Saturday, September 02, 2023

Mapping the Great Kantō Earthquake

100 years ago yesterday, on September 1st 1923, the Great Kantō earthquake struck Japan. The earthquake struck near midday, at a time when many people were cooking lunch. In Tokyo, during and after the earthquake, fires spread across the city. In the 46 hours after the quake around 40% of Tokyo burned to the ground.

Japanese newspaper Nikkei has marked the 100th anniversary of the Great Kantō earthquake with a mapped reconstruction of how nearly half of Tokyo was destroyed on September 1st 1923. The 100th Anniversary of the Great Kantō Earthquake provides a chronological mapped account of where fires broke out in the Japanese capital in the wake of the earthquake, showing where and how these fires spread through the city over the following two days. 

As you progress through Nikkei's historical recount of the earthquake the map sidebar provides information on the progress of the fires devouring Tokyo, illustrated with some vintage photographs taken during and after the quake. The areas of Tokyo burned by the fires are shown in red on the accompanying map.

Nikkei has also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Great Kantō earthquake by creating an interactive map which plots the epicenter of the 13,680 earthquakes which have struck Japan over the course of the last century. 

Japan's Earthquake Archipelago uses scaled circles to plot the epicenters of each earthquake. The color of these circles can be selected to show either the magnitude or depth of the individual quakes. The earthquake data visualized on the map comes from the Japan Meteorological Agency.

If you are interested in historical disaster mapping then you should also view CBC's extraordinary 3D reconstruction of the 1917 Halifax Explosion. A City Destroyed: 100 Years After the Halifax Explosion includes an astonishing 360 degree video reconstruction of the tragedy, as well as a fully interactive 3D map of 1917 Halifax, visualizing the damage and destruction caused by the explosion.

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