|■Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation Science
|■Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage
The Old Sasebo Wireless Transmission Facility and its surroundings at present (Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture)
The front of the communication room in the center of the former Fongshan Communication Center (Kaohsiung City, Taiwan)
The Old Sasebo Wireless Transmission Facility (Hario Transmitting Station) standing on a hill overlooking the Harioseto Strait, which divides Sasebo City and Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture, is the remains of a long-wave telecommunication base built by the Navy in 1922. The construction of this group of buildings was undertaken by the Architecture Department of Sasebo Naval District led by MASHIMA Kenzaburo (1874-1941), a naval engineer known for pioneering concrete construction in Japan. The quality reinforced concrete constructions are represented by three huge radio towers 136 m in height. These buildings, which reflect the cutting-edge concrete technology of the day, were designated as important cultural properties in 2013.
Since their designation as important cultural properties, Sasebo City, which manages the Old Sasebo Wireless Transmission Facility (hereinafter Sasebo), has been making arrangements for the conservation and utilization of these buildings as cultural properties. On February 12th and 13th, 2020, the former Japanese Navy Fongshan Communication Center, located in a suburb of Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, was investigated as part of the activities by the Maintenance Examination Commission, for which the author serves as a member. Fongshan Communication Center (hereinafter Fongshan ) is a long-wave telecommunication base built by the Sasebo Naval District, and it was completed in 1917, five years earlier than Sasebo. Fongshan was used as a guest house or as a training center for the Taiwanese Navy until the 2000s. Fongshan , which is now a facility open to the public, was designated a national ancient monument in 2010. Fongshan was designed by the same organization as Sasebo, and reinforced concrete was used everywhere except in the radio tower, which was a steel tower, an icon of the day (now demolished). A circular road of 300 m radius that surrounds Fongshan and the layout of the central facilities are similar to those in Sasebo. This investigation confirmed that Fongshan, which was consistently used as an educational facility, did not require any large-scale renewal or modification after the war, and still maintains its appearance as in the Japanese Navy period due to the relatively few alterations made to the major buildings. Particularly the communication room located at the center of the facility is built in the same style as in the Sasebo. Fittings such as steel doors and upper and lower window frames, as well as interior wooden floors and staircases, still maintain their original appearance although they were partly damaged in a fire. The transmission room in Sasebo was renovated periodically when Sasebo was used by the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japan Coast Guard, in addition to the modifications made for explosion resistance at the end of World War II. Therefore, Fongshan can be an effective reference in studying conservation and restoration principles for Sasebo.
However, Fongshan is considerably different from Sasebo due to the uniqueness of its buildings, which have heavy architectural features, locally called a “cross-shaped radio station,” and give an impression of a combat operations center. For the maintenance of Fongshan, relevant people consider the fact that it was a place to reform political prisoners during the White Terror period (the suppression of political dissidents by the Chinese Nationalist Party government). Its occupation by the Japanese Navy does not attract much attention, leading to several unattended matters. For sharing the issues involved in protecting cultural properties, interactions between Sasebo and Fongshan should be promoted. This would contribute to the development of conservation principles and restoration approaches in the modernization heritage of Japan and Taiwan.
On-site confirmation before the workshop (overlooking Kabesa village)
Discussions on the workshop (DCHS conference room)
From this Fiscal Year, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has started an Exchange Project for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs to provide technical support and capacity building for the preservation and utilization of historic buildings in Bhutan. In 16th January 2020, as part of this project, TNRICP dispatched a team of six experts including three outside experts to participate the Workshop on Conservation of Lham Pelzom house organized by the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS), Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Culture Affairs.
Lham Pelzom house, located in Kabesa near the capital of Thimphu, is considered to be one of the oldest surviving farmhouses in the country, and is the top candidate for designation as historic farmhouses under Bhutan’s first comprehensive basic law on cultural heritage (New Law) which the government aims to pass. On the other hand, the house has been vacant for a long time, and its deterioration has been remarkable recently. Consequently, the need for preliminary consensus among stakeholders, such as the government, owners and local communities, on the potential for preservation and utilization is growing. Given this awareness, DCHS invited house owners, representatives of local communities, government officials from the Ministry of Work and Human Settlements, and Tourism Council to the workshop, for sharing various views on the conservation of the Lham Pelzom house. TNRICP joined the workshop for giving advice from the theoretical and technical point of view regarding heritage conservation.
