Extracts from the Miyagi Network News XXIa

Preservation of the regional history at Sendai City Museum

Published on 19 May 2011

Author(s): Network for Historical Materials/Shinichiro Kurihara

Type:  Blog/Situation report Vol 121 Part 1

The preservation activity of the Compiling Room for regional history of Sendai City Museum

This is Shinichiro Kurihara, reporting as a member of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials. Sendai City Museum where I work is engaged in the preservation activities of historical materials cooperating with the Miyagi Network after the East Japan Earthquake.

Up to now, Sendai City Museum had been investigating many historical materials which are possessed by old families, shrines, temples and institutions around Sendai City through the project of compiling city history or other activities. Immediately after the quake, we had listed up the places investigated and the owners whose names had been published in the municipal history books such as “The history of Akihocho”, “The history of Miyagicho”, and had been prepared for the preservation activity.

As from April 20th, we have been patrolling several places in Sendai City, especially the former villages around the castle town, and are visiting the old families which we had already investigated, and the place where we anticipate that may have some materials, and are confirming the extent of damage. During the investigation, 3 or 4 museum officers visit the old families not only to hear the present circumstances or whether they have historical materials or not, but also to take photos of the residents and the materials, according to their circumstances.

Then, we hand owners the leaflets which appeal to them asking to preserve historical materials or the cuttings of the newspapers broadcasting the Miyagi Network’s activities in Ishinomaki City, and explain the necessities and importance of passing down the community’s historical materials for later generations. As of May 6th, we visited 73 residences, shrines and temples.

These inspections were different from the usual ones, we didn’t make prior contact with the places by letters or phones. In the case of the owners which we have never researched, usually owners don’t know which materials we consider as the cultural heritage or historical materials, so if we don’t explain it face-to-face, it would be hard for the owners to understand our activity’s purpose.

Moreover, if we previously contact them and they then reject us, our relationship would never develop. For this reason, although we visited them without contact, fortunately they openly welcomed us. Taking this opportunity, we would like to express our gratitude to those owners for taking time out of their busy schedule.

Because the area of Sendai City is widely spread out from the coastline to the Ouu Mountains, the degree of damage is very different between the coastline affected by the Tsunami and the other areas. As for the old family which is in the rural area near the coastline, according to the master of the house, because the ground floor was flooded by the Tsunami, he couldn’t separate the historical materials from the other things due to the piles of mud, and had already thrown them away.

In addition, when we visited another family near there, according to the master of the family, there had been some historical materials, about which he didn’t tell us so much. In such residences which required urgent cleanup due to the damage, we could see vehicles flooded by the Tsunami on the barrier woods around the residence, so we felt sorry to hear the present condition.

On the other hand, in the area which was not affected by the Tsunami, we confirmed the few cases where the owners had scrapped their historical materials because the stored facilities collapsed in the quake. Among the houses which we haven’t investigated yet, we could find the serious damage, so we expect that a lot of materials are facing the risk of being scrapping.

Moreover, in terms of the old families which had reconstructed or the next generation had taken over the house before the quake, those families didn’t grasp where their historical materials were. Although we had anticipated such a situation, we could confirm that the historical materials around Sendai City were in danger of disappearing due to the circumstances regardless of the emergency. (to be continued)

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