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

World Heritage Seminar: Re-question on Landscape as Cultural Property

Information leaflet (front)
Scene of discussion at the seminar

 Since 2018, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been hosting the World Heritage Seminar, which aims to transmit information and facilitate an exchange of opinions about the world heritage system and its trends in the country. In FY 2022, redefining it as Re-question on Landscape as Cultural Property, it focused on “landscape” as a tangential point between UNESCO’s sites based on an idea of environmental and territorial preservation, and the Japanese concept of cultural property protection, which recently has been trying to upgrade the “old-style” protection (i.e., protection of a single building or site) to a wider, areal one. For the past two years (FY 2020 and 2021), due to COVID-19, we have had no choice but to conduct it online; however, this year, we held it in-person on December 26th, 2022, at the Tokyo National Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), limiting participation to 50 persons.

 Mr. NISHI Kazuhiko (Agency for Cultural Affairs) started with a presentation on Trends on World Heritage. Thereafter, KANAI Ken (TOBUNKEN) explained the purpose of the seminar. In Part I, Ms. EDANI Hiroko (Nara National Institute for Cultural Properties) and MATSUURA Kazunosuke (TOBUNKEN) made two presentations from a research perspective titled Characteristic of Japanese Cultural Landscapes and World Heritage Sites as Landscape: Area Setting and its Basis Law, respectively. In Part II, Mr. UENO Kenji (Hirado City) and Mr. NAKATANI Yuichiro (Kanazawa City) made presentations from an administrative perspective about the Possibility of a Landscape Protection through Cooperation and Town Planning to Revive the Cultural Landscape Value in Kanazawa. Thereafter, all speakers discussed the landscape positioning within the Japanese heritage protection system.

 Through presentations and discussions, it was clarified that, while the landscape as cultural property is accepted conceptually and institutionally in a limited manner in Japan, it is widely integrated in the land use policy involving urban planning, environmental preservation, and agricultural policy, as is done in Europe. It was also pointed out that cultural property protection and urban planning in Japan have taken separate steps that drastically delay its overall protection even today. The Center will continue to research on the international heritage protection system, including the theme of “landscape,” which is a complicated problem in Japan.

Symposia on Archaeology and International Contribution: Japanese Cooperation for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage in Bahrain and the Latest Discoveries of Arabian Archaeology

Dilmun Burial Mounds remaining in Bahrain
Speakers and participants of the symposium held in Tokyo, Japan.

 The Kingdom of Bahrain in the Middle East has many interesting cultural heritage sites, despite being a small island country of the size of Tokyo’s 23 wards and Kawasaki City combined. It is known that Bahrain was called Dilmun, and prospered by monopolizing the maritime trade connecting Mesopotamia with the Indus region, approximately 4,000 years ago. As many as 75,000 burial mounds were built during that period only in Bahrain, which have attracted the attention of many researchers since the end of the 19th century. The Dilmun Burial Mounds were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2019.

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been cooperating on the site management and excavations of the Dilmun Burial Mounds for a long time. From FY2022, we began cooperating on the conservation of historic Islamic gravestones in Bahrain.

 The year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Bahrain and Japan. TOBUNKEN held the international symposia on Archaeology and International Contribution: Japanese Cooperation for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage in Bahrain (on December 11th, 2022 at TOBUNKEN) and the Latest Discoveries of Arabian Archaeology (on December 14th, 2022, at Kanazawa University), co-sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Ancient Civilizations and Cultural Resources of Kanazawa University. The Director of Archaeology and Museums of Bahrain, heads of Denmark, France, and British missions that conduct excavations in Bahrain, and archaeology and conservation science experts in Japan, gathered for the symposia.

 The history of each country’s excavations in Bahrain and the excavation, conservation, and restoration activities of Japanese experts were introduced at the symposium in Tokyo. The latest excavation survey results for each mission were introduced at the symposium in Kanazawa.

 TOBUNKEN plans to continue cooperating for the protection of cultural heritage in Bahrain in various ways.

Participation in the 30th Anniversary Ceremony of the Angkor World Heritage Site and the Meetings of the International Coordinating Committee

APSARA dance performed in the ceremony
Poster exhibition (TOBUNKEN poster is in the middle)

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been working with the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) on the cooperation program for the Ta Nei Temple in the Angkor Archaeological site in Cambodia.

 Angkor was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1992. This led to comprehensive international support and cooperation from other countries, including Japan, which covers not only the conservation and restoration of the archaeological sites, but also various other fields like the formation of management systems, including human resource development, tourism development, and planning and infrastructure improvement for sustainable development of the surrounding regions. Angkor has been established as a top international tourist destination and became one of the most important sources of foreign currency revenue for the Cambodian economy. At the same time, it was highly praised as a successful model of international cooperation on the protection and utilization of World Heritage Sites, despite facing various challenges till date.

