A maintenance hole cover in Kikonai, showing a depiction of the Kanrin Maru.

Photo: Leon Derksen
 

Japan: Gathering stories on the Japanese warship the Kanrin Maru

How the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands uses oral histories in the research about and management of shared maritime heritage.
14 October 2020

Leon Derksen created a vlog on the way in which the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) and its partners employ oral history in the management of shared maritime heritage, using the Dutch-built Japanese warship the Kanrin Maru as an example. On 19 September 1871, the Kanrin Maru (1856) shipwrecked near Kikonai, Hokkaido in Japan.  

Working together on oral histories 

In 2019, the RCE and Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology collected oral histories and other stories related to the Kanrin Maru together with different local communities. Using oral history as a tool, different layers regarding the significance of a heritage site can be revealed. This tool also enables local communities to be included in the research and interpretation of a site, and it highlights the shared responsibility for the management of, in this case, shared maritime heritage. 

Important sources of information 

As a way of informing maritime history, and as part of the process of locating, understanding and/or managing maritime archaeological and heritage sites, oral histories constitute an important source of information when concerning physical remains. Recently, an article was written about how the RCE’s experience in this field can support the work of maritime archaeologists and heritage experts working on shared cultural heritage projects.