|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
Installing the electrically-operated bookshelf bases on the rails
Electrically-operated bookshelves being set
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) maintains materials, including books and photographs, collected by TOBUNKEN’s departments and centers (the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Center for Conservation Science, and the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation) mainly in the TOBUNKEN Library. The library itself consists of the reading room and stack rooms; however, the aforementioned materials can be accessed by external researchers at the Library, which is open three days a week.
Almost 23 years have passed since TOBUNKEN moved to its current building in 2000. During these years, TOBUNKEN has continuously been collecting materials, including books and photographs, through its research activities. Furthermore, it has recently had more opportunities to receive donations of archives from the collections of ex-employees and related researchers. Through these activities, the Library has been able to accumulate many more materials, and enhance the quality of those materials. At the same time, we foresaw that the bookshelves would be overflowing in the near future. Therefore, we reconstructed the bookshelves as part of the framework entitled “planned management of investigational research equipment.”
During this reconstruction, the fixed bookshelves were replaced with electrically-operated bookshelves in almost one-fourth of the total floor space of the second-floor stack room. The reconstruction started on January 10th, 2023. After taking out the materials from the bookshelves, removing the fixed bookshelves, laying the rails for new bookshelves, setting the new electrically-operated bookshelves, and setting the materials back to the new shelves, the renovation was completed on the 30th. The space which was previously home to five fixed bookshelves (612 shelves, 526m in total) now accommodates nine new electrically-operated bookshelves (1,248 shelves, 1,073 in total), with capacity almost doubling.
We apologize for any inconvenience resulting from the Library’s temporary closure during the reform. We continue to work to collect, pass down, and utilize materials valuable for research and conservation of cultural properties. We hope that the TOBUNKEN archives can well serve your research activities.
Discussion at the seminar
Some of the materials displayed in the room
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) published 75 Years of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo*, comprising of two volumes published from 2008 to 2010. Varieties of materials, mainly documents, were collected and created during its compiling and editing process. These are essential historical papers to discuss the TOBUNKEN activities. The Archive Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems has been cataloging these papers as “TOBUNKEN Historical Papers”.
The process to organize materials with arrangement and description to make them accessible and preserved for future use is one of the archivist’s important works. In the description process, material details and components are described to identify and represent the materials. Then, these data are analyzed and recorded. In the arrangement process, the materials are organized from both physical and intellectual aspects with respect to their provenance and original orders to protect their context. Through the arrangement and description, data are constructed for finding aids and ensuring usability.
TAMURA Ayako, Research Assistant of the Department, made a presentation on the organization of archival material both in person and online at the seminar held on January 31st, 2023. TAMURA discussed the arrangement and description to enable the materials accessible and utilized for research via the application of the second edition of ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description set by the International Council on Archives (ICA). She also introduced the materials recently found. Some materials were displayed in the room, and the participants could take them in their hands.
The seminar was chaired by KIKKAWA Hideki, the section head. The former editorial committee members of 75 Years of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo participated in the seminar and shared the history and mission of the committee. Discussions pertaining to new research possibilities via the utilization of papers and the importance of recordkeeping of ongoing research projects were actively conducted. There are plans to make “TOBUNKEN Historical Papers” accessible this spring.
* The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) was called the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo at the time.
Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) by NAKAI Sotaro published in Chuo Bijutsu Vol. 11, No. 1 (January 1925)
Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai（Association for the Creation of National Painting）was founded by TSUCHIDA Bakusen, MURAKAMI Kagaku, and others in Kyoto, in 1918. It is renowned as one of the major innovation movements on Japanese-style paintings in the Taishō era. The ideology of this activity was based on NAKAI Sotaro (1879-1966), who taught art history at Kyoto City College of Painting (presently Kyoto City University of Arts). He was a member of Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai as an appraisal advisor, and published his critiques on the exhibitions (Kokuten*) and direction of the association in newspapers and art magazines.
SHIOYA Jun provided a presentation focusing on Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) published in Chuo Bijutsu (Central Arts) Vol. 11, No. 1, in January 1925. The Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) is an article where NAKAI discussed the direction in which Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai and Japanese-style paintings should move, responding to the 4th Exhibition held both in Tokyo and Kyoto from 1924 through 1925. In the article, he discussed the identity of Japanese-style paintings and encouraged recognition of the tradition and the classics. I believe that he was referring to the trend of returning to the classics in the western art world, which he experienced during his European travel from 1922 to 1923. At the end of the Taishō era, neat Japanese-style paintings called “neoclassicism,” became dominant. The tone of his article Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) predicted such a movement.
This seminar had Dr. TANAKA Shūji of Oita University and Dr. TANO Hatsuki of Shiga Museum of Art, as online commentators. They talked about the painting circle of Kyoto and NAKAI Sotaro in the discussion after the presentation. With other external researchers of Japanese modern arts, the discussion went beyond NAKAI’s remarks and Japanese-style paintings; they spoke about the art landscape from the end of the Taishō era to the early Shōwa era. The seminar involved an active, considerably lengthy exchange of opinions and information.