 On the early morning of December 14th, 2022, I attended a ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of Angkor’s inscription on the World Heritage List. The solemn ceremony, held in front of the entrance causeway to the Angkor Wat Temple, started with Buddhist sutra chanting by many priests, where the APSARA dance was also performed. A poster exhibition on international cooperation history, including TOBUNKEN’s projects, was also held at the event.

 On the following two days, the 36th Technical Session and the 29th Plenary Session of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Sites of Angkor and Sambor Prei Kuk (ICC-Angkor) were held successively in Siem Reap City. For the previous two years, these regular meetings were held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, we finally managed to hold the meeting in person, with related experts and institute representatives both from and outside of Cambodia. The progress on many programs was reported and shared, and we revived the relationship among the related parties from various countries. I deeply appreciate the fact that in-person meetings as precious opportunities have finally resumed.

Investigation for Sustainable and Stable Supply of Noriutsugi

Neri is extracted from noriutsugi bark. The yellow part of the tree is where bark has been removed.
Discussion meeting in TOBUNKEN

 Washi (Japanese traditional paper) is used for the restoration of cultural properties and for traditional crafts. It is well known that washi is made of fibers extracted from plants such as kōzo (Broussonetia kazinoki x B. papyrifera) and ganpi (Diplomorpha sikokiana). However, it is not widely known that neri, a dispersant, is also essential for washi making. Adding neri disperses the fibers evenly in water, producing smooth and beautiful washi. Without the addition of neri, the fibers are not evenly dispersed, and washi made without neri has poor formation.

 Including washi most cases of industrial mass paper manufacturing use synthetic compounds such as polyethylene oxide as neri. Traditionally, neri is made from mucilage extracted from plants such as tororoaoi (Abelmoschus Manihot) and noriutsugi (Hydrangea paniculate). At present, neri extracted from tororoaoi or noriutsugi is still most suitable for thin washi making. It is also widely used for washi-making for cultural property restoration. However, the sustainable and stable supply of these raw materials, especially noriutsugi, becomes increasingly difficult. This is because noriutsugi for neri is a wild species and there are not enough successors to the experts with knowledge on locating noriutsugi and removing its bark. If the low amounts of noriutsugi available does not change, this will permanently impair washi-making for the restoration of cultural property. For example, uda washi paper used for soura-kami (the final lining paper) of hanging scrolls is made using neri extracted from noriutsugi. Therefore, we are concerned that restoring hanging scrolls will become difficult in the near future.

 Commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Center for Conservation Science has been conducting a research project: “Investigation of Tools and Materials Used for the Preservation and Restoration of Fine Arts and Crafts” with the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems and the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. As an important investigation of this project, we are working for sustainable and stable supply of noriutsugi. This investigation is conducted in cooperation with Hokkaido Prefecture, Shibetsu Town and others. We visit the noriutsugi growing area in Shibetsu Town and hold regular discussion meetings. We will provide supports for sustainable and stable supply of noriutsugi and conduct scientific studies on why neri extracted from noriutsugi shows such excellent characteristics.

Preliminary Survey for Joint Research on the Conservation of Wall Paintings and Archaeological Objects in Luxor, Egypt

Survey at the conservation and restoration site of the rock-cut tomb wall paintings
Survey of a case for conservation and restoration at the site (Temple of Hathor)

 Luxor is where the old capital Thebes was located during the New Kingdom period within the chronological division of ancient Egyptian history. Within Luxor, in the Valley of the Kings, Egyptian pharaohs such as Thutmose I and Tutankhamun were buried. Luxor also has many surviving mortuary temples, including the Karnak Temple Complex. These archaeological sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List as the “Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis” in 1979. They were evaluated as important archaeological ruins that demonstrate a lost civilization. Egyptology, research regarding Egyptian Civilization, stemmed from Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1798 French Campaign in Egypt. Since then, research has been actively conducted on an international scale. Interesting outcomes and reports have been made available annually, and will continue to be published. Luxor is one of the targets of these studies. Excavation surveys are actively conducted at various sites in Luxor, where archaeological complexes and objects are continuously discovered.

 The challenges associated with continuous discoveries are the conservation and utilization after archaeological surveys. In recent years, it has become mandatory that the sites and archaeological objects discovered by excavation surveys must be conserved and maintained as cultural properties for local tourism promotions. However, there are many cases in which inadequate emergency treatments are made under time and budget constraints, often damaging the sites and archaeological objects.

 We conducted an on-site survey, targeting the Luxor Museum and West Bank rock-cut tomb sites from December 12th to 24th, 2022, to explore the possibilities of supporting the improvement of these situations. As a result, we were asked for cooperation by local experts to discuss maintenance methods regarding the conservation and management of archaeological objects housed in the museum, and on conservation and restoration methods of the wall paintings of rock-cut tombs in the principle that they would be conserved at the original sites. We will continue the survey to narrow down the research theme of urgent needs and targets to bring it to the international team co-working on this project.

