Yamagata Network’s Activity Report & Objective ~Part55

~From the blog of 22nd April of the Yamagata Relief Network for Cultural Heritage~

Our cleaning operations have resumed in each place. On 4th May in Golden Week Holiday, we will have One Day Cleaning Operation in YWJC. If you have spare time, please come and join us.
In terms of the Yamagata Net Mail News vol.2, we appreciate you to individually distribute it. But please make sure that it is not allowed to be redrafted and used for another purpose. Thank you for your cooperation.
The secretariat officer Mr Kobayashi wrote the article titled ‘Suggestions as the response from the Eastern Japan Earthquake’ in the magazine of ‘Uyo Bunka (羽陽文化) vol.156’, published by the Yamagata Conservation Society for Cultural Heritage. In the article, He suggested the upcoming commitment in Yamagata Prefecture. This year is the year to advance one more step.

[Last Week’s Activity Report]
1. On 16th April, we had the cleaning operation in Kamiyama City Northern Public Hall.
2. On 16th April. We had the cleaning operation in YU.
3. On 17th April, the cleaning operation in TUCSS was held.
4. On 19th April from 2.40pm, we had the meaning by secretariat office and talked about the tactic of invitations to YWJC.
5. From 19th to 24th of April, the panel exhibition in YWJC was held.
6. On 19th April, TUAD had the cleaning operation.
7. On 20th April, the cleaning operation in YWJC was held.

[This Week’s Objective]
1.  On 23rd April is the last day of the cleaning operation in Kamiyama City Northern Public Hall.
2.  On 24th April, TUAD and TUCSS will have the cleaning operation.
3.  The Panel exhibition in YWJC has been held by 24th April.
4.  On 26th April, TUAD will have the cleaning operation.
5.  On 27th April, the cleaning operation in YWJC will be held.

We will have a One Day Cleaning Operation on 4th May in Yonezawa Women’s Junior College. If you wish to join please contact us.

Many historical materials and books were damaged by the Eastern Japan Earthquake. We had rescued them and now we are carrying out their cleaning, preservation and keeping them. Those materials are essential cultural heritage for the devastated area in order to actively reconstruct their future. We appeal you to join our activity for preserving these materials. The following is our schedule for April. We appreciate your participation.
The next day of the Uesugi Festival of ‘the Battle of Kawanakajima’ is One Day Cleaning Operation in YWJC!!!
Date: Friday, 4th May from 9 am to 5 pm (scheduled)
Place: Yamagata Women’s Junior College
Capacity: over secondary school student age, anyone who has an interest in our operations.
Job Contents: confirmation of the materials which had received preservation measure, tidying the materials, and environmental arrangement

When we have good weather, lunch will be a picnic on the riverbank (with no alcohol).


  1. The materials and books are covered with dirt because they were damaged by the Tsunami. Although we pay attention to them, the responsibility will ultimately be taken by yourself.
  2. We recommend you to apply for the Volunteers Insurance by the Social welfare Council in advance.
  3. Participants will need masks and clothes which will likely become dirty.
    Our operation will be held outdoors.
  4. The other details will be informed upon application.

Application: please contact with the secretariat office before your participation, it’s essential.

Ibaraki Network News Letter vol.38

~The Activity reports: Kitaibaraki and Iwaki cities~

On 28th March, the secretariat officers of Ibaraki Network carried out the Investigation surveying the extent of damage of old houses and historical materials which the family owns as we circulated the area from Kitaibaraki City in Ibaraki Prefecture to Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture. As a result, we could confirm that 2 old families whose materials would require urgent rescue. The following is the report about them.

At the S family’s house in Kitaibaraki City, the whitewashed warehouse is scheduled to be demolished due to the damage by the Earthquake. On the day of survey, we took photos of the warehouse, sketched its outline and confirmed the archives in the warehouse. Because the amount of archives was not large; we therefore took them from the warehouse within the day. Hereafter, we will do urgent measures in the field and would like the family members to preserve them in their main house.

