Rescued Cultural Property Afterward – Restored Shochuhi memorial in Sendai

Bronze Black Kite Being Hoisted by the Crane on October 13th
Restored Shochuhi memorial (Photographed by Mr. Takashi OKU)

 As repeatedly reported through this activity report, the Committee for Salvaging Cultural Properties Affected by the 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku and Related Disasters having its secretariat in this Institute provided rescue activities for numerous cultural properties damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. The Shochuhi memorial (managed by Miyagiken Gokoku Shrine) standing on the site of the inner citadel of Sendai Castle (Aoba Castle) is one of them. The monument was built to console the souls of war victims related to the Second Division in Sendai in 1902. Due to the earthquake, a bronze black kite installed on the stone tower about 15 m in height fell to the ground. Its broken pieces were collected and the main body was relocated as Cultural Properties Rescue Operations by the Committee. After the completion of the Operations in 2014, the Monument was restored as the Disaster-Affected Museum Reconstruction Project in Miyagi Prefecture. The joining work for the broken black kite conducted at Bronze Studio located in Hakonegasaki, Tokyo from FY2015 was finally completed. From October 11th through 17th, 2016, the black kite was installed at its original location in Sendai.
 The bronze black kite (4.44 m in height, 5.68 m in width, 3.819 t in total bronze weight), whose original virile appearance with its wings widely spreading was restored in Tokyo after about five and a half years, was transported to Sendai by trailer on October 12th, 2016. On the next day, the bronze statue was installed in the lower front of the stone tower by crane, under the watchful eye of the people concerned, local mass media, and tourists visiting Sendai Castle. The bronze black kite, which had been placed on the top of the tower, was installed at the foot of the tower for security, considering the possibility that it may fall again from the tower top when another large earthquake occurs if placed in its original position. This bronze statue was commissioned, and then produced and cast at Tokyo Fine Arts School (Tokyo University of the Arts, today). Now, you can get a close look at the dynamic appearance of the huge black kite produced with the united efforts of the art school in the Meiji era, although it is now located in a place different from its original position.
 The restoration process that has taken over a little more than five years has revealed a lot of unknown facts about the Shochuhi memorial. The boring survey conducted in June, 2016 showed that there is a large hollow surrounded by brick walls inside the tower. Another fact that one of the wings of the black kite had toppled over due to an earthquake on November 3rd, 1936 prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake was confirmed with a newspaper at that time.
 According to the restorers of the bronze statue, the restoration process has revealed a variety of techniques made full use of for production. Particularly, the lead and concrete filling the inside of the statue to fix the rail inserted as an iron core connecting the black kite and the stone tower, as well as to balance the black kite in weight, was removed in this restoration for weight reduction. On the other hand, for installation of the restored black kite, steel pipes with different diameters are connected like inserts are used as a support rod inside the bronze statue. To join the steel pipes, lead was cast to fill the gap for fixing. The fixing method used for this statue clarified during the restoration process was applied to this approach. Thus, the Shochuhi memorial has been revived from the earthquake damage by utilizing the excellent technique of our predecessors. We sincerely hope that this valuable monument in the Meiji era will be handed down from generation to generation for ever after re-realizing the value of new knowledge obtained during the restoration process.

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