Into the Twenty-First Century

1. Jelle Zeilinga de Boer and Donald Theodore Sanders, Earthquakes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Seismic Disruptions (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), x–xi.

2. Rachel Laudan, From Mineralogy to Geology: The Foundations of a Science, 1650–1830 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 43.

3. Laudan, Mineralogy to Geology, 218.

4. Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology: Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface, by Reference to Causes Now in Operation, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (London: John Murray, 1832), 539–540. For the complete discussion of earthquakes, volcanoes, and related phenomena, see 457–553.

For theories of earthquakes, see 533–545. 5. Ibid., 543.

6. Ibid., 505.

7. Susan Elizabeth Hough, Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don't Know) about Earthquakes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), 205.

8. Kotô, Bundjiro [Kotō Bunjirō], “On the Cause of the Great Earthquake in Central Japan, 1891,” Tōkyō teikoku daigaku kiyō, rika 5, no. 10 (1893): 295–353.

9. Tsuji Yoshinobu, Sennen shinsai: Kurikaesu jishin to tsunami no rekishi ni

manabu (Daiyamondo sha, 2011), 252–253.

10. Peter M. Shearer, Introduction to Seismology, 2nd ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 2.

11. Gregory Clancey, Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity, 1868–1930 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006),

esp. 63–66. See also Boumsoung Kim, Meiji, Taishō no Nihon no jishingaku: Rokaru saiensu o koete (Tōkyō daigaku shuppankai, 2007), 19–48.

12. For more details, see Gregory Smits, “Danger in the Lowground: Historical Context for the March 11, 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami,” AsiaPacific Journal 9, issue 20, no. 4 (May 16, 2011), at japanfocus


13. Iki Tsunenaka, “Sanriku chihō tsunami jistujō torishirabe hōkoku,” in Shinsai yobō chōsakai hōkoku, dai 7 gō (Shinsai yobō chōsakai, 1896), 30–33.

Susanna M. Hoffman, “The Monster and the Mother: The Symbolism of Disaster,” in Susanna M. Hoffman and Anthony Oliver-Smith, eds.,
Catastrophe and Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster (Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press, 2002), 137–139.

14. Ibid., 114. Hoffman points out that one message tied around a tree in the wake of the Oakland firestorm of 1991 read, “May We All Be Restored and Renewed” (116).

15. Yomiuri shinbun, September 6, 1877, morning edition, 4.

16. “Ōsegaki,” Yomiuri shinbun, November 26, 1887, morning edition, 2.

17. “Daishinsai no yonjūichi shūki,” Yomiuri shinbun, October 31, 1894, morning edition, 5.

18. “Ansei daijishin no daikuyō,” Yomiuri shinbun, March 27, 1903, morning edition, 4.

19. “Jishin gakkai,” Yomiuri shinbun, May 31, 1888, morning edition, 2.

20. “Jishin to arashi,” Yomiuri shinbun, January 4, 1885, special edition, 3. Lyell also commented on earthquakes and weather: “That there is an intimate connexion between subterranean convulsions and particular states of

the weather is unquestionable; but, as Michell truly remarked, 'it is more probably that the air should be affected by the causes of earthquakes, than that the earth should be affected in so extraordinary a manner, and to so great a depth, by a cause residing in the air.'” Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. 1, 534. The focus of Japanese interest in atmospheric phenomena tended not to be concerned with the possibility that certain types of weather might cause earthquakes or vice versa but with the possibility that certain types of weather might indicate an earthquake will soon strike.

21. Tomiharu Isao, “Sekiyū to jishin to no kankei,” Yomiuri shinbun, February 24,

1885, morning edition, 1.

22. “Jishin o kizukau mono ari,” Yomiuru shinbun, November 4, 1891, special edition, 2.

23. Although Musha Kinkichi disagreed with the notion that unseasonably warm weather was a sign of an impending earthquake, he related a tale from the Ansei Edo earthquake of a bannerman on guard duty who announced that an earthquake would soon occur, and emergency preparations were made

in time. When later asked the reason for his insight, he said that survivors of the Sanjō earthquake reported that the sky appeared closer, the stars shone much more brightly than usual, and it was warm in the winter. Moreover,

in connection with the Genroku earthquake, an old man named Amano Yagozaemon said that when the stars appear low in the sky and the weather is warm in the winter, an earthquake is on the way. He reinforced his house before the shaking started. Musha Kinkichi, Jishin namazu (Meiseki shoten, 1995, originally 1957), 133.

