Earthquake Facts

Japan's Great Earthquake of 1923

japan earthquake

Because it is located on the edge of the Eurasian Plate near its boundary with the Pacific Plate, Japan has been struck by many earthquakes. The country has even been called the world's earthquake factory. On September 1, 1923, at two minutes before noon, a tremendous quake shook Japan's Sagami Bay region, near the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama.

Many people in japan had been cooking their noontime meal when Great Kantō earthquake struck. As buildings in Tokyo and Yokohama toppled, stoves overturned. Fires ignited and grew so large that they generated their own winds, created what are called firestorms. In Tokyo, more than 40,000 people sought safety in an open park known as the Military Clothing Depot. Nearby buildings caught fire, launching a firestorm that swept through the crowd like a flaming hurricane at 150 miles per hour. At that one location, at least 38,000 perished. To make disaster even worse, the quake caused the ground in the Sagami Bay region to rise in some places and fall in others. The movement of the land the area of the bay triggered 30-foot tsunamis that flooded Japanese cities and towns.

Fires, toppling buildings, and tsunamis claimed up to 150,000 lives. Roughly half of Tokyo and most of Yokohama were destroyed by the Great Earthquake of 1923. Because of the extensive damage to Tokyo's telephone and telegraph wires, the city turned to an unusual means of communication. For a week after the earthquake, messages were sent out of Tokyo by 400 specifically trained carrier pigeons. Topics