Miyagi Network News vol.144

~The Rescue Operation in Kannarikabe, Kurihara City~

 Mitsuo Goto, the member of the Miyagi Conservation association for the Artistic Japanese Swords

 (1) Introduction

On 29th July, accompanied with Ms Ami Oba who worked for the section for conserving cultural properties in Kurihara Board of Education, I participated in the rescue operation in the Ogino community centre ”House of Kannariarikabe”, and we met Mr Ebina who was the secretariat officer of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials in the field. On that day, the weather was not hot but cloudy, and fortunately we didn’t have any rain although we had worried about it. It might be impruden if I said it was very suitable weather for the rescue operation but we had a great start.

Because the person concerned with the master of the house lives in Tokyo, it started at 1:00pm therefore there was a fear that we might not finish the activity until the evening. However, we could do it because of Mr Ebina’s proper instructions and Ms Oba’s great efforts.

(2) Surroundings and Location

Arikabe area has a medieval castle, which had been guarded by the important feudatories of the local load Osaki and Kasai family, built in the period before Hideyoshi Toyotomi(*1) conquered the Tohoku area. Simultaneously, this area is the post-town which was established in the Edo Period(*2), and the arikbe Honjin(*3), which is designated as the national special historic site, is displayed the majestic appearance. Mainly, Matsumae(the present south-west end of Hokkaido), Nanbu, Ichinoseki(both were in Iwate Pref), Hachinohe (Aomori Pref) Domains made use of it as their lodging house. When you climb the northern mountain from this town, the old highway passes through the woods, and If you go towards the mountain path like an animal trail, and turn left, you can find the Oshi Highway as if it remains as it is since the Edo Period. After that, passing the Hijiori Hill, known as the dangerous spot, there is an old main road which goes to the Ichinoseki. The beautiful streets which are surrounded by the forests and the limpid stream impress us very much.

(3)The Present Condition

We found that many streets and houses in this old post-town were affected by the quake, and it proved extensively damaged. At the same time, we saw the old houses which stood as though it was immediately after the quake. For this reason, Mr Ebina asked Ms Oba to gather information about this area’s extent of damage.

This time’s the target is structure which was built in the early 20th century representative of the Japanese style, so it was pity it had to be demolished. It was composed of the main house facing the street, the elegant cottage, and the traditional warehouse which had a mud wall. However, the removal construction had been already prepared, the mowing around the house was completed, and a big power shovel stood ready.

(4)The Rescue Operation

Our targets were the large and small Fusuma(*4) and the historical materials concerned with the modern time’s education. Likewise, we discovered the old documents written by brush. As the observer watching over our operation, when we found the documents, which were full of information about the former master of the house, from the bag which he used habitually, we strongly felt that our activity was worthwhile, because we could rescue them without being scrapped.

(5)The Team for Open the Warehouse

For the rescue operation, we broke the key of the mud-made warehouse. In the warehouse, we found the group of precious folk-cultural properties, and with regard to the building materials, the warehouse consisted of the invaluable such as the beams. We persuaded the master of the house that these structures were extremely valuable, and they matched the landscape of this town so that the day would come when he could feel it was good not to have removed the warehouse. Then, he decided to keep the warehouse and we were really glad to hear that. After that, we placed the historical materials which were rescued into the Mr Ebina’s car, and expressed our gratitude to the family and the structures.


Additionally, I’d like to introduce our luck in participating in the Shinto rite of praying for the construction’s safety and removing the structure together with the family members, people concerned with the construction, Mr Ebina and Ms Oba. It was a pleasure for us as the rescue team to celebrate and see off the structure which had stood gracefully for nearly 100 years, at their demolition against our will.

Also, I’d like to tell you that this structure had a strong resemblance to ones from the Edo and Meiji Period although it was completed around 100 years ago. If the earthquake didn’t occur, if we could repair them and make good use of them. I’m still thinking of the house regrettably.

 NB: The photos are all from the homepage of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.


*1 Hideyoshi Toyotomi(豊臣秀吉):1537-1598. Born in the poor farm household, however being the follower of Nobunaga Oda(1534?-1582) and instrumental to the whole country’s unification. On the way to that, Oda was accidentally killed by another follower, after that Hideyoshi became the ruler of Japan.

*2 Edo Period: A division of Japanese history which spanned from 1603 to 1868.

 *3 Honjin: an officially designated inn for the Daimyo

*4 Fusuma: sliding door made from paper and wood, used to partition off rooms in a Japanese house. Sometimes they have beautiful traditional pictures, or old historical documents on the underside to strengthen against being torn part.




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

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