*Kokuten: exhibitions held by Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai
A part of the Collection
MAEDA Seison watching Joshishin (reprinted from BUNKA vol.246-247, October 1974)
The Maeda Seison’s Collection (referred to as the Collection) was donated to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) on October 11th, 2022. It comprises materials that were collected and owned by MAEDA Seison (1885-1997), a Japanese-style painter. It was donated by Ms. AKIYAMA Hideko, the third daughter of Seison, via her eldest son, Prof. AKIYAMA Terufumi (professor emeritus of Ochanomizu University, Director of Meguro Museum of Arts, Tokyo). TOBUNKEN gave a letter of gratitude to Ms. AKIYAMA on November 8th, 2022.
The Collection consists of the materials of 113 titles of 275 items: 109 titles of books (total of 270 books), three cassette tapes, and a set of two records. It includes texts on the ancient practices of arms including armors, printed books of the Edo era such as history books, art books of KŌNO Bairei, orihon* associated with the title piece of KAJITA Hanko’s Original Painting Draft, and collections of sketches of KOBAYASHI Kahaku and SAKAI Sanryō, who are his junior fellows from the Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Art Institute). They are indispensable materials for future studies on MAEDA Seison.
Further, the Collection includes cassette tapes of “Seison’s Reunion with Joshishin: the Admonitions of the Court Ladies (Copy)**.” This is a recording of the investigation on Joshishin painted by KOBAYASHI Kokei and Seisen held at Seison’s house in Kita-Kamakura, including an interview of Seison in 1974. This was arranged by Dr. AKIYAMA Terukazu, professor at the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Letters; researcher emeritus of TOBUNKEN; husband of Seison’s daughter; and father of Prof. AKIYAMA Terufumi. Dr. KAMEDA Tsutomu and Prof. HARADA Ryukichi of Tohoku University as well as Dr. TSUJI Nobuo, Ms. SEKI Chiyo, and Mr. KONO Motoaki of TOBUNKEN at that time participated in this investigation. Therefore, they are also precious as TOBUNKEN’s activity records. Considering its nature, the Collection is essential for the research of Seison and his artworks. Furthermore, it is useful for the current wider research of cultural properties as the materials show how the cultural property investigation was conducted at that time.
The MAEDA Seison’s Collection, donated in 2022, will be available at the TOBUNKEN Library. We plan to make the book materials of the Collection open to access through a joint operation with the Getty Research Institute, and digitize cassette tapes and records to enable long-term utilization for research. We hope that the Collection will contribute to research on MAEDA Seison, modern Japan-style paintings, and further, on cultural properties.
*orihon: a long strip of paper with writing on one side that is then compacted by folding in zig-zag fashion
**Joshishin: Admonitions of the Court Ladies (Copy): Reproduction painted by KOBAYASHI Kokei and MAEDA Seisen of the Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies housed in the British Museum. This is housed in the Tohoku University Museum.
Installing the reproduced fusuma in the main hall of Myōhōji Temple
Reproduced fusuma of Hanshan and Shide by Yosa Buson dedicated to the main hall of Myōhōji Temple
As detailed in the monthly report for August 2021 (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/919761.html), the painting Hanshan and Shide by Yosa Buson (housed in Myōhōji Temple, Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture) was damaged by scribblings made with marker on Shide’s face, and parts of Hanshan’s face were lacking; however, the appearance of the painting before the damage could be ascertained from monochrome photos taken by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) in 1959.
TOBUNKEN initiated a joint research project with Myōhōji Temple to create a reproduction of this painting before it was damaged using the aforementioned monochrome photos and contemporary imaging technology, mounted on fusuma (sliding doors), and dedicated it to Myōhōji Temple.
First, the outline of the monochrome photos was superimposed on high-resolution images of the current status of Hanshan and Shide to create a reproduced image of the painting before it was damaged. The image was then printed by splitting it on multiple sheets of washi (Japanese traditional paper) of the same size as the original. This part of the process was performed by TOBUNKEN.
Myōhōji Temple coordinated the mounting of the image on fusuma to accommodate it in the current main hall of the temple. The task of mounting the image on fusuma was carried out by SHUGO Co., Ltd, a studio member of the Association for Conservation of National Treasures (ACNT). The base of the fusuma was made using the same specification, techniques, and materials as those used for the designated cultural properties. The original metallic door pulls were also copied.
Mr. USUI Hiroaki of Kuroda Studio carefully conducted the final adjustment and fitting of the fusuma in the building. On November 22nd, 2022, the reproduced fusuma was successfully set inside the main hall.
The overwhelming effect created by the size and appearance of the fusuma after it was installed inside the main hall brought the brush touches of Yosa Buson and his pictorial universe to life. This is the first time TOBUNKEN has used old monochrome photos to create a reproduction of a painting. We hope that this project can serve as a reference for the future utilization of the vast volume of archives accumulated by TOBUNKEN over more than 90 years.
