|■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
A scene from the public lecture
On Thursday, February 6th, 2020, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties held the 13th public lecture, titled “Technology in Kusatsu Supporting the Textile Technology: Spiderwort-dyed Paper-Blue Made from Flower Petals.”
In the morning session, records on spiderwort-dyed paper were examined by watching films: a documentary film of craft techniques by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, titled “Yuzen – The Textile Art of MORIGUCHI Kako –“ (1988, Sakura Motion Picture),” and a film, titled “Asiatic Dayflower, the Flower of Kusatsu City: Handing Down of Spiderwort-dyed Paper,” produced by Kusatsu City in 1999.
In the afternoon session, there was a lecture describing the outcomes of a joint research on the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique of Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture, and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, conducted from 2016 through 2017. The joint research report has been published (refer to the April 2019 monthly report: https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/817676.html).
During the course of the lecture, explaining the main points, a documentary film was shown, titled “Recording Process of the Spiderwort-dyed Paper Production Technique” (produced in 2018 by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties), which was shot and edited in the joint research. This was followed by a report on a survey by KIKUCHI Riyo from the Institute that explained how both the natural spiderwort blue and its alternative, synthetic spiderwort blue, are now used. The report was in the form of a presentation, titled “Current Situation of Spiderwort-dyed Paper Use – Through a Listening Survey on Textile Technicians.” Adding to this, Ms. OKADA Yumi from the Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryukan made a presentation titled “Kusatsu City and Spiderwort-dyed Paper – Toward the Preservation of the Spiderwort-dyed Paper Production Technique,” which highlighted the relationship between Kusatsu City and the technique of producing spiderwort-dyed paper as clarified through the joint research, in addition to the present situation. Since the joint research was conducted two years ago, the circumstances surrounding the three farmers producing spiderwort-dyed paper have changed. To hand down the traditional technique to the coming generation, seminars for producers-to-be are now being implemented in Kusatsu City. The report on the current efforts unveiled the need for considering spiderwort-dyed paper as local culture and for protecting this cultural form. ISHIMURA Tomo, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Institute, made a presentation, titled “Spiderwort-dyed Paper as Cultural Heritage,” focusing on how the technique to produce such material should be positioned for protection of cultural properties.
At the end of the lecture, Mr. SUZUTA Shigeto was invited for a round-table-talk, titled “Spiderwort-dyed Paper as a Textile Material.” He was certified as the holder of the Mokuhanzuri Sarasa (wood-block) dyeing technique that was designated an intangible cultural property. The talk reinforced the fact that spiderwort-dyed paper works as a material supporting an important process even in producing works with the technique although it is considered a material to draw designs for Yuzen dyeing and tie-dyeing.
Transfer of technique to produce spiderwort-dyed paper is now at a milestone. One must always bear in mind that protection of intangible culture involves some alteration and hence, there should be scope for a compromise. The lecture was a good opportunity for the audience to understand the dilemma concerning spiderwort-dyed paper and whether it could become a sustainable material.
A scene from the comprehensive discussion
On December 20th, 2019, the 14th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was held on the topic “Towards the new utilization of intangible cultural heritages.” The meeting attracted about 170 participants including government officials, researchers, and representatives of conservation groups.
Due to the amendment of the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties, the utilization of properties is expected to increase., many cultural programs featuring intangible cultural heritage are planned or have been implemented for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. However, there is room for discussion on how to utilize such properties and whether they should be utilized or not in the first place has not been discussed thoroughly. Leaving many properties vulnerable to total demise, a new way to make good use of them for inheritance is sought.
The meeting featured four presenters in different positions from various regions. With specific examples, they reported the utilization through existing systems such as the hometown tax system and programs on traditional culture for parents and children, utilization by building an inter-regional network, and utilization for the purpose of transmitting attractive features of the heritage to the public via multimedia. This was followed by a vigorous and comprehensive discussion by the presenters and two commentators.
This conference will be published in March 2020, and they will be available on the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
A live performance of “Music and dance of Dominican Bachata” (Dominican Republic), which was inscribed on the Representative List
The fourteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took place in Bogota, the capital of Columbia, from December 9th to 14th, 2019. Two researchers from this Institute attended the session.
At the session, Japanese elements were not discussed, but the Committee inscribed five on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and 35 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Committee also added two projects to the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices. Among the elements inscribed on the Representative List are “Music and dance of Dominican Bachata” (Dominican Republic), “Nuad Thai, traditional Thai massage” (Thailand), and “Ie Samoa, fine mat and its cultural value” (Samoa). In particular, “Safeguarding strategy of traditional crafts for peace building” (Colombia), which was also added to the Good Practices, attracted global attention. As a good model, the strategy shows that intangible cultural heritage plays an active role in recovering from the devastation of long battles with drug syndicates.
