The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Bulletin of the National Museum of Ethnology

2019-Vol. 44, No. 1

July 25, 2019 Publication

back numbers






Damage from the Earthquake in Northern Osaka and Countermeasures:
Case Study of Storage at the National Museum of Ethnology

Naoko Sonoda

An earthquake that struck the northern part of Osaka Prefecture in June 2018 caused damage to buildings, furniture, and artifacts of the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. On the day of the earthquake, the most urgent task in the storage zone was response to water leakage at general storage No.3, which was caused by a sprinkler head being discharged on the exhibition floor above. From the next day onward, drying of water damaged artifacts, re-examination of artifacts around flooded storage racks, and treatment of a small number of artifacts with mold were the main emphasis. A damage survey of all storage rooms was conducted by a group of three: a person in charge of inspection, a person taking photographs, and a third taking notes. The survey includes water-damaged, broken, fallen, toppled over, or moved artifacts as well as a loosening of fixing cords. In the case of furniture, the survey emphasized the shifting of storage racks and opening of the drawers. Although a tendency was clear by which storage in upper areas tended to be damaged to a great degree, the position of the storage and the arrangement orientation of storage racks were not clearly related to the damage magnitude. However, raised edges and fall prevention bars of storage shelves were effective at preventing artifacts from falling. Paper boxes were effective in reducing damage to flooded artifacts by absorbing the water. The museum has been conducting storage reorganization since 2004 for improving methods of storing artifacts and for efficient relocation. The effectiveness was proved by the fact that artifacts were less likely to be damaged in the storage areas where storage reorganization had been conducted. Based on experiences and lessons from this earthquake, we aim to make a safer storage environment.

Key Words:Northern Osaka Earthquake, storage, damage, water leakage, artifacts, furniture


Recovery Activities of National Museum of Ethnology Damaged by the Earthquake with Epicenter in the Northern Part of Osaka Prefecture
Shingo Hidaka

An earthquake of magnitude 6.1, centered in the northern Osaka prefecture, occurred at 7:58 am on June 18, 2018. In its aftermath, 6 people lay dead and 443 injured. About 6 km west of the epicenter stands the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. Fortunately, no damage occurred to visitors, faculty, staff members, or graduate students at the museum because the earthquake occurred before opening hours. Nevertheless, the museum building was damaged for the first time since the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. It was forced to close for about 3 months from the earthquake until September 13.
With description of activities related to recovery in three areas (the exhibition halls, the library, and facilities related to both areas) this paper presents consideration of the disaster responses required for the damaged museum by verifying the initial movement immediately after the earthquake, a survey to ascertain the damage status, formulation of the recovery plan, and recovery activities. Results reported herein indicate that the countermeasures taken at the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka after the Osaka Northern Earthquake will be basic activities for museums recovering from disaster and reopening their exhibitions.
At the time of initial movements, the risk management manual was important for confirming the current situation for staff members who were in the field and who were taking actions at their own discretion. Furthermore, forming an organization to generalize administrative matters cooperatively and to supervise the recovery activities to carry out the activities more effectively was important. In addition, at the stage of assessing the damage status, it was effective to formulate a budget plan and a recovery plan by summarizing the report contents within the stylized form to avoid differences in the degree of reports by the respective departments in charge. Then, regarding recovery activities, the work supervisor initially needed to consider worker safety first, and to secure break times firmly while devoting attention to hidden fatigue.

Key Words:disaster, earthquake, museum, earthquake damaged museum, museum recovery activities


From Agribusiness to Food Democracy:
Future of Agriculture and Food in Japan and France
Shoichiro Takezawa

Food and agriculture are main fields of anthropology. Nevertheless, anthropological food studies in Japan have emphasized its diversity, neglecting the rapid changes in food and agriculture that are progressing rapidly and radically all over the world. This paper elucidates changes in agriculture around the world and presents some attempts to create a new agri-food system. In this sense, this paper expresses a globalized and referential perspective.
Agribusiness has developed as a branch of industry since the beginning of the 20th century. After the invention of agricultural machinery, it invented chemical fertilizer and esticide, and genetically modified crops from the 1980s. Such technologies now strongly affect agriculture worldwide and in Japan. Contrary to this type of agriculture is a type promoted by the French government and the European Union commission, which established new agricultural policies in the 1990s. These policies reformulate the fundamental idea of agriculture: Agriculture is not a purely economic activity, but a multi-functional activity that must be regarded as the core factor of environmental protection, local community maintenance, and local economic revitalization.
From this perspective, the EU and France have provided financial support and a path to rapid growth of organic farming. The ratio of the organic farmland in 2016 was 21.9% in Austria, 18.2% in Sweden, and 14.5% in Italy. More interesting is the case of France, where the ratio of organic farming was only 1.9% in 2007, but where it has advanced rapidly to 3.6% in 2011, and 6.6% in 2016.
By contrast, the proportion of Japan remains extremely low: only 0.1% in 2007 and 0.2% in 2011. The reasons are multiple, but apparently include failure of government agricultural reform policy, indifference of Japan Agricultural Cooperatives which profit from agrichemical sales, and lax ethics of farmers opposed to drastic changes in agriculture.
Governmental policy is not the unique factor for the promotion of organic farming. Some farmer and consumer activities have also made great contributions to the progress of organic farming. Furthermore, such activities are developing rapidly in Japan. These activities have common features such as relationships based on producer-consumer trust, active involvement, disclosure of information related to production, and self-determination of producers and consumers in deciding what to produce and eat. These features are common with those of democracy. This is the reason we qualify these practices as “food democracy”.
Based on concrete cases, this paper is aimed at showing the future of agriculture and food systems by examining the possibilities and limits of these practices.

Key Words:organic farming, agribusiness, food democracy, agricultural policy, AMAP


On Technology between Participation and Competition:
A Case Study of the Human Tower in Catalonia, Spain
Yuko Iwase

Through ethnographic research, this study clarifies digital technology use and human behavior related to the human tower, which has a tradition of more than 220 years in the Festival of Catalonia, Spain. The human tower, as its name suggests, is made with ascent and descent on people’s shoulders. Competition arises based on the tower height and structural complexity. Among the oldest group of participants investigated for this study, a movement exists to use technology to identify the participants required for tower construction, but humans must not be measured exactly for the best tower structure. People use technology that relies primarily on physical sensations that have been acquired and established empirically. The domain accompanying the digital technology acceptance retains the notion that people who build towers with their bodies can not measure human beings and people exactly. Some risk exists of a loss of face-to-face relations if “measurement” is embraced.

Key Words:Catalonia, human tower, participation, competition, technology