8- Ishinomaki Kahoku March 4, 2018

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The Omagari Lock Gate
Photographed in 1951 by an American Military Doctor

Mar. 4th, 2018
Translated by Stefan Ramos

   In the above photo are two hirata boats and a motor boat passing through the Omagari lock gate (which used to be called the Jogawa River southern lock gate) in the Kitakami canal. They are continuing on towards the direction of the Narusegawa River (in the background of the photo). In the bottom photo is a family helping with the lock gate guard’s work of opening and closing the gate. The one-story building on the right is the guard’s official residence.

   Along the Kitakami canal, which extends 13.9 kilometers and connects the Narusegawa and Kyukitakami Rivers, there are differences in water levels. The water level on the canal side is lower, so ship navigation becomes dangerous during high tide. The lock gate was installed with the objective of regulating these water levels.

   In 1907 (Meiji 40), a wooden lock gate was established at the converging waterways of Kama and Omagari on either side of the Jogawa River with the objective of preventing sediment influx and counter-currents during floods. Because of the destruction from the high tide in 1913 (Taisho 2), a second concrete lock gate was built and construction finished in 1916 (Taisho 5).

   The double doors of the lock gate are made of wood. The gates were opened and closed by turning a man-powered device called a kagurasan (capstan). The origin of the word kagurasan is unknown, but the framework is set up with squared timber. There is a thick log in the middle that acts as an axis; into the axis are inserted two wooden poles that when pushed by people would wind up the rope connected to the top part of the doors. This would open and close the doors. There was one kagurasan attached to each door, so this work would happen on the other river bank as well.

   After the Meiji period small-sized steamboats went into commission on the canals. As a water route that connected the Shiogama and Ishinomaki ports, the Kyukitakamigawa River basin transported people and goods. Even after the war into the 30’s (1955-1964) of the Showa period, one could see the tranquil scene of motorboats pulling hirata boats carrying building materials like wood, river sand, and well stones.

   The doors of the Omagari lock gate were switched with steel doors in 1966 (Showa 41), and many remember the mechanization of the opening and closing equipment. It is unknown for how long the prefecture stationed a guard there, but the gate deteriorated, lost the ability to open and close, and was removed. Now sometimes boats coming and going choose to sail at high tide. (Local Historian, Seiji Henmi)

<Please let us know if you have any information>

You can browse the published photos on the photographer’s eldest son, Alan Butler’s, website “Miyagi 1951”.

Please feel free to contribute any information regarding these photos to Mr. Henmi at 090(4317)7706. 

米軍医が撮った1951、石巻地方<8> 大曲閘門





7 - Ishinomaki Kahoku February 25, 2018

Map of Shrine.jpg

The View from Mt. Haguro
Photographed by an American Military Doctor, 1951

Thanks to Stefan Ramos for the translation

Feb. 25th, 2018

With Toriyajinja Shrine on the peak of urban Ishinomaki’s Mt. Haguro to the viewer’s back, this picture looks out towards Mt. Hiyori and the mouth of the Kyukitakamigawa River.

This photo was taken around the large lantern in front of the shrine grounds and near the front stairs. If you look out southwards from the 49-meters-tall Mt. Haguro, Mt. Hiyori (61 meters tall) acts as a wall and blocks off part of the view.

Just in front are over-crowded, fully grown cherry blossom trees. They were probably planted before the war.

We can also see buildings like the old Kyuishinomakishiyakusho city hall (a two story wooden building) which burned down in a fire in 1956 (Showa 31) and the old Monouoshika office and education center which was on the other side of the road and also a wooden building.

More buildings were being constructed on the Monomizaka hill on the east side of the old town hall and on the hill to the west in front of Kaimonji Temple; the conversion to residential land continued on. The creation of residential lots in Umegaoka and the beginning of the real estate sales happened afterwards.  Shops and shipbuilding factories stood in a row down the Nakamachi, Honmachi, and Kadonowakicho riverside neighborhoods.