In a first, the Committee decided to remove one element, “Aalst Carnival” (Belgium), from the Representative List. The reason for that was the recurrence of anti-Semitic and Nazi representations on the carnival floats, which was not stopped on the grounds of “freedom of expression” despite protests and objections from various quarters. This is incompatible with the fundamental principles of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, thereby non-conforming with the inscription criteria. The global community expressed its intention to not allow any forms of discrimination, even in cultural activities or practices.
Intangible cultural heritage may give courage and pride to people, promoting dialogue between peoples of different cultural backgrounds, while it may also highlight the cultural superiority of one side, denying or excluding people on the other side. We feel that it is the responsibility of us experts to blow a whistle against political use of intangible cultural heritage while promoting its use for peacekeeping and mutual understanding.
Participants at the International Researchers Forum
The International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (IRCI) co-organized the International Researchers Forum “Perspectives of Research for Intangible Cultural Heritage: Toward a Sustainable Society” with the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan, on December 17th and 18th, 2019 at this Institute. As a co-organizer, the Institute thoroughly cooperated in this forum, right from its planning to operation.
The forum’s aim was to discuss how Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) can contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs are the international goals to shift the world onto a better, sustainable path by 2030, specified in “the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, following the Millennium Development Goals developed in 2001. Under its 17 goals and 169 targets, the agenda pledges to leave no one behind. As universal goals, not only developing countries but also developed countries, including Japan, are expected to achieve the SDGs.
This forum addressed two goals related to ICH in particular: “Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” and “Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” For the goals, three sessions were arranged—in Session 1 “Community Development: ICH and Regional Development,” we mainly discussed the promotion of local cultures, communities, and economy through ICH, and then the efforts to conserve urban landscapes and the natural environment through ICH in Session 2 “Community Development: Environment and ICH”; in Session 3 “Discussion from Education Perspective,” how ICH could contribute to education was discussed based on the discussions of the previous two sessions. The forum ended with a comprehensive discussion covering all three sessions.
At the forum, 10 experts each from home and the Asia-Pacific region delivered presentations. While many of them specialized in cultural heritage and education, it should be noted that some were actual successors to or practitioners of ICH. Professor Vince DIAZ from the University of Minnesota, who has his roots in Micronesia, Guam, and the Philippines, is working on the revival of canoe culture in the Pacific region. He said, “For the natives in the Pacific region, nature has always been one with people. Protecting nature means keeping us human. The canoe is one of the means which connects nature with people. The revival of canoe culture is a process of making us more human, in addition to protecting nature.” His impressive talk suggests that some clues to achieving SDGs might be found in our traditional knowledge or worldview.
It is true that many intangible cultural properties are now in danger due to globalization or modernization. On the other hand, they may become the sources from which to regain such lost properties. Thus, this forum, which spotlighted the active aspects of ICH through SDGs, is significant enough to be disseminated to the world.
Scene of winnowing
On September 23rd, 2019, the fourth “Workshop on Winnowing Baskets” took place for interested persons at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
The series of workshops aims to research the techniques and cultures involved in “winnowing baskets” as folkcraft articles, used for screening and carrying threshed grains, considering the inheritance of them to be important. Originating in the “Summit Conference on Winnowing Baskets – Discussion of Weaving Techniques” held here in 2017, the workshop was organized by those who are interested in winnowing baskets, such as specialists in folk studies, archaeology, design engineering, and botany, as well as craftsman, sellers, and users of winnowing baskets and other handicrafts. We have been sharing our research outcomes and issues through the workshop held almost biannually.
For the fourth workshop, winnowing experiments were conducted with baskets produced in various areas, in addition to the research reports. Wheat, rice, and perilla were screened with winnowing baskets named Omogishi (Iwate Pref.), Oidara (Akita Pref.), Kizumi (Chiba Pref.), Ronden/Kumanashi (Toyama Pref.), Awa (Tokushima Pref.), and Hioki (Kagoshima Pref.) (production techniques for Oidara, Kizumi, and Ronden/Kumanashi ones are designated as national intangible folk cultural properties), in addition to Chinese willow ones, Korean wickerwork ones, and Malaysian ones. Actual comparison between these baskets allowed us to deepen the understanding of their functions and arrive at a basic date to verify the significance of their individual shaping and material selection as well as the differences in user-friendliness (functionality) according to areas.
The workshop will enhance studies on winnowing baskets produced in a variety of areas and reflect on the inheritance of their production techniques and cultures of usage together with their craftsman and sellers.
Watching the land under slash-and-burn agriculture in Shiiba village, Miyazaki Prefecture
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been conducting research exchanges with the National Intangible Heritage Center in the Republic of Korea since 2008. As a part of the interaction, the department welcomed Ms. Kang Kyeonghye from the center as a visiting researcher from September 17th through October 4th, 2019.
