Tokyo Map
Site Index
Contact
Random
Our Travel Books
Advertising / Press

The Earthquake Memorial Park and Kyu Yasuda Garden

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

On September 1st, 1923, Tokyo was struck by the most devastating earthquake in its history. Seventy percent of the city’s housing was destroyed and over 140,000 people lost their lives during the quake, as well as in the subsequent fires which raged uncontrollably through the streets.

Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum

In Yokoami, we visited a memorial park dedicated to the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923. The location of the park is not an accident: this is the former grounds of an army clothing depot where 38,000 people who had sought shelter were annihilated in a sudden fire tornado. A museum on the grounds of the somber but attractive park leads visitors through the stories of both the earthquake and the other great twentieth-century Tokyo disaster, the 1945 American air raids.

Striking just before noon, the Kantō earthquake arrived when most of Tokyo’s households were cooking lunch, and the fires which sparked from the stoves caused even more deaths than the quake itself. But the earthquake and fires were unfortunately not the only bringers of death. As desperate people tend to do, Tokyoites went searching for a scapegoat. Wrath was focused on resident Koreans, who were blamed for the fires and subsequent looting. In the killing spree which ensued, up to 10,000 Koreans were massacred. The park includes a tribute to the lives lost in this especially dark chapter of the earthquake’s story.

Within the museum, it’s hard to remain unmoved by the photographs of the catastrophe. I was touched by the humanitarian assistance provided by the USA, and the posters asking American citizens to help Japan in her hour of need. But even the most brotherly and compassionate of relationships can quickly descend into violence. Just 22 years after Kantō, my country would be visiting its own horrors upon Tokyo. In the closing stages of WWII, over 100,000 people died during an indiscriminate firebombing campaign, meant to terrorize and cripple Japan’s capital.

We were a little shaken after spending so much time with tragic tales of death and sorrow. Luckily, the Kyu-Yasuda Garden is found adjacent to the Earthquake Memorial Park. This verdant park boasts walking paths shaded by a forest of trees, a tidal pond fed by the bordering Sumida River, pedestrian bridges and ample places to sit, enjoy the scenery and reflect on the fragility of human life.

Location of the Earthquake Memorial Park on our Map

Visit The Japan Trend Shop For All The Latest Crazy Gadgets

Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
Kyu Yasuda Garden Earthquake Museum
, , , , , ,
March 24, 2014 at 2:58 am Comment (1)

A Concise History of Tokyo

Add to Flipboard Magazine.
Old Tokyo Photo

Unlike many of the places we’ve visited, Tokyo doesn’t have a history which stretches far into the past. In fact, before the close of the nineteenth century, Tokyo didn’t even exist; it was known instead as Edo. But the rapid ascension from village to “World’s Biggest City” has been as catastrophic as it has been meteoric. Growing pains are always the hardest for those who mature too quickly.

3000 BC Humanity arrives late to the Kantô Plain. At this point, the Egyptians had already established a civilization around the Nile.
628 AD Fishermen brothers discover a Buddhist icon in the waters of the Sumida River, and the Sensō-ji Temple is established in what would eventually become Tokyo.
12th Century Clan leader Edo Shigenaga establishes his castle on the shore, bequeathing the town his name.
1590 Shortly before establishing the shogunate which would rule Japan for 268 years, Tokugawa Ieyasu chooses Edo as his home, irrevocably changing the destiny of the heretofore unimportant fishing village.
1657 Rumored to have started with the burning of a cursed kimono, the great Meireki Fire burns most of Edo to the ground and kills over 100,000 people.
1707 Covering Edo in volcanic ash, but no lava, Mount Fuji erupts. It’s since lain dormant for over 300 years, but remains an active volcano.
1853 Commodore Matthew Perry (not the guy from Friends) lands in Edo Bay and forces a previously isolationist Japan to open its borders to American capitalism, under threat of war.
1868 The era of the Japanese Shogun comes to an end with the rise of the Meiji Empire. Edo is renamed Tokyo, meaning “Eastern Capital,” and the emperor moves into the city’s Imperial Palace
1923 Striking at noon, when the stoves of the city were ablaze for lunch, the Great Kantō Earthquake ignites fires across Tokyo, destroying most of its housing and killing a significant percentage of its populace. Oh yeah, and sets off a tsunami.
1945 The Pacific War isn’t a rousing success for Japan. In its waning stages, the USA drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then fire-bombs Tokyo to within an inch of its life. Debates can (and have) been waged on whether the American submission technique was a necessary evil, but what can’t be questioned is its horrible toll on innocent Japanese life.
1964 Japan’s postwar healing comes full-circle with Tokyo’s hosting of the Summer Olympics. The games are a source of pride for Japanese citizens, and Tokyo’s infrastructure is rapidly modernized. It’s a much-needed success story in this city which has known so much tragedy.
1995 Ten members of the fanatical Aum Shinrikyo cult unleash a sarin gas attack on Tokyo’s subways. Thirteen die and thousands are injured in the worst assault on Japan since World War II.
2011 The completion of the Tokyo SkyTree brings the world’s tallest tower to the world’s biggest city, and solidifies Tokyo’s place in the architectural vanguard. Days before the tower reaches its final height, the Tōhoku earthquake ravages Japan.
2014 and Beyond It takes a single glance at the cranes and construction around Tokyo to understand that Japan’s capital isn’t done growing yet. The Olympics are slated to return in 2020, which will give the world an excuse to turn its attention towards its largest city. As though another excuse were needed.

Tokyo History Books

, , , , , , , , , , ,
March 21, 2014 at 6:47 am Comment (1)
The Earthquake Memorial Park and Kyu Yasuda Garden On September 1st, 1923, Tokyo was struck by the most devastating earthquake in its history. Seventy percent of the city's housing was destroyed and over 140,000 people lost their lives during the quake, as well as in the subsequent fires which raged uncontrollably through the streets.
For 91 Days