Great Kantō Earthquake

At exactly 11:58 a.m. on September 1, 1923, the earth began to tremble in Japan. The tremors lasted between four and ten minutes and reached a strength of 7.9 on the Richter scale. The earthquake destroyed many of the gas mains in Tokyo and Yokohama. The leaking gas ignited, causing massive fires. Nearly two-thirds of all houses in both cities burned down. Of the two million people living in the affected area, the natural disaster and the ensuing fire claimed the lives of some 150,000. The bulk of the destruction was in Yokohama. Tokyo’s reconstruction allowed the city to grow into a modern agglomeration with new infrastructure and canal systems. The protective measures against disasters developed in the aftermath of the 1923 earthquake serve as exemplary models for countries across the globe.

Further Readings: 
  • Gregory, Clancey. Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.