The theme of her research during the visit was agricultural folk technology as an intangible cultural heritage in Japan; particularly, the current slash-and-burn agriculture practiced here. Therefore, we accompanied her to field studies as support from the department.
During her stay, she conducted field work twice. First, she visited Ikawa in Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture, which is a mountain area above the Oi River. Slash-and-burn agriculture had flourished until World War II in the area. Shortly after the war, it declined so drastically that it was maintained only for the cultivation of foxtail millet, which was used for rites of the shrine. In recent years, however, a private organization has taken the initiative to revive slash-and-burn agriculture to encourage the growth of traditional crops.
Second, she visited Shiiba village in Miyazaki Prefecture, an area located in the middle of the Kyushu Mountains. Slash-and-burn agriculture had also flourished there until the war. In the post-war period, it almost disappeared. However, one farm family has been sustaining the cultivation technique. Recently, a new association was established to preserve the technique while schoolchildren were taught about slash-and-burn agriculture as part of a work-study program, in addition to the promotion activities by a group led by the farm family. The slash-and-burn agriculture in Shiiba village was designated as an intangible folk cultural property by the Village in 2012, and then by the Prefecture in 2016. It is now well-known as the Takachihogo-Shiibayama Site by the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) after the certification in 2015.
In Korea, the Act on Conservation and Promotion of Intangible Cultural Properties was enforced in 2016, which raised interest in traditional knowledge as an intangible cultural heritage. From 2017 to 2020, the Cultural Heritage Administration has been investigating the traditional agricultural knowledge that exists until today. The data is to be accumulated as basic information or used for the designation of cultural properties. However, Korean slash-and-burn agriculture techniques have also almost disappeared, and none of them have been designated as cultural heritage properties.
In Japan, although the slash-and-burn agriculture in Shiiba village is designated as an intangible folk cultural property by the Prefecture and the Village, there are no nationally designated agricultural techniques. It should be noted that private organizations have taken the initiative to promote slash-and-burn agriculture, as observed in Ikawa and Shiiba village. Utilization of GIAHS or any other framework different from the existing one might be more important in the future.
Thus, how to conserve and utilize the traditional agricultural techniques, including slash-and-burn agriculture is a common issue in both Japan and Korea. It would be meaningful to find a solution for such a common issue by exchanging information and promoting discussions through this joint research.
Filming of Miyazono-bushi (from left to right: Miyazono Senyoshie, Miyazono Senroku, Miyazono Senkazuya, and Miyazono Senkoju)
On July 31st, 2019, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage recorded a live performance of Miyazono-bushi (second recording of a live performance) at the Performing Arts Studio of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
Miyazono-bushi is an important intangible cultural property of Japan which was founded in the first half of the 18th century by Miyakoji Sonohachi in Kyoto. After seeing a revival during the mid- 18th century in Edo, it has become what it is today. Miyazono-bushi can be characterized by its distinctive vocal part called joruri (dramatic narrative chanted to a shamisen accompaniment) that is sang in a solemn and silky voice, accompanied by the soft and thick sounds of a chuzao shamisen (middle-neck sized three-stringed Japanese banjo). With training and experience, subtle expressions are produced through their harmonization. Traditional songs include classical dramatic piece in ten acts as well as modern songs, with the content of these songs being almost entirely about elopements for double suicides.
This time, two pieces were recorded: a classical piece, the “Michiyuki Natane no Midarezaki – Yamazaki” (blooming of rapeseed flowers during an elopement – Yamazaki) and a modern piece, the “Uta no Nakayama” (small path near Seikanji Temple). Both pieces were performed by Miyazono Senroku (lead singer; an individual certified as a Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property or what is called living national treasure), Miyazono Senyoshie (supporting singer), Miyazono Senkazuya (lead shamisen player), and Miyazono Senkoju (supporting shamisen player).
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continue to record live performances of Miyazono-bushi classics, as well as new pieces that get few occasions to be performed live.
Original thread manufacturing machine for traditional Korean string instruments
Research presentations at the National Intangible Heritage Center
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been engaged in research exchange with the National Intangible Heritage Center in the Republic of Korea since 2008. This exchange involves conducting overseas research while staying at the other party’s institution for a certain period of time and holding joint symposiums. Megumi Maehara, Head of the Intangible Cultural Properties Section of the Department sojourned in South Korea from July 1st–19th, 2019 to pursue overseas research.
