Extracts from the Miyagi Network News V

Detailed description of preservation activity in Kaowaki area, Ishinomaki City

Published on 19 April 2011

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

Type:  Blog/Situation report Vol 103

The preservation activity in Kadowaki area, Ishinomaki City

On April 8th, our rescue activities of the historical materials was practically carried out for the first time after the quake. Because we had anticipated that the amount of historical materials which needed to be removed would be very limited to as much as could be contained in a car, this activity was carried out by only secretariat officer and some members, without informing of this activity to all of the network members in advance. We realised that we should execute this activity as the precedent of that which would be done more widely and extensively in near future.



This time’s target was the ‘H’ family in the Kadowaki area, which had already been introduced in the previous “Miyagi Network News” vol.100 as a report from the devastated area, “the whitewashed warehouse which stood against the great Tsunami, in the centre of Ishinomaki City”.

By the way, I, Mr. Saito had already visited the ‘H’ family many times over the decades, and some of those documents had been published in the source books as reprinted documents titled “The archives of the Takeyama Rokuemon family, in Kadowaki, Ishinomaki City” Yoshiyuki Saito, 2006, edited by the group of the Ishinomaki Sengokubune. As for the outline of the ‘H’ family and the documents, we recommend this book.

Due to the extensive aftershock which occurred the previous night (at midnight on the 7th), on the day when our preservation activity was scheduled, the road service of the Sendai Tobu Motorway and the Sanriku Motorway were suspended, which in turn led to traffic jams in many places. For this reason, we were 2 hours late arriiving. As we entered into Ishinomaki City, traces of flooding gradually increased on the wayside around the Hebita area. As we reached the area in front of the station, I was surprised at the huge amount of debris piled up into heaps on the rows of houses and streets.

Around 12 p.m., we at last arrived at the Ishinomaki City Library which was used as an evacuation station, and met the members of the Tohoku Historical Museum. After that, Jun Sasaki who works in Ishinomaki Culture Centre guided us, and we headed to the ‘H’ family’s residence in the Kadowaki area. Entering the area, the debris stretched as far as we could see. We had no words to describe the awful landscape such as the burnt Kadowaki elementary school, the smell of burnt remains and the clay washed up from the sea, and the dotted ruins of concrete structures.



The ‘H’ house was located at the foot of Mt. Hiyori in the Kadowaki area, and the residence used to consist of two houses, two whitewashed warehouses, and the large storehouse used as the brewery, which previously impressed us as a magnificent residence. However, all of the structures were destroyed or washed away by the Tsunami, so nothing remained except for one whitewashed warehouse. At first, the remaining warehouse had been covered with a large amount of debris, therefore everyone had considered that it had been also collapsed.

However, after removing this debris from around the warehouse, surprisingly we could find that it stood as it had used to be. Although the outside walls of the warehouse was damaged and the Tsunami flooded inside of the ground floor up to near the ceiling, the first floor was not flooded above the floor, so that the almost all archives, books, and implements were safe, some seawater had come in from the window though. Those materials had been thought lost together with the warehouse, so we were really glad to verify their safety and felt that it must be a miracle.

The rescue operation included 3 cardboard boxes of old archives which I had sorted once before, and another 3 cardboard boxes of the copied/transcribed document files by the local historian, Akira Hashimoto (deceased). However, as we closely investigated the inside of the warehouse, we could find further old documents concerned with the ‘H’ family’s brewing business such as the account books or letters, which had not been inspected.

Therefore, we decided to remove those materials, too. Finally, the materials for preservation reached approximately 60 cardboard boxes. In addition, we could carry out more than 20 of the Fusuma and picture frames which had undercoated documents. Because those materials are temporarily preserved in the Tohoku Historical Museum, we loaded them into the museum’s wagon. The rescue operation took over 3 hours.


When we left there, we looked at the whitewashed warehouse once again. Although there had been 3 warehouses, nothing remained next to the warehouse due to their collapse. Only this warehouse stood alone in the field full of debris without a scratch, so the scene impressed us very much. In such an unprecedented disaster, this warehouse protected the family’s and the community’s historical materials. We thought that this warehouse itself was the very precious symbol and remains as a memory of the disaster.

The members who participated in the rescue activities were as follows (totally 9 members):

  • Yoshiyuki Saito, Masaki Chiba, Mayumi Chiba, Shunichi Saito, as the members of Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials
  • Tatsuya Shiota, Toshimitsu Kagohashi, as the members of Tohoku Historical Museum
  • Daisuke Sato, Masashi Amano, Yuichi Ebina as the secretariat officer of Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials

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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