The Second/Third Preservation Activities after the Nagano Hokubu Earthquake ~Part3

~The report about the suffered area in Sakaemura Village published on July 15th~


3.The Features of the Second Preservation Activity

We found the different features in the second preservation activities from the previous ones as follows;

The Folk-Cultural Materials

_1.This was the first time inspection cooperating with the specialists of the folk-cultural utensils

_2.Getting the data of the target family beforehand, and making use of them

_3.Carrying the folk-cultural utensils and historical documents from the houses and whitewashed warehouse which were scheduled to  be demolished

_4.Many voluntary workers whom we had never met before participated in our activities, so we organised them into groups depending on their expertise

_5.Making use of the Bulletin Board System as a way for sending information to the participants who would came from various faraway places

_6.Receiving the donations from Kobe, Niigata and other Networks

The Folk-cultural Materials


3-1.The Cooperation with the Specialists of Folk-cultural Utensils

I have carried out the survey of the historical documents for over ten years in Sakaemura, and I had plenty of opportunities to pick out a lot of folk-cultural utensils through the investigation, however I had never inspected together with such experts. In the investigation of the Hh family’s whitewashed warehouse in 2004, although I discovered a large amount of utensils and furniture there, I didn’t have any idea about them because I wasn’t a specialist. So I once published a paper whose title was “Inquiring into the value of folk-cultural utensils—from the investigation of a certain family’s possessions” (Monthly Mingu, vol.40, book6, September 2007) so as to be given some advice by the experts. Unfortunately I couldn’t receive any. Therefore, how to deal with the folk-cultural utensils has been the outstanding issue for me for a long time.

The rafters were unfastened

In this disaster, many whitewashed warehouses were affected and the most of them are facing the danger of being demolished. Then, many of those traditional utensils which are no longer used nowadays wouldn lose their places of storage, so we easily anticipated that they would be eventually scrapped. Mr Yoshihiro Yoroi whom we happened to invite to this preservation activity made an offer to Ms Ritsuko Ishino who was a Visiting Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Japanese Folk Culture, Kanagawa University and had rich achievements in the inspection for folk-cultural properties, and then the cooperative investigation was realised. She also advertised for some postgraduate students who had experience of the survey of traditional utensils to participate, likewise, the museum curators from Nagano, Toyama and Niigata Prefectures also took part in our activities. As a result, we, investigators of history and the researchers of folklore teamed together and surveyed each family.

Transferring operation

3-2.Gathering Information about the Target Families in Advance

In the previous survey, our main activities were to put the scattered utensils which had been investigated before in order, and confirm the present condition of 4 families which owned old whitewashed warehouses. However, the reason why we could research these 4 family’s warehouses was because the local supporter had visited to each family without appointment and had gotten some information about their possessions, therefore, we couldn’t say that was an exhaustive inquiry.

On the other hand , in this operation, we could get several offers to give us the lists from the municipal office, the Board of Education and the Prefectural Museum about the cultural properties’ whereabouts or the structures which would be scheduled to be demolished. During this investigation operation, we could visit 17 houses in 3 days, that owned these lists.

The Materials on the truck

3-3. The Transportation of the Historical Documents & Folk-Cultural Utensils

As I mentioned before, the removal operation subsidised by the public expense are advancing, therefore the cultural properties which the owners regard as being unnecessary will be scrapped. In these cases, they will be immediately scrapped if we do not secure them and transfer them to some place of storage. Actually we met such cases, so at that time we had to urgently move them to the private garage as a temporary space cooperating with local supporters. Before we started our activities, we had requested the municipal office to respond if such cases occurred, however their opinion was that they couldn’t take any responsibilities, and then they told us not to move anything. For this reason, we transferred the materials under my responsibility. Because these cases indeed happened, the municipal officer who had a duty for the cultural affairs hurriedly searched for the temporary space for the cultural properties. Those spaces were the garages due to the fact that we couldn’t confirm the conditions of the new places in such a limited time and if the place was far from each owners’ house, it was inconvenient. Hereafter how to retransfer the materials from the temporary space to the more secured place will be considered.

The materials in the temporary space

(to be continued)


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

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