As for the A family’s case in Iwaki City, their estates includes the house for the head family and that of cadet family, and among them, 1 in 4 houses, 2 in 3 warehouses and an old factory were damaged and scheduled to be removed. In this survey, we sketched and took photos of the warehouses, and likewise, in order to grasp the extent of damage of each building, ownership relation and the origin, we made a plan of the distribution of all buildings. Our next issue will be to take the archives from the warehouses before the demolition. In addition, the oldest warehouse which contains mainly the documents from the early modern times will remain, but as we consider the repeated aftershocks, we should consider the preservation of this warehouse.

As we write above, the removal operations for the old house and warehouse have still continued in these areas. We would like to keep surveying and circulating these areas. In terms of the A family’s archives, we are in the process of taking out the materials in   May. When the date is scheduled, we will advertise for the voluntary workers by this Net News. We appreciate your cooperation. (written by Chihiro Yamakawa)

Yamagata Network Activity Report & Objective ~Part54

~From the Blog of 15th April of the Yamagata Relief Network for Cultural Heritage~

Yesterday we discussed with the relevant people in each working place, and examined the counter-measures against mould and the future plan of our activities. We will soon inform you the results and the plans.
The networks organised by citizens, like the Yamagata Network, often find difficulties in our activities, but we should keep progressing.
In this week we will welcome new 3 members. We heard that there was no threat of decreasing members, rather seemingly participants would still increase. We are amazed at the social potential to brings forth those kind of people. And we can feel hope in the world of cultural and historical heritage, which are recently lacking encouraging stories.

[Last Week’s Activity Report]

  1. On 9th April, we carried out the cleaning operation in Kamiyama City Northern Public Hall.
  2. We discussed and surveyed the counter-measure against mould.
  3. On 14th April, we had a meeting with relevant people in each work place.

[This Week’s Objective]

  1. On 16th April, the cleaning operation in Kamiyama Northern City Public Hall will be held.
  2. On 16th April, Yamagata University will have the cleaning operation.
  3. On 17th April, the cleaning operation will be carried out in Tohoku University of Community Service and Science.
  4. On 19th April at 2.40pm, we will have the meaning by secretariat office and talk about the tactic of invitation in YWJC.
  5. From 19th to 24th of April, the panel exhibition will be held in YWJC.
  6. On 19th April, the cleaning operation in TUAD will be carried out.
  7. On 20th April, the cleaning operation in YWJC will be carried out.

Wow, what a busy week…

Tohiku University of Arts and Design

NB: We will have a One Day Cleaning Operation on 4th May in Yonezawa Women’s Junior College. If you wish to join please contact us.

The cleaning operations in each university’s work place have resumed!
Yamagata University on 16th April, Tohoku University of Arts and Design on 19th April, and Yonezawa Women’s Junior College on 20th April. The following is the report of resumption.

In TUAD, about 15 members carried out the operation. One brawny first-year-student is now our new fellow! The 4th year students guided him gently.

Yamagata Women’s Junior College

We saw the young people’s eyes, which impressed us that they will never be wavered by the disaster. Not hard, but rather kind eyes. I think it is human nature regardless of skin colour or nationality. And I recognised the phrase that no creature keeps history except humans.

In YWJC, over 10 members including members of society gathered around the work place, and we have started the new fiscal year.

On 16th April, the cleaning operation in Yamagata University resumed. It is in the new work place.

Yamagata University

The cleaning operation in Kamiyama City Northern Public Hall finished. While the operations in TUAD and YU suspended, the team of members of the society made a lot of effort. Securing the working place, managing tools and materials, planning and cleanup after the operations, etc…it was excellent teamwork. For broadcasting their activities, many media outlets visited them. From the winter in snowstorms to spring amid the cherry blossoms, they kept their cleaning operation without any suspension. They are our cherished colleagues. Thank you very much for your all efforts, indeed!!