International Course on Paper Conservation in Latin America in Mexico City

Practical work

 Since 2012, the International Course on Paper Conservation in Latin America: Meeting East has been jointly organized by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and Coordinacion Nacional de Conservacion del Patrimonio Cultural – Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (CNCPC-INAH) at CNCPC in Mexico City. This year, the in-person teaching course returned after two years of cancellation. A total of nine conservation specialists from eight countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and Uruguay) participated in the course held from November 9th to 22nd 2022.
 The course sought to provide attendees with basic knowledge and techniques regarding traditional paper conservation in Japan. Japanese specialists were in charge of the first part of the course (November 9th to 14th). They presented lectures on the protection system of traditional techniques, tools and materials used in restoration, and Restoration Techniques for Mounts, which is one of the Selected Conservation Techniques in Japan. Methods useful for various situations were taught by working on linings with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste. In the latter half of the course (November 16th to 22nd), experts from Mexico and Spain gave lectures. They spoke about how to select materials and apply their techniques to Western paper cultural properties.
 We would like to express our gratitude to the participants for their cooperation in preventing the spread of coronavirus throughout the course. We hope that the knowledge and techniques the attendees acquired will be applied to the conservation and restoration of cultural property overseas.

Pilot Survey for the Conservation of Traditional Masonry Houses in Bhutan

Arial view of Korphu village (from the west)
MoU signing ceremony (left: Director of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, TOBUNKEN, TOMODA Masahiko; right: Director-General of the DoC, Nagtsho Dorji)

 From the scientific research aspect, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) provides technical support for the value evaluation and enhancement of heritage buildings to the Department of Culture (DoC), the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan, which aims to expand the scope of heritage conservation to all historic buildings, including traditional houses. While we have been forced to implement cooperation projects online since January 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, TOBUNKEN agreed with the DoC to resume joint surveys in Bhutan, following the significant easing of travel restrictions in Japan and Bhutan from July and September onward, respectively. From November 5th–15th, 2022, TOBUNKEN dispatched four staff experts, including an expert from the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
 The mission targeted the traditional masonry houses found in the eastern part of Bhutan. The purpose was to recognize and analyze the fundamental features of settlements and buildings in the region as the preliminary stage of the comprehensive scientific survey, which will serve as the basis for appropriate heritage conservation and development. Effective survey strategies were also examined in the mission. The on-site survey covered Trongsa Dzongkhag, Bumthang Dzongkhag, and the surrounding area, located in the central-eastern part of the country, which is relatively easy to access from the capital city of Thimphu. Measurements, photogrammetry, and interviews with locals were conducted in villages and houses preselected by the Division of Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) of the DoC, based on the governmental archive and information provided by Dzongkhags. We found that the region had its own distinctive village forms. For instance, Trong and Korphu, located in the rugged mountainous area in the southern part of Trongsa Dzongkhag, are particularly unique as their houses are built in rows along a ridge, giving them merchant town-like appearance despite them being farming villages. In addition, while almost all houses in Trong are masonry structures, those in Korphu are both masonry and rammed earth structures, and rammed earth structures retain their older form. In other houses we surveyed, some were originally built in rammed earth, and later expanded or modified in stone. This suggests that, at least in the region surveyed this time, the structural manner of traditional houses shifted from rammed earth to masonry. We also found some masonry houses that have a very complex series of expansion and modification, and there is a possibility that the frequency of modification is generally higher in masonry structures than that in rammed-earth structures. Regarding the survey method, photogrammetry proved to be efficient and very useful in recording the masonry house, which shows random and complex patterns with natural stones and has many distortions in its shape.
 After the on-site survey, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the cooperation in the conservation of architectural heritage was signed at the DoC headquarters, Thimphu, and a meeting was organized with the DCHS to discuss the results of the survey, as well as the prospects and needs of the Bhutanese counterparts. In the future, we expect to develop more on-site surveys and research activities targeting masonry houses in eastern Bhutan in close collaboration with the DCHS.

Investigation of Coloring Materials Used for Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo Kote-e Kura (Warehouse Decorated with Trowel Paintings)

Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo Kote-e Kura
Flaking and chipping

 Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo Kote-e Kura in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture was completed in 1926 by the plasterer KAWAKAMI Ikichi. The artwork was commissioned by YOSHIZAWA Nitarō, the founder of Kina-Saffron-Shu-Honpo (i.e., Kina Saffron Winery). The kote-e* (plaster reliefs) are mainly positioned around eaves and doors of the warehouse structured of lumber and with mud wall. The kote-e reliefs are three-dimensional representations of Daikokuten (Japanese deity of fortune and wealth) and animals and plants, and were created with the impasto technique mainly using plaster. The use of red and blue colors in the reliefs creates a contrast that enhances the three-dimensional visual effect.

