Amidst the Rubble: Images of the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake

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  • Exhib_slideshow_exhibition_amidsttherubble_uenomakoto

    Ueno Makoto (1909–1980). 'Burnt Pagoda,' Japan, 1957. Woodblock print; ink and color on paper. Gift of James A. Michener, 1983 (18839). 

  • Exhib_slideshow_exhibition_amidsttherubble_coverofsongs

    Unidentified artist. 'Cover of Songs of the Great Earthquake,' From the series Ten Taishō Era Songbooks Japan, 1924. Lithograph-printed book, ink and color on paper. Gift of the Salmon Collection in memory of Arthur and Tena Salmon, 1994 (25371.01).

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July 30, 2015 - September 27, 2015
Honolulu Museum of Art


Exhibition Overview

On September 1, 1923, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 struck the Kantō plain in eastern Japan. In combination with a tsunami initiated by the quake, a typhoon coincidentally passing off the coast of northern Japan, Tokyo’s fire-prone infrastructure, and civil unrest, the Great Kantō earthquake (Kantō daishinsai ) claimed more than 105,000 lives. As a result, in 1960 the Japanese government designated that fateful date as Disaster Prevention Day. This commemorative display of artwork features two collaborative suites of prints (published in the 1920s) documenting the chaotic conditions directly after the earthquake. Displayed in the print alcove of the Japan gallery are woodblock prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861) that use elements of early modern Japanese mythology to depict the Great Ansei Earthquake, which struck the city of Edo in 1855.