Buddha statues wear various clothes. These include Jōhaku (a scarf-like band of cloth), which Bodhisattva and Vidyaraja statues wear crossing their upper bodies; however, research on jōhaku itself is insufficient.
KUROSAKI Natsuo, Associate Fellow of the Department, conducted her presentation titled Bodhisattva Statues Wearing Jōhaku or Not: A Clue for Consideration of the Yakushi Triad Enshrined in the Kondo of the Yakushiji Temple on November 28th, 2022.
The Yakushi Triad (consisting of Yakushi Nyorai, the Healing Buddha, flanked by two attendants, the Bodhisattvas Nikko (Sūryaprabha) and Gakko (Candraprabha)) enshrined in the Kondo (Main Hall) of the Yakushiji Temple in Nara Prefecture is one of the objects representing Buddha statues of Japan. Despite this fact, there is a lack of consensus on where and when it was constructed: at the Yakushiji Temple of Fujiwara-kyō at the end of the 7th Century or newly molded in Heijō-kyō after the Yakushiji Temple was moved there at the beginning of the 8th Century.
The Bodhisattva images of the Buddhist Mural Paintings of the Kondo of the Horyuji Temple, the Hokeiji Stone Images of Buddha, and the others were constructed around a similar period of the Yakushi Triad and are depicted wearing jōhaku. However, the Bodhisattvas statues of the Yakushi Triad do not wear jōhaku. This fact deserves attention because such characteristics could be used to identify these statues’ construction background and time. In this presentation, I overviewed in terms of whether wearing jōhaku, the objects of Bodhisattva images of senbutsu (a Buddhist image carved on a clay surface via a middle-relief technique and then fired) made in Japan and China in the 7th Century and Bodhisattva images enshrined in grottoes in China. The upper bodies of the Bodhisattva images of senbutsu that are made in China are naked, which is recognized as Indian style. In contrast, the Bodhisattva images of senbutsu made in Japan during a similar age as the Yakushiji Triad wear jōhaku. The Bodhisattvas of the Yakushiji Triad have the older forms. The next challenge will be to deepen this consideration from the historical and ideological viewpoints on its background.
The seminar was held online so that some specialists outside of TOBUNKEN in Buddhist art history could also participate. In the following Q&A session, active discussions were held from various viewpoints, including jōhaku, Japanese Buddhist monks visiting the Tang Empire, the international situation in the latter 7th Century, and the relationship with other objects of the same age. This occasion revealed precious opinions that will further my research, and where we shared the significance of the issue of the Yakushiji Triad.
The leaflet of the seminar
Lecture by EMURA Tomoko
Lecture by YOSHIDA Akiko
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held the 56th Public Lecture: Look at Form, Read Form on November 8th, 2022. This series of public lectures is organized every autumn for the public, and research outcomes are presented. The event used to take place for two days with invited presenters outside TOBUNKEN. However, it has held for one day with two internal presenters and a limited audience (50 individuals) pre-selected by the rotary due to the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020. The venue was TOBUNKEN’s seminar room, and the meeting room was prepared for the internal audience as a satellite venue.
The lecture this year included two presentations: A Look of Amusement Pictures Featuring Amusements (Sooji Temple Folding Screen) Housed in the Tokugawa Art Museum by EMURA Tomoko, the director of the department; and The Still Life Paintings by KISHIDA Ryusei—Thematization of “Look,” by YOSHIDA Akiko, Researcher.
EMURA featured Amusements (Sooji Temple Folding Screen), known as a representative of early modern genre pictures, and introduced its detailed depiction using high-resolution images. She then described the characteristics of the depicted designs and architecture, as well as the detailed painting expressions, such as overpainting, associated with it. YOSHIDA examined the process of painting over the completed painting in terms of how it was made and what critiques it provoked, as well as the relationship between its characteristics of depiction and KISHIDA’s painting theory using Still Life (with Hand that has been erased) by KISHIDA Ryusei during the Taisho era based on novel images obtained through optical investigations.
We received a positive reaction from the audience: 80% of the feedback questionnaire responses were “satisfied” or “relatively satisfied.”
Lecture by Mr. WATANABE Naoto
Lecture by Ms. KONNO Saki
Lecture by Dr. IMAIZUMI Shoko
The Cultural Property Information Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a seminar on the Documentation of Cultural Properties in the seminar room on the underground floor of TOBUNKEN on September 2nd, 2022. The Act Partially Amending the Museum Act was established in April 2022. Through this act, digital archiving and dissemination of museum materials were added to museum roles. Furthermore, the demand for exhibitions in virtual fields, such as websites, has been increasing because of the prolonged difficulties in visiting cultural property sites and exhibitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Considering these situations, we organized a seminar with the following three lectures. Mr. WATANABE Naoto, curator of Sendai City Museum of History and Folklore, presented the video documentation of the annual festival and kagura (Shinto music and dancing) tradition of Oidenomori Hachiman Shrine and its dissemination on YouTube during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. KONNO Saki, curator of Tohoku Fukushi University Serizawa Keisuke Art and Craft Museum, introduced their activities, such as conducting a tour of the exhibition rooms online, with curators also explaining their exhibits online. Dr. IMAIZUMI Shoko, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Chiba University, conducted a lecture on the fundamentals of image and video compression, and points to note at its utilization.