 Although these kote-e are placed in a harsh environment with exposure to rainfall and wind, they have remained in a relatively good condition considering that they were created almost 100 years ago. This can be attributed to the efforts made by people to protect the artwork and hand down it to generations as well as to the characteristics of the plaster and the ingenious plastering techniques.

 Nonetheless, some damage such as flaking and chipping of plaster and color can be seen in every kote-e on careful observation. Hence, responding to the request by Nagaoka City, the owner of the warehouse, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) visited the site on November 11th, 2022 and conducted sampling investigation of color and plaster as a part of pre-investigation for conservation and restoration, which has been deemed necessary for the near future. Sampling investigation is conducted by extracting small samples from the target materials; this practice is also described as “destructive investigation.” Although the word “destructive” may indicate something “bad,” it is not so. Sampling investigation enables us to obtain reliable information that cannot be obtained by simply checking the surface. Therefore, destructive investigation, in fact, enables safer and superior conservation and restoration.

 We will effectively utilize the outcome analysis of this investigation for planning the conservation and restoration project so that the Kote-e Kura, which has been maintained by prior generations, can be passed down to future generations and it remains well-preserved for at least another 100 years.

*Kote-e: colorful Japanese plaster reliefs created using a trowel

Participation in Practical Workshop on Cultural Landscape 2022 and Others, Organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs

Cultural landscape of Katsushika-Shibamata
National District Liaison Council on Cultural Landscape at ex Kawajin restaurant building

 Since 2018, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been holding the World Heritage Seminar (WHS), which aims to share international trends and information about cultural heritage protection, including UNESCO’s sites, within our country. In the fiscal year 2022, the seminar entitled Re-question on Landscape as Cultural Properties will focus on areal protection, which has become increasingly important in recent years. To understand the inclination for landscape protection in Japan, I participated in Practical Workshop on Cultural Landscape 2022 and National District Liaison Council on Cultural Landscape organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs from October 27th to 29th.
 Both were held in Katsushika-Shibamata, the first district nominated as a cultural landscape situated in the metropolitan area of Japan. At the workshop, after two case-study lectures on charm publicity and tourism town planning related to cultural landscape, the participants, who were divided into groups, walked around the venue and investigated the issues of sharing cultural landscape information among the residents and visitors. They also presented solutions and discussed their ideas. At the council, after a keynote speech on the cultural landscape features of Shibamata and three case reports on the inheritance of river fish food culture, the speakers discussed the theme.
 Both administrative institutions and inhabitants and other concerned parties who participate proactively play a key role in inheriting cultural landscape significance. The training meetings focused on techniques to utilize cultural landscapes as ‟living cultural assets” rooted in daily life. Clearly, such utilization can work only if it is combined with protection system and its instruments, like two wheels of a chariot. Keeping this in mind, WHS 2022 aims to clarify the legal grounds on which foreign world heritage sites with landscape values such as cultural landscapes and historic city centers are protected. Through the seminar, we hope to look into the future of ‟landscape” protection in Japan.

Symposium 2022 Climate Change and Cultural Heritage -What’s Happening Now- Held by JCIC-Heritage

Panel discussion

 The Symposium 2022 Climate Change and Cultural Heritage -What’s Happening Now?- was hosted by the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (JCIC-Heritage), which the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) operates, commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. The symposium was held at Ichijo Hall, Yayoi Auditorium, in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Tokyo on October 23, 2022, and was co-hosted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center, Japan.

 This Symposium aimed to explore the international collaboration possibilities for the brighter future of cultural heritage by considering climate change from the viewpoint of the historical relationship between climate change and human societies, sharing and discussing the challenges faced by tangible and intangible cultural heritage under ongoing climate change.

 Chairperson of JCIC-Heritage, Dr. AOYAGI Masanori opened the Symposium and emphasized that the first step in tackling the coming challenges to strengthen the international collaboration and cooperation on cultural heritage protection under on-going climate change will be that more people correctly understand the relationship between climate change and the cultural heritage.

 This was followed by three presentations on the relationship between climate change and cultural heritage from different viewpoints: Potential of Cultural Heritages as the Memory of Past Climate Adaptation Inferred from Paleoclimatology by Dr. NAKATSUKA Takeshi, professor, the Nagoya University Graduate School of Environmental Studies, The Futures of our Past: Cultural Heritage and the Climate Emergency by Dr. William Megarry, a Bureau Member of the ICOMOS Climate Action Working Group, and Climate Change and Traditional Knowledge: Case studies from Oceania by ISHIMURA Tomo, Head of the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

 The following panel discussion was conducted by Dr. SONODA Naoko, professor of the National Museum of Ethnology as a moderator, and four panelists including the three aforementioned presenters and TATEISHI Toru, Vice Director of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center. TATEISHI introduced activities and challenges for cultural property disaster risk management, using the Great East Japan Earthquake as a case study. Various opinions were then exchanged among the panelists and participants, including the impact climate change will bring to the activities of cultural heritage protection and the possibility that traditional knowledge forming such heritage can be the key to tackling climate change. KOHDZUMA Yohsei, Director of Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management Center made a closing address to confirm the importance to continue tackling these challenges by collecting the “knowledge” from a wide range of people.