In the first half of the workshop, from the standpoint of promoting heritage protection, TNRICP proposed conservation policies and restoration methods based on field research, and DCHS reported on how government support should be provided, including financial aspects. Contrary, from the standpoint of the bearer of actual preservation, house owners strongly requested the need to secure economic benefits through common adaptive use, and local communities emphasized the need for the active involvement of the government in preservation. However, they all understood and welcomed a high reputation as a cultural heritage in general. Subsequently, in the second half of the workshop, meaningful mutual discussions unfolded in the latter half of the workshop, based on opinions, aspirations, and grievances of each participant in the first half. Finally, participants agreed to promote the conservation of Lham Pelzom house as the following conditions.
(1) ACCELERATE procedures for value valuation as cultural heritage, such as designation under the new law,
(2) CLARIFY protection frameworks, including administrative support for restoration works and the house owner’s obligations to the preservation,
(3) CONSIDER a proposal for utilization that is appropriate as a cultural heritage and takes into account the house owner’s demand.
TNRICP will cooperate with DCHS and continue research activities and field surveys to realize the conservation of traditional farmhouses in Bhutan as cultural heritage.
Panel discussion at the third Mayors’ Forum
As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) continues to support the building of an administrative network to conserve historic settlements in Nepal. On September 23rd and December 1st, 2019, workshops were organized in Kirtipur municipality with participation of engineers in charge of conservation of historic settlements from relevant municipalities. In response to their outcomes, “the third Mayors’ Forum on Conservation of Historic Settlements in Kathmandu and Kavre Valley” was held on January 5th, 2020, under the joint auspices of Kirtipur municipality and TNRICP.
The first Mayors’ Forum was held in 2018 in Panauti municipality for sharing the initiatives and issues related to preservation of historic settlements among the municipalities, followed by Lalitpur Metropolitan City in 2019.
Kirtipur municipality, whose old city area known as “a medieval settlement in Kirtipur” was listed as a UNESCO tentative list for World Heritage site, has been working on establishing its own rules for conservation. Therefore, the theme of this Forum was set as “regulatory framework for conservation of historic settlements,” and through two engineer workshops, the current issues pertaining to the systems were clarified and discussed while sharing information. As a result, the following were spotlighted as issues of administrative organizations and such systems: the existing framework for preservation of historic settlements is not effective since the policy for protection of cultural heritage of monumental nature is not linked with that for urban planning under national administration; some pioneering municipalities preserve their streetscapes under their original regulations, while others are formulating their regulations or criteria by focusing on completely different issues in municipal administration.
Accordingly, at the Forum, an officer in charge of national policy to protect cultural heritage and the one for urban planning reported about their respective conservation systems, and engineers from five municipalities delivered presentations on their legislation and issues to mutually share the tasks under national and municipal administration. Professor NISHIMURA Yukio of Kobe Design University gave a keynote speech titled “Effective Integration between Methods of Urban Planning and Preservation of Historic Settlements” while KANAI Ken, Head of the Conservation Design Section of the Institute, introduced some case studies on the Japanese system for important preservation districts of historic buildings. The Forum was attended by around 120 people, including State Minister of Urban Planning, five mayors and four deputy mayors, as well as engineers and researchers, who proactively exchanged opinions at the end.
Each municipality has several issues on conservation of historic settlements due to lack of financial and human resources, without sufficient support from the national government. Another reason for the ineffective functioning of the existing systems is insufficient basic research on historic settlements or lack of cooperative systems involving researchers and experts.
Consideration to lay the foundation to operate the network for conservation of historic settlements involving research institutions has just begun. It is anticipated that the autonomous and continuous cooperation among the persons concerned is strengthened to achieve a better environment around the historic settlements as well as its preservation.
Research on the folklore pertaining to wall painting iconography
Investigation to evaluate the state of wall paintings damaged by pests
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is providing technical support and human resource training to restore wall paintings and the exterior walls of brick temples at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar. The decision to register Bagan as a world cultural heritage site was made at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2019. In response to this decision, the “Bagan International Coordinating Committee (BICC)” was set up to work on improving the conservation system. The Committee is making arrangements for holding an international conference annually for information sharing and mutual adjustment so as to better utilize the initiatives taken in each support-providing country.
To collect information on such changes in local situations, we visited the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar (Naypyidaw) and the Bagan branch of the Department of Archaeology and National Museums from January 15th through 31st, 2020, and exchanged opinions on the direction of the future cooperative project. Responding to expectations of further technical assistance to local experts, we agreed to continue with our support activities.
