Extracts from the Miyagi Network News XVIIIb

Preservation of historical materials in Kadowaki district, Ishinomaki City

Published on 12 May 2011

Author(s): Network for Historical Materials/Yoshiyuki Saito

Type:  Blog/Situation report Vol 118 Part 2

About the whitewashed warehouse owned by the Honma Family in the Kadowaki district, Ishinomaki City

The inspection by the Architects’ team on April 12th

With Mr.Toshihito Sato as team leader, Mr.Hiroshi Hashimoto as specialist for repairing traditonal structure from Kanazawa City, Ms.Aya Nakamura as garden designer, and Mr.Eisuke Mitsuda as expert for building construction from Kyoto rushed to the site, organised a team of inspecting for damaged traditional structures. Accompanying them, we carried out the investigation over 3 days from 12th to 14th of April. As for the process and results, please see the Network News vol.111 (contributed by Mr. Toshihiro Sato), and vol.112 (contributed by Mr.Hiroshi Hashimoto).

Whitewashed warehouse, taken on April 7th.jpg
Whitewashed warehouse, taken on April 7th

According to the results of our research of the Honma Family’s whitewashed warehouse carried out on 12th April, fortunately we didn’t find any damage to the basic structures such as pillars and beams, and then they gave us some advice that the structure was could be repaired although the roof tiles and some constructions which supported the roof were partially effected, and required the continuous preservation of white-plastered walls and Namako wall (*).

This remarks on the structure was conveyed to the master of the house by mouth, and he indicated that he would postpone scrapping the warehouse although the removing debris by the Self Defence Forces continued. By that, the whitewashed warehouse was saved from being scrapping for the time being.

The present condition on April 17th

Afterwards, the architect team managed not only to inspect and execute the urgent, short-term measures on the damaged structures, but also make reports about their investigation for the Honma family’s warehouse. So, as for bringing their reports, I, Mr.Saito visited the field to confirm the latest condition on April 17th. Although a large amount of debris still remained in Kadowaki district, I could see that the rubble around the Honma Family’s warehouse was almost cleaned up in a few days.

Floor boards were taken off.jpg
Floor boards were taken off

According to him, based on the advice from the architects, he had required the members of the Self Defence Forces not to scrap the whitewashed warehouse for the time being, and they avoided doing so. The debris around the warehouse was cleared like this, so it stood out more vividly in the devastated field.

As he showed me the inside of it, surprisingly, the floor boards of the flooded warehouse were taken off, and the all of sludge which poured under the floor were scraped away, and the warehouse was drying by the wind at that time. This operation was done by the master who was living in difficult circumstances due to taking shelter and his brother who had rushed there from Sendai.

I was moved because the master who had once decided that the warehouse would be scrapped did so of his own accord and I could understand that he really cherished it. Simultaneously, I felt that the architects’ advice made him realise the importance of preserving the warehouse again, and in turn led him to execute his operation. At the same time, for passing down this warehouse, I strongly thought that we would have to establish the method of how to urgently repair the damaged parts, to obtain financial support, and to gather the craftsmen as soon as possible.

Demolishing the large warehouse and scrapping the Wakamiya-maru on April 17th

The large warehouse.jpg
The large warehouse

On the other hand, on April 12th, we had discussed whether the miniature model ship ‘Wakamiya-maru’ could be carried from the large warehouse which had been used as a brewery although it was seriously damaged by the quake and the Tsunami, however,this large warehouse was likely to collapse and it would be impossible to carry it out by manual power alone, so we had abandoned rescuing it.

Wakamiya-maru in the warehouse.jpg
Wakamiya-maru in the warehouse

Afterwards, when I visited on April 17th, the situation had been advanced . As the removing operation for debris by Self Defendence progressed, the large warehouse were already disappeared, and on the heap of the debris, I houd out the broken Wakamiya-maru. According to the master of the house, the operation on the warehouse had been talked over with the field manager whether the Wakamiya-maru could be taken from there, however, as soon as the operation carefully began, the large warehouse easily collapsed, and Wakamiya-maru was also crushed with it.

The Wakamiya-maru had been made by the community and they had taken it around at the local festivals, nevertheless, we couldn’t rescue it which people sincerely cherished. Its desolate figure on the debris symbolised the tragedy of the East Japan Earthquake

The broken Wakamiya-maru on the heap of debris.jpg
The broken Wakamiya-maru on the heap of debris

—To memorise the disaster of Kadowaki District in Ishinomaki City we need your support for the Honma Family‘s damaged whitewashed warehouse

For the abovementioned sequence, as for the whitewashed warehouse and Wakamiya-maru, the situation is still on the move. Although the old archives which were stored in the warehouse have been preserved, the warehouse itself is still uncertain whether it can be preserved, whereas the master is trying to do so as a response to our request. Especially, it faces a risk of submergence by rain from the damaged roof, so it urgently requires to repair, furthermore, as for the white-plaster and Namako wall of outside of the structure needs the same operation as much as possible.

However, the master is now taking shelter in the shed of his plant because all of his house and structures were washed away by the Tsunami, so it will be difficult for him to pay the repairing cost.

This situation is shared by all of owners in the devastated area, so it is obvious that this situation will be our priority, especially how to financially support the owners to repair and preserve the cultural properties not only historical documents but also the traditional structures. Although we have already started to discuss it, we are facing a difficulty because our activities are based on volunteer work as a NPO. We anticipate that the nationwide and systematic support will be required.

For passing down the memory of this unprecedented disaster for generations, and for preserve the Honma Family’s damaged whitewashed warehouse, we sincerely appreciate your support

By Yoshiyuki Saito, the vice chairperson of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials

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

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