Kamiyama City Hall


Miyagi Network News vol.165 ~The Latter Part~

~The Exhibition in Sendai City Museum~
~The Participation in the restoration project for archives and the exhibition ‘Rescue Activities for the Historical Materials’
                                                                                                                                    Ayako Itsuki
I had participated in the restoration project for archives by the National Archives of Japan from the end of January to the beginning of March. After that, I joined the exhibition ‘Rescue Activities for the Historical Materials’ in Sendai City Museum’, as a receptionist.
It was my first knowledge through experiencing the restoration operation though, the historical materials affected by the Tsunami smelt like the sea. Because seawater might not easily be dried, in the case of the bulky documents, even if they had been dried they retained moisture like dryish paper. They were heavy and the pages were hard to peel off. Furthermore, the sludge from sea is different from pure sand firmly sticking to the documents.
During our activities, when I faced the materials, I often felt heartache due to the fierce power of the Tsunami. Among the materials, there were documents from which the water soon became full of mud and dirt even though I only lightly dipped them into water. Over and over again I removed the sludge and mud, which firmly adhered to the documents, with a brush and pallet called a spatula.

The Restoration Project for Archives

However, when we found the doodles on the old textbooks and the names on the graduation lists, which fell apart into pages, they produced a warm reaction as if we again meet old acquaintances. Moreover, we found the pressed flower between the pages in the textbook, which maybe a student put there long ago, we instinctively smiled. At the same time I felt it was part of his/her history because the textbook was filled with the person’s memories and a sense of time.

In terms of the exhibition, over 500 people per day on weekend visited us, and even on weekdays, approximately 300 people looked around our exhibition. Everyone earnestly saw the panel that introduced the restoration activities and the tools and apparatus which were actually used in the cleaning operation.
There were many people who eagerly asked us questions such as the methods of cleaning Japanese papers and the conditions before restoration operation. Among them there was a person whose house was affected by the Earthquake, but their archives were rescued by the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials. He said he then had a difficult time, so he could actually do nothing for his archives by himself even though he had worried about it. When he was at a loss, the Miyagi Networksincerely helped him, and he was so grateful to the Network. In the exhibition that was comparing the materials after the cleaning operation with those before, people were impressed and said they ‘never thought that they would become clean like that’. Visitors from the young to the elderly rewarded us for our efforts and some said that they would like to join the restoration activities.

The Exhibition

I was really impressed by the visitors’ words when I participated there as a receptionist, such as the story of a person whose archives were actually rescued, and the conversation with people who got interested in our activities. Furthermore, young people who desperately questioned us moved us.
By the series of work for restoration and exhibition, I could meet various people, and they taught me the reason of our activities. The importance of the rescue operations for the historical materials and the exhibition for letting people know the operations. And I could understand our activities were supported by the museums, the Miyagi Network and many experts and voluntary workers. The activities requires much endurance and patience; I would like to continuously join the preservation activities for historical materials, with the hope to pass down them to the next future.


NB: The photos are all from the homepage of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.

Miyagi Network News vol.165 ~The First Part

~The Exhibition in Sendai City Museum~

~The report of the exhibition ‘One Year after the Eastern Japan Earthquake, Rescue Activities for the Historical Materials’~

 This is Shinichiro Kurihara, an officer of the Compiling Room for History of Sendai City in Sendai City Museum. As the Homepage of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materialsinformed you, from 6th to 25th of March, Sendai City Museum held the exhibition ‘One Year after the Eastern Japan Earthquake, Rescue Activities for the Historical Materials’, in the ground floor gallery. This is to introduce the present condition of historical materials in each community and the importance of passing down and making good use of those materials as the community’s common treasure, as we exhibited the fruit of the rescue operations carried out in Sendai city, since the Eastern Japan Earthquake. The following is the main contents of our exhibition.

The Exhibition Room

The exhibition was divided into the actual materials exhibition, a panel exhibition, and a slideshow.

