This site requires that you enable Javascript to function properly Scholten Japanese Art | Woodblock Prints | unknown Great Kanto Earthquake- Nihonbashi Bridge
Scholten Japanese Art Gallery
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unknown, 20th century
Great Kanto Earthquake- Nihonbashi Bridge

lithograph, ca. 1924-25
9 1/2 by 7 1/8 in., 24.2 by 18.1 cm
On September 1, 1923, a massive earthquake originating from Sagami Bay, only 30 miles south of Tokyo, hit the metropolis just before noon. What wasn't destroyed by the quake, was soon engulfed either by a 40-foot high tsunami which followed only minutes later, or by fast-moving fires ignited from kitchen stoves which would have been lit in order to prepare midday meals. Known as the Great Kanto Earthquake, the quake and the aftermath would claim the lives of over 120,000 people, most perishing in the numerous fires that raged through the eastern neighborhoods, including Asakusa, Kanda, Kyobashi, Honjo, Fukugawa, Shitaya, Ginza, and Nihonbashi.
While the Nihonbashi district was largely destroyed, its namesake and the subject of this print, the Nihonbashi bridge, survived, which was symbolically important because it is the point from which all distances are measured to the capital. The bridge is easily recognizable by the distinctive stone balustrade and bronze street lanterns decorated with a majestic seated lion in silhouette against the smoky fires burning in the background. What would normally be a bustling intersection has only six figures in the foreground, four of which are on the move, but two are standing still, perhaps in shock. Poignantly, one looks away, over the railing towards the fires, as though trying to take in the destruction. The absence of urgency by the figures and the deep red sun partially obscured by smoke suggests that it likely late afternoon, perhaps the second day after the event.
price: Sold

Destruction of Nihonbashi and Kanda, Osaka Mainichi Newspaper