Miyagi Network News vol.160

~Participation in the preserving operation for waterlogged materials~

Hisashi Watanabe, Professor of Hitotsubashi University

 On 24th February, I participated in the preserving operation for damaged materials held by the Miyagi Network, with Professor Masaki Wakao and members of Hitotsubashi University, including my seminar students.

 Immediately prior to the day, over 22nd to 23rd February, I myself looked around the devastated area from Ofunato City in Iwate Prefecture to Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture, guided by Yoshiyuki Saito, Professor of Tohoku Gakuin University. By the Tsunami, some of the houses, which we visited, lost a huge amount of historical documents along with their warehouses which had contained those materials. Notwithstanding their tragedy, because Prof Saito’s research group had taken digital photos of all the documents, invaluable data was preserved. As I saw the people who sincerely appreciate their efforts, I again recognised the importance of daily operation for researching documents whereabouts, tidying up, and taking digital photos. And I acknowledged that this quiet dedication would pass these materials onto the future.

 The preserving operation on 24th was held in the lobby of Floor 11 in the building for all humanities research of Tohoku University, where we could have a great view. The contents of our operation were to clean up the waterlogged materials. We removed the mud by bamboo-made pallets and brushes, and sprayed ethanol onto the pages where mould grew. When the pages were firmly adhered, they were carefully peeled off by a bamboo-made pallet, after being sprayed with water. If they were not teased out, we did not take any chances and passed them onto the operations at a later date. According to the members of the Miyagi Network, these procedures were the first stage of the entire operation, so following that, they will be treated with  further measures such as washing with water and being dried.

 In the morning, because we preserved the materials whose extent of damage was not serious, we could smoothly advance with our operation, although we occasionally felt difficulty to judge whether the stains came from mould or other reasons. However, in the afternoon, the materials which we treated had severe problems, as a large amount of documents were curled up together, and they could not be separated because of the mud and seawater. We tried to tear them off one by one by bamboo-made pallets and water-spray though, very thin Japanese papers were tightly stuck to each other; we therefore required significant time, patience and attention. In the process of peeling off, we broke a part of papers, then I paused to realise the difficulty of how much effort and time would be required for preserving the materials intact.

 But we were able to finish the operations because Mr Masashi Amano and other members and voluntary workers of the secretariat office of the Miyagi Network closely took care of us. We would like to express our deep gratitude to all of them.

 Additionally, Professor Hirakawa explained the activities of the Miyagi Network and the actual devastation caused by the earthquake which occurred in the past, through the analysis of historical materials. It made us consider that we could discover the facts which we had never known, by rereading the materials from the viewpoint of the disaster and reconstruction. I myself keenly felt that we had to contemplate how the people in early modern times faced natural disaster, through reconsidering the village-owned documents by such points of view.

 These 3 days indeed let me think and learn many things. I would like to burn these moments into my memory and to do anything that we can do, by ruminating upon what we had experienced.


Yamagata Network’s Activity Report & Objective ~Part 33

~From the blog of 14th November of the Yamagata Relief Network for Cultural Heritage~


I am very sorry there was once again a delay in sending this report. I would like to keep engaging in our work.

The season has been getting colder, and been getting closer to the same temperature on the day of the East Japan Earthquake. Last Saturday, 8 months have passed since 11th March. It is just a private concern though, recently I feel that the time lag between my own ticking watch and the stopped watches of the sufferers has been growing further apart over little by little. That is to say, we keep going forward, but they cannot.

However, in reality, time equally flows among us. We should steadily progress and engage in the cleaning operations for the damaged historical materials under our protection. We are now carrying out these in haste. Please come and join us.

[Last Week’s Activity Report]

  1. 7th November, we held the cleaning operation in Yamagata University.
  2. 7th November, the members of YWJC visited TUAD and looked at the exhibition of ‘the rescue operation for affected libraries ~preserve, pass down, and relate together~’. They also looked around the work place for the cleaning operation in TUAD.
  3. 8th November, we carried out the cleaning operation in TUAD.
  4. 11th November, the Yamagata Network held the Imoni Festival in YWJC.

[This Week’s Objective]

  1. 14th November, we will carry out the cleaning operation in Yamagata University.
  2. 15th and 17th of November, the cleaning operation in TUAD will be held. On 17th, we will have a regular meeting there.
  3. 18th November, the cleaning operation will be done in YWJC.
  4. 19th November, we will have a survey to assess the present condition of the private whitewashed warehouse in Shonaicho.


Currently, in the Ueyama Castle in Ueyamacho, the panel exhibition which introduces the Yamagata Network’s activity is on display. It will finish at the end of November, so if you visit that area, please look around the exhibition.

