TOKYO, June 21, 2021—Canon Inc. announced today that the Tsuzuri Project (officially, the Cultural Heritage Inheritance Project), a joint project organized by Canon and the Kyoto Culture Association (NPO), donated a high-resolution facsimile of a "Kujaku Myo'o" (Mahamayuri) (hanging scroll) —the original of which resides in the collection of the Tokyo National Museum—as part of the project's Stage 14. The facsimile was donated to the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage and will be displayed at the Tokyo National Museum from June 22.
Kujaku Myo'o (hanging scroll)
Exquisite use of colors and kirikane metal foil
The national treasure "Kujaku Myo'o" (hanging scroll) is a large (approximately 150 cm x 100 cm) silk work depicting a peaceful Kujaku Myo'o in soft, delicate colors and wearing clothing decorated with kirikane1 metal foil. It is believed to be the only surviving work from Japan's Heian period (794-1185 CE) that features the Kujaku Myo'o, and was created using colors and artistic techniques that flourished during the Insei (cloistered rule) period, making it a highly valuable artifact. In addition, it is the oldest original work that the Tsuzuri Project has handled to date.
In order to minimize the wear on the original work during the high-resolution facsimile creation process, Canon's latest digital imaging technologies and the skills of traditional Kyoto artisans, or takumi, were utilized to produce a facsimile that is highly faithful to the original—including coloring and kirikane that is accurate to within 0.2 mm. Thanks to this donation, the original works can be preserved in more ideal environments while the high-resolution facsimiles can be widely used for public display, allowing more people the opportunity to experience the works in person.
Starting on June 22, the high-resolution facsimile will be displayed at the Tokyo National Museum as part of the new experiential permanent exhibit "The Door to Japanese Art." The exhibit will provide visitors with the chance to see and experience more closely various artistic treasures that have been passed down for generations. Such works are typically displayed behind thick glass casing, but the Tsuzuri Project's high resolution facsimiles can be viewed from up close, allowing visitors, from those unfamiliar with the arts to experienced connoisseurs, to admire the colors and space created by these works of Japanese art.
The Tsuzuri Project is a social contribution initiative organized by the Kyoto Culture Association and co-sponsored and promoted by Canon with the goal of preserving original cultural assets and creating high-resolution facsimiles. Combining Canon's technical expertise in imaging, processing and output with the master craftsmanship of traditional Kyoto artisans, the Project produces and donates high-resolution facsimiles of such celebrated historical Japanese cultural assets as folding screens, sliding doors and illustrated scrolls. As of the Project's Stage 11, begun in 2018, the camera and lens equipment used in the process of creating the high-resolution facsimiles have been upgraded2.
The Project began in 2007 with two objectives—to donate high-resolution facsimiles of Japanese art abroad to their original owners, and to create high-resolution facsimiles of historical cultural assets that appear in school textbooks for use as tangible educational materials to teach primary and secondary school students about Japan's history, art and culture. Different works from artists including Katsushika Hokusai, Tawaraya Sotatsu and Ogata Korin, have been selected every year since, with 57 facsimiles donated to date.
For more information, please visit the official Tsuzuri Project website.
Capturing high-resolution digital data
A digital SLR camera is used to capture high-image-quality data for output in the actual size and dimensions of the original cultural artifact. The camera is mounted on a specially designed turntable, enabling it to capture segmented portions of the original work, which are then digitally stitched into a single high-resolution image file.
Highly accurate color matching system
The high-resolution data is digitally processed using Canon's proprietary color matching system, which corrects for inherent differences in the lighting environment where the work was photographed. The image is printed and colors are matched on location, helping to minimize both technicians' workload and the wear on the original cultural artifact.
World's highest level of printing technology
Japanese art expresses a dimensional depth through its delicate tonal subtleties and shading. These are recreated using Canon's imagePROGRAF large-format inkjet printer, which outputs the data onto washi or silk paper that we have specially designed to be ideally suited for printing facsimiles of the cultural artifacts and applying such finishes as gold leaf.
Gold leaf, gold paint & isinglass
Reproduced through time-honored and traditional techniques
Authentic Kyoto Nishijin craftsmen reproduce the most significant features used in Japanese cultural artifacts—gold leaf, gold paint and isinglass. Special "color fading" techniques recreate the effects that time has had on the gold leaf.
A discipline developed in Kyoto
A master Kyoto framer carefully mounts the output and finished facsimile using traditional Japanese tools. Great care is taken to recreate fading in the metalwork and fabric used in folding screens, while sliding door panels are installed exactly as they were in their original locations.
High-resolution facsimiles, including works created by a joint research project between Canon and the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties2, will be on display in the "Feel" area of the exhibit: "Kujaku Myo'o" (hanging scroll)3 and "Wind God and Thunder God / Flowering Plants of Summer and Autumn" 4. In addition, the important cultural properties "Wind God and Thunder God" (Ogata Korin) and "Flowering Plants of Summer and Autumn" (Sakai Hoitsu) are both pairs of two-fold screens and feature the same imagery on both sides of the screen. Currently, the front and back sides of the originals have been separated in order to facilitate preservation in storage. The high-resolution facsimiles have been produced according to their original configuration, allowing them to be viewed from either side.
Important Cultural Property "Wind God and Thunder God" by Ogata Korin (the originals of which reside in the collection of the Tokyo National Museum)
Important Cultural Property "Flowering Plants of Summer and Autumn" by Sakai Hoitsu (the originals of which reside in the collection of the Tokyo National Museum)