“Miyagi Network News” vol.106

~Could you offer us your free assistance?~

This is Prof. Arata Hirakawa. Today I have a request to you who work preserving and repairing cultural properties.

Since the preservation activity had started at private owner’s houses, we have found that a lot of paintings and writings were torn due to falling from the walls caused by the tremors from the quake or were flooded by seawater because of the Tsunami. Those ancestral properties were deeply cherished by their private owners, therefore, we wish to try to repair them by any means.

Repairing historical materials usually requires a lot of money. So, when we find those damaged materials, neither the owners or ourselves offer the opportunity to repair those materials.

Therefore, could you do me a favour of voluntarily repairing those calligraphic works and paintings? Dear people, institutions, and study societies concerned with the preservation and rescue of cultural properties, we keenly desire you to consider this difficult issue and to assist us in a voluntary capacity?

Anyway, as for the historical materials which need repair, those of which are difficult to preserve in the households have been taken to the Miyagi Network’s secretariat office, however some of them have been left in their houses. If you will undertake our request, please offer your time and knowledge in both scenarios.


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

2 Responses to “Miyagi Network News” vol.106

  1. Johanne Velling says:

    Dear Prof. Arata Hirakawa
    I have just read your appeal and hope that I somehow can bring my service as a help for the preservation of the Japanese cultural heritage. I have a master degree in painting conservation from The **** **** Academy of Fine Arts, School of Conservation and have experience from several workshops such as The **** Museum where I last year was sent out with a team of colleagues for two months to restore inventary at a UNESCO site in Norway. I have experience in painting on wood, interior decoration and painting on canvas.

    I am now attending a position at an other Denish museum until august and could travel to Japan mid of august. I hope at this time my help will still be relevant. I am willing to seek for some money here in Denmark for my travel and accomodation in Japan – but let me know what to do and where you would need my help. I hope to hear from you and think that it would be a great honor to help you in any way in this situation.

    Best regards

    • Dear Johanne Velling

      Thank you very much for your mail.
      I am writing on behalf of the Network for Historical Materials and we were very glad to receive it. We have taken over your kind offer to Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials which Prof. Arata Hirakawa organises, and reply to you accordingly.
      Before accepting your offer, we have to confirm our following requirements.

      1. Can you communicate with us in Japanese?
      You will come to the devastated area, mostly based in Miyagi Prefecture. However, unfortunately there aren’t any members who can speak English and of course Danish in the Miyagi Network. Moreover, as you have already read in our appeal, many cultural properties are still in the owners’ houses, so you might have to visit the owners who possess the ancestral old paintings damaged by the Tsunami, and then will require some Japanese language skill. If you do not have the language ability it might be difficult to ask you to come to our place. But if you have sufficient language skills, we willingly welcome your assistance.

      2. With regard to the cost
      We appreciate that you will cover the travel and accommodation costs in Japan, however as you have also read in our appeal, we have to ask you to cover the cost of repairing any damaged paintings or works of calligraphy and it is for this very reason that we keenly desire your help. Also, we cannot guarantee enough space to be able to do conservation operations because we are just a non-profit organization for rescuing non-designated cultural properties. In Japan, if it might be the precious old archives which indicate the community’s history or something, the owners don’t want to deposit them to the public institution, they can privately possess them themselves. For this reason, those historical arts and documents are sometimes in danger of disappearing when the natural disaster occurs. We cannot get enough money from the Government because our targeted items are not designated properties. Now we are considering what kind of rescue materials will be able to prepare, nevertheless, we might not have enough money to buy those materials which the specialists need. We hope you understand our difficult situation.

      By the way, the historical materials which we will ask you to repair will be the Japanese paintings on Japanese paper, which are owned by the old traditional families. Or, depending on how our activities advance, the objects might be old documents.

      We are looking forward to your favourable reply.

      Best Regards,
      Etsuko Watanabe
      Network for Historical Materials

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