We would once again deeply appreciate your financial support

We sincerely express our deepest gratitude for the large amount of donations and support you offered our preservation work of historical materials damaged by the East Japan Earthquake whichoccurred on 11th March, 2011.

The donations, as of 10th November, have reached 7,758,527yen in total, and we have sent 5,050,000yen to our sister Networks in each area. Of the total, 1,750,000yen went to the NPO the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials, 900,000yen to the Fukushima Network for Preserving Historical Materials, 700,000yen to the Yamagata Relief Network for Cultural Heritage, 600,000yen to the Ibaraki Network for Preserving Historical Materials, 100,000yen to Iwate Network for Historical & Fork-cultural materials, 200,000yen to the Niigata Relief Network for Historical Materials, and 800,000yen to the Nagano Sakaemura voluntary group for preserving the community’s historical materials.

This financial support made it possible to immediately carry out the preservation of historical materials in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, where the network system had already been established. As for Ibaraki and Nagano prefectures, they could newly found the preservation network, and conserve many historical materials damaged by the disaster. We really appreciate your kindness.

Additionally, we the Network for Historical Materials also visited the devastated area and engaged in rescue operations by making good use of our experience dealing wit natural disasters. In Iwate Prefecture, we preserved the collections of Rikuzentakada City Museum working together with the Yamagata Relief Network. Simultaneously, in Miyagi Prefecture, we rescued the libraries of Miyagi Prefectural Agricultural High School and supported the activities of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials. Moreover, we carried out the cleaning operation in cooperation with the Yamagata Network, and worked for preservation activities in Nagano with the voluntary group for preserving the community’s historical materials in Sakaemura.

However, the damaged historical materials have climbed to a massive amount, and the location of each material also spread to a broad area. The removal operation of destroyed houses and whitewashed warehouses has progressed in haste, and we are worried about the dissipation and disposal of historical materials. Furthermore, we need the temporary holding spaces for rescued materials and some further restoration of them. The supporting activities for the devastated area have advanced forward to the next stage, and we strongly feel the importance of continuous preservation operation.

Nevertheless, the donations which you had given us are now about to run out. At the same time, No.12 Typhoon hit Wakayama, Nara and Mie prefectures, and extensive damage has occurred in each area. We have to carry out the preservation activities not only for the East Japan Earthquake, but also for this flood damage, by making good use of our experience.

Therefore, we would once again like you to donate to the second stage rescue and preservation activities in the devastated area. Your contribution will be sent to the Network for Historical Materials in each devastated area of the East Japan Earthquake, of the Nagano Hokubu Earthquake, and of the No.12 Typhoon, as to fund their operations.

We genuinely appreciate your further cooperation in order to strengthen the support for each Network in the devastated areas.

Contact Address:
Rekishi Shiryo Network
Address: c/o Faculty of Letters, Kobe University 1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-8501 Japan
Tel/Fax: 81-78-803-5565 pm1:00-pm5:00 (Tel: Japanese only )
e-mail: s-net@lit.kobe-u.ac.jp
(n.b. Please change ‘@’ to ‘@’.)

Recipient Information:

Beneficiary Bank: Japan Post Bank
Branch Office: 099
Beneficiary Bank Address: 3-2, Kasumigaseki 1-chome, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 100-8798, Japan
Payee Account Number: 00930-1-53945
Payee Name: rekishishiryonetwork
Payee Address: 1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-8501 Japan
**Please follow the below link for extra information.
Deposit to Japan Post Bank Account: http://www.jp-bank.japanpost.jp/en/djp/en_djp_index.html

Ibaraki Network News Letter vol.3

~The News Letter on 27th July of Ibaraki Network~

—Please contribute your donations to the Ibaraki Network

We, the Ibaraki Network for Rescuing/Preserving Historical Materials and Cultural Properties is gathering information about the historical materials damaged by the East Japan Earthquake and carrying out the rescue operations in the field so as to conserve them. 4 months has already passed after the quake, and with it, the removal operation of the houses and historical materials affected by the Tsunami is advancing, and we need the donations in order to prevent this in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Not only for the houses and buildings but also the historical, folk-cultural artefacts and utensils which are also in danger of being dumped, and we are worrying that such action is now fully underway. The rescue activities which we are continuously requested of us and the operations for historical materials which are urgently required fill every minute of our day. Carrying out the rescue operations needs the financial support as well as a number of workers. We sincerely appreciate your help.

The donations will be spent for purchasing the supplies for tidying and preserving historical materials and utensils for the operation of conserving the old structures and taking Fusuma(*1) and Byobu(*2) to pieces, or managing the Ibaraki Network.

