Location: Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum

September 1, 1923 was a horrible day in Tokyo's history. Just before noon, a massive earthquake struck the area and destroyed many of the buildings. And like the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, fires ravaged the remaining buildings, driving people from their homes to find any open spaces they could find.

One of those spaces was a small block that formerly held the Army Clothing Depot. Tens of thousands took shelter here after the earthquake, but a firestorm killed 38,000 in this small block alone! As such, it was chosen as the site of a memorial to the victims of the quake - almost 100,000 in all.
 The pagoda was built in 1930, in a traditional Buddhist style.
 There is a pagoda on the back side.
 The inside has a large space for services and remembrance.
 Below is the memorial to victims of the World War II air raid bombings, remembering the more than 100,000 people who died.

 There are other memorials scattered throughout the park.

 There is a nice memorial garden with a small stream and a peaceful walking path.

 Next to the museum is an impressive collection of equipment damaged by the earthquake and fires.
 This is all that remains of a burnt car - the engine, frame, and axles.
 Any idea what this is? How about a bunch of nails, melted into one big mass from the fires.
 Here is the museum itself; the outdoor "sculpture garden" created by the earthquake sits to the left.
 There are two floors to the museum. The bottom floor holds artifacts and exhibits relating to the quake. There are damaged items, such as the bicycle above, and other broken household goods. There are also several maps and displays to educate visitors about the earthquake. Almost everything is in Japanese, but there is an English pamphlet available.
 Upstairs, you'll find artwork relating to the disaster, collected from all over the world. Also on this floor are several city layouts, presumably showing what the city was like before the quake.
 Hrm. That car is driving on the right side of the road. They drive on the left side in Japan.
 This other street scene shows a couple streetcars and another car driving on the wrong side of the road...
 but looking to the right a bit shows that this particular street must be one-way. There's a nice residential area on top of that walled hill.

And here is an industrial area.

The museum has a nice collection of materials, but certainly feels dusty and old. Children wouldn't be interested as there isn't anything to do; older children might enjoy looking at the models seen above. While it doesn't have the new, clean feel many museums have, it holds an important part of Tokyo's history. Admission is free, and a visit could be a quick addition before or after a visit to the Edo Tokyo Museum and Sumo Wrestling Stadium and Museum nearby.

The memorial and museum are located in Yokoamicho Park, reached by a short walk from JR Ryogoku Station. Use the exit for the sumo stadium, and make a right. Follow the road, with the sumo stadium on your right, for two full blocks. Make a right at that light (the hospital should be on your left after you turn), and you should soon be able to see the pagoda. If you arrive at Ryogoku Station via the subway, just head north down the main street (away from the elevated JR tracks) a couple blocks to the park. Free admission, open generally 9:00-4:30 except Mondays.

No comments:

Post a Comment