Dr. IMAIZUMI showed visually that compression brought disadvantages of the compromising image/video quality, despite its positive effect to decrease the file size. Mr. WATANABE and Ms. KONNO introduced hands-on methods for disseminating information by utilizing their own human resources, equipment, and free software with public support, such as subsidies and support from local cooperation. All of the lectures provoked thoughts useful in tackling respective challenges. The participants focused on the presentations as they were facing similar challenges and have asked many questions.
The Section will continuously provide information about documentation and information dissemination applicable to the daily activities of curators and officers involved in cultural property protection through various media.
Discussion and Q&A session
Kuwayama Gyokushū (1746-1799) and Iwase Hirotaka (1808-1877) were painters who worked actively in Wakayama in the Edo period. Both of them left their own painting tools, including various pigments. This is important because they can be clues to identify coloring materials in the Edo era, such as the pigments. In addition, many of their artworks still exist now. This means that the coloring materials used for their actual artwork can be compared with the pigments in their painting tools, providing a valuable study target.
The 5th Seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on September 15th, 2022, in TOBUNKEN and online, featuring the interim report of the coloring material analysis of pigments and paintings of Gyokushū and Hirotaka. First, HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro, Deputy Director General reported the results of X-ray fluorescent and visible light reflectance analyses on the coloring materials of both artists. Then, new perspectives including the fact that both gofun (calcium carbonate) and enpaku (lead white) were applied as white pigments, and further challenges were presented. After that, YASUNAGA Takuyo, head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section discussed how Gyokushū used white pigments differently for human faces, as well as the issues of backside coloring referring to the painting of Tosui rakanzu (Luohans crossing the river). Next, Mr. KONDO Takashi of Kyoritsu Women’s Educational Institution introduced the biography of Hirotaka, who was first, an ukiyo-e artist and then became an artist of the FukkoYamato-e (Yamato-e revival) group later. Finally, Mr. KONDO discussed the relationship between Hirotaka’s artworks and the coloring materials referring to the painting of King Lanling and Nasori.
After the presentations, discussions among the three presenters and a Q&A session were held. An active discussion was conducted regarding the interpretation of the analysis results. The period between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries is important for the understanding of the transition of coloring materials. However, few analysis has been done on coloring materials, including pigments and those of artworks. Consequently, we expect that these studies will reveal the use of coloring materials in the mid and late Edo period.
Investigation at TOBUNKEN
Investigation at the Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art
KISHIDA Ryusei (1891-1929), a painter who worked mainly on oil paintings in the Taisho period, is renowned for his many masterpieces, including two Important Cultural Properties: Road Cut through a Hill (1915, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo) and Portrait of Reiko (1921, Tokyo National Museum). His still life paintings are noted for his careful screen composition, and very detailed depiction even of the cracks of desks and spots on fruits. His paintings have influenced not only western-style painters but also Japanese-style painters and photographers.
However, among his paintings, Still Life (with the hand erased) (1918, private collection) has received controversial remarks. This work could not be presented at an exhibition because it was criticized for having a painted human hand, which was considered creepy. This criticism impacted KISHIDA’s characteristic works. However, this controversial hand was later mysteriously removed by someone. To address questions regarding why the hand was erased and what relation this painting has with his other still life paintings, we conducted an optical investigation of his four still life paintings in FY2022 with cooperation from various institutes and individuals in Japan. This investigation was conducted in preparation for YOSHIDA Akiko’s presentation titled Still Life Paintings by KISHIDA Ryusei ― Topicalize “Looking” at the 56th Public Lecture: “Look at Form, Read Form,” which is to be held on November 8, 2022.
This investigation was mainly conducted with reflection and transmittance near-infrared photography. It also used fluorescent and ultraviolet photography by SHIRONO Seiji, artificer of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems. X-ray images were taken for Still Life (with the hand erased) by INUZUKA Masahide, head of the Analytical Science Section of the Center for Conservation Science. As the result, we obtained a whole screen image of Still Life (with the hand erased) with the “hand” hidden in the painting. In addition, it showed us that other multiple paintings have traces of KISHIDA’s repainting with motifs relocated. We can say it is a “discovery” to bring new information regarding KISHIDA Ryusei’s painting process. I will present the findings in detail at the public lecture mentioned above.
4th Seminar, screen shows the zushi
KOBAYASHI Koji, senior fellow, conducted a presentation titled Valuation of Raden (Mother-of-Pearl Decoration) – Relationship between Kōdaiji Makie and Namban Lacquer through the Consideration of the Zushi for the Toyotomi Hideyoshi Statue Owned by the Richi-in Temple in Misaki Town at the 4th seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on July 25th, 2022. It was held in hi-bred format, both face to face and online.
