MINAMISANRIKU, Miyagi Pref. — A house more than 300 years old on the Miyagi Prefecture coast that barely withstood the March earthquake and tsunami will be relocated all the way to Kagawa Prefecture, where it will be restored in a museum.
Silk producer Shigeyuki Endo, the 61-year-old owner of the thatched house in Minamisanriku, one of the communities hardest hit by the disaster, had lived in the home since the day he was born.
Endo decided not to demolish the house, now leaning heavily to one side, because it "withstood the tsunami despite its old age."
He hopes the home will be seen by many people after its restoration.
According to Endo, who is head of the 13th generation of the family, the house was built in 1702 in the middle of the Edo Period (1603-1868). The family has maintained the house from generation to generation by rethatching it regularly, a costly practice.
In withstanding the quake and tsunami, the house shifted about 20 meters and came close to collapsing.
Appreciating Endo's feeling for his home, the Shikokumura museum in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, proposed the relocation. Endo accepted, although not without sadness.
Shikokumura features folk houses built in the Edo Period to the Taisho Era (1912-1926) that have been moved and rebuilt from areas mainly in Shikoku. Shikokumura showcases the houses in a lush green setting covering about 50,000 sq. meters.
The museum was also involved in relocating historic houses hit by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.
Shikokumura plans to move Endo's house next year or later after drawing up plans this year and surveying the building.
"We want to keep the house permanently and will look for opportunities to make use of it, such as when artists make presentations," said a museum official in charge of the project.
Anyone interested in thatching can read here and here