"Five Years On" No. 1 Ishinomaki and the Honma Family Warehouse

"Five Years On" No. 1

Miyagi Rekishi Shiryō Network in 2016

Five years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March, 2011. SATŌ  Daisuke from the Network's office has written a series of articles on the present state of our activities in Miyagi Prefecture.

1) Ishinomaki and the Honma Family Warehouse

The suburb of Kadonowaki, Ishinomaki, lies facing the ocean at the mouth of the Kitakami River in central Ishinomaki, and the suburb bore the full abated brunt of  the tsunami of 11th March, 2011. Almost all the buildings in the area were shattered beyond recognition, but an old warehouse and the historical documents of the Honma Family and the documents the warehouse contained were miraculously spared destruction and loss. This was the very first site that we visited to salvage documents after the onslaught of the tsunami, on the 8th of April. The documents we salvaged were repaired in our facilities, and in the Tōhoku University of Art and Design's Institute for Conservation of Cultural Properties in Yamagata City. The cleaned and repaired documents have already been returned to the Honma Family.
The Honma warehouse being moved to its new site (26th Aug. 2015)

Local historians in Ishinomaki have succeeded in having the warehouse preserved as a testament to the tsunami. Media coverage of the warehouse has made it known nationally, and there is a small but steady stream of visitors who come to see it. In addition, the warehouse has become a symbol for the people of Kadonowaki as they set about trying to rebuild their community.

Ishinomaki City's reconstruction plan has mandated a revision of the layout of Kadonowaki suburb. As a result, the warehouse had to be moved to a new site about 10 metres behind its original site, and closer to the base of the hill behind Kadonowaki. The work of slowly hauling the warehouse was done in the second half of 2105. Admission into the warehouse has been temporarily closed until about April 2016, and at present, the owner of the warehouse, HONMA Ei'ichi, is preparing the interior of the warehouse for reopening.

At present, dump trucks and earth-moving machinery is piling up soil to raise the ground level in Kadonowaki, and build huge sea walls, changing the physical layout of the area beyond recognition. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the area are setting about rebuilding their homes and lives, for which the surviving old warehouse as the only reminder of their old environment provides a point of focus. Honma Ei'ichi is keeping an ongoing record of this process of regeneration of his community, which can be viewed in his Community Newsletter (Japanese).
The work of Honma Ei'ichi to not only preserve the documents and the warehouse which record the history of his family and Kadonowaki, but also to record the changes happening around him today, is a model case of 'grassroot archivists' working to pass their accumulated legacy onto future generations. 
The warehouse at its new site (6th Nov. 2015)
Satō Daisuke
5th Feb. 2016

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