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Earthquake NationThe Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity, 1868-1930$
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Greg Clancey

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520246072

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520246072.001.0001

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(p.xiv) (p.1) Introduction
Earthquake Nation

Gregory Clancey

University of California Press

Beginning in the 1870s, shortly after the Meiji Restoration, foreign teachers were brought to Japan to train the first generation of architects and engineers. The foreign (mostly British) architects taught Japanese to build in brick and stone, and the engineers demonstrated how to string telegraph wires, lay railroads, and span rivers with iron truss bridges. Then, on October 28, 1891, one of the most powerful earthquakes in modern Japanese history, centered on the Nōbi Plain just north of Nagoya, rocked the main island of Honshu from Tokyo to Osaka. Large iron bridges and the walls of brick factories and post offices came crashing down, while Japanese temples, pagodas, and architectural monuments such as Nagoya Castle seemingly escaped unharmed. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, Japanese architects and engineers were forced to question foreign knowledge, and the foreign teachers began even to question themselves.

Keywords:   foreign knowledge, Japanese architects, earthquakes, Nōbi earthquake, Meiji Restoration, Japanese history

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