We have opened the bank account in the Japan Post Bank Company Ltd. Please contribute whatever you can.

(NB: Someone 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 apanese 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 a black-and-white drawing in Japanese pattern

The Present Condition of Ibaraki Prefecture (Updated Edition) ~Part3

3. The present condition in the disaster-stricken area

Just after the quake, because media such as television and newspapers mainly covered the Tohoku area which suffered severe destruction by the Tsunami, information on the
situation in Ibaraki prefecture was extremely limited. Afterwards, broadcasts on the circumstances in Ibaraki gradually increased and the serious damage in the northern area of the prefecture by the Tsunami and the flooding in the Rokko area was revealed. The following is the report about the situation according to the personal inspection.

(1) The northern area of the prefecture

In Kitaibaraki City, the Hirakata Port which has been open since early modern times was gravely damaged by the great Tsunami. Although it has not been confirmed yet, the well-known archives were almost certainly washed away. From the Port to the Higashimachi area located by the coastline, we could see that a lot of houses were partially or completely destroyed. However, the damage in the old post towns and the other communities along the Hama Highway was relatively slight such as cracked walls, collapsed stone-fences, or fallen roof tiles, because those towns were located on high and stable land.

Ootsu Fishing Port which is the biggest port in the city was completely destroyed. All of the buildings connected with the fishing port such as a fishermen’s cooperative association were also damaged. Almost all fishing boats were capsized or washed away. A large amount of fixed shore nets were washed up and scattered around. The area along the Hanawa-Ootsu route which runs from east to west was left in a very severe condition, and many houses were partially or completely destroyed. However, it seemed that the Tsunami didn’t reach the shrines, temples and main villages which lay inland from the route. The fishery museum ‘Yoosoro’ also suffered at the hands of the Tsunami. The market place is now only debris and we could see some crushed Japanese traditional Fusuma(*) there. As for the Isohara Beach and the neighbouring area, the Tsunami engulfed Route 6 which ran along the coastline. The houses which were partially destroyed stood out.

In Kawarago Port in Hitachi City, it could be seen that the guesthouses along the beach were destroyed by the Tsunami. From Kuji Port to Hitachi Port, houses and shops by the coastline were affected because the Tsunami flowed over Route 245.

Around the sand dune area in Muramatsu, Tokai village, the roads were covered with sand due to the flooding so a lot of subsidence and bumps were evident. I saw the surface of the tennis courts had buckled. The great Torii gate of Daijingu shrine also collapsed, and the banks of Shinkawa River were heavily damaged. In Isozaki Fishing Port of Hitachinaka City, guesthouses and hotels located from the dune area to the port were slightly affected. Hiraiso seaside is safe because the Tsunami didn’t flow over the road by the coastline. On the reclaimed ground in Nakaminato port, the reconstruction of the market place has clearly advanced, although grave damage had been reported. It seemed that the Tsunami flooded the back roads of the market place, but it didn’t reach to more
interior places or the so-called old Nakaminato town which developed since medieval period. With regard to Ooarai Town, the buildings of commerce, harbour, and public office were severely hit by the Tsunami because this town developed on the lowland by the coastline, and some parts of the town were on reclaimed land. However, the old village which developed on the perch was completely safe as the Tsunami couldn’t reach there. The old brewery in the centre of the city was also not harmed so much. In terms
of the shrines and temples which were located on the perch, we partially confirmed the extent of their damage such as the roof tiles which had fallen down, the stone-made stairs which had come loose, and the stone garden lanterns which were destroyed.

The Nagaoka-Ooarai Route which runs through the centre city from south to west has
been built on the Kanju Trench which Kanjuro Matsunami had tried to cut although it had already been reclaimed. It was uncertain whether it was the cause or not, yet there was considerable subsidence on the roadside. Moreover, the shops and houses were slanted to the direction facing the road, the paving stones were broken, and the curb stones had sunk. In Hanaike Temple which was located 100m east from the road, the stone walls were loosened, and a lot of grave stones had fallen down.

(2) Rokko area

Entering Kashima City from the north and going south along Route 51 which runs beside
the coastline, we could see a lot of telegraph poles located in seaside villages were no longer upright. In the Nagasu area in Kamisu City along Route 124, all of the signboards of supermarkets and restaurants had fallen down. Many houses and shops were subsided, and driveways and pavements were also cracked and distended because of the liquefaction that occurred on the reclaimed ground. The House Yamamoto in Okunoya, Kamisu City is a nationally designated structure being an old fisherman’s residence whose wattle and daub was partially damaged by the Tsunami. The drifted items were scattered all around the residence. The Tsunami which entered from Kashima Port flooded the place, and poured into this area which lies between there and the Gounoike
pond. We also confirmed the coastline area from the seashore sports park to Hikawahama Beach, there was no trace of the Tsunami having flooded there.