The Richi-in Temple in Misaki Town, Osaka Prefecture has passed down a zushi, a miniature shrine ornamented with makie and raden decorations containing a statue of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It was ordered to be made by Kuwayama Shigeharu, a loyal who served for and became a daimyo (a feudal lord) by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi was divinized soon after his death. It should be considered that the zushi was created by Kuwayama’s order at the time for him to be deified and worshipped at the shrine in his own territory, thinking of Hideyoshi’s virtue and to repay his kindness. This zushi attracts attention because most of its surface is decorated not only with hira-makie (flat makie) patterns of Kōdaiji makie style but also with raden decorations which no other Kōdaiji makie examples display.
KOBAYASHI discussed the three makie patterns of the “flowering plant scroll,” “chrysanthemum and paulownia,” and “autumn plant scroll” it exhibits. As a result, he pointed out that these patterns’ historical backgrounds and individual classes strongly influenced whether raden decorations were accompanied with a makie of each pattern. Thus, the raden technique was not typical in that period. Furthermore, this zushi suggests a unique position of namban lacquer, which was made for export by European orders and generally ornamented with akikusa (autumn plants) patterns and raden decorations.
It is widely known that some namban lacquers have ununified shapes of shell fragments randomly placed. This has been commonly understood as immature techniques to handle raden decorations or the incondite production level. However, the similar raden techniques are identified on this zushi, which was made to respect Hideyoshi’s memory. Therefore, the negative valuation of this type of raden is clearly denied, which obliges us to find positive meaning. Accordingly, I focused on decorations of ryōshi (decorated paper for writing), which has had a close relationship with makie since the Heian period. I cited some ryōshi cases with haku chirashi (thin foils scattered design and techniques) at that time as examples. Then, I presented the hypothesis that these random raden design expressions were influenced by a sense of beauty shown in ryōshi and adapted for this zushi and raden techniques of namban lacquer.
This process highlighted the unique character of the namban lacquer, which differs from lacquer works crafted based on Japanese tradition and preferences, based on the consideration of the namban lacquer decoration from the viewpoint of makie and raden decorations of the zushi made with a domestic background at that time.
Various discussions were held with comments from Mr. KOIKE Tomio of the Seikado Bunko Art Museum and Mr. KOMATSU Taishu of the Eisei Bunko Museum, as well as many opinions from the participants in the room and online.
Ordination hall of Wat Rajpradit
Exhibition of research on the lacquer door panels of Wat Rajpradit
Exhibition of Japanese lacquerworks in Thailand
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) exhibits panels in its entrance lobby to disseminate its research outcomes. We started the new panel exhibition shown in the title on July 28th, 2022.
Wat Rajpradit, one of the first-grade royal Buddhist temples, was built in 1864 by King Rama IV as the third royal temple in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, based on the Thai tradition of three royal Buddhist temples being constructed by each dynasty.
The doors and windows of the Wat Rajpradit ordination hall feature panels decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay with underpainting using very thin seashell parts whose backs are colored and drawn, and lacquered parts decorated with colored lacquer maki-e expressing three-dimensional patterns. In particular, the style of the patterns of the mother-of-pearl inlay with underpainting looks Japanese. The Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture of Thailand asked TOBUNKEN for technical support to restore the lacquer door panels in 2012. Responding to their request, we brought two panels to TOBUNKEN in October 2013, investigated them in detail, restored them experimentally, and conducted on-site investigations until July 2015. At the same time, they were examined from the different perspectives of art history, musicology, and the history of Japanese trade to identify the provenance of the lacquer door panels and their characterization in lacquerwork manufacturing history. As these investigations confirmed that the door panels were manufactured in Japan, we now extend the focus to other Japanese lacquerworks in Thailand and continue the investigations.
This panel exhibition shows the process of discovering the manufacturing techniques and the provenance of the lacquer door panes at Wat Rajpradit through a joint study by researchers and research institutes in various fields from both inside and outside TOBUNKEN. The exhibition also introduces some Japanese lacquerworks that were exported to Thailand. Please visit us to enjoy the exhibition. (Opening hours: Monday to Friday except for national holidays, 9:00–17:30)
Lecture speech by YOSHIDA Akiko (Evening in Brabant with a Woman Carrying Water by Rodolphe Wytsman on the screen)
An exhibition, Timely Connections: Hidden Western-Style Paintings in Tokyo National Museum was held as one of Tokyo National Museum’s 150th Anniversary projects from June 7th to July 18th, 2022 at the Heiseikan thematic exhibition room. This exhibition was planned by Mr. OKIMATSU Kenjiro, Supervisor, Collections Management of Tokyo National Museum and Supervisor, Loan Promotion of the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties. SHIOYA Jun, director and YOSHIDA Akiko, a researcher of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems participated in the preparation studies.
Tokyo National Museum is well known for its collections of Japanese and Eastern ancient arts. Simultaneously, the museum has been collecting western-style paintings, including those by European and American painters, since the early days of the museum. This exhibition presented these western paintings in three sections: I. “Connections with the World” — artworks brought from abroad through world expositions and collection exchange projects; II. “Connections with Contemporary Art” — those collected to introduce the latest western fine arts and promote production in Japan; and III. “Connections with Social Conditions” — those collected for responding to social movements, such as natural disasters and wars.
