First Muography Cultural Heritage Measurement in Japan

One of the applications that muography imaging has been applied to has been to investigate the inside structure of ancient monuments, ruins and other important cultural structures such as the Kofu Pyramid in Egypt, Mt. Echia and Prambanan. Recently in Takatsuki, a city within the Kansai region of Japan which includes the cities of Kyoto, Osaka (which will host the World Expo 2025) and Kobe, has recently started its first muography measurement – also the first Japanese cultural monument to be measured with muography. Similar to Norse burial mounds that have been found in Europe, these kofun are man-made hills (usually keyhole shaped and surrounded by moats) that seem to have been designed for burial of important leaders along with their possessions and horses. Recently UNESCO has added kofun tombs from Kansai, the Mozu and Furuichi tombs, to its list of world heritage sites.

The muography detector has been installed with a collaboration including Kansai University faculty and students, Wigner RCP, historical experts from Imashirozuka Kofun Museum, and Muographix to image the structure of the Imashirozuka Kofun, believed to be the tomb of Emperor Keitai from the 6th century.

Muography Observation site at the kofun
Prof. Kenji Sumiya introduces the MWPC-based Muography Observation System

Muography was featured as part of the Takatsuki Imashirozuka Kofun festival, an event celebrating this kofun which attracts more than 10 thousand local residents and tourists every year. It was also an official event of the Hungarian Embassy’s 150th anniversary celebration of diplomatic relations with Hungary and Japan. The muography detector itself, designed by UTokyo and Wigner RCP, was there for the general public to see during its active measurement, which has been carefully maintained by faculty and students of Kansai University since its installation in September. There were posters and videos to explain the process of muography and the project.

Muographers made speeches at the Kofun festival. (From left to right) Prof. Tsuyoshi Mukoyama, the president of the Kansai Hungary Society, Prof. Takefumi Hayashi, the vice dean of the Graduate School of Informatics of Kansai University, Prof. Hiroyuki Tanaka, the director of Muographix, the University of Tokyo, Mr. Hironori Kurita, the Honorary Consulate-General of Hungary, Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima, the painter, and Prof. Kenji Sumiya, the former CTO of Hitachi Maxell. 

Speeches were given by Dr. Takefumi Hayashi (Vice Director / Professor, Faculty of Comprehensive Informatics, Kansai University, Muography Project Leader), Dr. Hiroyuki Tanaka (Director / Professor, Muographix, the University of Tokyo), Dr. Hironori Kurita (the Honorary Consulate-General of Hungary), Dr. Mukayama (Professor emeritus at Kyoto University / Director of Kansai Hungary Exchange Association), Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima (Painter, Fine Art Professor / Secretary General, Kansai Hungary Exchange Association) Dr. Kenji Sumiya (Visiting professor at Kansai University / CTO of Hitachi Maxell) and also included a message from H.E. Norbert Palanovics, the Ambassador of Hungary.

Kofun Festival in Takatuki-city, Osaka

For more information, please check the Muography Art Project website.