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


YAMAGUCHI Hōshun and Yamato-e – from the Viewpoint of Neoclassicism: the 10th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

The presentation

 YAMAGUCHI Hōshun (1893-1971) was a representative Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) painter during the Showa period (1926-1989) in Japan. He actively worked and exhibited his paintings at Teiten (exhibitions held by the Imperial Academy of Fine Art) before WWII and Nitten (Japan Fine Arts Exhibitions) after WWII. He learned painting from MATSUOKA Eikyū at the Tokyo Fine Arts School (Tokyo University of the Arts, today), and worked as a member of Shinko Yamato-e-kai, an association of the painters who learned from MATSUOKA. His artworks, deeply colored landscape paintings based on traditional Yamato-e techniques, such as Nachi Mountain, One of the Three Main Shrines of Kumano, prized by the Imperial Fine Arts Academy in 1926 and now owned by the Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shozokan, attracted much attention. However, around 1930, his style began to shift to Kachōga, paintings of birds and flowers with light and refreshing colors. Mr. SHIOYA Jun, Special Research Chair of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, discussed this change of his style that took place in the early Showa period before WWII at a Seminar held on March 7, 2024, titled YAMAGUCHI Hōshun and Yamato-e – from the Viewpoint of Neoclassicism.

 Through the words of YAMAGUCHI Hōshun, we can understand that he grasped Yamato-e painting as an expression based on very objective viewpoints. At the same time, he highly recognized artworks by painters of the so-called neoclassicism style (members of the Nihon Bijutsuin) such as YASUDA Yukihiko and KOBAYASHI Kokei. His early Kachōga paintings were done in similar styles as seen in their artworks. We believe that, at that time, YAMAGHCHI pursued reality based on his classic style skills and knowledge, while he also learned from Eastern-style paintings beyond Yamato-e as did YASUDA and KOBAYASHI.

 Ms. RYU Risa, Vice President and Senior Curator of Hoshun Yamaguchi Memorial Hall joined this seminar as a commentator and talked about YAMAGUCHI’s activities. After her talk, a discussion among participants was conducted, including those who came from outside of TOBUNKEN. I was especially impressed with one point: YAMAGUCHI’s principle was to paint whatever he saw and felt as it is, and this did not change even after WWII. This principle was continued by his pupils and remains even now.


Modern Collector HARA Rokuro and his Unknown Collection -The 11th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

The 11th seminar (A)
The 11th seminar (B)

 HARA Rokuro (1842-1933) was a collector who exemplified the Meiji period. HARA was born in Tajima Province (present-day Hyogo Prefecture), became the retainer of the Tottori clan because of his achievements in Meiji Restoration activities, studied abroad in the United States with assistance from the Meiji government, and studied banking in England. After returning home, he became famous as a banker and devoted himself to public work. On the side, he protected and collected old and valuable works of art. The Hara family maintains the greater part of that outstanding collection, and the Foundation Arc-en-Ciel, a public interest incorporated foundation, was established in 1977, and exists under that status today.

 Today, the Hara family’s collection, donated to the foundation, is on display at Hara Museum ARC (Gunma Prefecture) whose main focus is on contemporary art. The unveiling of contemporary art begun at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Shinagawa, Tokyo), for which the Hara family residence was renovated and opened as a museum in 1979. The Hara Museum in Shinagawa was regrettably closed in 2021, and because of the closing, the cultural properties left behind at the site were re-examined. Works newly discovered at this time totaled more than 100 items, and these works that appeared for the first time were donated to the foundation.

 Among the newly discovered works, we had the opportunity to examine two wild horse paintings, which were related to the wall and panel paintings that originally adorned the Nikko-in Guest Hall at Mi′idera temple. At the 11th seminar held on March 26, 2024, Ms. ONO Mika, an associate fellow of the Tokyo National Museum, took on the subject of “New developments in the Hara Rokuro collection: using research on the wall and panel paintings that originally adorned the Nikko-in Guest Hall at Mi′idera temple as an opportunity,” and presented an overview of the Hara Rokuro collection and reported on its present and future prospects. Next, Ms. ONO Mayumi, Head of Japanese and the East Asian Art History Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, took on the subject of “The wild horse paintings appearing for the first time: beginning with their relation to the wall and panel at the former reception hall of the Nikko-in Temple,” and reported on the formative features of those paintings. During a question-and-answer session, the placement of the wall and panel paintings and the attribution of their artists were discussed, and the Hara Rokuro collection also attracted a high level of interest.
Using the above as an opportunity, we hope to have a bird’s-eye view of the entire Hara Rokuro collection and move toward new academic research based on Hara Rokuro and the significance of his preservation of old works of art.


