Supporting the Kawasaki City Museum and Its Archive

Kawasaki City Museum

There was much loss of life and property when Typhoon Hagibis hit the Kanto region of Japan in mid-October 2019, but one piece of news that greatly affected me personally was the report that the vaults storing the valuable collections of the Kawasaki City Museum had been flooded in the storm. The Museum collection features not only archaeological artifacts from the region, but given the Museum’s long-standing commitment to preserving, studying, and displaying modern popular culture, one of the country’s best collections of film and manga. The Museum, which has had such film scholars as Makino Mamoru and Okumura Masaru on its curatorial staff, has a significant film collection. As we described in our Research Guide to Japanese Film Studies (and its Japanese update and translation), it is particularly strong in documentary, news films, video art, and TV commercials, and features the personal collections of Kumashiro Tatsumi, Jissoji Akio, and Kimura Takeo, among others. It would be a tremendous blow to Japanese film history if any of these materials were lost. 

Here is a recent Asahi article on the restoration efforts, which includes freezing paper materials to prevent mold. It says the Museum will get no insurance money because the collection was insured for fire and theft, not for flooding.

The Museum also has a special place in my heart. My first extended stay in Japan was in the summer of 1989, when I did the summer Japanese language program at the IUC in Yokohama. Since I was doing a homestay in Kawasaki, I ended up going almost every weekend to the Museum, which had only recently opened. Their Cinematheque continues to be an important venue for retrospective screenings. When I taught at Yokohama National University, I would take my students to the Museum, and curator friends would show us some the rare materials in their archive. I also took my son to see movies and exhibits there. 

Given my attachment to the Kawasaki City Museum, and my recognition of the significance of its collection, I have already made a donation to support the restoration of the collection and urge you to do so as well. Kawasaki City has posted a page on its website describing the various ways that individuals and groups can make donations to the restoration effort. The page is here

The page is in Japanese, but if you want to donate by credit card, just go to this page (Kawasaki’s general donation page), and click on this button towards the bottom of the page:

スクリーンショット 2019-11-16 午後11.24.44

This will take you to a site where they list the places where your donation can go. Number 2 is donations for the Museum. But in order to make a donation, you don’t click on Number 2, but go to the very bottom, and input your e-mail address. Click on the blue button, and the system will send you an e-mail, and a link to take you to the page where, after agreeing to the service agreement, you fill in your data and credit card information. There’s a pull-down menu about halfway through where you select where you want the money to go. Donating to the Museum is second on the list. 

It’s a bit complicated, but I hope that does not discourage people. Please donate!

(Photo from Wikipedia.)

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