The Article from the blog of the ‘Niigata Relief Network for Historical Materials’

~The present condition of historical materials in Niigata Prefecture~

 On 27th March, the secretariat staff of the Niigata Relief Network for Historical Materials went to Tsunanmachi Town and Tokaichimachi City areas of which were damaged by the quake that occurred on 12th March. Fortunately, we could talk with the municipal officers who hold responsibility for cultural affairs, so we report a summary of the interview conducted with them.

 —The situation in Tsunanmachi area

The area which were most seriously damaged were the western part from the Nakatsugawa River, especially the Kamigo area and the other area which is located on the left bank of the Shinanogawa River. In relation to the damage of designated properties, we could list up those materials as follows; the breakages of prefecturally-designated archeological artefacts which were excavated from the Okinohara-site, and the slumped walls of the Japanese traditional house with thatched roof which was dismantled and removed to the Municipal Museum for History and Folklore. The Johmon Pottery with Flame Patterns which is an important cultural property was safe, because the pottery shook along with the display case even though the fastenings came out. From the Tokaichimachi Information centre, we had already received the sample of the appeal which would be sent to private owners for preserving historical materials. A member of the deliberation committee for cultural properties also suggested preserving their communities’ treasure, so they will start to appeal for the protection of those materials in the first half of April with reference to the Tokaichimachi example.

 —The situation in the Tokaichimachi area

The areas which were damaged most seriously were the former sites of Matsudaimachi and Matsunoyamamachi. Because the risk of land/snowslides remain, many people are still taking shelter now. In these areas, there are a lot of elderly people, so hereafter the difficulties of them preserving their own historical materials is expected.

We are now appealing by making leaflets whose title is “Don’t throw your historical materials away!”. We are planning to publish it in town papers. However, we recognise that we should carefully carry out our appeal in the area which was gravely harmed. We ask the municipal officers to liaise with them closely, by utilising the local community centre, and so on.

 That’s all. At least, we the Niigata Network told the officers to cooperate as much as possible.

 Anyway, we looked around the damage in Sakae Village in Nagano Prefecture and the Kamigo area in Tsunanmachi which were at the seismic centre of the quake on 12th March. Although we saw them from the car window, the city centre along Route 117, where the Sakae Village office is located, had a lot of damaged houses with signs marking “Danger”, which reflected the houses’ condition. The walls of the whitewashed warehouses had fallen down, and we could see the roads affected by the quake in many places. As for the Tsunancho site, the houses with signs of “Caution” were more abundant than the signs with “Danger”. Our impression was that many of the whitewashed warehouses seemed safe. However, we had seen very little, so it might be possible that we hadn’t seen those places which where in severe condition. Actually, the prefectural report says that 5 houses were completely destroyed as of 24th March.

NB: Japanese Government does not recognise that the quake which occurred in Nagano and Niigata prefectures on 12th March as officially listed as part of the East Japan Earthquake.

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

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