TOBUNKEN Library Stack Room Reform Completed

Removed fixed shelves.
Newly installed electrically operated bookcases

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) maintains materials, including books and photographs collected by TOBUNKEN’s departments and centers, mainly in the TOBUNKEN Library. The library itself consists of a 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 24 years have passed since TOBUNKEN moved to its current building in 2000. During these years, TOBUNKEN has continuously been collecting materials through its research activities, including books and photographs,. 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 a framework entitled “Projects to expand archive stacks and optimize the storage environment.”

 In 2022, the fixed bookcases in over a quarter of the floor space of the second-floor stack room were replaced with the electrically operated bookcases. During this recent reconstruction, which was started on January 11, 2024, the fixed bookshelves in the remaining three-fourths were so replaced. After removing the materials from the fixed bookshelves, removing the bookshelves, laying rails for new bookshelves, setting-up the new electrically operated bookshelves, and placing the materials onto the new shelves, the renovation was completed on March 27. The space that was previously home to 16 fixed bookshelves (1,900 shelves; 1,615 m in total) now accommodates 29 new electrically operated bookshelves (3,500 shelves; 2,975 m in total), with almost double capacity.

 We apologize for any inconvenience that resulted from the Library’s temporary closure during the reform. We continue our work to collect, pass down, and utilize materials valuable for research and conservation of cultural properties. We hope that the TOBUNKEN archives can serve your research activities well.


Publication of IMAIZUMI Yusaku’s “Kijishu” on the Web

A sketch of a clay sculpture of a horse owned by the Tokyo National Museum (Click here for current information on Tokyo National Museum)

 Photography is an effective tool for investigating cultural properties, because it can record objects in an instant. However, before photography became widespread, the only way to record subjects was through handwritten notes and sketches. Notes and sketches, which take more time than photographs, are often records of only some elements or characteristics of the subject. It may be said that they are incomplete records. However, records in which only selected elements are characterized are useful for understanding what characteristics of a cultural property the recorder found to be of value, or in other words, why that cultural property has been preserved to this day. Such records can be said to be valuable resources.

 We have already reported the details of IMAIZUMI Yusaku’s (1850-1931) “Kijishu,” which is one of such handwritten research records (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/216397.html), and the first volume has been published on the website of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (今泉雄作『記事珠』 :: 東文研アーカイブデータベース (tobunken.go.jp)). For publication, the full text was transcribed as text data for search functionality. In addition, since things that were obvious to IMAIZUMI are not described, we have added annotations to the extent possible and have also provided links to related information published on the Internet.

 The transcribed text has been set to be displayed vertically on the user’s browser so that it can be easily compared with the original text. We have made every effort to ensure that the image and vertically written text can be viewed at the same time, but some line breaks may be misaligned. We will continue to conduct layout and technical verification in preparation for the release of vertically displayed documents.


Database Collaboration with ColBase and Japan Search

Cross-search using ColBase

 Since its establishment in 1930, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has continuously investigated and collected materials on many cultural properties. In recent years, we have been digitizing images taken during surveys and materials collected, and making them available on our website. For example, the images taken at the time of the establishment of TOBUNKEN were in black and white, making it impossible to convey the colors of the cultural properties. However, the images that retain their former appearance are valuable and interesting and can inform us as to how the cultural properties were preserved and how they were restored by comparing them with their current appearance.