In addition, research on the folklore pertaining to wall painting iconography was conducted following the previous one in July 2019. On-site investigation was also carried out to evaluate the state of wall paintings damaged by pests and to discuss countermeasures. With respect to the iconographic research, we gathered information showing the relation between the acceptance of Buddhism and an indigenous belief specific to Myanmar from local intellectuals. Also, to find the influence of the indigenous belief on wall paintings, we collected detailed examples primarily from Bagan. We now plan to expand the scope of this research beyond Bagan. Furthermore, the investigation of wall paintings damaged by pests revealed their destruction by termites and potter wasps. Therefore, we plan to conduct detailed research to establish countermeasures suitable to the local environment.
The Institute will continue providing technical support and undertaking research activities based on the opinions of local experts for comprehensive conservation of cultural properties at the Bagan Archaeological Site.
Practical work on surface cleaning
“Workshop on Conservation and Restoration of Urushi Objects” was held at Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Museen Köln (Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne), Germany, from December 2nd to 6th, 2019. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has conducted the annual workshops with the cooperation of the Museum since 2007. The aim of the workshops is to facilitate the preservation and utilization of urushi objects in museum collections outside Japan. This year’s workshop focuses on the fundamental knowledge and techniques required for storing, maintaining and handling urushi objects, and six conservators from Western countries participated.
The topics of lecture included the chemical properties of urushi, the multi-layered structure of urushi objects and typical decoration techniques, degradation and damage, and appropriate storage environments. The practical work on applying urushi to wooden substrates helped the participants understand the characteristics of urushi. In addition, the case studies on the conservation and restoration of urushi objects in Japan were introduced, and Japanese conservation ethics and techniques were shared. The participants also experienced applying remedial treatment to urushi objects, such as temporary stabilization of damaged areas and surface cleaning. In the question-and-answer session on the last day, the deterioration and damage of urushi-coated surfaces and their treatments were actively discussed.
We hope that introducing basic knowledge about urushi objects as well as materials and techniques used for their conservation to the conservation specialists overseas will contribute to the safer preservation and the further utilization of urushi objects overseas.
A scene from the ICC meeting
Dynamic cone penetration testing
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been providing technical support to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) for the conservation and sustainable development of the ruins of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. TNRICP dispatched a total of six members including outside experts to Cambodia from December 1st to 21st, 2019 in order to report the progress of dismantling the East Gate of the temple at the meeting of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC), and investigate causes of uneven subsidence at the basement and floor of the East Gate.
At theICC meeting at the APSARA headquarters office on December 10th and 11th, we delivered a report in association with Mr. Sea Sophearun from APSARA. Approval was granted to proceed with the conservation work further while utilizing the results of the dismantling survey, including a site visit by four specialized members of the committee. We also collected the latest information by exchanging opinions with persons in charge from APSARA, as well as experts within and outside Cambodia.
To investigate the causes of uneven subsidence, we analyzed the old ground surface, and dug the southeast and northwest internal corners till the bottom of the stone foundation to check the condition of the East Gate base. This confirmed that the East Gate basement was made of roughly formed sandstone exterior, laterite groundwork, and internal landfill. It was also determined that the entire basement structure was built on a manmade soil layer using fine grains of sand. This sand layer seems to be the one that lends stability to the foundation on which the building was constructed. Similar techniques can been observed at other temple ruins in Angkor.
After partially removing the floor pavement stone blocks, the bearing capacity of the foundation landfill was investigated with a dynamic cone penetration testing device in cooperation with Professor Dr. KUWANO Reiko from the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo. The testing disclosed that the fragility of laterite used as base layer of the floor pavement and the strength of foundation landfill differed by location. This could be one of the causes of uneven subsidence.
Based on the outcomes of this survey, we will examine how to improve the basement structure to ensure complete restoration of the East Gate.
Lecture at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
Lecture at the National Museum of Ethnology
In March 2017, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties exchanged a letter of intent with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) to offer its cooperation in various academic fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage over the next five years.
During the survey to explore the partner country’s needs conducted in Iran in October 2016, Iranian experts consulted us about the serious air pollution in the capital city of Tehran that resulted in damage to cultural properties. They said that even metal products displayed and housed in the National Museum of Iran might be eroding. Based on this information, we have been conducting seminars regarding the improvement of display and housing environment at Iranian museums since 2017.
In 2019, we invited four researchers, two from RICHT and two from the National Museum of Iran, to Japan for a seminar from November 25th to 29th.
