H Tennant.

The great earthquake in Japan, October 28th, 1891. Being a full description of the disasters resulting from the recent terrible catastrophe, taken from the accounts in the Hyogo news by its special correspondent, and from other sources online

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Online LibraryH TennantThe great earthquake in Japan, October 28th, 1891. Being a full description of the disasters resulting from the recent terrible catastrophe, taken from the accounts in the Hyogo news by its special correspondent, and from other sources → online text (page 1 of 7)
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1 Kuinamoto. 2 Oita. 3 Fukuoka. 4 Sln'monosekl. 5 IHrnshlma. 6 Matsuyama. 7 Koohl. 8 Tnkuslitma. 9 Okayama.
10 Matsue. 11 Kobe. 12 Osaka. 18 \Vaka>aina. 14 'fan. \i> oisu. 1C, Kyoto. 17 Miyaxu. 1H Gifii. lit Saoya. 20
HaiuiimatHU. 21 Mil i. 2'.' Shizuoka. '-'.1 Sliiinoila. '.'4 Odnwara. 25 Kolu. 2rt Takasaki. L'7 MaetiH-hi. 2H Kushiki. 29
Knuazawa. 30 Fukui. 81 Nfiyano. 32 Nikko. 33 Tokyo. 84 Chiba. 86 ilito. 'M l'tsunoini\a. 37 Kiikushima. 88
Naoe/u. 3!> NiiKata.

The bUck towns represent where shocks were most severely felt, those half shaded experiencing a slight vibration, while the
others were scarcely shake.n ai nil. .

Tfie Steal Eannpaie in Japan,



Being a full description of the disasters resulting from the recent terrible catastrophe,
taken from the accounts in the " Hyogo News" by its Special Correspondent,

and from other sources.



1 89 2.






Nauiwa Cotton Mill (Exterior) 4

,. (Interior) 6

Takeshima-cho, Ogaki 12

Kisogawa Embankment .. 17

Nagaragawa Bridge 18

Gifu 20

15hvajima , 24

Nagoya Post Office . . . . 2G

Odai-mura. Owari 28

Funarnachi, Mino 89

Yanase-rnura, Mino 48

Kitagata-iuura, Mino 60

Preface to First Edition .. ..vii.

., Second Edition


Kobe and Osaka

Special Correspondent's Report


. 1



Prof. Sekiya's Letters 30

Visit to the Neodani Valley (Rev. W. Weston) 32

Earthquake Fund in Kobe ; 43

Report of Relief Committee 46

The Death Roll 61

Area of Disturbance 62

Addendum 64

5 74 156

v f y


T'HIS account makes no pretensions to being scientific. It is simply a record of what
I experienced in Kobe, and a description of the scenes witnessed in travelling over

the districts where the most disastrous effects of the earthquake of October 28th, 1891, resulted.

Kobe, 12th November, 1891.





kindly welcome with which the first edition of this little work was received, and the
large number of orders we were unable to fulfil, led to the conclusion that a more
exhaustive work, well illustrated, would meet with an equally cordial reception. I have
therefore made the present book as complete as the sources of information available would
permit of, and it may be considered as containing the gist of all there is to learn
concerning the great earthquake of October, 1891, the disastrous effects succeeding it,
and ' the measures adopted by the Government, the people, and foreigners for the relief
of the sufferers. Thanks are due to Mr. SIM and the Rev. W. WESTON for the very
graphic accounts they have furnished, and to Mr. WARREN, of Osaka, for his two excellent
photographs of the Naniwa Mill, while the excellent etchings contributed by M. BIGOT will

doubtless be highly appreciated.


Kobe, 10th February, 1892.



tARTHQUAKES are frequent in Japan, says J. J.
REIN in his able and interesting work on this country.
Such violent disturbances, he continues, fortunately occur
"but seldom, that is to say, according to previous ex-
perience and expectation, about one in every twenty years.
The last destructive earthquake, however, took place in
the autumn of 1855, so that already twenty-five years have
elapsed without a recurrence, and the old rule apparently
no longer holds. This was written in 1 880, and although in
that year a shock of considerable violence was felt it was not
until the morning of the 28th October, 1891, that a seismic
disturbance of any startling dimensions transpired. That,
however, amply atoned for any delay, and by the extent of
the area effected, and the terrific devastation wrought, main-
tained the reputation of Japan for being subject to such fearful

Japanese histories teem with incidents of the phenomena.
There is a legend that in 286 B.C., Fujiyama was formed,
as well as Lake Biwa, by one of these subterranean upheavals.