Considering current conditions in Japan where cultural heritage application is anticipated, the purpose of this overseas research was to derive hints at preserving and transmitting cultural heritage preservation techniques used in musical instrument manufacturing and repair, in addition to cultural heritage utilization. During her stay, Ms. Maehara visited musical instrument manufacturers, musical instrument materials manufacturers and those associated with the education on, and preservation and succession of, traditional performance art (music), and also research organizations. The aim of her visit was to investigate South Korean traditional musical instrument manufacturing and repair techniques, the tools and raw materials used, the frameworks utilized to support these techniques, and the treatment of these techniques in the education about, and dissemination of, traditional music to the masses.
In South Korea, classical music and folk music are considered to be inseparable facets of “traditional Korean music (gugak).” Having knowledge and practical skill in these subjects are requirements for teachers who wish to be employed in music education because “traditional Korean music” is an indispensable qualification for music educators. This environment where one can naturally come in contact with traditional Korean music is starkly different from that in Japan. Nonetheless, there is still room to cultivate a general awareness of the techniques and raw materials supporting traditional performance art (music) in Japan and even in South Korea. Case studies and common issues discovered from this research exchange were compared to the current situation in Japan and the results were presented orally on July 18th at the National Intangible Heritage Center. Together with an investigative report in Japan, an overview of this investigation into musical instrument manufacturing and repair techniques will be published in the 14th volume of the “Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage” to be issued at the end of the fiscal year.
The Institute would like to extend its deepest gratitude to Kyeong-Hye, Kang of the National Intangible Heritage Center for supporting its research during this exchange, to interpreter Ji-Ye, Lee, and to everyone at the National Intangible Heritage Center.
Barking the Japanese lime
Separating the bark of the Manchurian elm into outer and inner parts
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been researching folk techniques using wooden materials. As part of this research, we have conducted a field study on barking to manufacture fabrics in June 2019.
“Bark fabrics” refer to the cloth woven using yarn made of fiber obtained from the inner bark of trees. In Japan, the Manchurian elm, Japanese lime, Japanese wisteria, Kozo paper mulberry, and East Asian arrowroot etc. are renowned as raw materials. We researched and recorded how to bark the Manchurian elm in the central part of Hokkaido Prefecture on June 15th and the Japanese lime in Sekikawa, Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture on June 30th.
The traditional fabric of the Ainu, comprising the Manchurian elm called “attus,” and “shinaori,” of Sekikawa comprising the Japanese lime, are designated as traditional crafts by the national government (“Nibutani-attus” and “Uetsu-shinafu”). In this case, the Manchurian elm was barked by the Nibutani Folk Crafts Association, whereas the Japanese lime was barked by the Sekigawa Shinaori Cooperative Association.
These trees are barked from June to early July when they grow by drawing water. Smooth barking is allowed only during this period. Basically, barking is applied to the standing Manchurian elm and the fallen Japanese lime. The bark is separated into outer and inner parts using only hands and simple tools. The inner bark is further processed into water-resistant strong yarn by devoting a considerable deal of time and effort.
To ensure efficient and sustainable use of natural materials, people have accumulated knowledge and techniques by deepening their understanding and increasing their experience over a long period of time. You can find some of the human interaction with nature through folk technologies that target natural materials.
The performers (from left to right: Fukuda Twelve Kinds of Sacred Music and Dancing Preservation Society, Washinokami Kumano Shrine Lion Dance General Meeting, Takenoura Lion Dance Preservation Society, Tsukizawa Arts Preservation Society)
Performance in front of the Honkan (Japanese Gallery) of the Tokyo National Museum (Tsukizawa Hashigo Toramai (Ladder Tiger Dance))
The “Tokyo Shishimai Collection 2020” event was held on May 11th and 12th (Saturday and Sunday), 2019, in the Front Garden of the Tokyo National Museum. This event was planned by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and was held as part of Japan Cultural Expo, an arts and culture festival that will coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. It was co-sponsored by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, the Tokyo National Museum, and the Japan Arts Council, in cooperation with tateito-yokoito llc., Culture Vision Japan Foundation Inc., and DO CREATION CO., LTD. The purpose of this event was to showcase lion dances from all over Japan as folk art which prominently expresses Japan Cultural Expo’s theme of “the Japanese and Nature”, and to transmit this to the world by performing the lion dances in Tokyo.
Lion dance performances, particularly from the three prefectures stricken by the Great East Japan Earthquake, were involved in this 2020 pre-event. During the two days, three lion dances were performed by three prefectures: Iwate Prefecture performed Rikuzentakata City’s “Tsukizawa Toramai (Tiger Dance)” (Tsukizawa Arts Preservation Society); Miyagi Prefecture performed Onagawa Town’s “Shishifuri (Lion Dance)” (Takenoura Lion Dance Preservation Society/Washinokami Kumano Shrine Lion Dance General Meeting), and Fukushima Prefecture performed Shinchi Town’s “Fukuda Juuni Kagura (Twelve Kinds of Sacred Music and Dancing Performed at Shrines)” (Fukuda Twelve Kinds of Sacred Music and Dancing Preservation Society). According to a count by the Tokyo National Museum, 2215 people attended the six shows during the two-day event.
