Fri, Apr 3, 2020

TSUMUGU Project funding to help restore Japan’s treasures moving steadily forward

Representatives of the Enryakuji temple examine the Dozui Kasho Dendomon after repairs (Yomiuri Shimbun photo)

Funding projects to help restore or repair Japan’s national treasures and other important cultural assets is one of the chief endeavors of the Tsumugu Project. In fiscal 2019, Tsumugu — jointly promoted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Imperial Household Agency and national daily The Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo) — took on to help finance eight projects, some of which are already bearing fruit.

Dozui Kasho Dendomon returns to Enryakuji

On March 30, 2020, the Dozui Kasho Dendomon — a certificate issued to Saicho (Dengyo Daishi; 767-822), the founder of Tendai Buddhism, by Daosui (Dozui), the seventh patriarch of the Tiantai (Tendai) school in China — was returned to Enryakuji, the head temple of Tendai on Mt. Hiei (Otsu), after nine months of repair work. The ancient document (25 centimeters by 82 centimeters), which was showing signs of severe wear and tear, had been kept at the Kyoto National Museum since last June for repairs to deal with exfoliation and infestation.

The Dozui Kasho Dendomon after repairs

The government-designated important cultural property is scheduled to go on display at the Kokuhoden Museum (National Treasure Hall) located on the premises of Enryakuji from June 22. It can also be viewed at a special exhibition (organized by The Yomiuri Shimbun and other institutions) to be held at the Kyoto National Museum in 2021-22 highlighting the treasures of Tendai Buddhism.

Hokyoin darani mended

On the same day, Buddhist scrolls found from two Buddhist statues were returned to Kongobuji — the head temple of Shingon Buddhism located on Mt. Koya in Wakayama Prefecture — after repairs. The scrolls will we be showcased at the Reihokan Museum — the treasure house of the temple — until April 13.

Representatives of Kongobuji examine the Hokyoin darani.
(Photo courtesy of the Agency for Cultural Affairs)

The statues — the wooden statue of standing Shukongoshin and the wooden statue of standing Jinja Daisho, which are both government-designated important cultural properties — are works of Kaikei, a master Buddhist sculptor of the Kamakura period. The Hokyoin darani (Karanda-mudra-dharani) scrolls were found from these statues and sent to a workshop inside the Nara National Musuem for repairs in April last year. The scrolls were moistured with vapor before they were opened and later mended using paper.

A part of the Hokyoin darani laid out after repairs
(Photo courtesy of Wakayama Prefecture)

Repair work of yet another government-designated important cultural property was completed the same day. A letter written by Emperor Ogimachi (late Muromachi period – Momoyama period), which had been under repair at a workshop inside Kyoto National Museum, was shown to representatives of the Daiun-in temple (Kyoto) — the owner of the item — for final inspection. Backing paper was exchanged and washi (or Japanese paper) was newly applied for reinforcment. In this letter, the Emperor refers to the upbringing of his children.

Letter Written by Emperor Ogimachi
For FY2020

In fiscal 2020 (starting in April), the Tsumugu Project will grant funds to help restore the nine wooden statues of seated Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata) — a government-designated national treasure housed at Joruriji temple in Kyoto — and six other cultural assets. Part of the proceeds from Tsumugu exhibitions and other cultural events will be used to help finance these projects.

The principal statue of the nine wooden statues of the seated Amida Nyorai
National treasure; Heian period (Joruriji temple, Kyoto)

Of the nine statues of the Amida Nyorai at Joruriji, the principal statue will go under repair this fiscal year with the financial assistance of Tsumugu. The gold leaf peeling off from its surface and other problems will be dealt with in the repair work.

(From Yomiuri Shimbun reports and other sources)

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