Ibaraki Network News Letter vol.9 & 10

The Breaking News of the Rescue Operation of the group of Whitewashed Warehouse in Kitaibaraki City

In the Hirakata area, Kitaibaraki City, the removal operations of the houses and buildings in the coastal area, which were damaged by the Tsunami, have come to the end of the first stage. For these few months, the demolitions have progressed at a high pace. For this reason, in terms of the 3 estates which previously informed us that some of their structures would be removed, we transferred the historical materials which had been conserved in the main houses or whitewashed warehouses into the temporary repository from 15th to 17th of September. We could gather over 20 members on each day, mainly the undergraduate and postgraduate students of Ibaraki University, and Ibaraki Network members from Ibaraki Prefecture and elsewhere.

As for the sequence of the operation, first of all we recorded the location of the historical materials inside the building by sketching and taking photos with the number plates in order to clarify where the materials were conserved. The materials which had a number were taken from the whitewashed warehouse, and again we recorded the simple information about their contents or how many materials were found. After recording, we packed them one by one, and transferred them into the temporary repository. In addition, we advanced the survey of the buildings which were scheduled to be knocked down in tandem with investigating the inked notes which remained on the building materials. Although many historical materials have been rescued, the problem of how to secure the space where they can be preserved is pending. At present, it is very hard for not only the owners but also the municipal office, so there is no way but to restrict the amount of materials which can be transferred. For this reason, as an expedient measure adopted only in desperation, we made the materials which included the character information our priority, and mainly attended to the old archives, letters written in modern times, publications such as magazines, the undercoated documents which were discovered under the Fusuma(*1), and the ceramics which were decorated with Japanese ink.

The 3 houses used to be merchants who dealt with salt, fertilisers and other sundries, and the number of documents from early modern times to around the Showa period, which were concerned with the management and the household, reached 150 boxes. Especially in the G family, we discovered both large and small wicker suitcases which contained management books from early modern times, and we successfully transferred them. With regard to the M family’s whitewashed warehouse, because the risk of collapse seemed imminent as the beams were unfastened and part of the roof had already fallen in, urgent action was required. In the whitewashed warehouse, although some historical documents were waterlogged due to the leaking rain, we could take out all of the materials. Thankful to the understanding of local people and cooperation with the voluntary staff, we think that we could rescue a part of the Hirakata area’s history. We received the support from the nation, prefecture, Kitaibaraki City and Prefectural Historical Museum. All secretariat officers would like to express our gratitude.  

We will make a list after tidying of the historical materials which had been rescued and conserved in the temporary repository. Additionally, we anticipate that the number of operations in which we transfer materials from the houses that are scheduled to be demolished will increase. Hereafter, we appreciate your long-term support and cooperation. (written by Emi Takamura)

The Advertisement for the voluntary staff for rescuing ‘Shinjikyuko-kan’

Shinjikyuko-kan is a private museum for archaeology, which was established by the local archaeologist Kiyoshi Fujita. This museum conserves a large amount of archaeological findings from the ruined Shinji temple, Shinjigunga (Shinji area’s ancient government office), and the other famous sites in Ibaraki Prefecture. Unfortunately, the museum building was gravely damaged by the East Japan Earthquake, and has decided to close. The collections will be donated to Sakuragawa City, and the Ibaraki Network will help with packing and transferring. We mainly require the people who have experience in packing cultural properties.

We appreciate your donations to the Ibaraki Network’s Activity

The continuous activity for rescuing and preserving historical materials and cultural properties requires not only manpower but also financial support. We sincerely appreciate your donations which will be spent on purchasing supplies for tidying and preserving historical materials and utensils for the conservation operations of the old structures and taking Fusuma and Byobu(*2) to pieces, or managing the Ibaraki Network.

(NB: Anybody who wishes to donate to the Ibaraki Network, please leave your comment)

*1 Fusuma(襖): 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.

*2 Byobu(屏風):a holding screen with a coloured paintings or black-and-white drawings using Japanese patterns


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

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