Miyagi Network News vol.152

~Passing historical heritage down to the future, from the exhibition ‘3.11 since the earth quaked’~

This is Daisuke Sato, a secretariat officer of the Miyagi Network for Historical Materials. From 17th to 25th of September, we held an exhibition titled ‘3.11 since the earth quaked –Passing historical heritage down to the future’ in Sendai City Museum. This exhibition is concerned with our rescue activities for preserving historical materials in the devastated areas.

The exhibition room in Sendai City Museum

One of the motives for this exhibition is that we were given the opportunity to introduce our activity through the courtesy of the compiling room for Sendai City History, when they held the panel exhibition titled ‘Rescue the local historical materials’. In addition, before the East Japan Earthquake, members of Miyagi Network had also suggested the necessity of spreading our activity reports. For this reason, we requested Ms Mayumi Chiba of the Machinohokori Research Institute, and a member of our Network, to design the entire plan, and we decided to hold this exhibition.

At the same time, we received offers from the department of Cuture and Communication Activities, Shokei Gakuin University Graduate School to give us exhibition materials and staff to prepare and support the exhibition. We express our deepest gratitude for their cooperation.

Visitors in the exhibition room

In our exhibition, we exhibited the banner which used the photo of the Honma family’s whitewashed warehouse in Ishinomaki City, which survived the Tsunami, and over 70 photos of our rescue operations. We also introduced 3 documents from the Kimura family’s archives in Onagawacho, which were rescued from the disaster of the East Japan Earthquake, and the tea box which contained the documents. During the exhibition, 736 people visited us.

I would like to introduce the reports of Tomo Yamashita and Mayumi Chiba, who were voluntary workers for the exhibition as follows.


Participating in the activity for the panel exhibition

Tomo Yamashita, first year student of the department of Culture and Communication Activities, Shokei Gakuin University Graduate School


I joined to create the exhibition of ‘3.11 since the earth quaked –Passing historical heritage down to the future’ in Sendai City Museum, from 17th to 25th of September, as a volunteer student.

Preparing for the exhibition

In this exhibition, we introduced the activities of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials since 2003 and their rescue operation of historical materials affected by the East Japan Earthquake. However, I am ashamed to say, I only first knew of their activities from their documents which were handed to us before the exhibition. Additionally, because I felt I had a lack of knowledge of their operations, I had my hands full following the instructions of the exhibition conductors. For this reason, I doubt whether I could contribute to these activities; nevertheless, it was a really meaningful experience for me.

During the week of the exhibition, approximately 700 people visited us. Naturally, visitors seemed to have a great interest in the disaster, and they were from a wide range of age groups from the elderly to families with children. Especially, many elderly people took a long time to look at our exhibition, sometimes taking over 30 minutes.

The voluntary staff

Many people became interested in the real things like documents and the tea box damaged by the earthquake and tsunami. Among then, there were repeaters who read the comic titled ‘the adventure of a drifted tea box’, which was handed out with the exhibition pamphlet. Surprisingly, very little children also seriously gazed at the photos and the comic. We placed a notebook for visitors to leave a comment about the exhibition as they left, and in it, there were many messages of support and approval for the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.  

As I participated in the exhibition, I could learn not only the efforts of Miyagi Network, but also the skills and methods of holding an exhibition; it was therefore very inspiring and has spurred me towards obtaining a curator’s licence. I could experience how to use lighting and how to create the exhibition firsthand from several approaches, and these would have been impossible to learn if I had not joined this activity.

When we try to know the lives of people in the past, there is no way but to read the records by contemporaries. While they were stored in the old warehouse they were largely forgotten but by preserving the old documents as digital media we can certainly pass them down to future generations as cultural properties. I could learn their importance through the voluntary work at this exhibition.

I would like to express my gratitude because I could participate in this project. I really appreciate them.

From the backstage of producing the exhibition, by Mayumi Chiba

The original sources of this exhibition were the Net News of Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials. Every volume has a strong intensity and feeling which strikes right at the reader’s heart. Among them, the news which had the biggest impact was about the drifted tea box in Onagawacho, so we drew a comicstrip. This tea box was indeed a main object and a symbol of this exhibition. Therefore, we placed it in the centre of exhibition room. The documents which were contained in the box were also exhibited.

The drifted tea box

I requested people who had a duty in writing captions to illustrate it in a very limited number of words. When I received the documents I however asked the writers to describe them even more passionately. After further elaborations, sincere and affectionate captions which I had desired were achieved.

I really appreciate all of them who helped me produce a significant exhibition.

The Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials does not have its own exhibition space nor special staff to engage in exhibitions. For this reason, we have prepared the on-site display kit which lets amateurs easily carry out the exhibition and then we shall offer a demonstration.   


We achieved another success in how to inform the public of our rescue activities. After that, the same kind of exhibition was held at the open day of Tohoku University called ‘Katahira Festival’ from 9th to 8th of October. The people concerned immediately made good use of this kit mentioned above, and we realised the kit’s good points which can place exhibited objects to meet the conditions of the exhibition space. With regard to the contents, we would like to discuss them more and make them clearer and nicer, as reflecting the latest activities.

The exhibition in Katahira Festival

Finally, what I want to make it clear is that those exhibitions are held to report the progress of our activities to  citizens. Our efforts will go on and on. Taking this exhibition as a start, we hope that the circle for protecting local historical materials will widely grow.

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


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

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