Extracts from the Miyagi Network News XVI

Preservation of historical materials in Momoo town

Published on 9 May 2011

Author(s): Network for Historical Materials/Shinji Amano

Type:  Blog/Situation report Vol 116

The preservation activity of historical materials in Momoo Town

This is Shinji Amano as a secretariat officer of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.

On April 27th, we carried out the preservation activity on historical materials in Momoo Town, Ishinomaki City. Our target was ‘S’ family which had engaged with the work concerning the traditional decorum of the rituals for the Sendai Domain in the Edo Period(*1). However, their whitewashed warehouse had collapsed in the East Japan Earthquake, and couldn’t preserve the materials in it, therefore the Ishinomaki Board of education who has a duty for the cultural properties requested that we rescue their historical materials, and then we executed the operation of carrying out them from their house.

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Carrying out the historical materials

When we reached the site, the whitewashed warehouse had already been scrapped and disappeared. Whereas, as the community members of a committee for preserving cultural properties had already made an appeal, and ‘S’ family had brought their ancestral materials which had been stored in the warehouse to the temporary space where they could avoid rain and wind.

Roughly observing, we could find a lot of historical materials such as the old documents and books concerned with the decorum in the Edo Period and the landownership in the Meiji Period(*2), and the ancestral dairy or ritual utensils. Those materials were transported to the Tohoku Historical Museum. As for the waterlogged documents, we carried them into our secretariat room and executed the urgent measures cooperating with the members of the Miyagi Network. In this time, because we couldn’t take out whole materials, we plan to do it again on another day.

Upon the pulling down of the whitewashed warehouse, we heard that the master of the family carried it out manually, without using heavy machinery. The reason why they went to the trouble of choosing such a complicated method was because he cherished that structure.

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Executing the emergency measure

The historical materials which had been left in ‘S’ family were not only the old archives but also the dishes, the shapes of rice-flour cake, and other materials which had been collected by the family since the Edo period, and all of them were informed about this community’s history. According to the master, he wishes to not only pass down them for generations as antiques, but also to share their worth with the community’s residents as a “memory of this community”.

If the historical memories are fading, the historical materials would be also dismissed. Accompanying with that, the interests would also fade away, and the materials which had rarely remained would disappear in the course of time. To avoid such a tragic situation, the master of the family has an idea that he has to pass them down and afterwards he tries to share the materials among the community by any means. We think that his strong passion preserved those historical materials. We keenly desire to continue our activities and to respond to their wishes hereafter, so we appreciate your continuous support and cooperation.

NB: The photos are all from the homepage of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.

*1 Edo Period(江戸時代): A division of Japanese history which spanned from 1603 to 1868.
*2 Meiji Period(明治時代): A division of Japanese history which spanned from 1868 to 1912.

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