Special Exhibition

Current Special Exhibition

Earthquakes in Japanese History


Period Tuesday, March 11 – Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Venue Special Exhibition Galleries, National Museum of Japanese History
Admissions Adults: ¥830 (¥560)
Senior high school & college students: ¥450 (¥250)
* Fees in parentheses apply to groups of 20 or more
* Admission to permanent exhibitions included
* Free admission for elementary & junior high school students
* Free admission for senior high school students every Saturday
Hours

9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (entrance closed at 4:30 p.m.)

Closed Mondays (When Monday is a national holiday, the Museum is closed the following Tuesday.)
Organizer National Museum of Japanese History

Outline of Exhibition

This exhibition is organized mainly from two angles: historical earthquakes in the Tohoku region and earthquakes in the early modern and modern periods. While the former captures the continuity of earthquakes over a long period until the Great East Japan Earthquake (11th March 2011), the latter attempts to find timeless issues of earthquakes in recent periods.

In earthquakes, many people are injured and lose their lives, and the infrastructure for living is destroyed. Earthquakes may also cause social chaos or raise the question of ideal society itself. Furthermore, because an image of the disaster area is formed mainly from the worst-affected area in many cases, the damage and the victims in regions distant from the worst-affected area are often forgotten.

On the other hand, the relief of victims is a major task in earthquakes. From a contemporary viewpoint, “reconstruction” originally includes relief, but in the actual situation, there is also the fact that some people drop out of the relief net. The history of earthquakes is also the history of the attempt to confront such lack of relief.

This exhibition tries to clarify how people and society experienced earthquakes, what was learned, and what was forgotten from the viewpoints of each period and its social history, and reconstructs earthquakes in three dimensions while reflecting the results of research of the history of disasters by crossing knowledge of natural science and human science.

 

Highlights

Earthquake Disasters in Pre-modern Tohoku

This corner displays the Jogan Tsunami and Keicho Tsunami with records of the time, archeological knowledge, etc. In front of this corner, a simulation video of the tsunami caused by the Tohoku Earthquake is shown. With the tsunami that attacked the Tohoku region in 2011 in mind, please see how we approach earthquakes and tsunamis in the periods from which few materials are left today.

Tsunamis in the Meiji, Showa, and Heisei Periods

The Pacific coast in the Tohoku region was attacked repeatedly by tsunamis. For the Meiji Sanriku Tsunami, the research materials of the time and rare photographic materials are mainly displayed to show the damage situation. Because the Showa Sanriku Tsunami and the Chilean Tsunami occurred in a relatively recent period, they were experienced by some victims of the Tohoku Earthquake, and the tradition also remains. With a model of the Kirikiri area in Otsuchi-cho, Iwate, this corner reexamines those tsunamis in continuity with today.

From the Great Kanto Earthquake to the Kitatajima/Kitatango Earthquakes

The Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 caused serious damage to the capital of modern Japan. This earthquake was also a widespread disaster that spread damage throughout the whole Kanto region, as well as causing damage by tsunami. This corner reexamines this earthquake from multilateral viewpoints such as the diversity of damage by this earthquake, relief and reconstruction, and the movement of the politics and culture of the time.

Furthermore, the reconstruction after the Kitatajima Earthquake in 1925 and the Kitatango Earthquake in 1927 was largely based on the experience of the Great Kanto Earthquake. This corner also reexamines the reconstruction process after those earthquakes.

Earthquakes in Wartime and Occupation

Because earthquakes in wartime were not reported widely in the shadow of the war, they did not remain strongly in people’s memory. Neither were earthquakes in the time of occupation strongly recognized because of the confusion with air-raid damage and the chaos of that period. This would be the reason that many people in the period of rapid economic growth kept forgetting about the earthquakes that occurred in the last periods. With a focus on the Tonankai Earthquake in wartime, and the Nankai Earthquake and the Fukui Earthquake in the time of occupation, this corner shows the forgotten wartime and occupation history and the history of the Nankai Trough Earthquake.

