Digest  113 112 111 110 109 108 107 106 105 104 103 102 

  101(complete transration) 100(complete transration) HOME

(Translation and Summary: J.F. Morris,Proffesor of Miyagi Gakuin Women's University)

No. 113(24th April, 2011)

   On 22nd April, we conducted a rescue operation in the warehouse of a former merchant family in Sendai. This family provided financial services to Sendai Domain in the late Edo Period. After the earthquakes of 11th March and 7th April, the ware house was askew and leaning over on its southern side. Inside was housed a collection of historical documents, swords and weapons, and antiques. Most of the documents had already been transferred to the Sendai City Museum in the process of rewriting the official History of Sendai.


  We transferred the historically and artistically valuable items from the ware house into safekeeping. This ware house took three years to build, and was completed in 1907. It withstood the Sendai Air-raid of 1945, and the Miyagi Earthquake of 1978. However, the damage taken this time was too great, and the building will be demolished. (Satou Daisuke)


*Original Version(Japanese)

No. 111 & No. 112 (22nd & 23rd April, 2011)

   A report written by Satou Toshihiro, leader of a national team of architects and specialists in the preservation of historical buildings, on the condition of buildings investigated by this team between 12th and 14th of April. This report supplements No. 105.

*Original Version(Japanese)


No. 110 (20th April, 2011)

  A call for volunteers for work for 3 days restoring water-damaged documents under the guidance of an expert from Kobe.

*Original Version(Japanese)

No. 108
(19th April, 2011)

  On 17th April, we conducted a restoration project inside the mortuary chapel of a temple in northern Miyagi Prefecture. The chapel behind the main hall of the temple contains the mortuary tablets (ihai)of 13 generations of head monks of the temple and their family, as well as some small mortuary shrines (zushi). We were mostly able to restore the jigsaw puzzle of the tablets and shrines, but many of them had suffered damage when they fell down from their original stands in the earthquake of 11th March. They will require specialist repairs.
Checking the damages of
the mouturary shrines(Zushi)  

  One of the unique features of this collection of mortuary tablets is that it contains not only the tablets of the male monks, but of their wives and children as well. The collection provides a unique record of changes in style over time, and differences according to rank within the family. We need to find a way to provide financial support to the temple to repair this irreplaceable collection. Moreover, looking at the houses on the way north up through inland Miyagi, there were many visible signs of damage to the exteriors of old historical buildings throughout the countryside, and we further felt the need to conduct a survey of the damage to historical buildings throughout the prefecture. (Yanagiya {Kikuchi} Keiko)

*Original Version(Japanese)

No. 105 (16th April, 2011) 

  On 14th April, we revisited the families in Iwanuma which we had visited on the 5th of April. This time, we were accompanied by 3 architects who had come from outside Miyagi to provide expert advice on saving historical buildings.

  The architects inspected the warehouses of two formerly wealthy families within Iwanuma City. The earthen walls of these warehouses had fallen off in many places, and the buildings looked as if they were damaged beyond repair. However, the architects examined the buildings foundations and internal structure, and declared both of them to be capable of being repaired, if the repairs could be conducted before rain and moisture getting in through the damaged or missing walls created further damage. Moreover, in both cases, they conducted on the spot immediate repairs to save the buildings from unnecessary further damage.

 Emergency repear of
the mud wall
with stones
Old document founded from
the undercort of the fusuma
(Sliding door) 
  Emergency repear of
the warehouse

 Many historical buildings have suffered serious damage not only along the coast, but also inland as well. Japanese society has undergone great upheavals since these buildings were built, and the families that own them no longer have the economic resources necessary to repair them, and there are not enough tradespeople with the skills needed for the job.

  These buildings are part of the historical heritage of the region and of Japan. Isn’t it time that we started to consider ways of sharing the burden of maintaining them? (Ebina Yuuichi)

*Original Version(Japanese)

No. 104(15th April, 2011) *Digest

  On 13th April, a team of archaeologists went to the Utatsu Ichthyosaur Museum in Minami Sanriku. Three different types of Ichthyosaur fossils have been found in Minami Sanriku, as well as some valuable human remains from the Joumon Period, including a whale bone with a stone arrowhead buried in it. The Museum here was built right on the coast, and included an outhouse built over the spot where the Kudanohama Ichthyosaur fossil was discovered, and where you could view the fossil as it was originally found. All the modern buildings near the Museum had been pushed down by the tsunami as it flowed back into the sea. The ground level of the Museum was chaos. However, the display area on the second level had very few windows, none of which received the full onslaught of the tsunami. The display area had been flooded and the floor was covered in sand and small debris. However, it appeared that none of the display cases had been washed outside of the building. After the damage wrought by the tremor of 7th April, we very cautiously started the task of evacuating the display cases and other material from the Museum, keeping our radio on full volume for any further earthquake or tsunami warnings.

Utatsu Gyoryu-Kan The view from the exhibition room The exhibition room

 After returning to Sendai and collating what we rescued with a catalogue of the Museum’s contents provided by the Board of Education of Minami Sanriku, we were able to confirm that all 144 of the Museum’s archaeological contents were intact. (Fujisawa Atsushi, Archaeological Research Laboratory, Tohoku University)

Doing the urgent rescue

*Original Version(Japanese)

No. 10315th April,

 On 8th April, we visited the H Family of Kadonowaki, Ishinomaki City. We initially visited here as reported in the Net News No. 100. The H Family were Sake brewers, and originally, 2 houses, 2 warehouses, a storehouse, breweries, and wooden storehouses in the compound here served a local landmark.


  As we reported in No. 100, now only one warehouse remains standing, and that too was originally buried so deeply in debris that it was assumed to have been destroyed. We had confirmed on our earlier visit that the documents that I had catalogued over the past 10 years or so were safe on the second level of the warehouse. Originally we planned to rescue a total of 6 cardboard boxes, but a more thorough investigation of the warehouse revealed that there were hitherto undiscovered documents, as well as some 20 paper sliding doors and other objects. We ended up taking out 60 cardboard boxed full of documents for temporary safe keeping at the Tohoku Rekishi Hakubutsukan (Tohoku Historical Museum). (Saitou Yoshiyuki, Tohoku Gakuin University)



*Original Version(Japanese)

No. 102 (13th April, 2011)

  On 6th April, we conducted a rescue operation in the former Iwakiri Post Office in Miyagino Ward, Sendai. The service part of the building was built in 1902, and had been designated part of the architectural heritage of Miyagi Prefecture. Moreover, in 2009, investigation of the building revealed that part of it was originally part of the Ougi-ya Inn in Matshushima.

  Ougi-ya was the most famous inn in Matsushima from the late Edo Period unti the early Meiji Period. The building ceased to be used as a post office in the 1960’s. The present owner was already planning to demolish the building, and the earthquake hastened this process. We arrived as demolishing was already underway. We were able to rescue 10 paper sliding doors (fusuma) which contained old documents as padding, some of the original decorations of the post office, and some floor boards on which the original plan for the building had been drawn. We have yet to identify properly the contents of the documents contained in the sliding doors, but on first investigation they appear to contain the Daily Log of the post office for 1903, and a register of religion (often mistakenly translated as population registers) records of a domain monopoly system from the Edo Period. (Satou Daisuke)


*Original Version(Japanese)

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101(complete transration) 100(complete transration) HOME