 Please visit the JCIC-Heritage website for further details. (Japanese only)

International Symposium: Water and People of Mesopotamia and the Surrounding Area

Discussion with Iraq online

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) and Japanese-Iraqi Institute for Archaeological Education of Mesopotamia (JIAEM) co-organized an international symposium titled Water and People of Mesopotamia and the Surrounding Area: A Hopeful Way of Looking to Our Sustainable Future with Water from Viewpoints of Archaeological and Historical Heritages in the Regions held on October 22nd, 2022. This symposium activity aims to foster a deeper understanding of the Mesopotamian archaeology and livelihood of Iraqi people and resume archaeological survey as well as international cooperation in the future as the second co-organized activity by both institutes.

 The Tigris and Euphrates rivers that nurtured Mesopotamian civilization face the issue of water decrease influenced by dam construction by neighboring countries located upstream in addition to the impact of global climate change. We invited his excellency Abdul Kareem Kaab, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in Tokyo. He presented a keynote lecture about the relationship with both rivers and people from ancient times, as well as the current difficult situation in the surrounding area in Iraq. Subsequently, several presentations were made from the multiple viewpoints focusing on the keyword “water” including the Water Resource Management in Transboundary Rivers, Riverine Life, and Water Supply of Ancient Mesopotamia, how to make a traditional Iraqi boat, history and current situation in Bahrain given its abundant spring water. In the second half of the symposium, Iraqi scholars were joined online, and talked on the field study of utilizing water in Eridu and Umma, and the crisis regarding buffalo in south Iraq. We discussed how they would be able to cope with their lives along with changing river conditions by overviewing what kind of water resources management were handled there from the archaeological viewpoint.

 Dealing with a wide range of issues from the ancient to the present in three different languages (Japanese, English, and Arabic) presented a valuable opportunity to discuss livelihoods of the local people, not only focusing on academic themes surrounding the keyword “water.” We hope new international cooperation issue will be recognized through such activity.

Investigation and Research on the Conservation of the Plaster Remaining in Stone Chambers and Sarcophagus in Tumuli

Plaster remaining in the stone sarcophagus

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) visited the Oichi No.1 Kofun (tumulus) in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture and investigated the conservation status of the plaster remaining in the stone sarcophagus, in cooperation with the Culture Development Section, Economic Environment Division of Fukuyama City, on October 20th, 2022. Plaster, a type of construction material used for tumulus construction, requires specific knowledge and techniques regarding all processes from manufacturing to application. Therefore, it is a precious archaeological material which shows how technology was transferred when those tumuli were constructed. Hence, regardless of the coloring and/or decorations on it, plaster conservation is considered important and implemented in many cases outside Japan. Though there are more than 40 tumuli where plaster usage is confirmed in Japan, they are not widely known like Takamatsuzuka and Kitora Tumuli. While most of these tumuli were designated as cultural properties, plaster conservation measures are rarely taken up; the plaster is left to erode due to weathering and flaking every day.

 The Oichi No.1 Kofun keeps the highest percentage of plaster in Japan. We wonder why it is not designated as a cultural property. Furthermore, it does not just keep the plaster, but we can even identify plaster application traces, which were considered to be made when the plaster was applied during the tumulus construction in the area, where the conservation status is good enough. It can be a precious clue to identify the tools used during the construction. In this investigation we discussed sustainable measures for plaster conservation based on the confirmation of its conservation status and environment, by considering the sense of morality on the cultural property conservation and restoration including material adaptability and aesthetic appearance.

 Utilization of the cultural properties is required now more than ever. It is time to revise the methods of passing down the cultural properties to future generations in the given situation. The plaster remaining in tumuli is one of these cultural properties. We will discuss further the appropriate measures for conservation and methods to maintain and manage it for its future utilization by revising the current situation where the plaster has been decaying and lost, while also referring to the similar advanced cases in and outside Japan.

Participation in the World Heritage Leadership Forum 2022 – 50th anniversary initiative of the World Heritage Convention

Main street view of Bryggen area, Bergen, World Heritage site (hotel facilities of the forum venue are shown on the left side)
Forum room (whiteboard used in group discussions)