We have a glimpse through the shade of the trees of the activity in Nakase (a shipyard).

In 1951 (Showa 26) with the designation of Ishinomaki as a Category 3 Fishing Port, harbor maintenance progressed onwards. In the Minato area on the opposite shore we can see the long roof of the fish market and the completed pier.

The dredger permanently stationed in the port at this time continued dredging as it had every year in order to maintain the water depths of the boat routes and estuary. Before long the change to larger size fishing vessels continued, and through seeing the spreading and resumption of fishing industries moving from offshore to deep sea and northern-sea fisheries, we see the development of the fishing industries. The estuary port was reaching its limit, and in 1974 (Showa 49) the Ishinomaki port moved to Nagahama.

The pine grove that continued along the oceanic coast from Watanohacho to Nagahama was lost with the opening of the new Ishinomaki port and the establishment of the seafood product processing center, but in the picture we see the belt-shaped white sand and green pine grove. In the unchanging scenery of the Oshika Peninsula ridgeline and Bentenjima Island off the coast of Kotakehama, as well as Tashirojima Island and Ajishima Island, we feel the breaths of an Ishinomaki growing as a commercial fishing town. (Local Historian, Seiji Henmi)

<Please let us know if you have any information>

You can browse the published photos on the photographer’s eldest son, Alan Butler’s, website “Miyagi 1951”.

Please feel free to contribute any information regarding these photos to Mr. Henmi at 090(4317)7706.


米軍医が撮った1951、石巻地方<7> 羽黒山から


※米軍医が撮った1951、石巻地方<6> 石巻小の遊動円木
 掲載された写真は、撮影者の長男アラン・バトラー氏のウェブサイト「Miyagi 1951」で閲覧できます。
 写真に関する情報は辺見氏 090(4317)7706 にお寄せください。



6 - Ishinomaki Kahoku February 18, 2018

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Ishinomaki Elementary Swinging Pole
1951 Photograph by an American Military Doctor

Thanks to Stefan Ramos for the translation

Feb. 18th, 2018


The school gate of the Ishinomaki Elementary faced the road in front of the old Kyuishinomaki Town Hall that was built in 1917 (Taisho 6). The main and secondary gates were made up of four white granite poles, and if you entered the school grounds on the right-hand side towards the back was playground equipment.

In the picture, the children are gathered around a “swinging pole.” Many remember the nearby jungle gym and slide, and the horizontal bars in the front of the school.  You won’t notice the swinging pole there anymore. Since there were chains fixed to the props on both ends of the thick log, it was a toy that hung horizontally and would graze the surface of the ground. It could be enjoyed like a swing swaying forwards and backwards.

The log that the kids would sit on was quite large so several children could ride at the same time. There was no place to grab onto the log, so it was difficult for the younger children to not fall off if someone shook it. With envious eyes they watched the skilled older children.

One day, the log toy was suddenly dismantled and disappeared. Maybe it was taken down during regular maintenance?

Behind the log toy is the newly built Ishinomaki community center, and there is a long stairwell stretching down from the second-floor emergency exit.

Because of an official notice from the national government, in June of 1947 (Showa 22) the community center leased the second floor of the Kankeimarushoten store on Omachidori Street and reopened. In June of 1949 at the site of the old Kyuishinomaki Town Hall in Yatsuzawa (currently Yatsuzawakoen Park) a new wooden mortar, two story building was constructed and the community center reopened there as the first independent community center in the prefecture.

This writer, a graduate of Ishinomaki Elementary, would take a field trip after school and stop by to visit the different exhibitions. This community center is filled with memories of walking around the building with shoes still on.

• By Local Historian, Seiji Henmi

<Please let us know if you have any information>

You can browse the published photos on the photographer’s eldest son, Alan Butler’s, website “Miyagi 1951”.

Please feel free to contribute any information regarding these photos to Mr. Henmi at 090(4317)7706.