While preparing for this exhibition, the works were investigated by us and photographed, and material and related works were surveyed. Then, we made several findings through these surveys. Portrait of Lorenz von Stein (Austria 1887), exhibited in the section III, features Lorenz von Stein, a German jurist who contributed to draft the Constitution of the Empire of Japan. We identified his son, Alwin von Stein as its painter. The information was given by related parties who responded to Mr. OKIMATSU’s surveys and calls for information, thus contributing to this identification. Furthermore, A Painter and His Wife (the Netherland 1636), a print art by Rembrandt van Rijn, is considered to be collected by Tokyo National Museum which introduced Western modern arts for a short period after the World War II. The state of its version was successfully narrowed down by external expert’s advice. More discoveries were made through material investigation and surveys on related materials. With these activities and findings, we again recognized the significance of Tokyo National Museum’s western-style painting collection.
As a part of this exhibition, monthly lectures titled Timely Connections: Hidden Western-Style Paintings in Tokyo National Museum were held on July 16th, 2022, wherein Mr. OKIMATSU, YOSHIDA, and SHIOYA (in speaking order)provided lectures in relay.
Mr. OKIMATSU spoke about the overview of the entire exhibition and introduced new findings from its survey stage. Following his lecture, sub themes were discussed. YOSHIDA gave a brief history of the Belgian painter couple, Rodolphe and Juliette Wytsman and spoke about their relationship with Japan, which started with the submission of their paintings to Hakubakai, including Evening in Brabant with a Woman Carrying Water, an oil painting by Rodolphe Wytsman. Then, SHIOYA told that the Viscount Kuroda memorial Art Promotion Fund Committee was founded in the memory of KURODA Seiki, a western-style painting pioneer in Japan, and endowed western-style paintings in the pre-war Showa period including Mother and Child (1930) by MATSUSHITA Haruo and Atelier (1933) by INOKUMA Gen’ichirō.
Lacquer door panels of Wat Rajpradit. Dharma teachings of Buddha on top of the door panels.
Cover of the report
Since 1992, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been conducting cooperative research to conserve and restore the cultural properties of Thailand jointly with the Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture of Thailand (FAD). As part of this research, TOBUNKEN has provided technical support for restoration work by FAD, Wat Rajpradit, and other related parties in Thailand, targeting lacquer door panels in Wat Rajpradit, a first-grade royal Buddhist temple built by King Rama IV in 1864.
Investigating manufacturing techniques and materials is mandatory for restoring cultural properties. Such investigations also provide opportunities to find and gain vast knowledge related to the given cultural properties. The lacquer door panels at Wat Rajpradit are believed to have been made in Japan because they are decorated with the designs of people with Japanese garments using techniques of mother-of-pearl inlay with underpainting, which were typical for Japanese lacquerwork products for export, mainly in the mid-19th century. However, there was no evidence to prove this origin prior to this investigation. Therefore, experts in various fields, from within and outside of TOBUNKEN, investigated them, and their design patterns expressed with mother-of-pearl inlay with underpainting and colored lacquer maki-e, from scientific perspectives. The investigations revealed that these lacquer door panels were likely made in Japan based on their materials, techniques, and design expressions.
The report of this article published in March 2022 consists of an English translation of the discussions cited in the Japanese report about the research outcomes published in 2021 and the discussion related to the background of the temple’s foundation and the buildings in the temple area by FAD and Wat Rajpradit. This report is available for reading in the TOBUNKEN library. We would be pleased if you could read this report.
Lecture of local history course 2022 at the Ibaraki City Cultural Properties Museum
The Ibaraki City Cultural Properties Museum, Osaka Prefecture, holds an annual local history course of six lectures. KOBAYASHI Koji, a senior fellow, was invited for the first lecture of 2022 and gave a lecture titled Three Seigan and One Zushi: What We Can Know from the Four Portable Christian Shrines Left in Sendaiji and Shimo’otowa Areas on July 16th at the museum.
The Sendaiji and Shimo’otowa, located in the northern parts of Ibaraki City, are villages in which many residents converted to Christianity when Justo Takayama Ukon, a Christian lord, also known as Dom Justo Takayama, took over the areas in the late 16th century. Their religion survived over a period of fierce repression of Christianity during the Edo period until the modern period. Thus, they are widely known as “hidden” Christian villages. Their Christian culture is unique as they passed down many varieties of Christian relics in high volumes. “Miracle” is never overstated because such varieties of relics have not remained in any other hidden Christian areas or villages in Japan. It is well known that the extremely famous painting St. Francis Xavier, Important Cultural Property housed in Kobe City Museum, is among them.
