Japanese Studies at OSU Libraries is excited to announce the acquisition of “Kanto Earthquake Watercolors.”  This rare book, which has no official title, includes twelve pages of original paintings depicting the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan in 1923. This earthquake devastated several areas and resulted in a large fire, causing the death of an estimated 100,000 to 140,000 people. The paintings, created by Nakazawa Hiromitsu (中沢弘光), a well-known Nihonga and watercolor painter from Kansai, as well as other contemporary manga artists, focus exclusively on  scenes from the aftermath of the historic disaster.

Kanto Earthquake Destruction

Kanto Earthquake Fire









This book, which forms part of the world-class manga collection at OSU Libraries, is now housed at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum (BICLM).  For those interested in viewing this rare book, please contact Japanese Studies Librarian Ann Marie Davis at davis.5257@osu.edu

The Japanese Studies collections at OSU Libraries has developed considerable strengths in pre-war materials on earthquakes and related disasters.  Highlights from this collection include the following:

Haikara san ga tōru: hana no Tōkyō dai roman (はいからさんが通る : 花の東京大ロマン) by Yamato Waki (大和和紀) (Tōkyō : Kōdansha, 1987-1988 東京 : 講談社, 1987-1988)

  • The 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake happened during the wedding of the female protagonist. See page 566-567.

Jiji Manga (時事漫画) by Kitazawa, Rakuten (北澤楽天) ( Tōkyō : Jiji Shinpōsha 東京 : 時事新報社, Taishō 10-Shōwa 6 [1921-1931] )

  • Jiji Manga no.132 – Oct 7, 1923 (“earthquake ed”)
  • Jiji Manga no.133 – Oct 14, 1923 (“The evil ways of society that cannot be rectified by the earthquake” 地震に矯めなをされたる悪風潮)
  • Jiji Manga no.228 – August 31, 1925 (“2 Years after the Earthquake Disaster” 震災二周年の現狀を見よ)

Daishinsai gashū (大震災画集) by Nihon Mangakai (日本漫画会) (Tōkyō: Kanao Bunʼendō  東京: 金尾文淵堂 , Taishō 12 [1923])

Imaging Disaster by Gennifer S. Weisenfield (Berkeley : University of California Press, [2012])

  • Focusing on one landmark catastrophic event in the history of an emerging modern nation–the Great Kanto Earthquake that devastated Tokyo and surrounding areas in 1923–this fascinating volume examines the history of the visual production of the disaster. The Kanto earthquake triggered cultural responses that ran the gamut from voyeuristic and macabre thrill to the romantic sublime, media spectacle to sacred space, mournful commemoration to emancipatory euphoria, and national solidarity to racist vigilantism and sociopolitical critique. Looking at photography, cinema, painting, postcards, sketching, urban planning, and even scientific visualizations, Weisenfeld demonstrates how visual culture has powerfully mediated the evolving historical understanding of this major national disaster, ultimately enfolding mourning and memory into modernization.

For even more sources on the topic of pre-war Japan and earthquakes, please visit the Manga Open House Resource Guide.  Additional blogs introducing recent acquisitions in this area can also be accessed by clicking the data tags such as “earthquake” and “disaster” located at the bottom of this article