Miyagi Network News vo.159

~The Report of the Rescue Operation for Old Family in Ishinomaki City~

Yoshiyuki Saito, a member of the Miyagi Network for Historical Materials


On Sunday 29th January, we held the rescue operation for the K family in Ishinomaki City, alongside of Kitakami River, where was flooded by the Tsunami. The K family is said to have moved from Tome to Ishinomaki in the early Edo Period, and throughout the period they worked as the town doctor here. After the modern times came, besides being doctors, they worked as assembly members of the town; for this reason they are known as an important family. Their estate consists of big main house, 2 subsidiary buildings, a whitewashed warehouse and barn. Because of the size of the estate and a quaint atmosphere, we and the local historians had always been interested in it before the Earthquake.

Destroyed wall

By the Tsunami of 11th March, this house was flooded by the 1~2 m wave and it caused the ground floor to be covered by mud, and scatter the furniture. Last December, from the descendant family we received the information that the buildings were scheduled to be demolished by March, and then if we had interest in their properties, we could carry out the survey. Therefore, we visited them and asked them to look around the building. In the main house, there were innumerable Fusuma(*1) which had undercoating documents from the Edo(*2) period to the Meiji(*3) period, likewise, we found old archives in the barn and whitewashed warehouse. For this reason, we confirmed the necessity of preserving operations and we projected to carry out the rescue operation cooperated with the Miyagi Networkand the group of preserving Ishinomaki-Sengokubune.

Old archives discovered in the barn

On the day of the operation, having 8 voluntary workers from both groups, we started to work from 10 am. As we surveyed the main house, barn and whitewashed warehouse, we completed preserving 30 cardboard boxes of old documents and 20 pieces of Fusuma by 4pm. Almost all of them were waterlogged, and terribly covered with mould because 10 months had already passed after the Tsunami. We wondered whether it would be significantly difficult to repair these historical materials and how many materials could be restored; we however transferred them to the secretariat office in Tohoku University for the time being.

confirming the condition of Fusuma

Because it snowed a few days before the operation, the day was the coldest day this winter and the operation was held under the hard circumstances. Despite these difficulties, thanks to the good collaboration between the secretariat office which had well-experienced preparation and the members who worked excellently, we could finish preserving a large amount of historical materials within the estimated time. We express our deepest gratitude to the people concerned.

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

*1 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.

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

*3 Meiji: A division of Japanese history which spanned from 1868 to 1912.

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

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