To cite but a few of the almost endless examples, Ikeya Motoji frequently quotes “old sayings” or “proverbs” such as “a yellow morning sun, a red moon, and twinkling stars are precursors” or “when wind blows up from the ground
there will be an earthquake.” Signifi antly, Motoji never mentions the historical context of these sayings, namely the Tokugawa-era notions about trapped yang energy within the earth. See Earthquakes and Animals: From Folk Legends

to Science (River Edge, NJ: World Scientifi 2004), 7, 8. Benjamin Reilly

revives the theory of meteorologist C. F. Brooks that “cyclonic weather” was a signifi ant causal factor in the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake. See Disaster and Human History: Case Studies in Nature, Society, and Catastrophe (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2009), 82. As discussed in the introduction, many of the articles in Saumitra Mukherjee, ed., Earthquake Prediction (Leiden: Brill, 2006) posit atmospheric earthquake causes or precursors.

24. For a discussion of this post-Nōbi turn toward science, see Clancey,

Earthquake Nation, 151–179.

25. “Kinō no daijishin,” Yomiuri shinbun, June 21, 1894, morning edition, 2.

26. “Jishin no chūi,” Yomiuri shinbun, January 16, 1915, morning edition, 5.

27. “Tsūzoku jishin monogatari (),” Yomiuri shinbun, November 19, 1915, morning edition, 5.

28. “Tōkyō to jishin: shinpai no oyobazu,” Yomiuri shinbun, October 18, 1917, morning edition, 5.

29. Clancey, Earthquake Nation, 220–226.

30. “Jishin kasai no tenrankai,” Yomiuri shinbun, November 18, 1923, morning edition, 5.

31. In Namazu Taiheiki konzatsubanashi, for example, Kashima's victorious forces sell the defeated catfish rebels to local restaurants. See FN, 519. The theme also occurs frequently in catfish prints: for example, prints #57, #58,

#59, and #60, Miyata and Takada, Namazue, 228–229, 274–278.

32. “Ansei daijishin no komonjo hakken,” Yomiuri shinbun, September 20, 1953, morning edition, 6.

33. See Clancey, Earthquake Nation, 221.

34. For a list of precursors (zenchō) in one account, see “Ōjishin ōkaze kenmonki,” in NJS, vol. 5, supplement 2, part 1, 537–538.

35. Clancey, Earthquake Nation, 152–153.

36. “Tsūzoku jishin monogatari (),” Yomiuri shinbun, November 19, 1915, morning edition, 5.

37. According to seismologist Shimamura Hideki, contemporary science has been unable to shed any light on a possible relationship between volcanoes and earthquakes. See Nihonjin ga shiritai jishin no gimon 66: Jishin ga ōi Nihon dakarakoso chishiki no sonae mo wasurezuni! (Sofutobanku kurieitibu, 2008), 90–92.

38. Musha, Jishin namazu, 150.

39. Thomas Gilovich, How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life (New York: Free Press, 1991, 1993), 50. 40. Gilovich, How We Know What Isn't So, 72, and Shimamura, Jishin no gimon, 102–103. For a detailed analysis of this and related psychological phenomena, in addition to Gilovich see Kikuchi Satoru, Chōetsu genshō o naze shinjiru no ka: omoikomi o umu “taiken” no ayausa (Kōdansha, 1998).

41. Regarding sensitivity to electricity, Shimamura points out that even if catfish can sense some kind of small change that might occur prior to an earthquake, “civilization” in the form of electricity use has greatly increased background electrical noise. Geophysical sensors located even several kilometers from railway lines, for example, pick up considerable electrical noise. It is doubtful that catfish would be able to detect subtle electrical fluctuations in such a “noisy” environment. Shimamura, Jishin no gimon, 105–106.

42. “Namazu ga ugoku to kanarazu jishin ga okoru,” in Yomiuri shinbun, April 1,

1932, morning edition, 7. See also excerpts of a presentation Hatai gave on his research, “Namazu no ugoki de jishin o yochi,” in Yomiuri shinbun, October 14, 1932, morning edition, 4.

