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1924 Yoshida Hatsusaburō View of Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Great Kanto Earthquake

關東震災全地域鳥瞰圖繪 / [Bird's-eye View of the Entire Area of the Kanto Earthquake Disaster]. - Main View

1924 Yoshida Hatsusaburō View of Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Great Kanto Earthquake


The Earthquake that Transformed Tokyo.


關東震災全地域鳥瞰圖繪 / [Bird's-eye View of the Entire Area of the Kanto Earthquake Disaster].
  1924 (dated)     8 x 40 in (20.32 x 101.6 cm)


This is a rare, poignant bird's-eye view of Tokyo in the aftermath of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake by master painter-cartographer Yoshida Hatsusaburō. Coverage includes Tokyo, Yokohama, Mt. Fuji, and surrounding areas. This view was printed and distributed in 1924 (Taisho 13), just after the one-year anniversary of the disaster by the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun and is a fascinating record of both commemoration and reconstruction.
The Earthquake and Immediate Aftermath
The Great Kanto Earthquake struck the Kanto Plain on September 1, 1923, and lasted between four and ten minutes. At 7.9 magnitude, the enormous earthquake caused severe destruction in Tokyo, Yokohama, and the surrounding prefectures. It also led to massive firestorms driven by strong winds from a typhoon off the Japanese coast. Over 142,000 people lost their lives, thousands of whom died in the fires. Following the earthquake, a false rumor targeting ethnic Koreans spread throughout Japan. As a recently colonized people, Koreans already faced discrimination, and tensions were heightened by the recent blossoming of the Korean independence movement. The rumors, which stated that Koreans were taking advantage of the disaster by committing arson and poisoning wells, led to a massacre, today known as the Kanto Massacre. Between 6,000 and 10,000 ethnic Koreans died, and the Japanese government ordered the Japanese army and civilian police to protect Koreans. In light of the damage caused by earthquake, the Japanese government considered moving the capital away from Tokyo and studied several possible sites. Ultimately, they chose to reconstruct Tokyo.
‘A New and Lively Imperial Capital’
The issuing of this map and the information on the verso one year after the disaster was not only for commemorative purposes, but to document and celebrate the extent of reconstruction. The effects of the destruction were still evident, for instance, in the significantly reduced population of many Tokyo neighborhoods. At the same time, the disaster provided an opportunity to address several long-standing issues, allowing for improvements in infrastructure, urban green space, housing, and administration. Still, the much more ambitious plans of Gotō Shinpei (1857 - 1929) and other reform-minded bureaucrats had to be scaled back due to costs. Unfortunately, much of the Tokyo that emerged from these reconstruction efforts was later destroyed by American bombing during World War II (1936 - 1945).
Long-term Effects
The Great Kanto Earthquake left deep imprints on Japanese culture and history, and in retrospect presaged the turn towards militarist nationalism, racism, and the collapse of democracy in the following two decades. It also is part of a much longer history of natural disasters in Japan, especially earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons. Tokyo, Yokohama, and several other cities needed to be almost entirely reconstructed at considerable cost. The earthquake set back the national economy and the government issued emergency 'earthquake bonds' to help businesses survive. When the government proposed to start redeeming these bonds in 1927, it caused a financial panic and many small banks collapsed, causing more economic strain and leaving the large zaibatsu(affiliated banks) as the sole survivors. This financial crisis caused Japan to experience the Great Depression earlier than other industrialized economies and discredited the political, financial, and bureaucratic elite, to the benefit of militarists and other illiberal forces.
Publication History and Census
This view by Yoshida Hatsusaburō (吉田初三郎) was printed and distributed on September 15, 1924 (Taisho 13), by the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun (大阪毎日新聞) as an addendum to the newspaper. It was printed by Seihan Insatsu Kabushiki Gaisha (精版印刷株式會社) and the text on the verso was written by Hakone Yumoto (箱根湯本), likely a journalist with the newspaper. In Japan, it is held by the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken), the National Diet Library, and a handful of other archives and libraries. Outside of Japan, it is held by the National Library of Australia and Stanford University. It is scarce to the market.


Yoshida Hatsusaburō (吉田初三郎, March 4, 1884 - August 16, 1955) was a Japanese illustrator and painter of birds-eye views active during the Taisho and Showa periods. Yoshida was born in Kyoto and apprenticed under Takeshiro Kanokgoi (1874 - 1941). Yoshida is significant for pioneering the use parallel perspective birds-eye views to illustrate Japanese bus and railroad transit networks. His first birds-eye view, completed in 1914, illustrated the Keihan railway and was highly praised by no less than Hirohito, then a prince but soon to be the Shōwa Emperor. With the Emperor's approval, Yoshida's views became widely popular and were adopted by the Ministry of Railways for the illustration all of its major public transportation networks. His style was so fashionable and distinctive that an entire genre was named after him (初三郎式絵図), and his works helped to spur a domestic tourism boom in the 1920s – 1930s. Most of his work consisted of city and regional views, though larger views encompassing the entirety of Japan do exist. Yoshida's most significant piece is most likely his rendering of the Hiroshima bombing, which was published in an English language magazine in 1949. He took on Tsunemitsu Kaneko as an assistant and apprentice in the early 1930s. Eventually Kaneko started making parallel perspective views of his own and became Yoshida's primary rival. Although he made over 3,000 maps in his lifetime, Yoshida was known to dedicate months to research and preparation for particular maps. For his 1949 Hiroshima map and his striking depiction of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, he adopted a journalistic approach and spoke to many survivors of the disasters. More by this mapmaker...

The Osaka Mainichi Shimbun (大阪毎日新聞; 1876 - 1942) was an Osaka based daily newspaper active in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Osaka Mainichi Shimbun (大阪毎日新聞, Osaka Daily News) was founded in 1876 as Osaka Nippo(大阪日報). In 1888 it was renamed Osaka Mainichi Shimbun. In 1911 it merged with the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun (東京日日新聞), but both companies continued to print their newspapers independently until 1943, they were consolidated under the Mainichi Shimbun (毎日新聞, Daily News) masthead. The Mainichi Shimbun is today one of Japans larges and longest lasting newspapers. Learn More...

Seiban Printing Co. (精版印刷株式會社; fl. c. 1925 - 1945) was an Osaka-based publisher in the early Showa period. A number of contemporaneous publishing houses used Seiban (or Seihan) in their name (帝国精版印刷, 京都精版印刷社, 日本精版印刷), but were evidently distinct from this publishing house, which specialized in producing maps of the Japanese Empire (such as Manchukuo and occupied areas of China), often for the Osaka Mainchi Shimbun. The company published its own brief history in English in 1929 (A brief history of the Seihan Printing Company Limited, OCLC 843142406), suggesting that the company had already existed for some time by that point. Learn More...


Very good. Creasing and some wear along folds. Light foxing and uneven toning in margins.


OCLC 990329074.