The Wrath of Heaven: The Great Kantō Earthquake and Japanese Cinema

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



East Asian Studies



Publication Title

Film on the Faultline


The Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 was one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history. The initial shock had a magnitude of approximately 7.9, serious by any calculation, but, like many destructive natural events, the damage caused by the tremors paled in comparison to that caused by subsequent linked disasters(Takemura Masayuki 2003: 44). Fires sprung up in over a hundred different places simultaneously and quickly covered the city. After the last shocks had subsided and the fires had died out, the residents of Tokyo could finally survey the damage. The city was a burnt out shell of its former glory, its streets and canals littered with the bodies of the dead. The devastation made exact numbers impossible, but over 100,000 people were listed as killed or missing. Two thirds of Tokyo and most of Yokohama lay in ruins. The earthquake crippled the political, economic and cultural capital of the Japanese empire. Confusion continued for days and reconstruction took years.


For more information on the published version, visit University of Chicago Press's Website.

Full text currently unavailable.