I have studied various Christian objects passed down in these villages, especially seigan, Christian shrines which are containers for holy Christian paintings including images of Christ or Madonna and Child, to explore the reality of Christian belief in Japan. The seigan passed down in these areas are simply coated with black urushi lacquer. This fact and their history obviously show that they were made for domestic believers. Conversely, seigan, categorized as Namban lacquer with the same shape but with gorgeous makie and mother-of-pearl decorated, which were ordered to Japanese workshops by Europeans for export to Europe and Latin America, are also recognized. These two types of seigan show distinct differences despite sharing the same function as Christian objects. The sacred paintings stored in these seigan are associated with its frame with a western conjunction structure, supposed to be made of ebony, and with its frame decorated with makie and made in Japan respectively. These facts imply important questions regarding their backgrounds and manufacturing techniques. Conversely, the zushi exhibits an ivory-made crucifixion on the black cross possibly made of ebony. However, either this crucifixion or zushi have attracted almost no attentions so far and neither their original manufacturing place nor date are yet identified.
This lecture featured the reality of these seigan and zushi; and the ways of Christian acceptance and its religion in Japan from the Momoyama period to the early Edo period, which were revealed through the studies of these seigan and zushi. Approximately 40 participants who were selected by lot during another peak of the COVID-19 pandemic enthusiastically asked questions. I sensed a great interest in Christian culture and history during this time.
The Christian culture and related relics passed down in these areas are precious and unique historic milestones. I would like to further conduct this research and disseminate the outcomes.
Introduction in the conference room
Explanation about the auction catalogue digital archive
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) introduced the guidance for TOBUNKEN Library with 14 graduate students of Gakushuin University (led by Prof. SARAI Mai and Prof. SHIMAO Arata) on July 1st. At the beginning of this guidance session, KIKKAWA Hideki explained how to use the library and how the collection was developed in the conference room on the second floor of TOBUNKEN. We then moved to the library and its stack rooms, where our staff introduced various materials including the Auction Catalogue Digital Archive, investigational photographs of cultural properties, and auction catalogues. The participants handled the digital archives, held the books and photos, listened to the explanations, and actively asked questions from the viewpoint of how they could utilize them for their own research.
The Archive Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems has a mission to collect, organize, and conserve materials concerning cultural properties and prepare an easily accessible and effectively usable environment for experts and students working on cultural properties. As a part of this mission, we continue to actively hold guidance sessions. If you want to participate in the sessions, please submit your request with reference to “TOBUNKEN Library Guidance for undergraduate/graduate students and museum staffs” (Japanese only).
The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) in Norwich, UK, is a renowned center for the study of Japanese arts and culture in Europe and well-known to Western stakeholders. Since July 2013, SISJAC and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) have entered into a collaborative project on “Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art.”
On July 8th and 9th, 2022, TSUDA Tetsuei, a visiting researcher at the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems in TOBUNKEN, on a sabbatical in the UK, participated in an online workshop on “Absence, Presence, and Materiality: Refiguring Japanese Religious Art and Culture,” organized by SISJAC. On July 9th, he delivered an oral presentation titled Reinterpreting Esoteric Buddhist Sculpture in the Nara period (8th century).
This presentation demonstrated that esoteric Buddhism had already been introduced and accepted in the latter half of the Nara period (8th century) before Kūkai introduced it in Japan in the Heian period (early 9th century). Vidyā-rājā (J. Myōō) statues had already been sculpted and one of them survives even today. Furthermore, this workshop was conducted as per Japan standard time: it commenced late at night and concluded early morning in Europe and the USA. Nevertheless, 72 people attended on both days, not only from Europe and the USA but also from Russia and Taiwan. It was evident that numerous researchers worldwide were interested in Japanese religions and culture.
On July 11th, as SISJAC had asked TSUDA to provide descriptions of Japanese artworks (sculptures and crafts) from the Jōmon to the Medieval period for catalogs and panels at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in the University of East Anglia (UEA), which has jurisdiction over SISJAC, TSUDA and Miss MATSUBA Ryoko, a member of the SISJAC, surveyed the museum’s collection and exchanged views. This collection is almost unknown in Japan, but it contains fine examples of Buddhist art, including a gilt bronze Buddha from the Nara period (8th century) and a seated bodhisattva from the mid-Heian period (10th century), although they are small in size. In addition, a few works can also be checked against the TOBUNKEN’s digital archive of auction catalogue and sold art works.
On the same day, since 14:00 hours, Mr. ITO Tsuyoshi, minister at the embassy of Japan in London, inspected these exhibits, and TSUDA delivered gallery talks on these artworks with Miss MATSUBA Ryoko. The minister listened attentively as he observed the artworks.
Explanation on how the focal distance of lens make differences
Photographing practice: lighting to a target object using an umbrella
The documentation of cultural properties is fundamental to obtain the necessary information for research, conservation, and utilization. Photography, a type of documentation method, is mandatory to record visual information, including colors and shapes. Meanwhile, many factors need to be considered for photographing to record accurate information.
With this background, the Cultural Properties Information Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information System held the seminar mentioned in the title targeting local government officers and museum staff involved in cultural property protection in Hokkaido, at Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples (Abashiri City) co-sponsored of the Museum and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) on June 2nd, 2022. Protection measures were taken against COVID-19 including face masks, social distancing, and air ventilation.