The Hinode area which is on the reclaimed ground in Itako City has telegraph poles which were seen to be awfully slanted even from a distance. This area is the reclaimed ground of the Uchinami Sakaura. The area along Route 51 and prefectural Road 5 in the city did not suffer so much. On the other hand, in the riverside district along Hitachi-Tonegawa River whose riverside area was famous for the iris garden, the telegram poles were uneven and roads heavily cracked.

The pavements in front of the Ebisawa in Ibaraki town were loosened by the liquefaction, and the manholes had been lifted approximately 50-60cm up from the roads. Along the local route 45 and prefectural route 114, the bumps and subsidence on the road was eviden here and there. In Yoshikage, Namegata City, we could also continuously find that the manholes on the Mito-Kamisu Route had been lifted 30-100cm up from the road. We saw many bumps and subsidence on the road, too.

(to be continued)

*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.

The Interim Report for Donations

On 11th March, the devastating Earthquake and Tsunami caused tremendous damage to the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and many other areas. We extend to the victims and their families our heartfelt condolences, and express our deepest sympathies with those sufferers who are currently struggling in harsh surroundings.

For these two months, we, the Network for Historical Materials, have appealed for your financial support for our activities in rescuing and preserving historical materials, and sent the contributions to each Network in the devastated area as they come in. As of April 25th, approximately 4,700,000 yen have been contributed. We would like to express our gratitude to you who have given us your kind support. We have already sent 2,050,000 yen to Miyagi Network, Fukushima Network, and Yamagata Network who are carrying out their preservation activities at the present.

The historical materials which narrowly escaped destruction from the quake and the Tsunami, will in turn be the source of encouragement for sufferers and the affected communities during the reconstruction of their lives, however they are facing the danger of disappearing, and it means the loss of the family and the community’s memories. We have to avoid such a catastrophe, so we will try to boost each society’s activities. The Network for Historical Materials is also executing the rescue operation of the historical materials waterlogged by the Tsunami, cooperating with the Miyagi Network and Yamagata Network from 25th to 27th of April (Please see the ‘The Report of the Rescue Operation for Library’).

The information about the condition and the preservation activities is daily updated on our blog, so please read them. At the same time, we will disclose our activities and how the funds are used through the blog and the other spaces.

We expect that our work will need long term support and continuous development. We sincerely hope you understand the necessity of our activities for rescuing and preserving our historical materials, and hope you can share with us a small contribution.

Contact Address:
Rekishi Shiryo Network
Address: c/o Faculty of Letters, Kobe University 1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-8501 Japan
Tel/Fax: 81-78-803-5565 pm1:00-pm5:00 (Tel: Japanese only )
e-mail: s-net@lit.kobe-u.ac.jp
(n.b. Please change ‘@’ to ‘@’.)

Recipient Information:

Beneficiary Bank: Japan Post Bank
Branch Office: 099
Beneficiary Bank Address: 3-2, Kasumigaseki 1-chome, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 100-8798, Japan
Payee Account Number: 00930-1-53945
Payee Name: rekishishiryonetwork
Payee Address: 1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-8501 Japan
**Please follow the below link for extra information.
Deposit to Japan Post Bank Account: http://www.jp-bank.japanpost.jp/en/djp/en_djp_index.html

“Miyagi Network News” vol.106

~Could you offer us your free assistance?~

This is Prof. Arata Hirakawa. Today I have a request to you who work preserving and repairing cultural properties.

Since the preservation activity had started at private owner’s houses, we have found that a lot of paintings and writings were torn due to falling from the walls caused by the tremors from the quake or were flooded by seawater because of the Tsunami. Those ancestral properties were deeply cherished by their private owners, therefore, we wish to try to repair them by any means.

Repairing historical materials usually requires a lot of money. So, when we find those damaged materials, neither the owners or ourselves offer the opportunity to repair those materials.

Therefore, could you do me a favour of voluntarily repairing those calligraphic works and paintings? Dear people, institutions, and study societies concerned with the preservation and rescue of cultural properties, we keenly desire you to consider this difficult issue and to assist us in a voluntary capacity?

Anyway, as for the historical materials which need repair, those of which are difficult to preserve in the households have been taken to the Miyagi Network’s secretariat office, however some of them have been left in their houses. If you will undertake our request, please offer your time and knowledge in both scenarios.