September 5, 2013 – The Great Japan Earthquake of 1923: The powerful quake and ensuing tsunami that struck Yokohama and Tokyo traumatized a nation and unleashed historic consequences. Pictured above, a circa 1925 woodcut by Unpo Takashima depicts Tokyo’s Ueno district ablaze. “Each new gust of wind,” reported Joseph Dahlmann, a Jesuit priest who witnessed the calamity from a hilltop, “gave new impulse to the fury of the conflagration.
The first shock hit at 11:58 a.m., emanating from a seismic fault six miles beneath the floor of Sagami Bay, 30 miles south of Tokyo. A 60- by 60-mile segment of the Philippine oceanic plate ruptured and thrust itself against the Eurasian continental plate, releasing a massive burst of tectonic energy. Down at the docks of Yokohama, Japan’s biggest port and its gateway to the West, hundreds of well-wishers were seeing off the Empress of Australia, a 615-foot luxury steamship bound for Vancouver. “The smiles vanished,” remembered Ellis M. Zacharias, then a young U.S. naval officer, who was standing on the pier when the earthquake hit, “and for an appreciable instant everyone stood transfixed” by “the sound of unearthly thunder.” Moments later, a tremendous jolt knocked Zacharias off his feet, and the pier collapsed, spilling cars and people into the water.
The date was September 1, 1923, and the event was the Great Kanto Earthquake, at the time considered the worst natural disaster ever to strike quake-prone Japan. The initial jolt was followed a few minutes later by a 40-foot-high tsunami. A series of towering waves swept away thousands of people. Then came fires, roaring through the wooden houses of Yokohama and Tokyo, the capital, burning everything—and everyone—in their path. The death toll would be about 140,000, including 44,000 who had sought refuge near Tokyo’s Sumida River in the first few hours, only to be immolated by a freak pillar of fire known as a “dragon twist” (see below). The temblor destroyed two of Japan’s largest cities and traumatized the nation; it also whipped up nationalist and racist passions. And the quake may have emboldened right-wing forces at the very moment that the country was poised between military expansion and an embrace of Western democracy, only 18 years before Japan would enter World War II.
Pictured above, an artist’s rendering depicts the fiery “dragon twist” that engulfed throngs of refugees near a river in Tokyo and claimed nearly 44,000 lives.
The 1923 temblor traumatized Japan. In Yokohama Harbor, the Empress of Australia (pictured above) would shelter refugees after the quake.
The 9.0 earthquake that struck the northeast coast of Honshu this past March is not likely to have such an impact on Japan’s history. Nevertheless, there are parallels. Like the 1923 quake, this one unleashed secondary disasters: a tsunami that washed away dozens of villages; mudslides; fires; and damage to the Fukushima Daiichi reactors that emitted radiation into the atmosphere (and constituted the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986). In both instances, the toll was considerable, with estimated deaths in the 2011 quake approaching 30,000 and damage that could go as high as $310 billion. Fuel, food and water were hard to come by weeks after the earthquake, and the Japanese government acknowledged that it had been ill-prepared for a calamity on this scale. Traditional figures offered words of solace: Crown Prince Hirohito 88 years ago; his son, Emperor Akihito, in 2011.
Parallels are seen between the Japan 1923 earthquake and the San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906. In both cases most of the cities were destroyed by the subsequent fires. However, in the Indonesian quake of December 26, 2004 and the Japan quake of March 11, 2011 it was massive tsunamis that caused most of the deaths and property damage. The point I’m am making is that the Uranus square Pluto aspect of April 21, 2014 (only seven months away) has elements of both destruction by fire and water. Therefore, the earthquake I believe will be generated by this aspect will be unparalleled in it’s intensity and catastrophic consequences. Global death and destruction of biblical proportions will be seen. (Credits – The Smithsonian Institute).
The Master of Disaster