43. Robert Geller (Robaato Geraa), Nihonjin wa shiranai “Jishin yochi” no shōtai

(Futabasha, 2011), 133–134.

44. For full details on this research, see Rikitake Tsuneji, “Deeta ni miru namazu to jishin,” in Miyata and Takada, Namazue, 148–156. For details on research in the 1920s, see Musha, Jishin namazu, 16–22. Regarding animals other than fish, see 23–51.

45. Quoted in Geller, Jishin yochi, 134–135. Geller points out critically that if one in a hundred is a suitable yardstick, then every superstition or fantasy ever connected with earthquakes deserves public funding.

46. Musha, Jishin namazu, 19–21. More recently, Motoji and many others have made the same claim. See Earthquakes and Animals for abundant examples.

47. Musha, Jishin namazu, 23–24.

48. Ibid., 24–29, and Yasuo Suyehiro [Suehiro], “Some Observations on the Unusual Behavior of Fishes Prior to an Earthquake,” Earthquake Research Institute, Tokyo Imperial University (March 1934), 228–231. According to Suehiro, recent studies “equally prove the existence of a mysterious and

instinctive reaction of the fish to earthquakes” (228). For photos of sardines and the threadfish, see 230.

49. Quoted in Geller, Jishin yochi, 133.

50. Musha, Jishin namazu, 31–35. See also Yoshimura Akira, Sanriku kaigan ōtsunami (Bungei shunjū, 2004), 16–20, 81–82.

51. Musha, Jishin namazu, 36–40.

52. Ibid., 40. It remains a common rhetorical technique among advocates of earthquake precursors and prediction to claim that they are offering

possibilities, not definite proof or precise tools. Motoji, for example, says,

“I am not arguing for earthquake prediction using the animal precursors . . . if, by prediction, we are meaning an exact forecast of time, epicenter, and magnitude of an earthquake. In that case no prediction is possible for any fracture phenomena.” See Earthquakes and Animals, ix.

53. Gilovich, How We Know What Isn't So, 58.

54. Musha, Jishin namazu, 40–50.

57. Ibid., 51.

58. Gilovich, How We Know What Isn't So, 158.

59. This topic is beyond the scope of the present study. For a thorough analysis, see Geller, Jishin yochi, esp. 76–159, and Shimamura Hideki, “Jishin yochi” wa uso darake (Kōdansha, 2008).

60. Clancey, Earthquake Nation, quoted passages, 85.

61. Quoted in Julia Adeney Thomas, Reconfiguring Modernity: Concepts of Nature in Japanese Political Ideology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 172–173.

62. Clancey, Earthquake Nation, 106–107.

63. Clancey discusses the role of Italy at length. See especially Earthquake Nation, 106–112.

64. Borland, “Capitalising on Catastrophe,” 892. For more details on the production of educational materials from the earthquake, see 893–905, and Janet Borland, “Stories of Ideal Japanese Subjects from the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923,” Japanese Studies 25, no. 1 (May 2005): 21–34.

65. Borland, “Capitalising on Catastrophe,” 893–905.

66. Timothy Yun Hui Tsu, “Making Virtues of Disaster: 'Beautiful Tales' from the Kobe Flood of 1938.” Asian Studies Review 32, no. 3 (June 2008): 197.

67. Tsu, “Making Virtues of Disaster,” 198.

68. Yamashita Funio, Tsunami no kyōfu: Sanriku tsunami denshōroku (Sendai, Japan: Tōhoku daigaku shuppankai, 2005), 99.

69. Geller, Jishin yochi, 24–66.

70. The coverage of this matter in the newspapers has been extensive. For example, see “Higashi Nihon dai-shinsai: Kyodai tsunami rokusen-nen de rokkai, chisō ni konseki,” in Mainichi shinbun, August 21, 2011,

and “Q: Sen-nen ni ichido no kyodaijishin to iwareru Higashi Nihon daishinsai, naze sen-nen ni icihido na no? A: Jōgan jishin no sairai toiu mikata,” in Yomiuri Online, October 20, 2011. See also Dengler and Smits (introduction), “The Past Matters,” for some discussion of paleoseismology.

71. Tsuji, Sennen shinsai.

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