Work to move the bronzed black kite of the Shochuhi Russo-Japanese war memorial in Sendai

Movement of the bronzed black kite of the Shochuhi memorial (Feb. 7, 2013)

 Erected on the ruins of the keep of Sendai Castle (or Aoba Castle), the Shochuhi memorial was erected in 1902 to commemorate the fallen from the Imperial Army’s 2nd Division, which was located in Sendai. The Shochuhi memorial is currently under the care of Gokoku Shrine, Miyagi Prefecture. As was previously reported (Jan. and June, 2012), the black kite in bronze that sat atop the memorial’s stone pedestal fell as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake. With its Secretariat in the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, the Committee to Rescue Cultural Properties Damaged by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami worked to rescue the memorial as a cultural property. Bronze fragments that were scattered around and atop the pedestal were previously collected. The bronzed black kite had been left as it was for a prolonged period, but it was finally moved this February.
 Work started on February 4 and was supervised by Bronze Studios and Sekiho, which have previously worked to restore outdoor sculptures. A 4.5×4 m bed of steel plates was placed on the ground in front of the east side of the Shochuhi memorial. On February 7, a 25-t all-terrain crane lifted the bronzed black kite and placed it atop the bed of steel plates. A covering was then fashioned from corrugated plastic panels, and all work was completed on February 9. Snow occasionally fell during the work but was cleared. Luckily, lifting of the bronzed black kite was marked by good weather on the 7th; lifting proceeded as relevant personnel and members of the local media looked on. Movement will allow inspection inside the broken neck of the black kite statue. The head of the statue was found to be joined to the body by a mortise-and-tenon joint and an inscription was found to read “Head joined October 4, 1902/At the Tokyo Fine Art School/ In Commemoration of this Date.” Such discoveries are important to the study of the Shochuhi memorial. Like previous work to rescue the Shochuhi memorial, movement of the bronzed black kite was carried out thanks to donations to the Institute from Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. (President: MURAKAMI Takashi) to help with the Cultural Property Rescue Program.
 Movement of the bronzed black kite under cover will prevent damage to broken areas by rain for the time being. Nevertheless, the bronzed black kite was damaged extensively by the fall, e.g. its left wing broke off, so it is far from its majestic visage prior to the disaster. Other threats have yet to be dealt with, such as bronze adornments atop the pedestal falling off and complete collapse of the pedestal due to penetration by rainwater. Future steps must be taken to conserve this rare memorial from the Meiji Era.

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