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Published on 21 June 2011
Blog/Situation report Vol 134
The Preservation Activity in Higashimatsushima City
Hiroki Hatai, Sendai City Museum of History and Folklore
The following is a report about the preservation activity in Higashimatsushima City on June 6th.
On that day, together with the two secretariat officers of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials, we carried out the preservation operation for the E family who lived near the Higashimatsushima City office which was located in the area of 3km from Naruse River’s estuary.
On the day of the earthquake, their house was also hit by the Tsunami. Although the house wasn’t washed away, their whole residential area seemed as if standing in the centre of a lake, the ground floor was flooded above the floor level. When we visited their house 3 months after the quake, we sometimes felt the humid air in their house, so we recognised that the damp which had permeated the house wouldn’t easily be dried.
In the house, approximately 70-80 historical materials including mainly hanging scrolls remained. Their relatives had been of the propertied classes and had possessed land, and often produced local mayors in the Meiji Period(*1). When the relatives had scrapped their house 30 years ago, those old archives were transferred to the E family house.
Before the quake, although they preserved more historical documents in their warehouse, because it was flooded by the Tsunami a lot of documents were waterlogged and seriously damaged and unfortunately those have already been scrapped.
Among the remaining historical materials, we found ‘Fudoki-Goyokakidashi’ which recorded the environment of this community during the An’ei era(*2), and several hanging scrolls, folding screens and framed pictures and mottos to which the inscription of the official painters in the Sendai Domain were attached.
From this fact, we could understand that this area was very active for cultural exchange. Furthermore, there was the directory for the construction of waterway dredging, and some personal documents concerned with conscription in the Meiji Period.
Those materials indicate the transition of community industry or personal history while time passed from early modern to modern times. Although each item was kept in good condition, we transferred them to our secretariat office for cleaning and to be photographed with the E family’s approval.
Seawalls destroyed by the Tsunami
This time, our targets were the materials which had been saved from the damage by the Tsunami, however if we could have visited their house right after the quake, we might have been able to rescue more materials. At the same time, before the quake if we could have grasped how many cultural properties had been preserved in the community, we might have been able to carry out the rescue operation more quickly and effectively.
This has already been obvious from the previous activities though and will become the issue which should be widely made use of during upcoming activities.
On the way back to Sendai City, we inspected the Nobiru Port which was located in the estuary of Naruse River. The stone seawalls had fallen down here and there, and we found some places where the sandbags were piled high as an urgent measure, so we were apprehensive that some of the vestiges which were conveyed in the old port would vanish.
In the field, the Self-Defence Force is still continuing the operation of searching for missing people or removing debris, however, we hope that someday our activity for confirming the extent of damage of cultural properties or historical sites will be required in such a devastated area.
Vestige of the old port
NB: The photos are all from the homepage of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.
*1 Meiji Period: A division of Japanese history which spanned from 1868 to 1912.
*2 An’ei era(安永年間): A Japanese era dating from 1772 to 1780.
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