First, lectures on museum environments were delivered at the Institute and were mostly led by SANO Chie, Director, Center for Conservation Science, and Dr. RO Toshitami, in addition to the presentation of a report on the results of air pollution monitoring conducted at the National Museum of Iran in 2018. The lectures on pest control for cultural properties were mostly led by SATO Yoshinori, Head, Biological Science Section, and Associate Fellow KOMINE Yukio.
After the academic program, we visited the Kyoto National Museum and the National Museum of Ethnology. At the Kyoto National Museum, Dr. FURIHATA Junko delivered a lecture on disaster prevention measures before observing the disaster prevention system. At the National Museum of Ethnology, Dr. HIDAKA Shingo, Ms. WADAKA Tomomi, Ms. KAWAMURA Yukako, and Ms. HASHIMOTO Sachi conducted lectures on environmental management, air conditioning, pest control measures, and so on, while taking a tour of the exhibition halls and storage area. Once again, we express our gratitude to all the people and the institutes that have cooperated to support the program.
The Institute will continue to offer its cooperation in various fields for the protection of Iranian cultural heritage.
Practical work on the usage of brushes
Group photo of course participants
From October 30th to November 13th, 2019, the International Course on Paper Conservation in Latin America: Meeting with the East was held as part of the LATAM program (conservation of cultural heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean). This course has been jointly organized by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), and the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH). It has been held since 2012 at the Coordinacion Nacional de Conservacion del Patrimonio Cultural (CNCPC), which belongs to INAH, in Mexico City. The course sought to provide attendees with basic knowledge and techniques regarding traditional Japanese paper, adhesives, and tools so that the knowledge and techniques could be used to help conserve cultural properties in the attendees’ home countries. This year, 9 conservation specialists from 8 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Spain and Venezuela) participated.
Japanese specialists were in charge of the first part of the course (October 30th to November 6th). They offered lectures on the protection system of cultural properties in Japan; tools and materials used in restoration, such as Japanese paper and adhesives; and “Restoration techniques for mounts” which is one of the Selected Conservation Techniques in Japan. The practical work on linings using these tools and materials was carried out with the cooperation of CNCPC staff members who had learned the techniques for several months at TNRICP.
In the latter half of the course (November 7th to 13th), lectures were given by experts from Mexico and Spain who had completed the International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper at TNRICP. They spoke about how to select materials and apply their techniques to Western paper cultural properties.
The participants could gain a deeper understanding of conservation materials, tools and techniques used in Japan through this technical exchange. We hope that the knowledge and techniques they acquired in the course will be applied to the conservation and restoration of cultural property overseas.
Dismantling work with a crane truck
Head of a statue found inside the East Gate
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties provides technical support to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) for the conservation and sustainable development of the ruins of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. During the period from September 7th to November 5th, 2019, the Institute dispatched a total of six members, including outside experts, to Angkor.
In this restoration project of the East Gate of Ta Nei Temple, APSARA is responsible for implementing the dismantling work, while the Institute provides technical assistance, mainly on restoration methodologies, in addition to cooperation indocumentation and other scientific surveys .
The team began dismantling the roof of the gate by using a crane truck after praying for the safety of all persons involved in the work at the ground-breaking ceremony on September 12th. The numbered stone blocks were removed one by one from the top during which each block was measured, photographed, and assessed with its damage condition.
After dismantling the roof part, the tree roots and anthills invading the structure were removed, and the collapsed stones inside the building were taken out. Most of the collected stones, almost 70 in total,were revealed to fell down from the roof or pediment. They seemed to collapse naturally due to aging. Beneath the collapsed stones, broken head (measuring approximately 56 cm in height) of a statue, which could be identified as Lokesvara, was found leaning against the western wall of the south wing. This statue must be significant in that it is expected to shed light on the history of Ta Nei Temple, much of which is still unknown. After the find was documented with photography and 3D scanning to be described, it was moved to store at a APSARA’s facility for further study.
In cooperation with the OISHI Laboratory at the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, the walls and the interior of the gate were documented with a 3D laser scanner, while the Structure from Motion (SfM) technique was used to record the walls in conjunction with surveying the structure in detail. Dismantlement of the walls started on October 16th and ended safely on November 5th with the completion of the required recording.
A series of surveys following the dismantlement process disclosed the fact that the structure was deformed, partly because of the invasion of tree roots and anthills into the stone joints. Uneven subcidence of the foundation and floor surface suggests that the base structure might have some defects. The recovery of structural soundness requires the improvement of the base structure after clarifying the deterioration mechanism. Therefore, we will dispatch the staff again in December to excavate part of the foundation and investigate the ground.