 TOBUNKEN has started collaboration with Japan Search, a national platform for aggregating metadata of digital resources of various fields, and ColBase, a service that enables multi-database searches of the collections in the four national museums, The Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shozokan , and two research institutes, to make this information more readily available. TOBUNKEN will continue to work on adding collaborated databases and registering data from time to time, so we hope that you will compare our data with the various data held by other institutions while conducting your research.


A Tour of TOBUNKEN Library for the Staff of the National Museum of the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty

A tour, guided by Mr. KIKKAWA Hideki

 On March 21, 2024, a group from the National Museum of the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea (Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do) visited the TOBUNKEN Library of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
The museum, an institution under the Cultural Heritage Administration, Korea, opened in November 2023 and mainly holds historical materials, including 75 volumes of the Odaesan Edition of the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty (UNESCO’s Memory of the World) and 82 volumes of the Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty.

 The group, including Mr. Daehyun Kim (administrative officer), took a tour, guided by Mr. KIKKAWA Hideki, Head, Archives Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems and Mr. TASHIRO Yūichirō, Researcher of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Institute’s collection of books, which have been collected since 1930. Furthermore, both institutions exchanged opinions on the current situation and issues surrounding material preservation and archive projects based on common ground regarding the preservation and utilization of materials.

 One of the missions of the Archives Section is to provide information on cultural properties to experts and students, as well as to create an environment for the effective use of such materials. This is no exception for overseas experts and students. We hope that the materials of our institute, which are highly valued even by international standards, will be widely utilized and contribute to the development of research on cultural properties that are the common heritage of all humankind.

 Note: The Archives Section provides usage guidance for undergraduate students, graduate students, museum staff, etc. If you are interested, please apply after reading the guidance (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/joho/japanese/library/guidance.html (Japanese only)).


Donation of Materials related to SEIMIYA Naobumi

Still Life in Early Spring by SEIMIYA Naobumi, 1977, owned by the Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki
Some of SEIMIYA’s materials donated to TOBUNKEN

 SEIMIYA Nobumi (1917 – 1991) was a renowned artist who expressed his world of calm and poetic imagery into woodblock prints and reverse glass paintings. Many viewers might be enchaned by his lyrical artworks.
 Recently, materials left by SEIMIYA including his notes, diaries, and photos, were donated to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) by his bereaved family. Among them, handmade notebooks titled “Notebook,” “Thought Records,” and “Subjects of Paintings” are included. These notebooks were created and written as a break between his artworks. They reveal his skillful and meticulous qualities. Furthermore, they are important primary source materials for tracing the journey of his thoughts hidden behind his artworks. They will be available for public view after we finish organizing them. We believe that the donated materials will greatly contribute to the progress of research on SEIMIYA Nobumi.


Participation in WordCamp Kansai 2024

WordPress.org(https://ja.wordpress.org/
TOBUNKEN Research Collections built with WordPress(https://www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/

 In 2014, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) developed a database of cultural property information using WordPress(https://ja.wordpress.org/), a web content management system, which is still in operation(https://www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/). WordPress was developed as a blog management system, but at TOBUNKEN it is used as a system for publishing databases, because of its flexibility in development and operation.

 WordCamp(https://central.wordcamp.org/), which was started in 2006 as a conference for WordPress developers and users to get together, has since been held more than 1,200 times in 65 countries. In this conference, WordCamp Kansai 2024(https://kansai.wordcamp.org/2024/), held in Kobe on February 24, 2024, Mr. OYAMADA Tomohiro, Senior Researcher of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, gave a presentation titled “Renewal of WordPress Contents and Selection of Adoption System,” about the challenges that have arisen during the 10 years of WordPress operation at TOBUNKEN and the requirements for its renewal. After the presentation, the following questions and impressions were raised, leading to a lively exchange of opinions:

  • Outsourcing to a development company is difficult.
  • What kind of organizational structure does WordPress operate under?
  • Do any problems occur when WordPress is upgraded?

 Now that it is commonplace to disclose information on the Internet, we believe that issues and operational know-how regarding information systems can be shared widely across disciplines. We will continue to create opportunities to share knowledge gained through the dissemination of such information.