米軍医が撮った1951、石巻地方<6> 石巻小の遊動円木











5- Ishinomaki Kahoku February 11, 2018

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Kim Da Ru Street Ishinomaki District
taken by US military doctor, 1951

(temporary English Translation)

 Kimpira street, where Satomi head office and Mikiya head office used to be, connects the former back town (Omachi) street with the former Nakamachi Street, the river bank of the former Kitakami River. The street history dates back to the Edo era and was called "Yagiya Dingo" on the way to Ishinomaki Nakamachi and "Minamura Tamachi / Honmachi" on the other side of the former Kitakami River on the way to "Nakamachi".  

When the Utsumi bridge came over in the Meiji era, when a fish market opened in Nakase, fresh fish traders and Kamaboko (Kamaboko) traders gathered, and the Ishinomaki's kitchen as Ishinami Town · boiled town with "Sarukoya side street" It will be a town to cover. 

In March 1951, Mr. Kiyosaku Kikuchi in the town became the promoter and worshiped Shinko's Kaneda Rira (Shrine) Shrine, and in the residence on the south side of the street Kim Dora Shrine (Ishinomaki Small old former worship residence reuse) established. We will revise the street name with the approval of the town and neighborhood. 

The luxurious gate at the entrance to the street was established in early April. The upper line is "Shinshan Kanpira-dori", the pillars on both sides are read as "entrance to Gala Dragon shrine full of fruitful harvest", "Shopping is in this city of sincere and inexpensive", expectation to the new town name, spirit You can feel it. Sakurai clothing store on the right side of the entrance, Chrysanthu shop on the fresh fish character, "Kimura shop" on the left (after furniture store). 

The concrete well below the left gate is the old well well known in the old backyard. In the Boshin war, former shogunate army soldiers who missed Enomoto fleet headed to Hakodate were executed by the new government forces. In the vicinity of this well, there is a sad history that became the place of the two prisoners' heads of the city along with the Hijokoji high-bid place. 

The width of the road is different near the well, and it is a town border. The wide road in front of the well is the old back street, the narrower one is the old middle side, the end is Ishiyama of Gomatsuyama. (Regional historian / Seiji Hemi) 
※ U.S. military doctor took 1951, Ishinomaki district <4> Omako Beach and bay

<Please give us the information> The posted photos are taken at the website of the photographer's eldest son Alain Butler "Miyagi 1951" You can browse.

Information on photographs, please contact Mr. Homemi 090 (4317) 7706.


米軍医が撮った1951、石巻地方<5> 金毘羅通り

 通り入り口の豪華な門は、4月上旬に設置。上段は「肴町 金比羅通」、両側の柱は「五穀豊穣(ほうじょう) 大漁満船 金毘羅神社入口」、「お買物は誠実と廉価の此の街で」と読め、新町名への期待、心意気が感じ取れます。入り口右側はサクライ洋品店、鮮魚の文字は菊清商店、左側は「木村商店」(後の家具店)。

※米軍医が撮った1951、石巻地方<4> 大曲浜と入り江
 掲載された写真は、撮影者の長男アラン・バトラー氏のウェブサイト「Miyagi 1951」で閲覧できます。
 写真に関する情報は辺見氏 090(4317)7706 にお寄せください。



Ishinomaki Kahoku February 4, 2018

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<4> The 1951 Photograph by an American Military Doctor, Shows The Omagarihama Beach and Inlet

