Research projects

Tobunken-Sainsbury Institute Research Collections Database

This project aims to create open access databases containing information on library catalogues and archival material databases, and other resources. The Sainsbury Institute’s role is to collate information on Japanese art related publications, exhibitions and film festivals in non-Japanese languages.

Tobunken-SISJAC Research Collections Database

About Tobunken (Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)

The mission of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is to conduct fundamental research on the conservation of cultural properties and to contribute to their protection by making the results of research available not only in but also outside Japan. It was originally founded in 1930 as the Institute of Art Research with an endowment bequeathed by Kuroda Seiki (1866-1924). Since then this prestigious national institute has always situated itself at the heart of academic research activities on Japanese arts and cultures.

About the database and the Sainsbury Institute’s role

One of the main objectives of Tobunken is the dissemination of information related to Japanese art and cultural properties. They are committed to sharing the information generated and collected by each of their four research departments (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems; Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage; Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques; and Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation) not only within the Institute, but with a wider community of researchers and members of the public. In recent years, Tobunken began developing a comprehensive database that brought together pre-existing but independently developed databases under one system. The information can now be searched using the Tobunken Research Collections’ single search system on Tobunken’s website. New information is continuously added and updated on the system.

Since its launch, the database has been serving as an essential source of information for academics and the public, but content was limited to information on events that took place in Japan or publications in Japanese. To remedy this, Tobunken looked for a viable and reliable partner abroad which could contribute in expanding the content of the database and make it truly global. The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures was hence appointed as the collaborative partner, and the signing of a collaborative agreement between the two Institutions in July 2013 marked the start of a new phase of in the development of the Tobunken Research Collections database.

The Sainsbury Institute’s role in further developing this Tobunken database is to collect information on Japanese art related publications in non-Japanese languages as well as information distributed in non-Japanese languages on Japanese art related exhibitions and film festivals that have taken place outside of Japan since January 2013. While the non-Japanese information on the database is not a translation of the extensive Japanese information that is currently on the database, the information collected by the Sainsbury Institute complements and expands the existing databases of Tobunken. It is expected that it will act as the first point of reference for those interested in and looking for publications, exhibitions and film festivals on Japanese arts and cultures in non-Japanese languages since 2013.

The information gathered by the Sainsbury Institute in non-Japanese languages are included in the sections ‘References on Cultural Properties’, ‘Publications on Japanese art (published outside of Japan)’ and ‘Art exhibitions and film festivals (held outside of Japan)’ under the Tobunken Research Collections.

A guide provides more information on how to use the Tobunken Research Collections We hope that this database will develop into an indispensable tool for those who study and research Japanese art in and outside of Japan and we welcome any feedback. Please send your comments to us.