The Present Situation in the ‘Aizu Area’ in Fukushima Prefecture

The article from the blog of the Fukushima Network for Preserving for Historical Materials

—The situation in the Aizu(*1) area

[ Aizu-Wakamatsu City ]

We received a report from Prof. N on 19th March. We apologise for the lateness in  updating you. We heard that Wakamatsu castle has been partially reconstructed.

(1) Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle(会津若松城): Several places along the stone-walls and the earthwork fortifications had fallen, and some stone-walls were loosened. On the white-plastered wall nearby the gate of the castle tower, there was a transverse crack. The white-plastered walls in the Hoshii turret were cracked. The substructure stones in the gutters around the Rinkaku have moved a little from where they were before, and its west and south gutters were also damaged. Some parts of the concrete pavements were cracked. The Azumaya (a kind of arbour) in the garden in front of the castle tower was at an angle. At these dangerous spots, the cones have already been placed.

(translator’s note: Rinkaku麟閣: The tea ceremony room which was built by Sen Shouan who was a son of Sen Rikyu, the person who contributed the most to the development of Cha-no-yu.)

(2) Oyakuen(御薬園): The Matsudaira Family’s villa. The wattle and daub of Ochaya-Goten(お茶屋御殿) had fallen off its outside and inside walls were damaged, and a lot of exhibited vessels and pottery were also damaged. In Rakuju-tei(楽寿亭) which was located in Kamejima(the little island in the garden pond), there were a lot of chinks between the mud walls and the pillars. In Choyo-kaku(重陽閣), the sliding doors on the first floor had fallen down and were broken, some of the roof tiles were damaged, the documents in the clerk office were scattered, and the goods in the kiosk were a mess. For this reason, the garden is closed for a duration.

(The Matsudaira Famiry松平氏: The lords of Aizu Domain)

(3) The Yokoyama Family’s Residence as Takizawa-Honjin (滝沢本陣): A piller was cracked, the gaps between pillars and mud walls were here and there, and the fragments of wattle and daub were scattered around the Yudono (an old bath) and Secchin (an old toilet). The whitewashed walls outside of the main gate which had been repaired last year were seriously cracked. The Residence is closed for a duration.

(Honjin: an officially designated inn for the Daimyo)

(4) Sazae-dou Temple: Opened as usual. It looked safe.

(5) Hatiyouji Temple(八葉寺), and Fujikura Nikaido Temple(藤倉二階堂): Damaged places were not found.

(6) A tombstone of Princess Minazuru(皆鶴姫墓碑): The garden lanterns which stood on the tomb side had moved considerably from where they were before. The roof of the small shrine had fallen in.

(Princess Minazuru: A legendary character. She was said to be a lover of Yoshitsune Minamoto who was one of the most famous heroes in the Medieval period, and an adopted daughter of the famous tactician. When Yoshitsune had gone to Tohoku, although she followed him, she couldn’t meet him and then died in sorrow.)

(7) The Big Zelkova tree in Takase : The guide board was not damaged. The tree itself and the assisted brackets were also not harmed.

(8) Murakita-Gayo(村北瓦窯, kilns for roof tiles): No damage.

(9) Aizu Ootukayama Kohun (会津大塚山古墳, an ancient tomb): Damage was not found.

(10) Dougasakuyama Kohun, Iimori Kohun(堂ヶ作山古墳,飯盛古墳): All safe, after observation from a distance.

(11) Boryo site (墓料遺跡, one of the representative sites in Fukushima from the Johmon to Yayoi period): No problem.

(12) Minamioyama site (南御山遺跡, one of the representative Yayoi period sites in Fukushima): No problem.

(13) Monden Jori site (門田条里遺跡,  traces of land subdivision system in ancient Japan still remain here): Part of the gullies around the Otsubo estates were broken.

(14) Kooriyama site(郡山遺跡): No problem.

(15) Akaiyati(赤井谷地, is famous for its swamp plant community): No damage found.

(16) Sasayamahara sites(笹山原遺跡群, the Paleolithic era): No damage.

(17) Fukushima Prefectural Museum: Some of the roofs were damaged, and are being repaired now. The exhibits did not suffer so much. Some collections are affected. The Museum is now temporarily closed following the safety inspection. (NB: Since 26th March, partially opened. They are carrying out some exhibitions for local people suffering from events.)

[ Aizumisato Town ] We received a report from ‘M’ on 20th March.

(1) The two Buddhist images and a climbing kiln that were municipally designated properties were damaged.

(2) We confirmed that the three Torii gates and garden lanterns were destroyed.

[ The Hideyo Noguchi(*2) Memorial Museum ] Mr. M gave us this information.

(1) In the exhibition room and repository, some artefacts had fallen, although no serious damage occurred.

(2) The bookshelves in the backyard had fallen like dominoes toppling, so they were broken and books were scattered.

(3) From the view of visitors’ safety, we proceeded as follows; From 12th to 18th on March: Closed in the afternoon. From 19th to 26th on March: Closed all day. The memorial exhibition of Hideyo Noguchi and the small exhibition of the products for Inawashiro were called off.

 [ The Eruption of Mt. Bandai Memorial Museum ] Mr. S gave us this information.

(1) Although some artefacts in the repository had fallen down from the shelves and were damaged, the exhibition room is basically safe.

(2) However, because Route 459 which was runs from Inawashiro Town to Ura-Bandai is closed to traffic, the museum is closed for a duration.

[ Aizu Folklore Museum ]

The museum was seriously damaged. The two of traditional private houses in the museum were gravely affected by the quake. The former-Baba family Residence which is a nationally designated structure, and the former-Sasaki family Residence (a prefecturally designated structure) could not stand up against the intensity of 6 weak quake, so that the pillars were slanted, the floors fell out, the doors were tripped, and some of the walls had fallen down.

The residences themselves were warped and creaked, so they are facing the danger of completely being destroyed when the huge quake will strike next time. For this reason, the museum requested to the prefectural government through the municipal board of education which has jurisdiction over cultural affairs to inspect the present situation. For some time, there is a possibility that the aftershocks will continue, the entry to these structures will be restricted until the safety inspection and repairs have been completed.

These repairs are different from the usual as they will incur considerable expenses. Therefore, they will request the national govt and prefectural govt to give them a special and urgent support.

We appreciate both your understanding of their situation and your long term support.

*1 Aizu(会津): Aizu is an area’s name which indicates that the west part of Fukushima divided its land into three zones.

*2 Hideyo Noguchi(野口英世): 1876-1928. A bacteriologist born in Aizu area. Famous for the fact that he was born into poverty but he got success after  great difficulty. His figure is printed on the Japanese 1,000yen bill.


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

One Response to The Present Situation in the ‘Aizu Area’ in Fukushima Prefecture

  1. Gone South says:

    So very sorry that things are as they are. Thinking of all those who lived and worked in the museum and surrounding area.

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