Voices of Foreign Residents in Yokohama and Tokyo at the Time of the 1923 Kanto Earthquake
*Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia
Via Alfonso Corti 12, Milano 20133, Italy
**Earthquake Research Institute, The University of Tokyo
When the Kanto earthquake struck on Saturday the 1st of September 1923 at a few minutes to noon, the foreign residents from western countries in the harbour city of Yokohama reached 2,500, and a similar presence was in Tokyo, which as the capital hosted the officers of embassies, consulates, and trade companies. These foreign residents left impressive records of the earthquake occurrence, as well as the fire that started immediately after. To add a different viewpoint to the overall understanding of this earthquake disaster, we concentrated on the considerable quantity of documents now stored at the National Archives (Kew Gardens, UK) and at the Affaires étrangères-Archives diplomatiques (La Courneuve, France). These documents were produced by British and French diplomats and naval commanders as well as foreign residents of different nationalities who were in Yokohama and Tokyo at the time of the earthquake. The immediacy of the descriptions they contain and the details they supply about the earthquake, the fire, and the rescue and relief actions bring us back to the shaking and shocking moments experienced by the people living in Yokohama and Tokyo one hundred years ago.
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