Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Disaster. No matter when and where, it always looks the same.

Watching news from Japan I can't help thinking about the great 1923 earthquake that destroyed Tokyo and Yokohama, killing 105 thousand (official data, 2005). About 40 thousand Japanese and foreigners were proclaimed missing, their remnants never found. Hundreds were killed in ethnic clashes that began in the aftermath of the quake, sparked by wild rumors.

The earthquake caused firestorms and was "accompanied" by tsunami and typhoon. You can read about it in Wikipedia or elsewhere. Here, let's just look at the pictures.


Crown Prince Hirohito visiting Yokohama, two weeks after the quake:

Artists' impressions:

Tsunami by Shiun Kondo

A scene of fire spreading to the 12-story tower in Asakusa Park and the Hanayashiki amusement grounds

A sketch of the gigantic whirlwind in the direction of Honjo-Ishihara

Great Earthquake by Rakuten Kitazawa

One section of a 12-part Kantō Earthquake Scroll (1925) by Nishimura Goun


There was no nuclear power then.

If you're willing to help the people of Japan you're welcome to check useful links in Larry's post, telling the story of another disaster: the Aleutian tsunami (1946).


Sources: MIT Visualising Cultures, Wikimedia Commons, About Japan, WWII Database, Printsandthings, rekihaku.ac.jp, Three Steps Over Japan

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Comment by Pilsner Panther on March 18, 2011 at 6:33pm
Lord K., if you can find enough material to put together a feature here on the Imperial Hotel, I think it would be an excellent idea.
Comment by lord_k on March 17, 2011 at 3:26pm

To Larry:

This similarity cannot get out of my mind for almost a week.

Comment by Larry on March 17, 2011 at 2:31pm
This post is fascinating. And the similarities between these to the current images are haunting. Powerful post Lord_K.
Comment by lord_k on March 17, 2011 at 1:59pm

To David Mark Brown:

my friends (distinguished aeronauts, by the way) were in Tokyo when it all began. They weren't hurt and returned home safely but one of them says it will take "some time" till he'll be able to overcome the shock.

Comment by lord_k on March 17, 2011 at 1:56pm

To Pilsner Panther:

this hotel deserves a special entry, doesn't it?

Comment by lord_k on March 17, 2011 at 1:55pm

by Roxana Hire:

You know what surprised me? A number of postcards with pictures of the disaster. Of course there were postcards after the great San Francisco earthquake too, but less diverse and much less horrifying. I learned that the Japanese wanted "the memory of the quake to be passed".

Comment by Roxana Hire on March 16, 2011 at 10:04pm
Thank you for posting this. Part of what I love about diesel and steam is that it brings the past close to us, lest we forget and allow history to repeat itself. The Japanese did not forget the 1923 quake and modern building codes reflect the known devastation the region is prone too. History can save lives! Though, tragically, never all lives :(
Comment by Pilsner Panther on March 16, 2011 at 8:48pm

Interesting sidelight on Frank Lloyd Wright and this earthquake:


During his lifetime Wright was often ridiculed for his unorthodox building methods, but in this case he had the last laugh!



Comment by David Mark Brown on March 16, 2011 at 6:12pm
Wow. It's hard to imagine what it was like then or now. Like many, we have friends in Japan and are hoping they remain safe. So far I am surprised that the destruction hasn't been worse.

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