Rescue of the Shochuhi memorial in Sendai

The Shochuhi memorial before the disaster.
The Shochuhi memorial after the disaster. The black kite in bronze that was perched atop the pedestal has fallen beak first to the foot of the pedestal.

 A number of cultural properties were seriously damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake last year. Within its Secretariat in the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, the Committee to Rescue Cultural Properties Damaged by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami has been involved efforts to rescue cultural properties in regions like coastal areas hit by the tsunami. As of January, the Committee worked to rescue the Shochuhi memorial (Gokoku Shrine, Miyagi Pref.) 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 memorial features a black kite in bronze with its wings outstretched atop a stone pedestal close to 20 m high. The recent earthquake caused extensive damage and left the memorial in a pitiful state, causing the black kite at the top to fall to the foot of the stone pedestal and breaking its left wing. During work in January 22nd and 23rd, bronze fragments that could be collected by hand were collected by personnel in conjunction with individuals from the Gokoku Shrine. Future steps like movement of the bronzed black kite itself were also discussed.
 The Shochuhi memorial was crafted on commission by the Tokyo Fine Art School (now the Tokyo University of the Arts). Masao KAWABE designed the memorial, Ichiga NUMATA crafted the original of the black kite adornment, and Sanshiro SAKURAOKA and Shinobu TSUDA cast the black kite in bronze. In other words, the memorial brought together the cream of the Fine Art School. The plaque in the center of the stone pedestal is inscribed “Shochu” [summoning the spirits of the loyal fallen] as was written by Prince KOMATSU Akihito. Conveying heroism, this plaque was exempted from metal requisition during the War. How will the damaged plaque be salvaged and will it be passed on to future generations? Numerous difficulties, such as raising funds, are anticipated, but the memorial is a valuable cultural property. With this in mind, we at the Institute fervently hope to return the plaque as a new symbol of the spirit of recovery.

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