“Miyagi Network News” vol.110

~The East Japan Earthquake, the preservation activity in Kurihara City~

This is Masashi Amano from the Miyagi Network for preserving Historical Materials.

On April 19th, we inspected the damage to the historical materials mainly in the Wakayanagi area in Kurihara City. In this earthquake, the coastline area was seriously affected by the great Tsunami. Simultaneously, the inland area was also destroyed by the Mg9.0 earthquake whose scale was the biggest in Japanese history. Furthermore, in Kurihara City, the structures which were barely survived against the main quake were seriously damaged by the aftershock on April 7th.

In this inspection, according to the information which was sent from local historians, we looked around the damaged area, cooperating with the officers of Government Agency of cultural affairs and the Board of education.

[The old families in the Wakabayashi area]

First of all, under the guidance of a local historian, we visited 4 families. With regard to the first residence, while the whitewashed warehouse had already been scrapped before the quake, the pillars of the main house which had been built in the beginning of the Showa period(*1) was destroyed by this quake, and later dismantled.

The residence which we visited the next was the old cinema that was built in the Showa Period. Although this cinema had been one of the structures which symbolised the Wakayanagi area of that period, it was damaged twice by the quakes, therefore there was no way for it to be scrapped. According to the owner of this cinema, his family had worked as doctors from the Edo period(*2) to the early Meiji period(*3), so his family was storing the medical books which were written in the Edo period.

Following that, we visited the old residence whose whitewashed warehouse stood in the back of the main house was completely destroyed and fell sideways together with the historical properties that were preserved there. We will plan to revisit it and to confirm the damage in detail another day.

Because the extensive earthquake happened twice, the old structures in this area were seriously affected. As a result, many historical structures have already been facing the danger of disappearing. Henceforth, we strongly feel the necessity to urgently carry out  preservation activities of historical materials and the structures which were saved from the quake, so as to be passed down from generation to generation.

[Wakayanagi Kyodo Museum (若柳郷土資料館)]

This town museum had a lot of articles for everyday use, archaeological artefacts, and modern archives concerned with land affairs. However, the corner of which stored those materials collapsed in the quake, so the place was covered with vinyl sheets at the present. Furthermore, because all of the display cases and other glass cases were damaged, we faced some risk when we secured the historical materials from the fallen shelves or those broken cases. We will have to carry out further rescue operations of the stored materials mainly from the collapsing room.

[The structure of the former-Kurihara Country Railway Company]

The structure of the Kurihara Country Railway Company which we once had inspected was also damaged by the quake. As for the structure of the former-head office, although it seemed that the damage was only in a few places, for example broken glass as far as we could see, inside of the factory was strewn, and the side walls in the train garage were in danger of falling down.

[The management centre for the excavated cultural properties in Tsukidate]

We heard that tens of Fusuma were carried into the centre from the old residences, so we investigated their present condition with officers of the Government Agency for Cultural Affairs. The paintings and the calligraphy on the Fusuma were not greatly damaged, however, according to the Government officers, some repair will be necessary, and we got some advice about the such operations from them.

With regard to the inspection of this centre, although we couldn’t find any damage, the roof tiles had fallen down so rain had leaked in through part of the repository’s roof.

[The Semine Community Centre]

Due to the landslide at the back of the community centre, the shed had collapsed and was coverd with earth and sand. In the community centre, while some Fusuma which had been carried out from the old residence were still stored there, we will have to rescue them. The other materials stored in the prefab shed which was saved from the serious damage will need to be evacuated, depending on the situation.


Because we can now steadily get enough petrol and the almost all roads have been reconstructed, we are getting to be able to extensively carry out the rescue activities. Hereafter, we will gradually require the members and supporters to help us more and more. We appreciate your cooperation in helping us pass down our historical materials to future generations as much as we can.


*1 Showa period(昭和期): A division of Japanese history which spanned from 1926 to 1989.

*2 Edo period(江戸時代): A division of Japanese history which spanned from 1603 to 1868.

*3 Meiji period(明治時代): A division of Japanese history which spanned from 1868 to 1912.


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

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