of the Petitioner, ‘Nagahara no Miyasudokoro’” (Dr, HARA Hirofumi, Teacher of Keio Shiki Senior High School); “Research and Study of the Minakuchi Rapier, the Only Western-style Sword Handed Down to the Present Time in Japan” (KOBAYASHI Koji, Head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems); and “The Front Line of the Study of Swords at SPring-8: Towards the Education Breakthrough of the Production Technology” (Dr. TANAKA Manako, Department of History and Culture, Showa Women’s University). The first two lectures were delivered on November 1st and the latter two the following day. Across both days, 151 people were in attendance. According to the results of the questionnaire survey, nearly 90% of the audience responded “satisfied” or “almost satisfied.” Thus, the Institute provided the public with a good opportunity to learn the cultural properties with interest by disclosing the research trends and new findings of our researchers.

Lecture on the “Cruciform Sword” as a Commemorative Event of the Local History Society of Minakuchi Town, Koka City


 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems has been leading in the research and study of the “Cruciform Sword (Minakuchi Rapier),” possessed by Fujisaka Shrine in Minakuchi, Koka City for six consecutive years. In fiscal 2019, to pack up our research, we released our outcomes through a presentation at the ICOM Kyoto, made mainly for overseas experts (, and the 53rd open lecture of the Institute for the public (see the Monthly Report of November: Following these, on November 9th, we had a great opportunity to deliver a lecture as an event commemorating the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Local History Society of Minakuchi Town, Koka City, where this Western-style sword has been handed down to the present time. Under the title of “Challenging the Enigma of ‘Cruciform Sword’ Possessed by Fujisaka Shrine,” jointly with Ms. NAGAI Akiko, curator of the Minakuchi Museum of History and Folklore in Koka City, partner of our research, we reported the research outcomes and historical significance of this sword to local people. The audience of as many as 100 people gathering in the local venue, located just opposite to Fujisaka Shrine, listened to our research report with much interest.
 We feel that giving this lecture has allowed us to partially fulfill our research obligation. Returning our attention to preparing our research report with joint researchers, we will tentatively wrap up the study of this Western-style sword.

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