Besides, we attended the meeting of the International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding and the Development of Preah Vihear Temple (ICC-Preah Vihear) at the APSARA headquarters office on September 18th to collect the latest information. While exchanging opinions with and collecting information from international experts, we will try to find the most appropriate way to conserve the Angkor ruins in cooperation with APSARA.
Dyeing with natural dyes
Analysis of a material possessed by the Museum of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties organized a 10-day workshop beginning October 7th, 2019, on the conservation of historic textiles, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport in the Republic of Armenia. Based on the cooperation agreement on cultural heritage protection established between the Institute and the Ministry of Culture (at that time) in 2014, this was the third workshop to be organized since 2017.
This workshop was conducted at the Scientific Research Center for Historical and Cultural Heritage and the Museum of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, with Dr. ISHII Mie, Associate Professor of the Faculty of Art and Regional Design at Saga University, and Ms. YOKOYAMA Midori, expert in embroidery, serving as lecturers like in the previous year. Fourteen trainees from seven institutions, such as museums and galleries in Armenia, attended the workshop. At the Center, silk and cotton cloth was dyed with natural dyes such as indigo and madder while preparing standard samples to identify the dyes actually used in historic textiles. At the Museum, the historic materials in its possession were analyzed for specific techniques.
Director General of the Institute SAITO Takamasa granted a completion certificate to each trainee at the completion ceremony held the last day. The workshop program, organized for three years, has finally ended. We sincerely hope that the Armenian people will not only contribute to the conservation and restoration of their cultural heritage based on the knowhow they have acquired, but also hand down their techniques and knowledge to the coming generation.
Church of Santa Maria Paganica (La chiesa di Santa Maria Paganica) in L’Aquila
Well-Maintained Street at Pompeii
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been providing technical assistance to Myanmar for its restoration project covering the areas devastated by the earthquake in 2016, as well as the conservation and restoration work for the wall painting at the Bagan Ruins. During our visit to Italy on October 9th-27th, 2019, we conducted surveys in L’Aquila City and Pompeii Ruins, where post-quake reconstruction activities and conservation efforts have been in progress, so as to emulate the model in the improvement plan for Bagan.
Reconstruction activities have been continuing in L’Aquila even 10 years after an earthquake struck the Abruzzo Region in 2009. According to the experts engaged in the project there, around 50% of the affected areas have just been reconstructed. Since many of the devastated building structures have murals and decorative stucco, the restoration planning requires multiple points of view. As a result, the complicated project delayed the progress of the restoration work. However, since the reconstruction activities took these aspects into consideration, the conservation of the historical landscape has been remarkable.
On the other hand, the maintenance project covering a vast area at the Pompeii Ruins has been underway for more than 100 years. We exchanged opinions with the Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii on how we should deal with conservation and restoration policies as times change, as well as the difficulties in the comprehensive maintenance of the entire site.
In this survey, we reconfirmed the importance of planning from a comprehensive viewpoint for the conservation and restoration of cultural property consisting of multiple elements. To pass down the vast site to the coming generation, maintenance effort, which is the best way to minimize the burden on the cultural heritage, is important. In the field survey planned for Bagan in January 2020, we will report the outcomes of these surveys, while also repeatedly consulting with local experts about protection activities suitable for the ruins.
The International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper was held from September 9th to 27th, 2019. This course has been jointly organized by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) since 1992. The course aims to contribute to the protection of cultural property outside Japan by disseminating the knowledge and techniques of the conservation and restoration of paper cultural property in Japan to participants from around the world. This year, ten specialists in conservation from ten countries (Australia, Canada, China, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Qatar, UK, Ukraine, and USA) were selected as participants among 71 applications from 33 countries.
The course was composed of lectures, practical sessions, and an excursion. The lectures covered the protection systems of both tangible and intangible cultural property in Japan, basic insights into the Japanese paper, traditional conservation materials, and tools. The practical sessions were led by instructors from a certified group holding the Selected Conservation Techniques on “Restoration techniques for mounts.” The participants had an experience of restoration work of paper cultural property, from cleaning it to mounting it in a handscroll. Japanese-style bookbinding and handling of folding screens and hanging scrolls were also included in the sessions. The excursion to the cities of Nagoya, Mino, and Kyoto, which was arranged in the middle of the course, offered an opportunity to see folding screens and sliding doors in historic buildings, the Japanese papermaking, which is designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property of Japan (Honminoshi), a traditional restoration studio, and so forth. On the last day, availability and the usage of washi in each country and the application of Japanese traditional techniques to other countries were discussed.
