1923 Kanto Earthquake: Echoes From Japan's Past

With the massive quake and tsunami that struck Japan last week, the specter of another devastating event has returned: The 1923 Kanto earthquake, which shook the region around Tokyo, was the country's last "big one." The 7.9-magnitude quake reduced much of Tokyo to rubble, and as refugees tried to leave, firestorms swept through the city. More than 100,000 people died during the Kanto quake and its aftermath. These archival images, drawn from the U.S. Geological Survey, AP, and Brown University's Dana and Vera Reynolds Collection, show the horrifying wreckage. They're a reminder that Japan has faced brutally difficult rebuilding efforts before, and succeeded in building back better. [ See also, from the January 1924 edition of the Atlantic Magazine: Earthquake Days. ] (Alexis Madrigal and Alan Taylor)

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Elijah Nouvelage / Reuters

    A Weekend of Pride

    Two weeks after the Orlando shooting, the LGBTQ communities in San Francisco and New York held their annual parades.

  • Ognen Teofilovski / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 6/18-6/24

    A glass slide 1,000 feet above the ground in Los Angeles, an emu is helped away from a California wildfire, a selfie in the 125 degrees Fahrenheit heat of Palm Springs, a Hello Kitty face grown on a melon in Japan, and much more.

  • Roger Steffens / Benrubi Gallery

    A Family Album on Acid

    Roger Steffens’ photographs of his wife, son, and daughter during the Electric Kool-Aid era

  • Sergio Perez / Reuters

    A Tripped Syrian Refugee Finds a Home in Spain

    Last September, photos of a Syrian refugee being tripped by a Hungarian camerawoman as he tried to flee border police went viral. His story caught the attention of a soccer training school near Madrid that helped him find work and a new home.

Join the Discussion