 The year 2022 marks 50 years since the establishment of the World Heritage Convention at the 17th UNESCO General Conference in 1972. During the past half-century, 1154 World Heritage Sites (897 cultural, 218 natural, and 39 mixed properties) from 167 countries have been recognized. They have all played an important role in raising global awareness and fostering an understanding of the importance of heritage conservation. Moreover, the World Heritage Committee discusses various matters of international concern every year. Recent years have seen unprecedented challenges, such as the threat of climate change being raised. The ICCROM and IUCN—World Heritage Committee advisory bodies —launched the World Heritage Leadership (WHL) program in 2016. The WHL supports activities and discussions aimed at improving the World Heritage site’s conservation and management practices for culture and nature.
 The World Heritage Leadership Forum 2022 was held in Bergen, a world heritage city in Norway, on September 21st and 22nd, 2002. The forum aimed to review the results of the WHL’s past activities and look ahead to future initiatives. Around 60 representatives attended from international organizations, national institutions overseeing world heritage issues, and site managers/communities of world heritage sites. The forum was divided into three sessions: the first session organized the key points from the 2016-2022 achievements, the second session discussed needed actions and future priorities, and the third session laid out action plans for the future of World Heritage Capacity Building. The author made a speech on the case of Japan during the second session. They reported that, although no administrative framework has been implemented on World Heritage, a new policy has been implemented. The “regional conservation plan,” introduced by the 2019 amended Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, shares the same awareness of issues as the discussions at the WHL forum. It could be an effective tool in rebuilding or improving the heritage management capacity sought by the WHL. Moreover, the plan aims to implement a more comprehensive approach in on the following domains: natural, cultural, expert, custodian, and communities. In the second session, participants were divided into three groups: (1) ensuring effective management, (2) applying resilience thinking for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, and (3) preparing for change by enabling impact assessments and engaging in active discussions. In conclusion, after the discussions in the third session, it was concluded that WHL would focus on the next phase of strengthening the heritage-people network. This was a key topic raised by the forum participants, in addition to enhancing capacity-building efforts that link the World Heritage Committee to heritage conservation on the ground. At the same time, it is important to establish a system of close collaboration for heritage conservation with local networks that accommodates the diverse languages and contexts of each country/region.
 Japan is one of the countries where the link between local network activities and World Heritage trends is particularly weak. Consequently, challenges and efforts to link domestic heritage conservation to international community dialogue might be required as a new modality of international cooperation in heritage conservation.

World Heritage Leadership Forum on the ICCROM website

International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage from the Viewpoint of Technologies ― the 31st Seminar Held by JCIC-Heritage

The 31st seminar
The 31st seminar logo

 JCIC-Heritage, whose secretariat is commissioned to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, held the 31st Seminar ―International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage from the Viewpoint of Technologies on August 28th, 2022 online.

 The introduction of new technologies brings a shift in the investigation and research methods of the international cooperation themselves, and makes various tasks related to cultural heritage far more efficient and sophisticated. The objective of this seminar was to discuss how we should work with new technologies appearing one after another in our activities held in various social and cultural backgrounds, while introducing case studies in actual international cooperation projects concerning Japan.

 First, Dr. KAMEI Osamu from the National Museum for Nature and Science reviewed the technology characteristics in a report titled the Changes of Technologies in Societies: How We Should Work with New Technologies. Then, Prof. SHIMODA Ichita from the University of Tsukuba introduced the case of a large-scale technology implementation by the cooperation of multiple nations titled Multilateral Cooperation for Adapting New Technology: Research and Protection of Cultural Heritage by Cambodian Archaeological LiDAR Initiative. Lastly, Mr. NOGUCHI Atsushi from Kanazawa University reported the cases of human resource development utilizing prevalent technology products such as digital cameras and smartphones titled Extending Cultural Heritage Protection Using the Latest Technologies at Hand: Towards Documentation which Anyone Can Work Together.

 At the end of the seminar, an active panel discussion was held, moderated by Dr. KAMEI and TOMODA Masahiko, the secretary general of JCIC-Heritage (Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) and the other lecturers. Please visit JCIC-Heritage website for the seminar’s details: (Japanese only).

Evaluation Seminar 2022: International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper


 Since 1992, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) have jointly organized The International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper (JPC). The JPC contributes to the wider protection of cultural property; we invited professionals from abroad and provided them with information about Japanese paper, from its manufacturing process to its practical use in conservation.

 This year, we held an online evaluation seminar on September 5th, 6th, 7th, and 12th. Former JPC trainees were invited to share how they applied the knowledge and techniques acquired during their time in the JPC. This was the second seminar to evaluate this project.

 The presentations covered the lining technique used to conserve architectural drawings. They also covered workshops in Iran and Malaysia inspired by Japanese handmade papermaking. They all indicated that the JPC triggered the flourishing research and application of traditional Japanese conservation techniques tailored to regional circumstances. Some studies have highlighted Japanese approaches to conservation that differ from Western countries. Studio visits in Japan inspired participants to rethink work organization in their daily practice. In addition, the aim of the project and its practice-oriented features were recognized. Thus, our course methodologies have been identified as good references for education and studio training in other institutions. Following a review of the presentations, the symposium on the last day addressed issues in the distribution of Japanese papers and tools.

 The JPC can be summarized as a life-changing experience for those involved in conserving and restoring cultural properties. The Institute has renewed its recognition of the significance of the JPC and is committed to continuing the project.