In addition to watching the performances, many spectators participated in a hands-on learning experience by having the opportunity to actually touch the lion masks and musical instruments that ordinarily cannot be seen up close, and hearing explanations about the lion dances. Foreign language pamphlets were provided and bilingual staff was prepared so that visitors from various countries could enjoy the shows.
On a similar note, a Lion Dance Forum is planned for September of this year. In addition to holding lion dance performances in Tokyo, information about lion dance festivals and events held in various regions of Japan will be released to give many more people the opportunity to visit the regions where lion dance festivals are performed. In order to preserve intangible cultural heritage, this kind of information transmission and networking is crucial.
Cover of the report: “Joint Research Report on the Spiderwort-dyed Paper Production Technique: Kusatsu Techniques that Form the Backbone of Textile Dyeing Technology”
Spiderwort-dyed paper is a type of Japanese paper, which is soaked in the extract from Asiatic dayflower petals. The paper is used as a dyestuff to make rough sketches during the production of Yuzen-dyed fabrics. From 2016 to 2017, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage in association with Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture conducted a joint research on the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique and, in 2018, published a project report titled, “Joint Research Report on the Spiderwort-dyed Paper Production Technique: Kusatsu Techniques that Form the Backbone of Textile Dyeing Technology” (DVD included).
This report was compiled by staff from Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryukan in association with researchers from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and included the following studies: a record of the techniques employed by three producers of spiderwort-dyed paper; a study on the soil in which Asiatic dayflowers are cultivated and the preservation of the extract from Asiatic dayflower petals; a study on the Japanese paper that is used to make spiderwort-dyed paper; a study of ancient documents relating to spiderwort-dyed paper; a questionnaire survey of producers and users of spiderwort-dyed paper; and a study on the positioning of spiderwort-dyed paper as a cultural heritage. The data obtained from this joint project is being stored in cooperation with Kusatsu City and can be applied in future research.
Beginning from this year, Kusatsu City is implementing measures to safeguard the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique. Techniques for producing materials used in intangible cultural heritage are sometimes appraised as techniques to safeguard cultural heritage (Selected Conservation Techniques). In addition, spiderwort-dyed paper will likely be appraised as a regional folk cultural asset of Kusatsu. We hope that this report will inform many more people about the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique and will engender lively discussion toward its safeguarding.
Council held at the Kyoto Art Center
The Liaison Council for “Disaster Prevention of Intangible Culture Heritage” for the Kansai Area was held on February 3rd, 2019 as part of the “Project to Build a Comprehensive Database for Cultural Assets and Establish a Network.” This project is an initiative undertaken by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems as part of the promotion program of the National Taskforce for the Japanese Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network (Agency for Cultural Affairs’ subsidized project). This council has been ongoing since 2016 for sharing information among nationwide prefectural representatives responsible for folk cultural properties.
This council was co-organized by the Kyoto Art Center in Kyoto City where representatives from six prefectures and one city in the Kansai Area assembled. Representatives from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), included Hiromichi KUBOTA, Megumi MAEHARA, Tomo ISHIMURA, and Riyo KIKUCHI.
At the council, participants shared their opinions on the significance of creating a database, and gave presentations on the current state of intangible cultural assets in their respective prefectures. Issues ranging from natural disasters, the various risks that intangible cultural assets face to transmitting preservation techniques and applications were discussed. The current state of intangible cultural assets and issues in each region were shared as valuable information.
On March 1st, a second council was held at TNRICP with participation from the representatives of 10 prefectures.
Scene from the study meeting
The 2nd study meeting titled “Production of Visual Documentation for Intangible Cultural Heritage” was held on February 22nd, 2019.
Many intangible cultural heritages are predicated on intangible human “techniques.” In addition to written records, video records serve an important role in recording these “techniques.” The issue then becomes what kind of video recordings should be created.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties held the Sub-conference on Video Recording of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties from 2003 to 2007, and the results were released in the “Guidance on the production of recorded videos for intangible folk cultural properties.” However, in recent years, the video industry has undergone marked changes, particularly in the development of digital equipment, so there are expectations that the content be updated. Although the aforementioned guidance was created mainly for the video recording of folk art, there are expectations for it to be applied toward other types of intangible cultural heritage such as craft skills and folk techniques.
Thus, with the intention of creating a new “Handbook for the production of visual documentation for intangible cultural heritage,” the Institute convened a study meeting titled “Production of Visual Documentation for Intangible Cultural Heritage” from 2018 to consider the content. This study meeting is the second one convened.