Feb. 4th, 2018
The Ishinomaki Harbor construction utilizing the Kama region inlet began in 1961 (Showa 36) and was completed in 1967 (Showa 42). The estuary scenery of the inlet being filled by the Jogawa River completely changed.
The photograph is a view of grandchildren and an old woman carrying small fish on Omagari Beach which faces the inlet. The two in the foreground have stuck an oar, as though it were a carrying pole, through a bamboo basket and a tin bucket with fish, shouldered it, and are moving. In the background can be seen the figure of a young woman holding a bucket or something.
The Omagari Beach coastal levees (breakwater embankments) appear low, but if you ask Kama residents who know about the old Omagari Beach they will tell you that’s right; this [picture] shows the contrast of the pine trees that had grown tall. The water in the background is the inlet in Kadonowaki in Kama, and the middle of the Jogawa River filling the inlet was the border between Ishinomaki City and the old Kyuyamotocho Town.
The Kamanowatashi Ferry used to come and go here, carrying shoppers and peddlers by boat towards Ishinomaki.
For as long as anyone can remember there has been a deep connection between the Omagari and Kama regions; for marriages the saying “the Kama man and the Omagari woman” remains [even today]One of the chimneys from Tohoku Pulp (currently the Nippon Paper Group’s Ishinomaki factory) can be seen below the mountain ridgeline in the back which looks out in the direction of Ishinomaki. A south (ocean) wind is blowing, and since the smoke is trailing inland this may have been around the beginning of summerThe Kama inlet was a place where children would be taken by their parents to go fishing and shell-collecting, and many remember the pine grove encircling the bay. At the beginning of the Edo period, due to confluence construction by Shigeyoshi Kawamuramagobe [a samurai who became a flood control specialist], the Eaikawa River (Jogawa River), the Hazagawa River, and the Kitakami River stopped flowing into the sea and were established as a lagoon and tidal flat
Omagari was a prosperous district for the salt-making and fishing industries. As a gift from Mr. Kawamuramagobe, Kamaomagari (an exclave of Omagari Beach) within Kadonowaki was incorporated into Kadonowakimura Village from Omagarimura Village as the Kama region. The region’s name, Kama, comes from the [Japanese word for] pot used in salt-making.

<Please let us know if you have any information>

You can browse the published photos on the photographer’s eldest son, Alan Butler’s, website “Miyagi 1951”.

Please feel free to contribute any information regarding these photos to Mr. Henmi at 090(4317)7706.

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1955 Military Map

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2018 Satellite Map

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Photo of Area Shortly After Tsunami

米軍医が撮った1951、石巻地方<4> 大曲浜と入り江


※米軍医が撮った1951、石巻地方<3> 大町通り
 掲載された写真は、撮影者の長男アラン・バトラー氏のウェブサイト「Miyagi 1951」で閲覧できます。
 写真に関する情報は辺見氏 090(4317)7706 にお寄せください。



Ishinomak Kahoku January 28, 2018

  Women's Clothing Reflecting Society

Women's Clothing Reflecting Society

The 1951 Photographed by an American Military Doctor
Ishinomaki, Omachidori Street

Jan. 28th, 2018
            This picture is of the neighborhood on the north side in front of Kankeimarumototen on Omachidori Street (currently Aitopia). It can be seen from the clothing of the passersby that it was either spring or autumn time. Captain Butler stood in this spot and took several photos.

            One can see that the shops on the west side of the street are Tokyoyahakimonoten shoe store, the stallholders in tents pitched in the empty lot in front of the Ishinomaki Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hamayayohinten Western goods, and Kameshichigofukuten Japanese cloth store. On both sides of the street are a forest of banners, and if one looks at the end of the street he will see all of the people in front of the street stalls; it is surprising to see so many pedestrians here.

            To the North side of Tokyoya[hakimonoten] are the Ishidakanamonoten hardware, Marunao, Somayakaguten furniture, Kankeimarushoten, Sutoaramonoya variety, and Tanshobo shops, etc. The models in these successive shots are women glimpsed in the streets of Ishinomaki. Amongst them are a young woman, a lady with her child, and some sisters. It seems that Captain Butler, who visited many places, noticed the different appearance and clothes of women in various areas (urban districts, farming villages, and fishing villages), industries, and occupations.

            Most men wore western clothes, but women mixed Japanese and Western clothes. The three good friends that can be seen [in this photo] if they are still alive would be in the latter half of their eighties, wouldn’t they? The woman with the white sweater and skirt has good taste, but it’s a pity that she is wearing geta (traditional wooden Japanese clogs).

            This was a year when nylon socks were in vogue, but throughout the country everything was in short supply so shoes were a valuable. It was a time when even though people wanted things they just could not get their hands on them.