* ir ) J^P* 1 )'

The earliest authentic instance is that which occurred in
416 A.D., when the Imperial Palace at Kioto was thrown to
the ground. Again, in 599, the buildings throughout the
province of Yamato were all destroyed, and special prayers
were ordered to be offered up to the deity of earthquakes. In
679, a tremendous shock caused many fissures, or chasms,
to open in the province of Chikuzen and Chikugo, in Kiushiu,
the largest of these fissures being four miles in length and
20 feet in width. In 685, a terrible disturbance occurred.
Mountains were toppled over, rivers overflowed and tremen-
dous destruction resulted. In the province of Tosa an area
of five million tsubo sunk into the sea. In 844, the province
of Higo was devastated, 570 villages disappearing, and 280
mountain-slips being recorded, the loss of life being immense.
In 745, the ground rocked continuously for two days and
three nights in succession, Mino province, then as now, suffer-
ing terrible disasters. Fifty-two years later Kioto, which has
been frequently a sufferer, was almost annihilated, while, in
818, the fatalities in Sagami, Musashi, Shimosa, Hitachi,

The, jEcL7 t t?Lqu,CLke, tn, J'a.pccn,.

Kotsuke, and Shiinotsuke were so numerous that the Gov-
ernment liad to bury the corpses. The year 827, is also
noted for a mighty earthquake. The first strong shock did
great damage, but it was two days later, when the most awful
disturbance followed. Violent earthquakes also occurred in
830 and 841, while in the years 850, 856. 857, and 868,
ill-fatod Kioto suffered severely. Sometimes these shocks
were accompanied by sea-floods, one of these, in 869, drown-
ing 1,000 persons in Oshiu.

More recently in 1702, the loft-walls of the outside and
inside mates of the castle of Yedo were destroyed, tidal \vaves
broke along the coast in the vicinity, and the road leading
through the famous pass of Hakone, was closed up by the
alteration in the surface of the earth.

Indeed Tokio has constantly been victimized, and fire in
nearly every instance has supplemented the catastrophe. In
1703, such a calamity happened costing it is estimated the
lives altogether of. 200,000 persons, and laying the capital
in ruins. Echix.en was decimated in 1726, and in 1751,
Kioto, and Echigo were terribly affected, 16,000 people being
killed. These instances by no means exhaust the catalogue.
In 1782, Kwanto was badly shaken and in 1783, the eruption
of Asama-yama was followed by violent earthquakes, the
eruption of Onzenga-take, in 1792, being succeeded by similar
phenomena. Coming to the early days of the present centurv,
Dewa was the theatre of repeated concussions in 1804. and in
1822, 150 shocks were felt in Edo in the course of three davs.

Once more, in 1828, an earthquake occurred in Echigo, and
30,000 men, women and children were destroyed. T\vo years
later Kioto was again afflicted. The Tokugawa palace, Nijo,
was among the buildings overthrown while the number of
people slain was described as innumerable. It was not one
shock, but three following each other in rapid succession at
four in the afternoon, the ground rocking like waves. The
affrighted people were too terror-stricken to do anything, and
it was days before their senses returned to them. The shocks
occurred on the 18th August, 1830. From that date to
September 3rd, the shocks were continuous, and then another
disturbance caused the sea to inundate the country, causing
still greater loss of life. The palace of Sendai was laid in
ruins in 1835, and some 400 or 500 houses swept into the
sea, while in 1847, in the province of Shinano, mountains
were thrown down, rivers were changed, and districts flooded?
the loss of life being appalling. In 1854, the provinces of
Suruga, Mikawa, Totomi, Ise, Iga, Settsu and Harima, as
well as the whole of Shikoku were severely shaken. It was
this earthquake which destroyed the town of Shimoda, in the
province of Izu, which had been opened as a foreign port in
Japan, while a Russian frigute, the Diana, lying in harbour
at the time, was so severely damaged by the shock, and the
waves which it raised, that she had to be abandoned.