The participants could gain a deeper understanding of conservation materials, tools, and techniques used in Japan throughout this course. We hope that the knowledge and techniques they acquired during the course will be applied to the conservation and restoration of cultural property overseas.
Group photo with the participants after the basic workshop
Advanced workshop: practical work on documentation
Two workshops on the conservation of Japanese textiles were held at the Research Center for Conservation of Cultural Relics in National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), Taipei, from August 14th to 23rd, 2019. A basic workshop, “Cultural Properties of Textiles in Japan,” was conducted from August 14th to 16th, and an advanced workshop, “Conservation of Japanese Textiles,” was run from August 19th to 23rd. These workshops have been co-organized annually since 2017 by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and NTNU for the preservation and utilization of Japanese textiles overseas, as part of our joint research. The lectures and instructions were presented by researchers specialized in textiles and conservators from Japan and Taiwan. Conservators, curators and students from around the world participated in the workshop; there were 11 participants from 10 countries in the basic workshop and 6 participants from 5 countries in the advanced workshop.
The basic workshop included lectures on the systems for the protection of tangible and intangible cultural properties, textile and clothing materials, and representative textiles in Japan. The participants also experienced folding and displaying Japanese garments (kimono). In addition, the practical work on making a paper model of kimono helped the participants to understand the construction of kimono. The advanced workshop comprised lectures and practical work on topics such as the degradation of textiles, scientific analysis of dyes, and cleaning of textiles. Furthermore, the participants experienced stitching a support silk fabric to the back of an old textile fragment and making a Japanese traditional folder for it. This served as an opportunity for the participants to comprehend Japanese approaches to textile conservation. In both workshops, case studies on display and conservation of Japanese textiles were shared, and opinions regarding conservation approaches, materials and methods were actively exchanged.
It is expected that introducing fundamental knowledge about Japanese textiles and their conservation to conservation specialists overseas could contribute to the better conservation and utilization of Japanese textile objects outside Japan.
Examining utilization strategies with local experts
Yuwakha village in Punakha, one of the surveyed settlements
Since 2012, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has been conducting joint architectural research on rammed earth buildings in Bhutan with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS), Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, the Royal Government of Bhutan. From this fiscal year, TNRICP has started the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project, which was commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, with the objective of providing technical support and capacity building for the conservation and utilization of historic buildings in Bhutan. As a part of this project, a team of 11 experts, including TNRICP staff and outside experts, conducted on-site fieldwork from 20th to 28th August, 2019.
The field survey was jointly conducted with DCHS staff and covered traditional houses in the dzongkhags (districts) of Thimphu, Punakha, and Haa. The three main objectives were establishing a methodology for their conservation and repair, studying alternatives for their sustainable utilization, and clarifying the criteria for their evaluation as cultural heritage. Regarding the methodology for conservation and utilization, three traditional houses, which had been previously identified on the basis of features that indicated an early construction date, were selected as case studies. The potential methodologies for the seismic retrofitting of their rammed earth walls and the repair of their wooden members were studied. Furthermore, their potential use, compatible both with the owner’s demands and with the conservation of their value as cultural heritage, was examined during a discussion that involved DCHS staff, local architects, and owners. Regarding the evaluation of traditional houses as cultural heritage, comprehensive surveys were conducted in several settlements, and a potential method for the classification of traditional houses as well as a set of criteria for their designation as cultural properties was studied.
In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding referring to this project was signed at the Department of Culture, and a meeting was organized with the DCHS to discuss the results of this survey as well as the future prospects and needs of the Bhutanese counterparts.
In the future, we expect to continue cooperating with Bhutanese experts through on-site surveys and workshops to establish a methodology for the conservation and utilization of historic buildings suited to the Bhutanese reality.
Hands-on training at the site to restore the wall paintings
Surveying the wall paintings
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is providing technical support and human resource training to restore wall paintings and the exterior walls of brick temples at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar. On-site training session for staff members of the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar was conducted at two different temples from July 11th to July 27th, 2019.
At Me-taw-ya Temple, a training session on how to repair exterior wall joint material, replace deteriorated bricks, and mix repair materials was carried out. Drainage measures were discussed as accumulated rainwater dissolved the existing wall joint material and resulted in water seeping into the temple.
