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News Letter from Iwate Network (on June 17th)

Activities of the Iwate Network

Published on 20 June 2011

Author(s): Network for Historical Materials

Type:  Blog/Situation report

The extract from the news letter on June 17th of the Iwate Network for Historical, Folklore materials

The secretarial office of the Iwate Network for Historical and Folklore Materials integrated the information concerning the damage to cultural properties and rescue operations in Iwate Prefecture. Those might already be well known though, we appreciate you to make use of them. All of them are available to be freely reprinted.

1. The rescue operation of the administrative documents of the Kamaishi City Office

We received the report from Mr.Mitsunori Yagi who participated in the rescue operation on June 10th, where we had advertised for the voluntary workers as from May 29th.

The basement library housing the administrative documents of the Kamaishi City Office was flooded by seawater, and a lot of sand and other dirt was absorbed. Fortunately, no documents had been lost. The members from the National Institute of Japanese Literature in the National Institute for the Humanities, were dispatched by the Rescue Committee for cultural properties of the Governmental Agency For Cultural Affairs, and are taking a main role and they continue to carry out the rescue operation.

First of all, we transferred the documents to the school building of former Kamaishi Daiichi Junior High School near the city office.

At present, the operation for drying the documents is taking place. The sequence of the operation is as follows;

  1. Don’t wash them and also don’t desalinise for the time being.
  2. As for the waterlogged documents, they are packed into the zippered vinyl bag and air vacuumed from the inside to prevent the spread of mould. In terms of the documents contained in the binders are separated into the documents and binders. Some of them have already gone mouldy.
  3. Put the kitchen towels or newspapers between each page of the waterlogged documents and let them absorb the water. Repeat this operation and dry step by step.
  4. With regard to the half dried documents bound in the binders, separate them from it, and let them stand between the binders, and dry them changing their position.
  5. Removing sand or mould by brush.

The operation in the field started from May 6th and the first stage of the work will be finished on July 15th. Those operations will be carried out by the officers of the National Institute of Japanese Literature and institutions concerned and the other voluntary workers, and employees who are hired by Kamaishi City for a month.

In terms of the prospect of upcoming tasks, we anticipate that approximately a year will be required to completely dry the material, and also follow-up work will be required for 3 years. Depending on the conditions and the degree of necessity, they will consider the preservation measure such as freeze drying, maintaining the status quo, or other alternative methods.

According to Mr.Yagi, a series of administration work and instructions for the operation were steadily managed by the field foreman and he let them advance knowing the prospects of the schedule of the operation.

2. The upcoming rescue operation of the historical materials in Kamaishi Daiichi Junior High School

In Kamaishi Daiichi Junior High School, many folk-cultural properties such as traditional utensils or iron-made tools are stored up even though, they are still covered with salt water as they had been soaked by the Tsunami. In Kamaishi City, the officers who have a duty for cultural affairs still have to treat sufferers in the evacuation stations, so it is difficult for them to transfer those materials or preserve them. For this reason, the other day the Prefectural Museum received the request for a rescue operation from Kamaishi City. Iwate Network also would appreciate your cooperation with this operation, and the outline is as follows;

Organiser: Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefectural Museum

Schedule: From 2nd to 3rd of July, 10:30am-4:30pm

(NB: Depends on the degree of the progress, it will be held only on 2nd July)

The Job: Rescuing the folklore materials, cleaning the lecture rooms flooded by the Tsunami, washing the iron-made tools covered with salt water, and other operations.

NB: The field of Kamaishi Daiichi Junior High School has remainedl untouched since the Tsunami, so the operation for removing debris has not been carried out yet. Especially, dirt and salt water can be a health hazard. Therefore you should wear twofold masks, and work gloves will be essential for the operation. In any case, you have to prepare for being in dirt. Of course, please prepare your own food and water, because the water supply is still not available there.

Prospective participants must contact the Iwate Network for Historical, Folklore Materials.

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