Reconstruction and Buried Cultural Properties
Protection after the Great East Japan Earthquake

Adapted from Hakkutsu sareta Nihon rettō 2013 [Excavations in the Japanese Archipelago, 2013] (Bunkachō [Agency for Cultural Affairs], ed., Asahi Shimbun Publications, 2013).

Nakatai Site, Noda Village, Iwate Prefecture

Grade school pupils participated in a “try your hand at excavation” event.

Excavation preceding a residential move to high ground (Dōnomae Shell Midden, Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture)

Looking over the ocean at an elevation of 30 m, excavation of a Late Jōmon period shell midden was conducted in order for private residences to be built on high ground. Although it is a large-scale site, local residents also participated as personnel from Iwate prefecture and the city of Rikuzentakata worked together with specialists dispatched from Kumamoto and Akita prefectures to carry out the excavation.

For a speedy recovery

In the region struck by disaster from the Great East Japan Earthquake, projects for the revitalization of livelihood such as moving residences to high ground, and the building of roads for reconstruction such as the Jōban Highway, are being carried out.

Because investigation through excavation is necessary when locales where reconstruction work is to begin are places having buried cultural properties, there is concern at the start of such work over delay to the reconstruction due to the investigation. But as many specialists dispatched from throughout the country have arrived in the region, excavations are being completed one after another, and reconstruction work is proceeding in speedy fashion. Also, in excavations attending transfers of residence, active measures are being taken to have contact with residents in the area.

Recovery that utilizes history and culture in community vitalization

In the recovery of a region, clarifying that regionfs culture, cultural properties, and local history is vital. For victims of the disaster to share in the history of the land in which they themselves live can help foster love for their hometown and promote the rebuilding of the regional community.

With an eye toward balancing speedy recovery from the disaster with the preservation of archaeological sites, the Agency for Cultural Affairs has promoted flexibility in the procedures of excavation, such as exempting strata of fill and reducing the overall area of investigation, plus the use of high tech methods for the more rapid conduct of excavation, during repeated consultations held with the Reconstruction Agency, along with those agencies of the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima, plus the city of Sendai which are responsible for buried cultural properties protection and for the recovery. Each prefecture and local government is taking measures to exclude as much as possible those archaeological sites whose existence is already known as locations for recovery projects.

There were 32 specialists dispatched from throughout the nation in Fiscal Year 2012, and 60 in FY 2013, and excavations are being conducted with support from the Nara National Cultural Properties Research Institute. In hopes for the earliest possible recovery for the disaster region, we are engaging day-by-day in the tasks of excavation. (Negita Yoshio)

Sannō Site:

Tagajō City, Miyagi Prefecture

Ōshimizu B and Sawairi B Sites:

Shinchi Town, Fukushima Prefecture