            The following year Omachi and Omachiginzadori Street charged ahead of other towns and began installing asphalt roads. There were memorial sales, and in both name and substance [the area] fully developed as a shopping district.  (Local historian Seiji Henmi)

※The 1951 that an American Military Doctor Captured  Kawahiraki and Tachimachidori Street

<Please let us know if you have any information>

You can browse the published photos on the photographer’s eldest son, Alan Butler’s, website “Miyagi 1951”.

Please feel free to contribute any information regarding these photos to Mr. Henmi at 090(4317)7706. 

米軍医が撮った1951<3> 石巻・大町通り







※米軍医が撮った1951<2> 川開きと立町通り


 掲載された写真は、撮影者の長男アラン・バトラー氏のウェブサイト「Miyagi 1951」で閲覧できます。
 写真に関する情報は辺見氏 090(4317)7706 にお寄せください。



Ishinomaki Kahoku January 21, 2018

 Ishinomaki Utsumi Bridge Commercial Street 1951

Ishinomaki Utsumi Bridge Commercial Street 1951

The 1951 Photographed by an American Military Doctor
Kawahiraki and Tachimachidori Street

Jan. 21st, 2018
This photo is one view of the 1951 (Showa 26) Ishinomaki Kawahiraki Festival [a festival that marks the start of boating season] which was held on July 28th and 29th (Sat.).

Having been stopped since the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 (Showa 12), the Kawahiraki Festival was revived in 1946 (Showa 21) after the Pacific War. Based on the simple Tanabata Star Festival decorations on Tachimachidori Street and the back road leading to Toriya Shrine which is in front of the stone torii gate (which was damaged by an earthquake in the sea off of the coast of the Miyagi prefecture and moved to the grounds of Toriya Shrine) we know that this was one of the Kawahiraki Festival days.

On this day the one-way Tachimachidori Street had been blocked off to cars. Without expecting streamers or kusudama (decorative paper balls used during festivals, etc.) like the ones on Omachidori Street, a tunnel made of colored paper strung from small bamboo plants was the best they could do. With the modest, small bamboo plants, it was a time when [everyone] felt the joys of festivals and peace.

 Below the 200+ stone steps the road from the old Kyuoikawanaika internist to the old Kyunakajimageka surgeon is unclear, but it had already been built. The Tachimachi shops from the left are Fukuraikanshashinkan photo studio, several houses down between the reopened Taigetsushokudo restaurant and the red and white curtain of the Western building is a roof (a gateway?) to the entrance of Fukichodori Street. To the right of that is the Akitaya mansion and the large ginkgo tree in the gardens, several storehouses, and Miyoshi Shrine.

The new two story building is the prefectural Public Healthcare Center, and with the large storehouse-like roof and chimney as a landmark we understand that

to the right behind Akitaya is Shindencho’s Kinkabuto, Suzukishoyuya soy sauce shop, and Suminoe sake brewery, etc.

            There are two festival performance tents standing in the remains of Akitakoen Park in front of Fukicho, and beginning in May of this year the Kigura Circus was performing. Aren’t there several people who remember the crowded circus tents on that festival day? Several years later the remains of Akitakoen Park were sold off and it changed into the Ekimae Market, but there are now few left of the generation that knows of the market.

            It is thought that at the upper end [of the photograph] are Ogawa railroad crossing and the northern end of Asahimachidori Street. To the left of the Asahimachi railroad crossing can be seen the Takayashikido Road which runs along the Hebitahori trench. Before long, around 1955 (Showa 30), the adjustment of arable land behind the station was completed and the Hebitahori trench was made into a straight line near the Ishinomaki Line. In this year the North-South road of the Mizuoshi railroad crossing in front of the Niinumakanamonoya hardware store in Kokucho was put in place.

※The 1951 that an American Military Doctor Captured   Ishinomaki, Naikaibashidori Shopping Street
Please let us know if you have any information>

You can browse the published photos on the photographer’s eldest son, Alan Butler’s, website “Miyagi 1951”.