Women in Modern Korean Art – The 8th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems in FY 2023

Presentation by Dr. Kim Soyeon
Discussion with Dr. Kim Soyeon

 In the Art World, it is widely known that fewer female artists actively worked in the male-dominated society in the past, while female artists work very actively today. Recently, however, research has been gradually revealing previously little-known activities of female artists in the modern period of Japan. However, how female artists worked in the modern Korean art world remained unknown to us.

 On January 17, 2024, Dr. Kim Soyeon of Ewha Womans University conducted a presentation titled, Female Arts in Modern Korean Art History – Why were there no Female Artists in Modern Korea?” at the 8th Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems. This presentation showed the latest outcomes of research on female artists in Modern Korean Art history.

 Dr. Kim explained that Kisaeng (Korean Geisha) occupied outstanding positions as the first receivers of the benefits of the art education available for females in Korea in the first half of the 20th century. However, the arts that kisaeng created did not go beyond the traditional art categories such as Korean traditional calligraphy and Sagunja (the four gentlemen paintings or the Four Gracious Plants: Korean traditional paintings depicting bamboo, plum blossoms, chrysanthemums and orchids, as metaphors of noble gentlemen). On the other hand, female artists such as Jeong Chanyeong, who adapted the way of modern Japanese-style painting, appeared in that period. Dr. Kim also talked about Japanese female painters in Korea who worked as art teachers or trained disciples in their own private painting schools in colonial Korea. Based on these outcomes, she stressed the necessity of research collaboration between Japan and South Korea.

 After her presentation, Mr. TADOKORO Tai of Kosetsu Memorial Museum, Jissen Women’s Educational Institute, talked about the current research on modern female artists in Japan, especially Japanese-style painting artists. After his talk, discussions were held that included the audience.

 This seminar focused on areas in which further research is needed both in Japan and Korea. We believe that it was a precious opportunity for research exchange to further historical investigation.

 This seminar was held in both Japanese and Korean, and Dr. TASHIRO Yuichiro of the department interpreted the seminar.


About Two Christian Lecterns ‘discovered’ in Portugal: New Materials that Show the Historical Relationship between Japan and Portugal and the Actual Situation of the Christian Ban in the Momoyama and Early Edo Periods - the 9th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Research scene at TOBUNKEN
Presentation at the seminar
Observation of the lecterns by the attendees

 On January 23, 2024, Mr. KOBAYASHI Koji, Senior Fellow of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, and Dr. Ulrike Körber, Researcher of the IHA-NOVA FCSH / IN2PAST, Lisbon, Portugal, conducted research and made a presentation titled as above at the 9th seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems.
 Two portable lecterns that had been used by Christian missionaries and served to uphold the mass books were reported as new materials discovered in Portugal in recent years. One lectern, with a Luso-Asian style, has been referred to as having a strong relationship with the Ryukyu Islands or with Macau, the latter having been a Portuguese base in China at the time, and many Chinese characters are written in black ink on the wooden substrate underneath the decorative lacquer coating. The other lectern is of Nanban lacquer, made in Kyoto in the 1630s, and had been exported to Europe. Curiously, the center area, with the IHS insignia of the Jesuits on almost all such lecterns, is thickly recoated with a black lacquer pine tree pattern on it on this lectern. It was considered that these lecterns with the above characteristics must be important, previously unknown historical materials, and thus we have been preparing to conduct various research studies at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Tokyo and Nara or other facilities and to have this presentation.
Based on the research of the two presenters and that conducted at this time, we could obtain the tentative results that the lectern having the Luso-Asian style was made around 1600, and that the Nanban lectern produced in Japan during the same period had a close relationship with Macau, because we can see characters that can possibly be read as ‘difficult to leave from Macau’ in a Chinese poem on the lectern. Also, on the other lectern, we could discover the IHS insignia trace underneath the pine tree lacquer recoating layer by X-ray CT conducted at Nara National Museum. We can infer that the involved party at that time stripped the original shell pattern (raden) off completely and recoated the area to totally hide the Christian symbol under the imminent pressure of the strict Christian ban imposed by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
 We reported on the above ongoing very new findings quickly based on in this presentation, and it became an opportunity for the attendants to observe these two lecterns. We intend to deepen our research further and to make an official report of this research as soon as possible.

