Gold-leaf doors restored at Sengan-en gardens

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The restored gold-leaf sliding doors

Gold leaf artwork adorning sliding doors in the former estate of the Shimazu clan, now the Sengan-en gardens in Kagoshima, has been restored to its original luster and put on public display.

Five doors and one wall painting underwent restoration work, which included the use of digital technology.

Mitsuhisa, the 19th-generation leader of the Shimadzu clan, built Sengan-en in 1658 in the early Edo Period (1603-1867). The gold sliding doors were used mainly in the changing room areas of the residence, and the artwork that adorns them was said to have been completed by a painter of the Kano School during the Meiji era (1868-1912).

Cranes and pine trees are depicted on the doors, which are 1.8 meters high and 90 centimeters wide.

Because of damage sustained over the years, the doors were moved in the 1980s to the Shoko Shuseikan Museum, which is located in the gardens.

Restoration work began in December last year. A high-definition camera was used to photograph parts of the artwork that were damaged, and specialists digitally recreated them. The digital recreations were then printed on paper with a texture similar to that of the original artwork.

“I hope people spend some time looking at these doors and imagining what life was like back then,” a Sengan-en official said.