Please feel free to contribute any information regarding these photos to Mr. Henmi at 090(4317)7706.


米軍医が撮った1951<2> 川開きと立町通り



※米軍医が撮った1951<1> 石巻・内海橋通商店街




Ishinomaki Kahoku, January 14, 2018

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The 1951 Photographed by an American Military Doctor

Ishinomaki, Naikaibashidori Shopping Street

Jan. 14th, 2018 

            [This photo is of] Ishinomaki’s iconic shopping district’s Naikaibashidori Street and Omachidori Street stoplight (current day Aitopia). It’s a color photo taken from the Naikaibashi Bridge side [of the stoplight], revealing the area beyond Omachidori Street all the way down to Hashidori 3-Chome. Lined up from the right are Shosendo, Takahikokutsuten shoe store, Kashiwayagofukuten Japanese cloth store, Yoshokushinsekai Western food store, Hiramashoten, and Endoyohinten Western goods store (though not pictured, Hoshiyakkyoku drug store is also there).

            We can see a dome-roofed concrete structure (formerly the Miyagi Shogyoginko Commercial Bank, owned by Shichi-Ju-Shichiginko Bank), currently the Ishinomaki Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the sign for Heiwadokashiten sweets shop facing the road, the pole and neon sign of Hashidori Shopping District facing the Hashidori entrance, and the circular roadside lights in the shape of tendon lures suspended in air above the road as far as 3-Chome. The white characters reading ‘tobacco’ on Shosendo’s red sign are nostalgic.

            The only people who would recognize the three-wheeled vehicle on the left side [of the photo] are elderly people. The make and model are unknown, but three-wheelers gave off a great amount of exhaust. In 1951 (Showa 26) there were 469 units [registered] in the Ishinomaki police jurisdiction. In an age when four-wheeled automobiles were rare, many three-wheelers played an important role.

            They cannot be seen in the photo, but on the North side of the corner of Naikaibashidori Street and Nakamachidori Street are the Shikurayakkyoku drug store, Takahashisobaya soba shop, Itabashizakkaten general goods store, Summit, etc. In the South corner are Hokodo, Tengudo, Mamushiya, Chukaro, Taizanso (afterwards the Marumitsu Ishinomakiten shop, which opened in 1955), Kashiwayohinten Western goods store, Tachibanagofukuten Japanese cloth store, Wakazukikesshoten beauty store, etc.

            The Taisho period (1912-1926) former Miyagi Shogyoginko Commercial Bank was demolished after [the photo was taken] in 1955 (Showa 30) and rebuilt as the Shichi-ju-Shichiginko Bank Ishinomaki Branch. After the Shichi-ju-Shichiginko Bank Ishinomaki Branch moved to Tachimachidori Street it was used as the City Social Welfare Building.

            In the 40’s with the advent of the automobile society, widening of Naikaibashidori Street, the modernization of the shops, and the enforcement of pedestrian precincts and night stalls, it was developed to be the greatest shopping district in the city.

This is a serial commentary, posted weekly on Sundays, by local historian Seiji Henmi on the pictures taken by the late American military doctor George Butler in 1951 of the Ishinomaki region.

Photos are available on the website run by Mr. Butler’s eldest son, Alan Butler, Miyagi 1951.

Please address any information regarding the photos to Mr. Seiji Henmi at 090(4317)7706.

■  Seiji Henmi

Seiji Henmi was born in the middle of the City of Ishinomaki in December of 1947. He graduated from Ishinomaki Senior High School and the Tohoku Gakuin University Economics Department. He worked for the Sankei Newspaper in the Ishinomaki section, and after retiring worked on investigations regarding the Kitakami River for the Foundation of River and Basin Integrated Communications, JAPAN. He is now working for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Kitakami-Karyu River Office’s Mizubenofukko Mirainokan Hall (Waterfront Restoration and Future Hall) (located in Nakase, Ishinomaki). He is currently living in Ishinomaki’s Chuo 3-Chome.