Half-yearly report for Second Half of 2013

Part 3 A Variety of Activities and Tasks.

Links to new place names: Shiogama ShrineMurata TownKawasaki TownIchinoseki City (Iwate Prefecture), Marumori TownŌfunato City (Iwate Prefecture)

              This is Satō Daisuke of the Secretariat of Miyagi Shiryou Net. The activities of the Net for 2013 were not limited to dealing with historical materials from within the disaster areas of 3.11. In particular, we have been receiving an increasing number of requests from private individuals who hold documents. We see two main factors behind this increase: a rise in the general interest in our activities and a broadening of our network of connections created through the participation of the general public in our activities. In addition to this, we ourselves are striving to widen general interest in our activities.

1 ‘One House Type’ Investigation and Preservation Activities
 Between June and December of 2013, we conducted the following activities.

1) 17th June 2013 Sendai City Miyagi Prefecture, S Family Documents
              The S Family formerly served the Shiogama Shrine (Shiogama City, Miyagi). The family holds a collection of documents related to their service duties and the owner was originally considering disposing of the documents. However, the owner heard that Takahashi Yō’ichi who is an Assistant Professor of the Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohoku University, lives in his neighbourhood and approached him to ask his opinion concerning the collection. After this, Takahashi and Satō from the Net secretariat did an evaluation of the documents which led to the decision to preserve them. We have borrowed the documents and have completed the tasks of photographing and cataloguing them. 
Preliminary evaluation of the extent of the S Family collection

2) 22nd July 2013, Mura Town Miyagi Prefecture. ‘Shinpū Kō’ Documents
              The ‘Shinpū Kō’(神風講) functioned as a voluntary mutual aid association in Murata Town from 1778 to 1993. On 29th June, two members of Shiryou Net gave a lecture in Murata using documents salvaged from within the town. After the lecture, a member of the audience approached our team and reported that the whereabouts of the records of this association were currently unknown. Investigations revealed that after the association ceased activities in 1990, the records were entrusted by the last office-holder of the association to the local Murata Municipal Museum. This case serves as an example of an irreplaceable record of local history being preserved by a local public organ of historical preservation through the autonomous decision of local people, and the importance of such autonomous action.

3) 28th July, 2013, Kawasaki Town Miyagi Prefecture. Kawasaki Date Family
              The Kawasaki Date Family was a vassal branch family of the Date Family, daimyo of Sendai Domain, who held Kawasaki in fief. A detailed report of the preservation activities we conducted is contained in our Newsletter No 208.

4) 7th to 9th of August, 2013. Ichinoseki City Iwate Prefecture. K Family Documents (3rd time)
              We are continuing to photograph the remaining documents of the K Family, to whom we returned documents in September 2012. These documents had been borrowed from the family by a now-deceased professor some 60 years ago. The number of remaining documents probably is in the order of several 100,000’s.
              This was the third instalment of a continuing project. It was conducted by the Ashi Tōzan Memorial Ichinoseki Museum and Miyagi Shiryou Net, with volunteers from the general public and also from Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University, Tōhoku Gakuin University, Tōhoku University, as well as Tōkyō University of Agriculture and Technology, Gangneung University South Korea, and Vienna University. The total number of participants was 28 people. For most of the participating students, this was their first experience of working with documents ‘in situ’ and it gave them a taste of meeting and talking with the descendants of the family who owned the documents and other local people whose history was recorded in the documents.

Digitally photographing the K Family Collection

5) 21st to 22nd September 2013, Marumori Town, Miyagi Prefecture. O Family Documents
              The O Family was formerly responsible for the overseeing of the ‘yamabushi’ (mountain ascetics) of the southern half of Sendai Domain. We received a request in 2012 from the owner of the documents through Sendai Museum requesting advice on the preservation of the collection.
              We decided to conduct an evaluation of the collection by making it a practical part of Satō Daisuke’s course in preserving historical documents in the Graduate School of Letters Tōhoku University in cooperation with the Uehiro Endowed Chair in Historical Preservation and Miyagi Shiryou Net.
              A total of 23 people including public volunteers as well as students participated in sortin the whole collection, photographing it and then storing the documents in acid-free envelopes.

Digitally photographing the O Family Collection

6) 10th October 2013, Kawasaki Town, Miyagi Prefecture. Kawasaki Date Family Documents (2nd Session)
              Please refer to our Newsletter No. 208.

7) 20th October 2013, Marumori Town Miyagi Prefecture. O Family Documents (2nd Session)
              Students who were not able to participate in the first session in September took part in this session. In cooperation with staff from Miyagi Shiryou Net, the students photographed documents. Furthermore, in the classroom sessions, students are using the photographs to create a catalogue of the collection.

8) 26th to 27th October 2013, Ōfunato City Iwate Prefecture. S Temple Documents.
              We used digital cameras to photograph the collection of documents of this temple which was spared tsunami damage. The photography was done at the temple in Ōfunato. The group was led by Ebina Yū’ichi to our secretariat, with participants from public volunteer staff of Miyagi Shiryou Net and volunteers from Tōkyō.