In the morning, lectures were delivered about the purposes of documenting cultural properties and the photographing. In the afternoon, at first, the methods of inventorying cultural property and their photographs were introduced using case studies. Then, the appropriate ways to manage lighting and other photographing tips were explained. As a practical exercise, all participants made reflector boards by attaching wrinkled aluminum foil to recycled styrene boards which had been used for signboards for exhibitions. Then, the participants photographed a carved wooden bear kept in the Museum, using their own cameras by modulating lighting. At the end, a Q&A session was conducted on photographing and inventorying photos as well as cultural property items.
Handling shadows is challenging for many people in photographing cultural properties. This seminar addressed the appropriate methods to include natural shadow in natural directions using one light only by reflecting light toward appropriate positions for the characteristics of cultural properties or art objects using hand-made reflection boards and inexpensive equipment. Furthermore, several ways to organize and list photographs using the basic functions of Windows and Excel were introduced as we received numerous questions about this matter. We strived our best to make this seminar as practical as possible.
This workshop was held this time after two years since it was originally planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank to the staff at the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples and participants for their patience and precious opinions.
TANAKA Ichimatsu Materials
Caricatures of the Japanese-Russo War, Fudeno Mani Mani (as I like) (TANAKA Ichimatsu)
DOI Tsugiyoshi Materials
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) preserves and utilizes research notebooks and meeting documents written by researchers—including ex-employees—in addition to books and photographs. On our website, we have published major notebooks from the materials of TANAKA Ichimatsu (1895–1983) owned by TOBUNKEN and the materials of DOI Tsugiyoshi (1906–1991) owned by the University Library of Kyoto Institute of Technologies. These were a part of the outcome of “Study on Record and Evaluation of Japanese Art – Preservation and Utilization of Survey Report of Artwork” that was carried out for three years from FY2019 as JSPS Grand-in Aid for Scientific Research (B) (JP19H01217).
Among TANAKA Ichimatsu’s materials, lecture notebooks from Tokyo Imperial University, artwork research notebooks from 1923–1930, and sketch books from his elementary school and junior high school days between 1905–1914 were introduced. TANAKA found delight in drawing pictures from his childhood and continued to exercise to immediately depict what he saw; consequently, he mastered his ability. These experiences contributed to his later works as an art historian. Over half a century, TANAKA made remarkable achievements at the center of administration for cultural properties. He evaluated a large amount of art objects. As a result, he drove the research of Japanese painting history.
Among DOI Tsugiyoshi’s materials, his main research notebooks, lecture notebooks from Kyoto Imperial University between 1928–1972, and a travel diary with haikus (Japanese poem) and sketches from 1947 were introduced. He observed details of art objects minutely through not only document investigation but onsite investigation as well. Based on these investigations, he discerned painters and reevaluated those whose names were passed down in temple histories. He made revolutionary contributions to the research of early modern painting history.
The research notebooks of TANAKA and DOI from the pre-war period show us how they recorded shapes and expressions that they witnessed at a time when photos could not be taken as easily as they can now, and how they transformed their accumulated records into artwork evaluation. These materials recorded by their activities can be also called modern materials related to the art pieces during the Taishō and Shōwa eras. We hope they are used extensively as research materials. Some sketches are certainly visually entertaining. Please visit our website and enjoy them. https://www.tobunken.go.jp/researchnote/202203/
Standing Yakushi Nyorai in the Jingoji Temple in Kyoto has attracted attention from the early stages of Japanese art history and has subsequently stimulated many discussions. The statue has an extraordinary appearance and provenance and was made at the request of Wake no Kiyomaro (733–799). Two topics are primarily debated: which temple the statue was originally set in, the Jinganji or Takaosanji Temple, both of which were later combined into the Jingoji Temple, and the background against which this statue was created. The theory by Dr. SARAI Mai has recently gained widespread support, namely, that Wake no Kiyomaro had the statue created as the principal image of the Jinganji Temple responding to a request by the Deity Hachiman which required the Buddhist power to compete against his political enemy, Dōkyō (?–772).
The seminar was held by the Department on May 30th, 2022. Dr. HARA Hirofumi of Keio Shiki Senior High School conducted a presentation titled The Purpose of Making Standing Yakushi Nyorai and the Deity Hachiman Keka. Dr. HARA claimed that the statue was originally set in the Jinganji Temple, and then pointed out based on various materials that the story of the competition between the Deity Hachiman and Dōkyō was a fiction created in a later period. He then concluded that the statue is the principal image for Keka by the Deity Hachiman and was created at the private wish of Wake no Kiyomaro.
This seminar was held in person and online in TOBUNKEN. We invited Dr. SARAI Mai of Gakushuin University as a commentator, and Prof. NAGAOKA Ryūsaku of Tohoku University. Other researchers specializing in the history of sculpture also participated. Various opinions were expressed in a lively discussion during the Q&A session. This presentation provided a new perspective on the studies of Standing Yakushi Nyorai of the Jingoji Temple. We expect further active discussions.