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Seismic Studies and Historical Materials

  • Image of "Earthquake Chronicles, Edo period, dated 1855 (Gift of Mr. Tokugawa Muneyoshi)"

    Earthquake Chronicles, Edo period, dated 1855 (Gift of Mr. Tokugawa Muneyoshi)

    Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room T1
    July 31, 2012 (Tue) - September 9, 2012 (Sun)

    After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, many people became familiar with an earthquake called the Jogan Earthquake, which struck in the same region on a similar scale over 1100 years ago. Details of this earthquake exist today because they were recorded in Nihon sandai jitsuroku (True accounts of three generations in Japan), an officially-commissioned history by the government of the time. Ancient records, documents, illustrations and other historical materials play a large role in the research of natural phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, as well as the disasters arising from them. At present, an attempt is underway to understand trends in the movements of the earth’s crust. This is being carried out by estimating the characteristics and cycles of seismic activity based on descriptions in historical materials, then testing these estimates for consistency with scientific data and archaeological knowledge.

    This exhibition explores how historical materials are used in seismic research, through documents related to large earthquakes that have occurred periodically since ancient times, materials concerning a series of earthquakes in the final years of the Edo period (1603-1868), and examples of corresponding scientific analysis. The items on display aim to deepen understanding about nature as well as disaster prevention.

Major works in this exhibition
* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Kamakura o-nikki (Genealogical table of the descendants of Minamoto no Yoritomo), Muromachi period, 15th century (Important Art Object, Private collection)
Nihon sandai jitsuroku (True accounts of three generations in Japan), Copy: Edo period, 19th century