International Symposium: 20 Years of Research, Conservation and Promotion of the Values of Thang Long Imperial Citadel Heritage Site


 Hanoi was previously called Thang Long and has been the capital of Vietnam most time since the establishment of the Lý dynasty – the first Vietnamese independent and unified nation at the beginning of the 11th century. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was where a group of imperial palaces, serving as both the emperor’s residences and the political control base, were located. The original palace remains were considered lost because the site was turned into an army facility in the modern age, while it was known that the palaces used to exist at the location.

 However, the many remains, such as the foundations of the original palaces and related artifacts in each dynasty, including those from the Lý dynasty, were unearthed by a large-scale excavation investigation beginning in 2002, which was associated with the rebuilding of the Parliament House Building. This partially revealed how the Thang Long palaces used to be, although they were hidden for a long time. It was decided to conserve this site and it was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 2010, the 1,000th anniversary of the establishment of the capital. Responding to the request of the Vietnamese government, Japan has been cooperating in the research and conservation of this heritage since 2006. I had the responsibility of supporting architectural study and conservation management, as well as the overall implementation of this cooperation program from 2008 to 2013.

 International Symposium: 20 Years of Research, Conservation and Promotion of the Values of Thang Long Imperial Citadel Heritage Site was held at the site co-sponsored by the Hanoi People’s Committee and UNESCO Ha Noi Office on September 8th and 9th, 2022, the 20th anniversary of the commencement of its investigation. Many representatives from governmental organizations, UNESCO, ICOMOS, and ICOM, and experts from and outside Vietnam participated and shared the research outcomes in each field. They also provided over 20 reports and conducted discussions regarding the challenges toward its future conservation and utilization. I made a presentation titled International Cooperation between Japan and Vietnam for the Conservation of Thang Long Imperial Citadel Site and also played the role of a commentator at a discussion.

 Some have wished for some time now to reconstruct the Kính thiên palace, the main building, on the existing foundation of the later Lê dynasty (16th century or later). Several reports concerning the materials indicating reasonable grounds for the reconstruction were provided, and the study progress was stressed at this symposium. On the other hand, as the former military headquarters from the French Colonial period stand on this foundation and its front, it is necessary to demolish or relocate these buildings to reconstruct the palace. However, these buildings, founded later, are exactly parts of evidence indicating this heritage’s longevity and a layered record of vestiges identified as the World Heritage Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). Therefore, it is difficult to reconstruct the palace without OUV modification. Later, at the symposium, this topic was discussed in detail and it became the focus of discussion. After these in-depth discussions, the proposal of the Heritage Site Management Plan, including this reconstruction plan, was shelved, and the discussion summary to continue the discussion regarding the reconstruction of the Kính thiên palace was adopted.

 While the cooperation program between Japan and Vietnam has been completed, I will closely monitor the conservation management movement of this heritage site.

Preliminary Survey of Cultural Property Restoration in the Republic of Türkiye

Wall paintings of Keslik Monastery
Wall paintings of the Ephesus ruins

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) conducted a preliminary survey to establish a joint research project related to the restoration of cultural properties in the Republic of Türkiye. This joint research project aimed to make sustainable improvements in the operational methods and techniques of conservation and restoration plans. These issues were raised through the “Human Resource Development Project toward the Improvement of the Conservation and Management System for Mural Paintings in the Republic of Türkiye,” conducted by TOBUNKEN from 2017 to 2019. In Türkiye, emergency treatment has been prioritized for cultural property conservation. However, the country recently started focusing on the development of conservation and restoration experts specializing in various materials.

 We visited several regions of Trabzon, Şanlıurfa, and Cappadocia and some cities including Selçuk, and discussed with local experts conservation status and methods for conservation and restoration of cultural heritage. At Keslik Monastery, a Christian monastery located in the southern part of Cappadocia, the wall paintings on the inner walls are covered with thick soot layers from candles used in liturgical services over 1,000 years. The restoration of these wall paintings to their original condition was desired from the perspectives of both their protection and their touristic value. At the Ephesus ancient Roman ruins, members of the Austrian Archaeological Institute, who have been excavating there for a long time, explained to us that it is necessary to revise the current inconsistent conservation and restoration methods and to conduct research for the sake of establishing a basic policy.

 Researchers from Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University, who cooperated with us on the Human Resource Development Project previously mentioned, accompanied us on this survey. We will identify what challenges shall be tackled based on the survey outcomes and build an implementable joint research framework with each cooperating institute. We target the next fiscal year to start this joint research to lead to the further development of cultural heritage protection and conservation and restoration activities in the Republic of Türkiye.