The last great catastrophe, prior to the present year, was
in 1855. It was about the same date, occurring on Novem-
ber 10th. It may not be amiss to describe it a little fully,

The. JScir'thqu.a.ke. in J~cipctn.

and I again quote Mr. REIN'S \w)rk, from which most of
these facts are gleaned: "The last great earthquake in the
capital, Tokio, was that of 1855. Its horrors still live in the
recollection of the people, and they fear nothing more than
a repetition of the occurrence. Altogether eighty shocks
were felt within a month, the most violent of them on the
night of the 10th November. Yedo was speedily turned into
a rubbish heap, and fire broke out simultaneously in thirty
different places. It was as light as by day, and the black
clouds of smoke covered the whole sky. Those of the inhabi-
tants who had not previously thought of saving themselves,
mostly perished under beams and ruins; others fell a prey to
the flames. The survivors had taken refuge in the streets.
The disturbances continued almost uninterruptedly until the
1 1 th November. From time to time the shocks were repeated,
but were continually weaker until the end of this earthquake
arrived on the 28th November. The number of fallen houses
in Yedo was 14,241, of fallen warehouses 1,649. But this

refers only to the town proper, not to the dwellings of the
Daimio and Samurai. 104,000 persons . are said to have
perished. Very striking in proportion to the violence of the
earthquake was its very limited area. On Nakasendo it was
felt only as far as Takasaki; on Koshiukaido as far as Hachi-
oji: on Tokaido as far as Hodogaya; Oshiukaido, as far as
Utsunomiya ; in Shimosa as far as Sakasai. The plain of
Kwanto was the hearth and Tokio the centre of this earthquake."
In nearly all of these cases it is noteworthy that there -was
only one principal shock, the preceding or successive oscil-
lations bqjng comparatively mild. This is so frequent as to
appear to be almost a fixed law, and the obvious deduction
should greatly reassure the alarmed people, both foreigners
and Japanese, who fear that the recent terrible shock is but
the predecessor of some still more dreadful cataclysm. Up
to the time of writing (Nov. llth) the shocks have been
continuous, though gradually less frequent, and less severe.
We may well assume therefore, that the worst is past.






)isasfep erf

^tvN October 28th, 1891, Kobe residents were startled
^^ by the most severe shock of earthquake felt since the
opening of the port. Chimneys were thrown down, houses
cracked, and people rushed into the streets in their night-
clothes, while the dogs in their kennels howled piteously.
The next morning the following account appeared in the
Hyogo News:

" Last night Kobe was visited by a series of earthquake
shocks culminating this morning in the most severe seismic
disturbance felt here for a long time. It commenced as nearly
as possible at about twenty minutes to seven o'clock. My
boy had just called me, when suddenly I felt the house quiver
as if struck by a tremendous squall. Then followed a series
of violent vibrations, seemingly travelling from northeast to
southwest, causing every door and window to rattle, while
the bed heaved to and fro in similar fashion to a boat rocking
in a choppy sea. The furniture shook and swayed so much
that the washbasin was partially emptied of its contents, and
a box was thrown from the dressing table. The sensation

was a very curious one, the trembling and rocking of the"
house, and the motion of everything seemed like a delusion
of the senses. The shocks continued for nearly two minutes,
and then ceased abruptly, but afterwards, and up to the time
of going to press, there were several mild repetitions.

"At No. 10, the wall of a stone godown fell down, while
the chimneys at the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, the
Hyogo Hotel, and the Hotel des Colonies collapsed, doing-
more or less damage. On the Hill a large number of chimneys
are reported to have fallen. The shop of Messrs. Thompson
& Co. was wrecked, and presented a most dismal appearance.
Bottles and packages had been thrown from their shelves,
and, crashing through glass cases had smashed many valuable
articles, besides causing confusion in the strange admixture
of drugs. One case of moulded glass it will be impossible
to have repaired in Japan. Probably the curio stores have
suffered most. The Museum Art Co.'s store had a very
large number of valuable vases thrown down and a great
many pieces of valuable ware broken. But what was most



trL J~a.pctTL.

curious was that more damage was not done. Large vases
fell from a height of ten feet, and yet were uninjured.
Others fell in the cases pell-mell on each other and had not
a flaw. The loss is estimated at about $550.

"Messrs. Oliashi estimates damages at about $300, Messrs.
Hamada a similar sum, but Messrs. Echigoya have only
suffered slightly. Great loss, however, is said to be caused
to owners of crockery shops throughout the town. Many of
the walls in the interior of the Hyogo Hotel are very badly

"The last earthquake of anything like a similar magnitude
was that of 1853. The most violent shocks to-day were ex-
perienced at G.40, 7.00, 7.11, and 7.40, the one at 6.40
causing the damage."

But much more terrible news was to follow. The same
issue contained the following telegrams :

"Osaka, 28Ui Oct.

'Great earthquake. Two mills wrecked. Many lives lost.
Concession has suffered severely. A. N. HANSELL."

Messrs. LUCAS & Co. have received a telegram from Osaka
as follows: "Earthquake. Denbo Mill (Naniwa) roof col-
lapsed. Many killed."