9) 28th October 2013, Ichinoseki City Iwate Prefecture. C Family Documents.
              The C Family trace their lineage back to the 16th century. The family will have to relocate in the near future because their house lies within an area that will be affected by flood control construction works on the Kitakami River water system. We received a request to evaluate the documents and warehouses of the family though the Ichinoseki Museum.
              For this project, we requested the participation of Satō Toshiaki from our architectural team, and Ōyama Motonari (Assistant Professor of the Tōhoku University Botanical Gardens). This was in order to draw accurate plans of the 4 warehouses and to determine the materials used in building them so as to create a multifaceted record of the buildings. On this first visit we conducted a preliminary survey of one of the warehouses and took samples of the materials used in its construction.
              Furthermore, we were able to ascertain not only a body of documents which had been sorted, but also another huge body of unsorted documents. On this visit we were only able to photograph the documents which had been already sorted.
              For this project we attempting to create a holistic approach to local history encrypted in materials made from ‘wood and paper.’ This will be an on-going project in which we will be exploring new ways of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Above: measuring the C Family warehouse.

Left: taking a sample from the timber used in the warehouse.

10) 23rd & 24th November 2013, Ichinoseki City Iwate Prefecture. K Family Documents (4th Session)
              This session was a continuation of the recording with digital cameras of the K Family Documents that we conducted in August. For this session, we gained the cooperation of the Uehiro Endowed Chair staff and Tōkyō University of Agriculture and Technology.

2 Public Relations and Exhibitions
              The public relations activities and exhibitions that we conducted between June and December of 2013 were as follows.

1) 29th June 2013, Murata Town Miyagi Prefecture. Public lecture entitled ‘Bringing Back to Life Murata's Past: A Message from the Edo Period’
              This lecture was co-sponsored by the Board of Education of Murata Town and the Uehiro Endowed Chair in Historical Preservation of the Northeast Asia Research Center of Tōhoku University, and the content of the lecture was based on documents salvaged from within Murata after 3.11. The lecture was delivered by Koseki Yū'ichirō of Chiba University and Satō Daisuke. The Murata Town Museum also presented a special exhibition displaying the salvaged documents. This was the first time that Miyagi Shiryou Net presented a lecture to the local residents of the area from which we had salvaged documents.
              Information about this lecture can be found at the Uehiro Endowed Chair site (J).

2) 20th & 21st of July 2013. Memorial Address to 35th General Meeting of the Society for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage and Poster Exhibition.
              On this occasion, the President of Miyagi Shiryou Net, Hirakawa Arata, presented the memorial address entitled ‘Interdisciplinary Collaboration Brought about by the Experience of Disaster: Passing on our Cultural Heritage to Posterity.’ Miyagi Shiryou Net also presented a poster exhibition for the period of the general meeting on our activities.
              Members of the Society have continued to provide with invaluable advice based on research in preservation science on how to conserve/preserve historical materials. We would like to express our appreciation of their support.

3) 14th September 2013. Special lecture before the Japan Library Cultural History Study Group.
              Satō Daisuke from the Secretariat of Shiryou Net presented a special lecture are the annual study session of this study group, held at the Tōhoku University Kawauchi Campus, Sendai City. The lecture was entitled ‘Overcoming Disaster and Bringing Back to Life the Culture of Literacy: Looking Back on 10 Years of Engaging in Historical Preservation,’ and introduced the activities of Miyagi Shiryou Net after 3.11, and some documents which came to light during our preservation activities and which are relevant to understanding the culture of literacy of the Edo Period

4) 30th September 2013. Symposium marking the 10th Anniversary of Miyagi Shiryou Net.
              We conducted a special symposium to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the founding of Miyagi Shiryou Net at the Tōhoku University Katahira Campus. Details of the symposium may be found in our Newsletter No. 203.

5) 9th November 2013, Takahata Town Yamagata Prefecture. Workshop in Photographing Historical Documents.
              Satō from our Secretariat presented a workshop on photographing historical documents according to the ‘Miyagi Manual’ in conjunction with Takahata Town and Yamagata Cultural Heritage and Disaster Prevention Network (Yamagata Shiryou Net). Fifteen people participated from Takahata Town.

The Takahata Workshop 
            This was the second time that we have presented such a workshop, the first time being in September 2012 for the Fukushima Cultural Heritage and Disaster Prevention Network (Fukushima Shiryou Net). Teaching our techniques to new people provides us with a chance to review and refine the information contained in our manual, and alerts us to hitherto unknown problems.

6) 2nd December 2013 Paper presented at Kōbe University International Symposium.
               Satō Daisuke from the Secretariat presented a paper entitled ‘What we need to do to preserve and pass on the historical heritage of our region’ at the international symposium on preserving local historical materials in a changing world, held by Kōbe University at it Umeda Intelligent Laboratory in Ōsaka.

7) 14th December 2013, Public Lecture at Iwakiri Shimin Center Sendai.
              Satō Daisuke of the Secretariat presented a lecture as part two of a lecture series arranged by the Iwakiri Shimin Center (Iwakiri Residents’ Cultural Center) in Miyagino Ward, Sendai. The lecture series was entitled ‘Learning from the Local Cultural Properties Lost in the Earthquake of 3.11.’ Satō presented a report on the salvage activities that Miyagi Shiryou Net conducted at the former Iwakiri Post Office in April 2011 (Newsletter No. 102) and on the documents that we recovered from within the paper sliding doors of the building. Furthermore, he exhibited some of the documents etc and explained their significance.
              Most of the participants were members of the local Iwakiri Historical Club, and they were able to provide and share information on place names and historical remains which appear in the documents, and other important information which would serve as a starting point in coming to understand the history of the region.

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