Ibaraki Network News Letter vol.26

The rescue activity in Sekimoto, Kitaibaraki City

On 12th January, since we received the request from the Kitaibaraki Board of Education, we carried out the rescue operation for historical materials of an old family in Sekimoto. Because the whitewashed warehouse was damaged by the Eastern Japan Earthquake and it was scheduled to be demolished in a few days, we removed the collections from there. Due to the urgent request, we did not advertise for voluntary workers; therefore secretariat officers of Ibaraki Network, lecturers, postgraduate and undergraduate students in Ibaraki University were engaged in the operation.

This family possesses the famous documents written in early modern times, which were published in “The History of Kitaibaraki City”; those had been however transferred to temporary repository. At this time, what we did was to carry out the furniture, correspondences and official documents which still remained in the warehouse.

The procedure of this operation was nearly same as those of being carried out in Hirakata (see: Ibaraki Network News Letter vol.22). First of all we made a floor plan of where the materials and artefacts were stored, and took them off as numbering one by one. The materials were mainly having literal information. At the same time, we interviewed the master of the house and recorded the circumstances of the warehouse. The tableware had the name of Japanese eras such as ‘Kaei(嘉永, 1848-1854)’, ‘Tenpo(天保, 1830-1843)’, so we assumed that the warehouse had been established around those periods.

 When our operation reached a final phase, we found a group of documents from the back of closet, presumably written in the early modern times. At the same place, we discovered a huge amount of old copper coin for stocks. Those were all ‘Kanei-tsuho’, which were made during Edo period, and the weight was at a rate that was impossible to easily lift. Moreover, we did a brief survey in the back of the ground floor, where it had been said no materials were, then we found 2 small document cases. Both were filled with the documents written in the Edo period. Although we could not read them because they were firmly fixed to each other, those had words like ‘Dear Kogi(公儀, means authorities, or Shogunate government, or Shogun)’, and ‘Complaint’, so they are seemingly official documents. We consider that those are newly-discovered documents.

We could bear fruit by carrying out the rescue operation cooperating with the Kitaibaraki Board of Education. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the master of the house, the family members, and people concerned.

(Professor Osamu Takahashi, Ibaraki University)

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

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