At Loka-hteik-pan Temple (project name: Conservation and Restoration of Temples Mural Paintings in the Bagan Ruins in Myanmar), where restoration activities were conducted in association with the Sumitomo Foundation, problems created by past repairs—commonly noticed in temple wall paintings of the Bagan Ruins—were explained, and training sessions on reinforcing colored layers using inorganic repair materials and repairing colors were organized.
Research on the folklore pertaining to wall painting iconography began alongside this training program. To explain the non-Buddhist elements and characteristics specific to Myanmar found on wall paintings, detailed examples were collected primarily from Bagan. Information on the historical background of each of these wall paintings was also gathered from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar employees and related people from these temples. Hereafter, we plan to expand the scope of this research beyond Bagan.
The decision to register Bagan as a world cultural heritage site was made at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee. As tourists are expected to increase in the future, efforts to maintain the relics must be improved. This issue was raised at the expert committee session convened by the Bagan Branch during the support period. Requests were also made to increase participants for the training program sponsored by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and for technical instruction at the archaeological sites. Hereafter, the Institute will continue to exchange opinions with local experts and provide technical support and human resource development programs.
Classroom lecture at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
Tour of restoration conditions at the Shinmachi-Furumachi District in Kumamoto City
A civil war broke out in Syria eight years ago in March 2011, and it seems there is no end in sight. Apart from the human cost of war, the much precious cultural heritage was also lost.
The Japanese government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) began providing cultural heritage aid to Syria in 2017. From February 2018, the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, in association with academic organizations such as the University of Tsukuba, Teikyo University, Waseda University, Chubu University, and the Ancient Orient Museum, has been accepting Syrian specialists and providing them training in the fields of archeology and restoration. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is also participating in this project.
Following training seminars on conservation and restoration of paper cultural properties held in May 2018, this year, two Syrian specialists were invited to undergo training in “Research Planning Methods to Restore Historical Cities and Buildings” conducted from July 24th to August 6th.
Many historical cities such as the ancient city of Aleppo were engulfed in war, and many historical buildings were devastated. In the first half of this year’s training, seven specialists gave classroom lectures on surveying damage to historical buildings and making emergency repairs, structural safety diagnosis method, documentation and database creation method, restoration plan creation method, and restoration and preservation system creation method. For the practical aspect that comprised the second half of the training, participants inspected the restoration status of historical buildings and townscapes devastated by the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes, including Kumamoto Castle, the Shinmachi-Furumachi District, Kumamoto University, and the Eto-yashiki (Eto estate), which is registered as an important cultural property.
The participants also heard stories told by the people in charge. They visited Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings in Kyoto and Nara and saw examples of repairs and applications of historical Japanese buildings.
We would once again like to thank the specialists, related organizations, and personnel-in-charge for their support.
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties plans to continue support activities for Syrian cultural heritage in the future.
Deliberation on Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group
The exterior of the venue
The 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee was convened in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan from June 30th to July 10th, 2019.
Twenty nine heritage sites, including Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group in Japan, were inscribed on the World Heritage List at the session. This was the highest number of sites to be listed since the limit was established on the number of new sites the committee would deliberate on each year. This may seem like a good situation at first sight; however, of the inscribed sites, seven sites that the Advisory Bodies had originally considered did not meet the inscription criteria, but the decision was overturned and their inscription as heritage sites was confirmed at the committee session. For the past few years, as the committee’s decisions have been deviated from the counsel of the Advisory Bodies, the inscription of sites whose value and boundary are unclear has come into question, and it seems that this situation has still not been rectified.
Considering this situation, the decision to establish an ad-hoc working group to review the nomination and assessment process was made in the 2018 committee meeting. The contents of the decision were discussed at this year’s meeting, and it was decided that the nomination process would be a two-stage system and that a “Preliminary Assessment” process would be implemented as an initial step in the nomination process. It is anticipated that this Preliminary Assessment will stimulate a dialogue between the Advisory Bodies and States Parties in the early stages, which will raise the quality of nomination dossiers. Presently, the Preliminary Assessment is being considered as a necessary process for all States Parties, and granting States Parties the right to decide whether or not to continue with the subsequent nomination process, irrespective of the Preliminary Assessment, is also under deliberation. Nevertheless, this discussion including on the subject of the commencing time has only just begun. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties will continue to scrutinize discussions concerning world heritage in general, and collect and transmit diverse information pertaining to the implementation of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
Workshop on Japanese papermaking
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, and the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology (Manggha Museum), held an international forum entitled “Restoration of Japanese Painting” at the Manggha Museum in Krakow, Poland on 29th and 30th July, 2019, in cooperation with the National Museum in Krakow, the Association for Conservation of National Treasures and the Association for Successors of Traditional Preservation Techniques. This forum was certified as one of the projects to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Poland.