In the actual materials exhibition, we displayed the personally-owned-documents and public archives which had been rescued in Sendai City. Concretely speaking, for example, there was the ‘Chigyo Mokuroku (the list of their land and its harvest)’ and the scrolls concerned with Japanese archery, which had been rescued from the old house and who had worked as statesmen in the Sendai Domain (please see Network News vol.128). Others included Kenchicho (land survey book) in 1635 and calligraphies by Senjin Oka(1833-1913), which had been rescued from an old house in Wakabayasi-ku, and the Byobu(*1) of Kaimon (a sort of word game), in which you could see undercoated documents from broken parts, rescued from Wakabayashi-ku as well, and the festival flag from 1833 which had been preserved in Dainichinorai-Do Temple damaged by the Tsunami, and the Books of School History in 1927, preserved in Rokugo Elementary School. These are rescued by the Sendai City Museum or the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials, or by both organisations.

Thedisplay of the damaged materials

In addition, we exhibited the tools and apparatus which were used for washing and drying the historical materials affected by the Tsunami. Those tools were used in the project for supporting to repair the archives by National Archives of Japan, held in Sendai City Museum from January to March. The Books of School History in 1927 were actually cleaned up by those tools.

In terms of the panel exhibition, they were further divided into 6 sections as follows: 1. The introduction of historical materials which were rescued and surveyed through the rescue activities, 2. The rescue activities by Sendai City Museum (please see Network News vol.121 and 139), 3. The methods for tidying and the urgent measures for the damaged historical materials, 4. The damage of extent of historical structure and landscape in Sendai City, 5. The past earthquakes and tsunamis occurred in Sendai Plain, 6. The restoration construction of the stone wall in Sendai Castle which affected by past earthquakes and other natural disasters. We displayed 25 panels in total, and those were printed and handed to the visitors as pamphlets.

The Byobu rescued from Wakabayashi-ku

In the slideshow, we showed the process of washing waterlogged materials, rescue operations and extent of damage caused by the quake and the Tsunami in Sendai City.

In Sendai City Museum, at the same time we had the special exhibition of ‘National Treasure, Red and White Plum Blossoms Byobu and masterpieces from MOA Museum of Art’, so that 8,138 people from young to elder, from inside and outside of prefecture, visited our exhibition. The owners of historical materials told us “Please make use of our documents”, “If our house had not been surveyed, we would dispose of all of them. I really appreciate that those materials could see the light of the day”, and those words were our pleasure.

Some visitors already knew our activities very well, on the other hand, many of them first recognised the ‘rescue operation for historical materials’. Because of this, during the exhibition there were a lot of inquiries from owners of historical materials, who heard our activities from visitors and the media.

The apparatus used for cleaning operations

Through the exhibition, we again recognised the importance to widely appeal our activities not only to historical researchers and amateurs but also ordinary citizens. Now the panels are exhibited in other public space. We would like to consider the circulated exhibition of these panels, and to advertise our preserving operations.

Finally, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to citizens and secretariat office of the Miyagi Network of Preserving Historical Materials.

 (to be continued)

 NB: The photos are all from the homepage of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.

 *1 Byobu: a holding screen with a coloured paintings or a black-and-white drawing using Japanese patterns.



Ibaraki Network News Letter vol. 37

 ~The Tidying Activity for Historical Materials in Ibaraki University~

From 31st March to 1st April, on the Mito Campus of Ibaraki University, we carried out the tidying operation for the historical materials which had been rescued in Kitaibaraki City.

The historical materials which we tidied at this time were from old families in Hirakata and Sekimoto. The archives from an old family in Sekimoto involved many documents dating back to the Edo period. We recorded their present condition by sketching and taking photos of these documents, and carefully tidied them up and listed them.