In the first half of the meeting, an expert Hirohito KANAMORI (Over4K Ltd.) spoke on 4K/8K video technology, which has been attracting attention in recent years. He discussed the possibilities for this technology, and its application toward the recording of cultural properties and heritage. As 4K/8K technology will improve the color reproducibility (i.e., color gamut and brightness) as well as high definition images, there is significance for this technology in recording cultural properties.
In the latter half of the meeting, participants discussed the contents of the “Handbook for the production of visual documentation for intangible cultural heritage” by chapter. Participants made various proposals that included keeping in mind that the record creation method will differ depending on the type of intangible cultural heritage and to also take heed of preserving and applying video record media taken in the past (film or electromagnetic tape, etc.) The Institute will refer to these opinions in creating the “Handbook for the production of visual documentation for intangible cultural heritage.”
Conducting Research at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum
Fibers used in cultural properties come from a variety of sources including hemp, ramie, kudzu, and bashō (Japanese banana). As discussed in the May 2017 monthly report (Takuyo YASUNAGA, “Historical Position of ‘Hakubai-zu byobu’ by Goshun－A workshop is organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems”), we have learned in the more recent years that in addition to silk and paper, fiber is also used as the support medium in paintings. There are no well-defined, established methods of identification, however, in part due to the difficulty of discerning the characteristics of individual fibers once in textile state. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) is working to find a solution to these and other problems, in a cooperative research effort into fiber identification among the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems; Center for Conservation Science; and Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
As a part of this research, the three-dimensional forms of fibers in a calligraphy work and a dyed article made of bashō-fu (textile woven from banana plant fiber) were examined using a digital microscope at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum from January 22nd to 23rd, 2019.
Bashō-fu is textile developed in Okinawa and Amami Islands and has been designated an important intangible cultural property, with Ms. Toshiko TAIRA recognized as an individual practitioner and Kijōka Bashō-fu Preservation Society recognized as a heritage protection organization. Of the work examined this time, the calligraphy work is known to have been created in a particular year and the dyed article is an item whose wearer can be guessed at. The examination showed that despite being all works thought to be made of bashō-fu, the look and the feel of the textiles varied due to differences in yarn density and yarn processing method.
While it is difficult to judge whether the differences are rooted in regional variation within Okinawa and Amami Islands or due to differences in use, we were able to conclude that many kinds of bashō-fu were created through different processes.
Accurate identification of fibers goes to the most basic data on a particular work, and is a key element in considering the circumstances of production. It is also a pressing issue in the organization of basic data for use in the present repair or the passing on to future generations of intangible cultural heritage.
We hope to continue furthering the research into identification of fibers through field investigations into techniques in conjunction with examination of exhibits at museums and art museums.
Viewing of "Shishifuri" (lion dance) performance in Onagawa-cho
Seven staff of our Institute, including the Deputy Director General Emiko YAMANASHI, participated in the “Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on Intangible Cultural Heritage and Natural Disasters” co-organized by the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) and our Institute and held in Sendai on December 7th to 9th, 2018. This workshop was conducted as the conclusion of the “Research on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Safeguarding and Disaster Risk Management in the Asia-Pacific Region” conducted by the IRCI since 2016. Additionally, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of our Institute cooperated in this project and dispatched staff for field surveys in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Fiji.
Cultural heritage and disaster risk management experts from eight countries in the Asia-Pacific Region were invited to this workshop. Together with experts from Japan and other countries, they reported and discussed how to protect intangible cultural heritage from natural disasters. On the second day, Hiromichi KUBOTA of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted an excursion to Onagawa-cho, Miyagi Prefecture, to show the participants the roles the intangible cultural heritage played in the reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Each country and region’s seemingly different perception of the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and natural disasters marked the discussions in the workshop. For example, while Japanese experts emphasized that intangible cultural heritage formed a bond in the disaster-affected communities and became a source of strength for the reconstruction, several foreign experts highlighted that traditional knowledge contains knowledge to forecast and prepare for natural disasters. The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage lists “knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe” as a form of intangible cultural heritage, and traditional knowledge is generally recognized as intangible cultural heritage. On the other hand, Japan’s Act on Protection of Cultural Properties does not clearly consider traditional knowledge as a category of intangible cultural properties.
In Japan, attention has been paid to the folkloric records and knowledge related to natural disasters, such as tsunami monuments; however, they were not much discussed in the context of the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and natural disasters. This workshop was a meaningful opportunity to know different perceptions from each country and region, discuss with people who have diverse ideas, and widen our perspective.