TNRICP has been conducting “The Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas” since 1991. Three hanging scrolls in the collection of the National Museum in Krakow were restored within the framework of this program. In conjunction with the exhibition of these hanging scrolls and their restoration process, this forum was held for the purpose of promoting the understanding of the restoration of Japanese paintings through lectures, demonstrations, and workshops. Two of the selected conservation techniques, namely “Restoration techniques for mounts” and “Manufacture of materials and tools for conservation of mounted cultural properties,” were introduced. The manufacture of brushes, handmade washi paper (udagami) and decorative metal fittings were explained as an example of the production of materials and tools.
In the expert meeting held on the first day, 31 conservators, restorers and students from nine countries participated in and experienced various traditional techniques and exchanged opinions with Japanese experts. In the open seminar, held on the second day, more than two hundred visitors from 15 countries participated in the gallery talk and the workshop covering Japanese papermaking. The holding of this forum served to promote not only the communication between conservators and restorers from around the world, but also was a valuable opportunity to obtain an understanding by the general public about the restoration techniques used with Japanese paintings and the traditional materials involved.
Participants at the expert meeting
Case study of the utilization of traditional houses (Fukusumi)
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) provides the Royal Government of Bhutan with technical support and human resource development for heritage conservation and sustainable utilization of historic buildings, including traditional houses, under the scheme of International Cooperation Project for Cultural Heritage by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Fiscal Year 2019. TNRICP invited two staff members of the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) from June 23rd to 28th to Japan to hold the first expert meeting and a case study tour in western Japan.
At the meeting, Mr. Yeshi Samdrup of DCHS presented a report on the progress of the development of the legal system concerning cultural heritage, and Mr. Pema Wangchuk of DCHS made a presentation on the prospects for the protection of traditional houses and settlements. Participants shared the recent challenges and dilemmas concerning the protection of cultural heritage in Bhutan through their presentations and the subsequent discussion. The subject of the field survey scheduled for this August was also discussed, and the specific survey method has been almost fixed.
In the case study tour, we visited the Ozaki family residence (Yurihama, Tottori), which is undergoing conservation work, and the Open Air Museum of Old Farm Houses (Toyonaka, Osaka) where typical traditional houses from all over Japan have been collected to study basic concepts of the protection of traditional houses as cultural property in Japan. We also visited historic towns and villages where historic townscapes have been rehabilitated, namely Shikano (Tottori), Oyacho-Osugi, Sasayama, Fukusumi (all above, Hyogo), and Miyamacho-Kita (Kyoto), to spread knowledge about community involvement and heritage tourism where traditional houses can be utilized as accommodation. The invitees were particularly interested in the nongovernmental management of cultural heritage that should be treated under the new law in Bhutan, and there was a lively exchange of views and opinions with the local presenters at each site.
We would like to extend our deep appreciation to all the people involved in the tour for providing this opportunity.
Group photo of training course participants
Fieldwork at Ala Church
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted the training for “Examination and Implementation of Emergency Procedures for Wall Painting Conservation” last June 11th–15th, 2019. The training targeted conservators and restorers from national conservation and restoration centers in the Republic of Turkey.
Following the inspection of the result of the workshop for experiments with restoration materials conducted in the previous training program, teachers from a wide range of specialty fields such as geology, structural design engineering, and art history were invited to the final training program (4th training program). The teachers were requested to consider comprehensive emergency procedures from the perspective of the various elements comprising the rock-hewn church, including the wall paintings, as forming a complex of cultural heritage. To verify what participants learned, fieldwork involving the creation of a hypothetical project plan to make emergency procedures on the wall paintings found at Ala Church in the Ihlara Valley was included in the training activity. On the last day, the training course came up with three themes arrived at based on the information gathered on the site: “environmental conservation,” “wall painting techniques and materials,” and “wall painting damage and emergency measure.” A discussion on the content of the presentations on these themes ensued. Following the training course, a questionnaire passed among the participants revealed a common sentiment: ”we reaffirm the importance of ’maintenance,‘ which we have largely ignored during the performance of our daily work duties.“
Over the course of three years, this project that has sought to improve the conservation and management system for wall paintings in the Republic of Turkey has today reached a milestone. While nurturing the network created between Japan and the Republic of Turkey in the course of this project, we hope to continue our endeavors aimed at contributing to the conservation of cultural heritage.