The Hyogo News at once dispatched a representative to
Osaka, and the paper of October 29th contained the following
narrative: 4

"Our brief report of yesterday by no means conveyed an
adequate idea of the extent of the damage caused by the great

earthquake of yesterday morning. In Kobe, a chimney fell
at the Hotel des Colones, crashing through the verandah,
while the interior of the hotel was cracked. A chimney at
the Oriental Hotel also fell, while another fell through the .
roof of the Masonic Hall, doing very serious damage to the
building. The most serious personal incident was the case of
a lady on the hill, the shock producing premature confinement
and consequent death of the child. Mr. WOOLLEY'S house
is very badly damaged, and numerous articles thrown about,
while Mr. LUCAS'S residence is also injured and the walls
cracked. People rushed from their houses without stopping
to array themselves, and in one case a young man was seen
in the centre of the settlement with only a singlet on. The
shock was felt on the ships lying in the harbour, the captain
of the dismasted Marquis of Lome informing us that every-
thing on the vessel shook like an aspen leaf. He saw two
small waves approaching the vessel, and the shock was
coincident with these striking the vessel. He further stated
that he had never previously felt a similar shaking. The
passengers on the Saikio-maru also felt the vibrations on
their way down from Yokohama."

During yesterday afternoon there were two or three mild
shocks, one at 6.30, and a rather prolonged one this morning
about 3 a.m.

But, as a brief telegram in our yesterday's issue indicated,
it was at Osaka where the chief force of the wave appears to-
have expended itself, though as the city is built on alluvial



soil the serious nature of the visitation is surprising. We
went to the city yesterday afternoon. On the way up one
could note the effect the shock had on the rivers, throwing the
water up the bank a foot or more. Just entering Osaka one
noticed a chimney stack on the left hand, belonging to the
crematory, broken in half, and on the right, that of a brush
factory also thrown down, and where we afterwards learnt
three persons were killed.

Arriving we made for the Naniwa, the scene of the terrible
disaster, which rumour with its wonted exaggeration had
magnified into 300 killed. Fortunately it was only a tenth of
that number who were thus suddenly hurried into eternity,
but the catastrophe was none the less appalling. En route
one could notice that almost every solid house had sustained
more or less damage. Telegraph poles were out of the
perpendicular, walls cracked, chimneys serrated, and leaning
.at peculiar angles. One big smoke stack near the Naniwa
Mill was frightfully cracked and disjointed, but still stood,
though in a very precarious position.

The road to the mill as we neared it was thronged with
spectators coming from, or going to, the scene of the
disaster. Some were relatives whose cheeks and eyes betrayed
their loss, while all spoke in awed tones, remarkably contrast-
ing with Japanese wonted vivacity. The view from the bend
in the road where we first caught sight of the mill was one
of desolation. The roof had disappeared and jagged portions
of the walls stood tottering. The mill was a three-storied

one, with a serrated roof, the span between the walls being
120 feet, the walls themselves being only a brick and a half
thick. There were no iron rods going through the walls and
riveted outside as there are in buildings of a similar size in
England, the beams resting merely on small granite supports
protruding from the thin wall, instead of being built into the
wall. Consequently, when the big shock came, nnd the walls
oscillated, the huge weight of the machinery pulled the roof
downwards, and, slipping out of the supports it fell with a
crash, knocking the northern wall outwards.

There were some 700 people at work in the mill at the time,
but on experiencing the shock most of them managed to escape.
Others were just making their exit when the crash came, and
it was on the exit side that the wall fell, burying, under its
tons of brick and plaster the numerous unfortunate victims.
It thundered through the second and first floors on the
northern side, carrying away almost the whole length for a
width of about 40 ft. There piled up in inextricable confusion
were carding and spinning frames, nuts, screws, fragments
of cotton, rafters, and human bodies in one indescribable
mass. The cries of the wounded, the frantic shouting of
anxious relatives, complemented the sickening spectacle, a
spectacle only less mournful than that which was presented
a little later when relatives, pale-eyed mothers, and weeping
children sought to recognize or identify the battered corpses
laid out in the drying room, their ghastly features, some
crushed beyond recognition, looking more sickening in their



in J~a.pctn.

white shrouds. And over all was tlie hush, the awe, tlie
solemnity of death.

