Regular readers will be familiar with the story of our pride and joy – the 13.5 metre handscroll Theatres of the East by eighteenth century Japanese artist Furuyama Moromasa.
This unique work of art, featuring street scenes from Edo (Tokyo), had lain in our collections for decades before its international significance came to light.
You’ll remember that we took the scroll all the way to the Netherlands for restoring, and we’re happy to report that work on the scroll is progressing really well, and that it has had some very distinguished visitors.
Our picture shows Dr Sumitomo and Niiyama-san, Secretary of the Sumitomo Foundation, whose generous support has made the restoration possible.
They were accompanied by two eminent scholars in Japanese studies: Prof Matthi Forrer and Daan Kok, curator of Japanese paintings at the world renowned Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde.
The conservators use true Japanese techniques and materials. The studio is floored with matting and the tables are traditionally low, so that kneeling is obligatory. (Visitors not used to kneeling are given a cushion) Here you can see the lining of Japanese mulberry paper (mino-gami) being brushed down with a beautifully soft brush.
The next photograph shows how painstaking and delicate the work is treating every crack and crease. It takes a highly skilled conservator with a very steady hand to carry this out, with no room for even the slightest tremor.
By next year all ten paintings will be rejoined to form one scroll again. Then it will be returned to Edinburgh and put on public display.
If you can’t wait until then to see the scroll take five minutes to watch this short film which gives you an idea of the story behind the scroll as well as the stories within it.