Library’s book conservator contributes to project for Japan’s tsunami survivors

Photo album designed by Hisako Nakazawa for the OKAERI PROJECT. Nearly 200 book artists and binders from 14 countries have participated in the project to date.
Hisako Nakazawa is a paper and book artist who works in McHenry Library's Special Collections as its paper and book conservator.

The University Library’s Hisako Nakazawa has joined the OKAERI PROJECT, an international effort initiated by the Tokyo Bookbinding Club.

The project asks bookbinders to create hand-bound photo albums for families to help them recover their family photographs ruined in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

With the support of several film corporations and numerous volunteers, damaged family photos are being cleaned and restored and then placed into artistically-bound albums.  

Nakazawa is a paper and book artist who works in McHenry Library's Special Collections as its paper and book conservator.

She has designed a photo album that features on its covers postal stamps used where the tsunami damage was most severe.

“For the front and back cover’s design, there are several postal stamps from the six prefectures struck by the quake and Tsunami,” said Nakazawa.

“Those postal stamps feature local festivals and landscapes where people lived before.”

“When this photo album finally reaches a person or family, they will find their tie to the land, history and life,” she added.

For the people of this region who have lost nearly everything they owned, the emotional value of rescued family photos is enormous.

To date, nearly 200 book artists and binders have participated in the project from 14 countries --including Belgium, France, Japan, Canada, the UK, Italy, Greece, Argentina, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany.

The OKAERI PROJECT photo albums will be displayed in an exhibition to be held at the Iwate Museum of Art and the Ofunato Civic Cultural Hall in Japan on March 3-25.

The UCSC Library is co-sponsoring Nakazawa’s participation in this project.

Born in Kumamoto, Japan, Nakazawa attended college in Tokyo, where she fell in love with sculpture. She moved to the U.S. to study at the Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore.

She also studied bookbinding before moving to New York to work at the New York Botanical Garden as a specialist in conservation.

Nakazawa previously worked in the Preservation Unit of the University Library, before moving to Special Collections and Archives last summer.