Tlie surviving employes confused for a moment by the
fearful fate which they had so narrowly escaped, and which
had overtaken so many of their erstwhile companions,
immediately set about the work of rescue, and worked with
almost superhuman energy. Their numbers were quickly
supplemented by a detachment of soldiers from the garrison,
where evidently the horror had been witnessed. All day
long the work of clearing away the debris went on, but as
late as five o'clock there were still four people unaccounted
for. Two or three marvellous escapes are reported. In one
case a child crouched under a machine, and a rafter falling
over her, she was taken out alive, while not three feet away
was the mangled body of her juvenile companion. Another
instance was that of a very tall young fellow who stood in
the window of the third story. He was shot out amongst
the falling bricks, and, although falling such a height, and
amongst such a mass of bricks, tiles, and beams, with the
exception of a scratch on the face, aud a rent or two in
the trousers escaped injury. Such an escape borders on the
miraculous. The number of actual dead may be set down
at 30, but the large number of serious injuries will probably
largely supplement this total.

Mr. TSUZUKI, the foreman of the mill, said: Usually I am
here every morning at 6 a.m., but this morning I was
detained in the house later. Just before I readied the mill I

felt the shaking, and saw the work-people rushing out. I
looked up and saw the wall swaying, and then it came down
with a crash. One of the officers was badly injured. My
engineer told me that the smoke stack, 1 50 feet high, which
you notice is badly cracked, rocked at the top fully eight feet.
If it had happened at six o'clock, when the night hands go,,
off and the day hands come on, the loss of life must have been
fearful. There were 700 people in the building at the time.

Mr. .EASTHAM, the English engineer, who has been superin-
tending the erection of ihe machinery, made the following
statement: I left my house just at the side of the mill
at about ft. 4 6, and was walking around the building when I
felt myself stagger like a drunken man. I heard a strange
rumbling noise, and, turning to see what it was, I noticed
the mill beginning to rock. It rocked two or three times, and
then I saw the roof collapse, and the walls give way at the third
story. After the crash there was a sudden silence, a silence
which could be felt. Part of the wall fell on my cook's
quarters, demolished them and killing instantaneously both
the cook and iiis wife. I went around the building, and by
the time I arrived there the employe's were already at the work
of re.-cue, and they worked like demons. I should have
finished my work on Friday next, and had booked my passage
on the P. & O. Had I been 20 seconds later leaving the
house I must have been killed.

Great injury was done to houses in the Concession, but-
with the exception of the accident to the house of the VEN.-

in, Japan.

ARCHDEACON WARREN, we must refrain from giving details
till to-morrow because of want of space. With the ARCH-
DEACON at the time was staying the Bishop of Exeter, and
his son Bishop BICKERSTETH, as well as the wife and daughter
of the prelate of Exon. Two chimneys were thrown down,
one crashing through the roof and utterly wrecking the
drawing-room, smashing the table into splinters. Said the
ARCHDEACON: " I was dressing at the time of the earthquake,
and having before experienced shocks, did not at first run
out. But hearing my daughter scream, and the others
hurrying, I also ran out, as did Bishop BICKEKSTETH. Just
as we got outside the chimney fell. On returning, we found
that the Bishop of Exeter and his wife had taken a stand
under the arched doorway of their bedroom, his lordship
deeming that the safest place. Although, of course, much
alarmed, he did not exhibit much fright. Had the chimney
fallen towards the line of movement, instead of with it, it
must have fallen into the Bishop's bedroom. In the course
of a brief conversation his lordship, who expressed himself
greatly pleased with Japan, said that the shock much alarmed
him, and that he considered his escape Providential. A
cabinet in Miss WARREN'S bedroom, used as a clothes re-
pository, was not only thrown to the floor, but precipitated
some eighteen inches into the room. One chimney is so
badly damaged that it had to be carefully removed brick by
brick. The ARCHDEACON stated that in future he would
only have iron pipes and not brick chimneys."

The shock was also severely felt in Kyoto and a corres-
pondent wrote:

Kyo'to, Oct. 28, 1891.

SIR, The western capital is far less favoured with
seismic visitations than its eastern sister. One never opens
a Yokohama weekly without expecting to find the record
of an earthquake. During the last five years there have
been only four or five which were noticeable at Kyoto without
the aid of a seismograph. The last came this morning at
about 6.40, when the first shock was perceived, lasting
between two and three minutes, and producing a most pro-
nounced rocking. The timbers creaked in a way that
suggested the desirability of a turn or two in the yard before
sitting down to breakfast. Outside, the ground moved
sufficiently to call one's attention to the fact that the great
dragon beneath was uneasy. Several chimney-caps and some
Kobe cornices fell at the foreign houses. Breakfast tables
were generously covered with soot, and Kobe dust was sprinkled

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Online LibraryH TennantThe great earthquake in Japan, October 28th, 1891. Being a full description of the disasters resulting from the recent terrible catastrophe, taken from the accounts in the Hyogo news by its special correspondent, and from other sources → online text (page 1 of 7)