View of the seminar
The seminar entitled “Safeguarding Living Heritage in Nepal” was held on December 10th, 2018. The Director General Jaya Ram SHRESTHA and the curator Yamuna MAHARJAN of the National Museum of Nepal were invited and spoke on the current situation and challenges of intangible cultural heritage in Nepal. Tomo ISHIMURA and Hiromichi KUBOTA (Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage) also presented the surveys on Nepalese intangible cultural heritage conducted by our Institute. Dr. Tomoko MORI (Sapporo City University) who has been involved in the preservation of urban scenery in Nepal gave comments as well.
Diverse ethnic groups and religions coexist in Nepal, which has given birth to abundant intangible cultural heritage. However, the earthquake of April 2015 caused severe damage in many regions and affected traditional cultures to no small extent. Moreover, the rapid modernization in recent years is forcing traditional cultures to change. We spent meaningful time learning about such situation of the Nepalese intangible cultural heritage, sharing information with Japanese experts on Nepal who attended the seminar, and exchanging ideas with Nepalese experts.
This seminar was held as part of the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” which is the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in FY2018.
Appearance of the venue.
Inscription of “Raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes” was adopted by the committee.
The Thirteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took place in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, from November 26th through December 1st, 2018. Two researchers from this Institute attended the session.
At this session, whether or not “Raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes” nominated by Japan should be inscribed on the Representative List was discussed. The Committee decided its inscription on November 29th. At the Sixth session of the Intergovernmental Committee in 2011, the similarity of “Oga no Namahage, New Year visiting of masked deities in Oga, Akita” nominated by Japan to “Koshikijima no Toshidon (visiting deity that occurs every New Year’s Eve on Shimo-Koshiki Island),” which had already been inscribed on the Representative List, was pointed out. In response to the decision of the referral of the element by the Committee, ten nationally designated Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties (protecting groups identified) including “Oga no Namahage, New Year visiting of masked deities in Oga, Akita,” “Paantu” on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture, and “Boze” on Akuseki Island in Kagoshima Prefecture were grouped into the expanded “Koshikijima no Toshidon” as its elements. Therefore, the number of Japan’s intangible cultural heritage elements inscribed on the Representative List remains twenty-one. However, more Japanese cultural properties have been inscribed as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
It is highly important that “Reggae music” nominated by Jamaica was inscribed on the Representative List among the other properties examined by the Committee this time. Inscription of “Reggae music” might not have been decided at this session since the Evaluation Body initially recommended the element to be referred back to the State Party. However, a discussion by the Committee members resulted in inscription.
Japan serves as a Committee member from 2018 to 2022. Also at this session, the Japanese delegation introduced two cases of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding with a focus on Japan’s efforts making a significant contribution: “Disaster Prevention for Intangible Cultural Heritage” on which this Institute works, and “Research on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Safeguarding and Disaster Risk Management in the Asia-Pacific Region” with which the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) deals. Japan is expected to continually make a presence at the Intergovernmental Committee.
On the other hand, we felt concerned about how the Committee meeting should be developed. In recent years, referral recommendation by the Evaluation Body is often turned into inscription decision by the Committee. Occasionally, we also came across such cases at this session. In some cases, proceedings that are not accepted in the guideline for the Convention were decided by the Committee. In fact, some signatory States Parties expressed concern about such a policy of the Committee, causing a stir in its ruling idea for the coming session.
Metalwork removed from the float for restoration (shaft-point metalwork).
Mr. Kiyoshi TSUJI engaged in restoration work.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been researching and studying conservation techniques for cultural properties. To hand down tangible and intangible cultural properties to the coming generation, it is necessary to conserve and inherit the techniques required for conservation and restoration of cultural properties, as well as manufacturing technologies for the materials and tools used for them, in addition to cultural heritage itself. In Japan, we call these techniques “conservation techniques for cultural properties” under the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties. By selecting those that particularly require conservation measures as “selected conservation techniques,” great effort has been put into their conservation and protection. According to each nation, techniques subject to safeguarding are just a small percentage of the whole. We think this Institute should play a leading role in paying attention to the techniques not selected by the national government as subjects of our research and study.
In FY 2018, we conducted a survey for Mr. Kiyoshi TSUJI, a holder of the “Hikiyama Metalwork Restoration” technique selected for conservation by the Shiga Prefectural Government jointly with the Shiga Prefectural Board of Education. Mr. Tsuji has been engaged with restoration of numerous festival floats as a holder of the restoration technique for metalwork such as metal ornaments for floats used in the “Nagahama Hikiyama Festival” designated as one of the nation’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties, also serving as an element composing “Yama, Hoko, Yatai, float festivals in Japan” inscribed on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. At present, he is working on restoration of the metalwork for the float of Kin-ei Town (Hogiku Float) used for the “Hino Hikiyama Festival” (prefecturally designated intangible folk cultural property) held in Hino Town, Shiga Prefecture. We have been surveying and video-recording the restoration process.