There was a document box which was crammed full of early modern times documents, and among them, there was a picture map of their mansion drawn in 1857. The picture map was coloured, and we could see the names of the buildings such as ‘Honjin(本陣, main house but occasionally became the guest house for Lords)’, ‘Hontaku(本宅, main house)’, ‘Dozo(土蔵, warehouse)’, ‘Ido(井戸, well)’, ‘Umaya(厩, stables)’ on the map, and it indicated the appearance of their mansion at that time. When we interviewed the master of the house he said that their estate was located on the way from Hirakata to Tanakura, so the Lord of Tanakura Domain rested at their house. We consider that the map which we discovered in this time supports the master’s story. This map has extremely interesting information, because the route from the main gate to main house ‘Honjin’, which presumably indicated the passage of the Lords, was painted with gold dust. Likewise, we found the group of documents which had Kao(花押, a sigh) of the Lord of Tanakura Domain. Those discoveries made us feel that we could preserve many historical documents which were important for the local community.

Our tidying activities continued for 2 days, and the activities were supported by a total of 90 members and participants from the NPO Historical Succession Association, OB of Ibaraki University, researchers and citizens. Of special note is the students and teachers from Mito-Aoiryo High School, because it was the first time to accept voluntary workers from among high school students. We owe our gratitude to them in furthering our tidying operation. Thank you very much.

In terms of the new fiscal year’s activities, we would like to start on 11th April. Irrespective of whether you are skilled or unskilled, if you are interested in our activity, please come and join us. Our activities are held in classroom 201, the building C of humanities, at 1pm on every Wednesday. We appreciate your participation. (written by Kunihiko Izumida)

Yamagata Network Activity Report & Objective ~Part53

~From the blog of 8th April of the Yamagata Relief Network for Cultural heritage~

As some of you already known the full-scale operation by the Yamagata Network will start next week. During the spring vacation, members mainly in Kamiyama City continued the operations. We know they are pretty busy because it is the turn of the new fiscal year. This week’s activity will be held only tomorrow but we appreciate those of you who will participate in our activities.

[Last Week’s Activity Report]
1. On 2nd April, we carried out the cleaning operation in Kamiyama City Northern Public Hall.
2. We donated some of the books and materials, which were provided to us, to Yamagata Prefectural Library. The Pamphlets of the Niigata Symposium were sent to universities in Yamagata Prefecture.

[This Week’s Objective]
1. On 9th April, we will have the cleaning operation in Kamiyama City Northern Public Hall.
2. We will continuously discuss the countermeasures against mould and carry out a survey.
NB: We will have a One Day Cleaning Operation on 4th May in Yonezawa Women’s Junior College. If you wish to join please contact us.

Some members of the Yamagata Network participated in the 2 symposia which were held on 24th March.
1. From 11am, the symposium reporting activities of the Cultural Heritage rescue operations held last year. Meeting place: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo
2. From 1pm, the symposium for discussing the historical issues of the Eastern Japan Earthquake by the Association of Historical Sciences. Meeting Place: Gakushuin University

The first discussion of the No.1 symposium was the report by the cultural property officers in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures. According to them, the initial response in initiating the rescue activities owed a great deal to the members of each area’s Network for Historical Materials. As for the second, it was concerned with the continuous preservation activities which had been led by Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. And the last discussion concluded that other organisations and institutions also paid great efforts for cultural properties.
To sum up, 1. We have to keep carrying on, 2. We have to discuss about the establishment of temporary repositories in the devastated area, 3. In each devastated prefecture, the conference for rescuing historical materials, which are organised by the Network for Historical Materials, Education Board, museums and universities, have already been established.
It was a really good hall where the symposiums were held. I should inform you that Prof Hirakawa, the representative of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials, and people from devastated area gave the Yamagata Network much welcome praise!!
In the No.2 symposium held in Gakushuin Unicersity, we could listen to the report by Professor Emeritus Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismologist who creates the word of ‘Genpatsu-Saigai (disaster caused by nuclear plants)’. Prof Ishibashi is now engaged in archival history, and he pointed out the high risks from his analysis that more extensive great earthquakes would occur and the accidents of nuclear plants would compound the extent of the damage. We again realised the importance of learning history.
We enjoyed Ume blossoms coming out in the campus.