Surveys for the Cooperation to Protect Cultural Heritage in Bahrain

Gravestones of the early Islamic period in Abu Anbra Graveyard

 We, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) visited the Kingdom of Bahrain in the Middle East from July 22nd to 25th. We discussed starting a new cooperation project with the Bahrain National Museum and made onsite surveys on the status of ruins targeted in this cooperation project. Specifically, Dr. Salman Al Mahari, Director General of the museum, requested that we support establishing conservation techniques for historically valuable gravestones of the early Islamic period, which were left in mosques, shrines, and graveyards. Responding to his request, we checked the conservation environments of the gravestones left in Al Khamis Mosque, the oldest mosque in Bahrain, and Abu Anbra graveyard located near Al Khamis Mosque. As a result of these surveys, we decided to start the cooperation by three-dimensional measurements of gravestones using photogrammetry and LiDAR scanning.

 At the same time, three parties: the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, TOBUNKEN, and the Institute for the Study of Ancient Civilizations and Cultural Resources, Kanazawa University are working to set up a new research center in the Bahrain National Museum and develop international cooperation activities based in this center so as to promote archaeological research and protection of cultural heritage in Bahrain and neighboring countries. We discussed with Dr. Salman the foundation policy of this center. Further, we informed the Japanese ambassador in Bahrain of our progress and promised to continue closely sharing information.

Renewal of the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage Brochure

Cover of new brochure
Some contents of the brochure

 The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (JCIC-Heritage) is the hub council for protection of cultural heritage abroad; individual experts and institutes in various fields participate by working on international cooperation. JCIC-Heritage serves to promote collaboration of various activities related to cultural heritage and support effective international cooperation. JCIC-Heritage was established under the management of the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2006 based on the ideas of the late HIRAYAMA Ikuo, a great painter. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been commissioned and serves as its secretariat.

 JCIC-Heritage largely renewed its brochure to disseminate Japan’s cultural heritage international cooperation activities and its own to wider audience. While the previous version was compact mainly illustrated with texts, the new version is full of photo images vividly inspiring international cooperation through Japanese cultural heritage protection activities around the world, and everyday activities to support them. We believe that this new brochure leads readers to a better understanding of how to protect cultural heritage facing damages caused by various factors including destruction by humans, climate change, natural disasters, and experts’ efforts to tackle these challenges.

 The new brochure is available via the JCIC-Heritage website; the secretariat will distribute and send it per request. Please feel free to contact us.

Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part XI) –Work Progress Regarding the East Gate Area and the Central Building Complex

Retouch work on the East Gate after restoration
Archeological investigation for digging a temporary ditch around the East Gate
Areas at risk on the East Tower Shrine of the central building complex: emergency replacement of reinforcements

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) continues to support the conservation and sustainable development project of Ta Nei Temple by the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) in Cambodia. We dispatched three expert members from June 12th to July 3rd, 2022. The mission aimed to supervise the finishing works for the restoration of the East Gate, conduct archaeological investigations for setting a new drainage ditch from around the East Gate, and survey the areas at risk of the central building complex.

 For the East Gate restoration, in May, the APSARA team began retouching the parts identified at our previous dispatch in January 2022. We assessed their working status and further discussed how to deal with the broken part of stones and finish the surface with sculptures, and other aspects with APSARA. Although this resulted in additional work, we almost completed the given work by the end of June.

 Furthermore, the water drainage around the East Gate had been an outstanding issue. In discussions with APSARA, it was decided to cut a temporary drainage ditch from the west side of the East Gate to the North Moat. We tasked Mr. KAHSHA Hiroo, a visiting researcher, with conducting archeological investigations related to a new drainage ditch set-up. We dug up a ditch carefully, to avoid damaging the original land surface at the time of constructing the East Gate and the Cruciform Terrace, and completed an approximately 30-meter-long temporary drainage ditch. We plan to carefully monitor its effect during the rainy season until October, in cooperation with on-site staff.

 In the central building complex, we investigated the areas at risk in detail by scaffolding around the buildings of the Central Tower and the East Tower Shrines, which were identified as the highest priority for safety measures based on the discussions with the APSARA risk map team. Because the old wooden reinforcements in the areas at risk were severely deteriorated by pest damage and other factors, replacements using durable materials had been requested for some time. Following APSARA’s request, it was decided to tentatively replace the wooden reinforcements with scaffolding tubes and couplers. We renewed the reinforcements in a part of the Central Tower Shrine and three parts of the East Tower Shrine. We, in discussions with APSARA staff, tried to pursue minimum intervention while carefully examining lacking areas or cracks in the stone materials caused by imbalanced load transfers. Furthermore, safety measures were implemented by setting temporary fences along visitor routes to prevent tourists from entering the areas at risk.

 We also held a working session with the Department of Tourism Development and Culture of APSARA as they planned biking tours around the area, including Ta Nei Temple. We exchanged ideas about the development of tourist facilities and discussed measures to protect the ruins, secure the visitors’ safety, and enhance visitors’ understanding of the ruins. We aim to further discuss effective ways to achieve balance between the appropriate protection and tourism for this site.

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