The Preservation Activity for the Nagano Hokubu Earthquake II

Preserving the community's historical materials

Published on 25 May 2011

Author(s): Network for Historical Materials/Satoshi Shirouze

Type:  Blog/Situation report Part 2

4. The activity for tidying properties and confirming collections in the ‘H’ family’s whitewashed warehouse

The ‘H’ family had lived in the Mori area of Sakaemura, and was notable at one time, when it had been said that this family could go to the neighbour village without stepping off their lands. However, for these 40 years, the family members had moved to another community so the main house was empty.

For this reason, the house and the whitewashed warehouse had been managed by relatives who live near here. In both of 2004 and 2005, I had investigated all the properties in the main house and the warehouse with my fellows who inspected the Akiyama area together due to the request by the local board of education.

The subsided road.jpg
The subsided road

At that time we had drawn up the plan of the layout of the properties in warehouse, and as for the old archives we had grasped their condition in more detail. Afterwards, because the main house was damaged by heavy snowfall in 2006, it was scrapped. Although the whitewashed warehouse was also partially affected by the snowfall this year, it was repaired and the cultural properties inside were also preserved as they were.

'H' family's warehouse.jpg
'H' family's warehouse

However, this warehouse was gravely damaged by the quake, so the person who had a duty in the board of education contacted me to say that the damage to the warehouse was serious such as there were holes in both sides of walls which were over ten centimetres thick. Additionally, from the photos which they had sent me, I found that the collections were scattered and the utensils were fallen down in a heap, so it seemed that there was no place to set foot.

Therefore, we set the objective to put the scattered traditional utensils in order as they had been based on the plan which we had made in 2004, and to confirm whether there were any lost articles or not.

The warehouse's wall.jpg
The warehouse's wall

On the first day, when we reached the ‘H’ family’s whitewashed warehouse, we could see the grave damage from a distance. The road which we walked on and was near the warehouse was subsided but the manholes remained. As we neared the warehouse, the side walls had fallen down and the hole was temporarily covered by composite panels.

Because the ‘H’ family’s relative who was managing this house brought the key to us, we tried to enter the warehouse from its entrance, however the stone-made door flame itself had been twisted and the door could not open freely. There was no way but to enter from the hole which was covered by the panel, so we peeled it off and got inside the warehouse. After that, we made every endeavour to open the entrance and finally had success.

The ground floor.jpg
The ground floor

When we lit up inside using batteries as a power supply, we found that the construction had a problem because a pillar was unfastened from the place it had been in and fallen down, the wall boards ten centimetres thick sank inside, and the outside mud walls had also fallen down and its pieces were scattered on the floor. The neighbour next to the warehouse brought the steal pole for us, so we urgently used it to support the structure instead of the pillar.

As for the part of the wall board which had bulged inside and nearly fallen down, we nailed the long board to it as a reinforcement. This was the minimum urgent measure for safety ensuring we could carry out the preservation operation inside the warehouse. Because there were some risks of another collapse or the utensils dropping upon our heads, helmets were essential for our activity.

The first floor.jpg
The first floor

The next day, we started the full-scale operation. On the ground floor, various tableware such as Japan wares and crockery were contained in several boxes and tidied up. On the first floor, the large oblong wooden chest which contained futon, the wardrobes which stored clothes and old archives were collected.

However, almost all containers which had normally been arranged in the warehouse had fallen down so the contents were scattered on the floor. Especially on the ground floor, the dishes were a mess, and much crockery had broken. Moreover, when we investigated there in 2004, some containers for dishes were placed on the shelves which were built into the walls, and another group were set on around the centre pillar.

Nevertheless, the boxes which had been piled up on the floor had fallen down so we couldn’t classify which dishes had been contained in which boxes, at first glance. Fortunately, at the previous investigation, because we had attached labels to them upon which were written numbers and we had drawn the plan for each container, that greatly helped us to restore them to their original state. Additionally, many wooden boxes had an old tag which must have been attached when the ancestors had bought them, and those tags also became good clues as to where to return them.

Dishes were contained to original box.jpg
Dishes were contained to original box

We stored the dishes which were scattered on the floor to the original box, and carried them out on the vinyl sheet spread outside of the warehouse and placed them in each group classified by their original condition. This operation for making some space in the warehouse as much as possible, and for cleaning up inside of the warehouse.

On the way to finishing this operation, suddenly it rained, so we had to take them back inside of the warehouse in a hurry though, generally the operation smoothly advanced, and as for the ground floor, it was finished in around noon. However, around the space where the walls had fallen down, because those boxes couldn’t be placed there even if it was in its original state, we moved them to the wall a bit far from there. In addition, we confirmed the positions of the traditional utensils and wooden boxes with reference to the plan which was made previously.

Carrying out the properties.jpg
Carrying out the properties

We moved to the first floor, our operation to simply raise them up again and it was completed because there were not any dishes. We also referred to the plan, piled up every group of utensils, and finally we could store them nearly in their original state. (to be continued)

The plan drawn in 2004.jpg
The plan drawn in 2004

NB: The photos are all from the Report of the Preservation Activity for Nagano Hokubu Earthquake by Mr.Shirouze.

Back to previous page