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The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin with the continued support of The Sumitomo Foundation in Tokyo, have now commissioned Restorient to conserve three more of their most treasured Japanese paintings. Dating from the early 17th century this set of hand scrolls chart the epic tale of "Hunting the Ogres" It will be possible to follow the conservation of these magnificent hand scrolls here on this blog. We at Restorient are delighted to have the opportunity to share this remarkable project, and to offer some insights into this type of specialist conservation.

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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

"Damsels for Dinner"

Peace and tranquility have returned to Mount Oe and at last the young ladies of Kyoto can now sleep safely without fear of being kidnapped and eaten by Shuten Doji and his entourage.......

Scroll 1 before conservation

.............and after conservation

It's been a fascinating journey and without question featured more blood loss (not ours!) than any other project we've thus far encountered. Hunt followers are most welcome to visit the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin where the Ogres of Oeyama scrolls will feature in the "Damsels for Diner" exhibition from June 21st 2015 until 31st January 2016 . 

see you in Dublin !

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Excellent interest !

Ambassador Neary joining the hunt

As the hunt for the Ogres of Oeyama is coming to its conclusion we were very pleased to be able to share the project with his Excellency Ambassador Neary from the Irish Embassy in The Hague. He was previously based in the Irish Embassy in Tokyo and was keen to see the conserved handscrolls and maintain his interest in Japanese culture.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015


There were many different ways that Japanese paper was treated or worked to adapt it for a variety of purposes. One of these was the way of crushing mulberry papers to give what is now know as "crepe"paper. This was very popular for both woodblock prints and childrens books. In an earlier post we mentioned the books- chirimenbon.(November 2012)

The technique for crushing the paper seems to have involved a machine like the one below.

Sheets of paper were first dampened and interleaved with textured sheets of paper to introduce the creasing. These were wrapped vertically around the post before being crushed down the rod. The sheets would be removed, and smoothed out before being repositioned and the process repeated.

A simplified way of crushing paper which was traditionally used to wrap scrolls is detailed below (useful tip in the season of gift giving !)

Wrap a thin sheet of paper tightly around a wooden ruler

Push the paper firmly down the ruler starting at the bottom

Smooth out the finished sheet........

As we begin the Year of the Sheep we would like to wish everyone a peaceful and rewarding 2015

Monday, 24 November 2014

One direction......

The arrows indicate the direction the fibres align

One feature of Japanese hand made paper is that of a distinct fibre direction. It is easy to appreciate (especially with a mould as large as the one pictured above) that the fibres align more naturally along a vertical axis from the bottom to the top during the formation of the sheet. The finished sheet is therefore stronger in the horizontal direction.

In practical terms this can be used to advantage. The paper hinges on Japanese screens for example must be cut so that the fibres run across the hinge  so as to utilise the paper in its strongest direction. In pasting or dying paper the majority of the brush strokes should be along the fibre direction as brushing hard across the fibres will weaken the paper more quickly and cause the fibres to roll .

On the hand scrolls the fibre direction must be switched between the  layers of paper so that the scroll will both roll smoothly but remain flat when opened.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Kawa-kami Gozen

Legend has it that around 1,500 years ago a woman from either Korea or China came to Japan and taught the people of Echizen, Fukui Prefecture how to make paper from Kozo (mulberry). She felt sympathy towards them as they had to live in the mountains, and had no rice fields to support themselves. 

Afterwards she mysteriously disappeared to the upper river, so she was named "Kawa-kami Gozen", meaning "Up-river Princess". Since then, the Princess has been enshrined as a Paper Goddess with two local Gods in Okamoto Otaki Shrine.

These Gods usually live high on the mountains but every year they descend down to the shrine and stay for just three days over the 3rd/4th//5th May. They are welcomed by the local people who hold a special festival in their honour the Kami no Matsuri - the Festival of God and Paper.

Set high on the mountainside amongst towering cedars there has been a shrine here for well over a thousand years and this version of the shrine was built by specialist carpenters who came from the Temple at Eiheiji in 1843 and took the team seven years to build. 

On a recent visit to Echizen we were able to pay our respects at this beautiful shrine. Two types of specialist paper we are using in the conservation of the handscrolls are made by artisans who work here in the Echizen Papermaking village.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Rashōmon Gate

The Rashōmon Gate in Kyoto was the most imposing of the two main city gates and stood at the southern end of the monumental Suzaku avenue which led to the Imperial Palace. It was built in 789 and was an impressive 32 meters wide by 7.9 meters high.

By the 12th century however the gate had fallen into disrepair as the southern districts of Kyoto suffered from regular flooding that made the land in the area unusable. It had become an unsavory place, with a reputation as a hideout for thieves and other disreputable characters. People would abandon corpses and unwanted babies at the gate. It was also said to be haunted by Ogres who at twilight seized whoever passed by. The missing victims were never seen again and it was whispered that the Ogres were cannibals who not only killed the unfortunate victims but also ate them....sound familiar ???

The film set from Rashōmon
Ironically the name Rashōmon is  generally better know due to the film of the same name made by Akira Kurosawa in 1950, a still from which is pictured right. Even the name of the long dismantled gate seems to have still had sufficent resonance so as to suggest a suitably atmospheric backdrop for a drama. In fact the gate was finally demolished in the 15th century and the stones were used to build Koriyama Castle
All that remains today of this auspicious monument is this stone marker in a children's playground...........

Big history - small monument ?

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