“Miyagi Network News” vol.95

Report about Present Activities

This is Arata Hirakawa, from the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.

Already one week has passed since the Northern Japan Earthquake. I cannot find any words to express my shock and sadness at the extent of the damage and there are still some friends whose whereabouts and safety I am uncertain of. Our present situation and undergoing activities are as follows :

1. We have contacted officers who have a duty in the Government Agency For Cultural Affairs. According to them, the Government Agency has started to discuss how to deal with the disaster of the quake by cooperating with universities, institutions, and the Japan Society of Archive Institutions, in the same manner as when the Hanshin Earthquake occurred.

2. With regard to the great earthquakes and Tsunami of the past, the well-known examples are the Jogan(*1) Earthquake in 869 recorded in one of national historical chronicles “Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku (*2)” and the Keicho(*3) EarthQuake in 1611.

The secretariat staff of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials have also been participating in the Disaster Prevention Science Research Core Group, therefore we had prepared researching about those past disasters from both scientific and historical perspectives with the cooperation of this group. As far as we learned from the records and geological surveys, it was already clear that the great tsunami flooded 3-4km inland along the Pacific coast in Miyagi prefecture. So we had been planning to carry out more specific research and to draw up a more accurate hazard map as a disaster prevention measure.

However, we were struck by an actual Tsunami earlier than we had anticipated. Although Tsunami researchers had already pointed out the possibility that a great Tsunami on the same scale as that of the Jogan and Keicho Earthquakes would likely hit our coast, we couldn’t prevent the enormous damage because the residential areas were widely spread out along the coastline. Despite the fact that cities had to compromise between disaster prevention and residential development, the experiences of the past Tsunamis did not bring about the desired effects in terms of disaster prevention. How can we reconstruct our community in a way which completely ensures against such destruction brought about by a tremendous Tsunami only once every 400 years or so?

3. Now we cannot get enough petrol to visit each disaster-stricken community, it prevents us from researching the present conditions as to how they suffering from the earthquake. For this reason, we could grasp only a little information from some institutions and families of distinction located near Sendai City. In addition, we are preparing for surveying the extent of the damage over a wide area, and establishing the system which will coordinate with museums and municipal offices for the cultural affairs of Sendai City and Miyagi Prefecture along with the Governmental Agency for cultural affairs.

4. The Centre for Northeast Asian Studies’ building at Tohoku University where our office is located has been seriously damaged and is  off-limits. So we now moved to Lecture Room A on the same campus (Kawauchi campus).

*1: Jogan(貞観) A Japanese era dating from AD859 to 887.

*2: Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku (日本三代実録) A Japanese national history chronicled by the Imperial Court. Spanning three Emperors’  reigns from AD858 to 887, recording not only national affairs, but also the annual ritual programs and governmental documents as they were.

*3: Keicho(慶長) A Japanese era dating from AD1596 to 1615.

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About Nerwork for Historical Materials
A volunteer group for preserving Cultural Heritage suffered from natural disasters

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