Needless to say, festival floats are essential for the implementation of the Hikiyama Festival. Accordingly, conservation of and succession to the festival as an intangible cultural property require a restoration technique for the floats. It is true that successors to such technique are insufficient. Our research and study aims not only to conserve and record the technique for the coming generation but also to highlight the conservation techniques for such cultural properties attracting less attention for their significance.
Researchers at an agehama-style salt farm in the Okunoto area
Researchers at a tea field in Uji
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been participating in a research exchange program with the National Intangible Heritage Center in the Republic of Korea since 2008. As part of the research exchange program, we hosted Ms. Yun Soo Kyung, researcher of the National Intangible Heritage Center, as a visiting researcher from October 15th to November 2nd, 2018.
Ms. Yoon Soo Kyung’s theme in this research exchange program is Japanese folk technology as an intangible cultural heritage, particularly focusing on salt production and tea production. Therefore, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage supported her research expertise by traveling with her to the following cities: Suzu City in Ishikawa Prefecture in the Okunoto area, known for agehama-style salt production designated as one of the nation’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties and Shizuoka City in Shizuoka Prefecture as well as Uji City in Kyoto Prefecture, reputed for tea production.
Folk techniques as an intangible cultural heritage is regarded as one of the three categories in intangible folk cultural property in Japan along with manners and customs, and folk performing arts. However, in 2004, when the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties was amended, folk techniques were added to this list. In 2018, 309 items were designated as the nation’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties but only 16 items were classified into the category of folk techniques. With regard to salt production, the production of agehama-style salt in the Okunoto area is designated by the country as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property while tea production is designated as a folk property, not by the country but by the prefectures. “Uji Tea” is produced in Uji City and the tea fields and tea factories are considered as elements comprising the “Cultural Landscape in Uji,” designated as the nation’s Important Cultural Landscape, as well as components of “A Walk through the 800-year History of Japanese Tea,” designated as Japan Heritage.
In Korea, salt production and tea production are classified into one of the categories for intangible cultural properties, “traditional knowledge,” and they are also selected as national cultural properties. Under the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties in Japan, designation of a certain intangible folk cultural property requires the authorization of its conservation group(s). In Korea, such a property inherited in a wide area can be designated comprehensively without identifying its holders or conservation groups. It is interesting to know the differences in the Japanese and Korean protection systems for intangible cultural properties.
The advantage in this kind of a research exchange program is an understanding of the differences in the classification of intangible cultural properties by the two countries, which results in knowledge of the differences in how conservation should be supported. It is meaningful for both countries to start seeking better ways to conserve cultural properties in their own country through the cultural exchange programs.
Opening ceremony of the workshop
Trainees classifying and organizing actual materials
The Cultural Heritage Protection Cooperation Office of the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) in Nara City organized the “Cultural Heritage Workshop 2018 (Fiji)” from October 22nd to 27th, 2018 in Fiji. The workshop was co-organized by ACCU, the Fiji Museum, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs with an aim to teach the trainees to record specific items, such as archaeological items and ethnic materials, stored in the museum. The workshop attracted twelve Fijian people involved in museums in addition to one participant from the Kingdom of Tonga, Fiji’s neighboring country. Mr. Tomo ISHIMURA, the Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, gave lectures in the first half of the workshop, i.e., October 22nd to October 24th.
First, the trainees classified and organized the earthenware unearthed from actual archaeological sites according to their patterns and parts (rims, bodies, etc.). Following this, they recorded notes in a ledger in order to document these earthenware pieces. Then, they gathered characteristic relics from the classified ones to prepare rubbed copies and measured drawings (sectional views) of the relics. Next, they prepared measured drawings of the unfragmented earthenware with replicas for practice. Finally, they prepared and organized cards based on the rubbed copies and measured drawings.
The advantage of the on-site workshop was that it provided a concise understanding of technological transfer in a more practical manner by actually allowing the participants to work with local materials. However, the disadvantage was in the planning of the workshop which was more suitable for the local materials, the features being different according to each site. For example, in Fiji, it is rare for an archaeologist to unearth an unfragmented piece of earthenware from the site. In many cases, the earthenware is discovered in small pieces. The focal point of the archaeological workshop organized by ACCU in Japan was the practice of measuring unfragmented earthenware whereas in this workshop in Fiji, a lot of time was spent in the classification and organization of earthenware pieces and recordings of their rubbed copies in accordance with the local conditions.
Many trainees attending this unique workshop were interested in the topic since they had practically handled materials in diverse manners without systematic processes to classify, organize, and record the materials. We would be honored if this workshop contributed to the conservation of cultural properties in this region.