(NHK news report web link in Japanese:https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20240218/k10014362331000.html)


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

The seminar room on January 26.

 The Archives Section at the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems currently organizes Korean painting research materials, such as prewar glass plates and mounted photographs.* In organizing the data, we exchange opinions with both Japanese and Korean researchers. As a part of the project, Dr. Mok Soohyun (Director, Institute of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, at the Association of Korean Modern & Contemporary Art History), a leading researcher on modern art history in Korea, was invited to the institute. In conjunction with a review meeting on materials, a colloquium titled, Korean Art History Colloquium was held on January 26 in the institute’s basement seminar room, where the first colloquium was held in November. The colloquium was designed as an opportunity for researchers and students in Japan to come into contact with the recent trends and current state of Korean art history. The event, titled stablishment of Museums in Korea, was hosted and translated by Mr. TASHIRO Yūichiro, a researcher at the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems. The colloquium was attended by researchers and graduate students from related fields, including Professor KIDA Emiko of Ōtani University and Professor Lee Mina of Tokyo National University of the Arts, and full and frank academic discussions were held. The Archives Section hopes that we can continue to organize the data accumulated by the institute and serve as a bridge between researchers from overseas and Japan.

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


A Lecture at SOAS

Ms. Maizawa, presenting at SOAS

 Ms. MAIZAWA Rei (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) has been a visiting researcher at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) in Norwich, UK, since last October, where she has been working on research of art works and studies
(https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/2059896.html). As a part of these activities, on January 25, 2024, she gave a lecture in English titled “The Arhat painting at Kōmyōji Temple: Iconography, Style, and the Worship of Buddha in East Asia” at SOAS (University of London, The School of Oriental and African Studies), Center for the Study of Japanese Religions. SOAS is world-renowned as an academic institution for the studies of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It also has been a leading center for the study of Japan in Europe.
 In the lecture, Ms. MAIZAWA explained about the style and iconography in detail, and then discussed its religious background of the Arhat painting. Professor Lucia Dolce of SOAS chaired the lecture, which was attended by around 70 people, including SOAS alumni and researchers and students of Japanese religious studies. The lecture was followed by a question-and-answer session, during which experts in Chinese and Korean art also gave their opinions, providing an opportunity for a meaningful exchange of views. The lecture hall was almost full on the day, indicating the high level of interest in the study of Buddhist painting in the UK.


Interim Report on the Investigation of “Yongzibifu(用字避複)” about Guodian Chujian(郭店楚簡)- The 7th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Q&A Session

 When investigating cultural properties, it is essential to decipher related materials from the past. However, the materials are often deteriorated, and the meanings of scripts at the time of their usage were often different from their modern meanings, and therefore caution is required when reading the materials.

 At the 7th Seminar, held on December 11, 2023, Mr. KATAKURA Shumpei (Tohoku University Archives) gave a presentation titled Interim report on the investigation of “Yongzibifu(用字避複)” about Guodian Chujian(郭店楚簡) on excavated materials from Upper Ancient China. “Yongzibifu” has been considered as a kind of rhetoric, a phenomenon in which variants are used when the same Chinese characters would be repeated within a certain range. The reason for its occurrence is not clear. Mr. KATAKURA reported that in order to discuss this phenomenon objectively, in his investigation he has been organizing the characters in the documents into a table, one by one, to determine the intervals and proportions at which “Yongzibifu” is occurring.

 Although the presentation was given at an intermediate stage of the research, with no conclusion yet reached, there was a lively discussion led by Mr. MIYAJIMA Kazuya of Seikei University on how to interpret the expressions and use of script described in the materials.

 Mr. KATAKURA has published the character data on the Chinese excavated materials he has created in the course of his research as a data paper (https://doi.org/10.24576/jadh.3.1_27). The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) will also consider constructing a database focusing on data of scripts obtained through the process of reading various materials.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

The seminar room on November 18.

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

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


Donation of Materials of MORIOKA Ryuzo

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

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


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

The author at the seminar.

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


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

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

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


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