Earthquakes in historical context

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


By the end of the Tokugawa period, the idea that there are precursors that occur shortly before an earthquake starts had become widespread. Also, by the end of the Tokugawa period, earthquakes usually generated a characteristic rhetorical response and served as a stimulus for cultural production. This chapter examines these and other aspects of Tokugawa-period earthquakes. It seeks to dispel some common misconceptions and to point out some of the early modern legacies that have carried over into modern and contemporary Japan. Human historical time and the earth’s geological time operate on vastly different scales, so for this and other reasons, great caution is warranted in drawing conclusions from these historical records. Nevertheless, the public and private literary cultures, and the flourishing of knowledge in general, during the Tokugawa period has greatly enhanced our understanding of Japan’s seismology and its implications for society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Tokugawa World
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781000427332
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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