Miyagi Network News vol.148

~As I Participated in the Voluntary Operation in the Secretariat Office~

Shuichi Aoyagi

 

On 29th August, I participated in the operation of carrying out the urgent measure for the damaged historical materials in the secretariat office of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.

There was another reason why I visited Sendai City, which was to attend the regular meeting of the History Society for Tohoku Early Modern Times combined with the Society for the Study of Folk Intellectual History from 27th to 28th of August; I will therefore introduce you to the events in the Study Societies at first. I felt a sense of fulfilment both days, especially, the visit to Ishinomaki City which was seriously affected by the East Japan Earthquake was a very important experience for me. Since I was a student of Tohoku University, Ishinomaki City had been a memorable place, so I was really shocked at the tragic sight. Taking this opportunity, I’d like to express my gratitude to all the staff who led the successful meeting under such difficult circumstances after the quake.

The workshop space in the secretariat office

Now I’d like to introduce you to my experience during the voluntary operation. In the morning of the 29th, when I arrived at the 10th floor in the New Humanities Building in Kawauchi Campus, Tohoku University, the large-scale workshop space for carrying out the urgent measures for damaged historical materials, which was built from cardboard boxes, plastic cases and sofa, came into my view. As I saw the bundle of damaged materials and a large amount of repair utensils and I realised that I was in the midst of the field where people were rescuing historical materials.

The operation which I joined was to clean the tallies of an elementary school in Ishinomaki City, which were affected by the Tsunami. The front cover or each page were caked with mud, and mould was about to set in, so my job was to remove the mud by pallet and brush, and to spray ethanol on them one by one. I felt some tie because the documents which I treated were from Ishinomaki City where I visited the day before. After all, the smell which came from the materials long time after being damaged by the Tsunami was more awful than I had ever experienced.

Removing the mud one by one

I joined the operation with postgraduate students from Kanto area, who attended the regular meeting until the day before, the same as I did, and we were impressed that many ordinary women who lived Miyagi prefecture also participated. According to the secretariat officers, they didn’t advertise in a special way, and these women came to join the cleaning operation as they saw the Miyagi Network News which is now being sent to a wide area.

Once when Sendai City government had planned the project to “reconstruct” the Donjon “Ushitora Yagura(艮櫓)” in Sendai Castle, the ‘group for protection of the Sendai Castle’s  Stone-wall’ had been organised by the researchers in Sendai City cooperated with citizens in order to conserve the Stone-wall. Since then, the partnership between researchers and citizens has been established for a long time so as to preserve the local landscape and the cultural properties. I felt that this good relationship made good use of the rescue operation for damaged historical materials. The members who gathered on that day were very cheerful throughout the operation, and it comforted me who was very nervous due to it being my first experience to join the rescue activity.

On that day, it was really clear late summer day, and we could see Sendai City in the far distance from the top floor of the building. Beyond the high-rise buildings, there was a blue sea and a huge white ship slowly sailing on the sea. As I saw the spectacular view, I couldn’t help wishing that the sea would remain as peaceful forever after.

As I participated in the voluntary operation from morning to afternoon on tha day, I could spend time in the nice atmosphere because the secretariat officers well looked after us. However, I wasn’t such a skilful worker so I could only finish a thick tally to the utmost. At present, a huge amount of damaged materials were transferred into the secretariat office, the considerable time and manpower will be therefore required. I myself live in a place faraway from Tohoku area, I’d like to join this voluntary work again, when I possibly could find the opportunity.

 

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

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

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