Exhibition Lineup

1. Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Tohoku

(1)Disasters in the pre-modern period
(2)Tsunamis and earthquakes in the early modern and modern periods

2. Earthquakes in the Modern Period

(1) Great Kanto Earthquake
(2) Kitatajima/Kitatango Earthquakes
(3) Tonankai/Nankai Earthquakes
(4) Fukui Earthquake

Main Exhibition Materials (Plan)

1. Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Tohoku

  • Jogan Earthquake and Tsunami
    > Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku (Museum Collection)
    > Tile (Sendai City Board of Education)
  • Keicho Earthquake and Tsunami
    > Sunpuki (Tokugawa head family document collected by an individual)
  • Meiji Sanriku Tsunami
    > Pictorial Magazine of Great Tidal Bores in Iwate, Aomori, and Miyagi (Museum Collection)
    > Meiji Hinoe Kinoe Sanriku Daikaisho No Jikkyo (Museum Collection)
    > Nakajima Matsuji Photo Album (JCII Camera Museum)
    > Materials related to Yamana Soshin
  • Tohoku Earthquake 
    > Screens illustrating Disasters (Shiba Kokan) (Sendai City Museum)

2. Earthquakes in the Modern Period

  • Great Kanto Earthquake
    > Letter of Thanks by Refugees in a Barrack in the Imaicho Residence in the Taisho Earthquake (Mitsui Bunko)
    > General View of the Earthquake in the Imperial Capital (Museum Collection)
    > Picture Scroll of the Great Earthquake in Kamakura, 6 volumes/(1) Burning in Hase (2) Panic refuge (3) Zaimokuza Sea Furrow (4) Mice running in the rain (5) Arrested pirate ship (6) Tree in front of Yahatahokora (Kamakura Museum of National Treasures)
    > Poster for the Exhibition of Reconstruction of the Imperial Capital (Tokyo Institute for Municipal Research)
    > Flag of Hihuku-kai (Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum)
  • Kitatajima/Kitatango Earthquakes
    > Yichou Earthquake Records 3 volumes (Toyooka City Library)
    > Photographic Magazine of the Great Tajima/Tango Earthquakes (Kyotango City Board of Education)
    > Pictorial Magazine of Tajima/Tango Earthquakes (Kyotango City Board of Education)
    > Postcards of the Catastrophic Great Tango Earthquake (16 special cards in one set) (Kyotango City Board of Education)
  • Fukui Earthquake
    > LIFE July 12, 1948 (Museum Collection)
    > Vestiges of Tomokage Kensei (Collection of an individual)

Number of materials: 200 items

Pictorial Magazine of Great Tidal Bores in Iwate, Aomori, and Miyagi (Overall)   Leaflet related to Great Kanto Earthquake / Poster in the neighborhood of Hongo

Pictorial Magazine of Great Tidal Bores in Iwate, Aomori, and Miyagi (Overall)

1896 (Meiji 29)

 

Leaflet related to Great Kanto Earthquake / Poster in the neighborhood of Hongo

1923 (Taisho 12)
Leaflet related to the Great Kanto Earthquake / Announcement   Actual scene of the tornado in Honjo Ishiwara District

Leaflet related to the Great Kanto Earthquake / Announcement

1923 (Taisho 12)

 

Actual scene of the tornado in Honjo Ishiwara District

1923 (Taisho 12)
Song of the Great Taisho Earthquake   Popular song / Song of the Great Earthquake

Song of the Great Taisho Earthquake

1924 (Taisho 13)

 

Popular song / Song of the Great Earthquake

1924 (Taisho 13)
Ruined Manseibashi Station   Street with a car track in the neighborhood of Hongo

Ruined Manseibashi Station

1923 (Taisho 12)

 

Street with a car track in the neighborhood of Hongo

1923 (Taisho 12)
Miserable state of Asakusa Nakamise   Deserted Nikorai-do (Tokyo Resurrection Cathedral)

Miserable state of Asakusa Nakamise

1923 (Taisho 12)

 

Deserted Nikorai-do (Tokyo Resurrection Cathedral)

1923 (Taisho 12)

Note: Please note that items in the exhibition are subject to change.