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Seismic JapanThe Long History and Continuing Legacy of the Ansei Edo Earthquake$
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Gregory Smits

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838171

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838171.001.0001

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Earthquakes in the Early Modern Era

Earthquakes in the Early Modern Era

(p.1) Chapter 1 Earthquakes in the Early Modern Era
Seismic Japan

Gregory Smits

University of Hawai'i Press

This book investigates the influence of the 1855 Ansei Edo earthquake in the context of major earthquakes of Japan's early modern and modern eras. It argues that the Ansei Edo earthquake played a pivotal role in a process of shaping conceptions of Japan in the realms of politics, religion, geography, and natural science. Furthermore, it produced new ideas about human agency vis-à-vis earthquakes that have affected notions of seismicity and society in modern Japan. The book also examines the relevance of time in a society's vulnerability to natural hazards and connects both factors to the Ansei Edo earthquake in terms of when it began and when it ended. This chapter provides some basic information about earthquakes that struck early modern and modern Japan and describes early modern Japanese society by focusing on social and political geography, the nature of bakufu power, mass media and literacy, religious and intellectual milieu, and the belief that earthquakes were caused by catfish living under the earth.

Keywords:   catfish, Ansei Edo earthquake, earthquakes, Japan, geography, natural science, seismicity, vulnerability, natural hazards, Japanese society

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