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Chased by Fire, Drowned by Water from the series Pictures of the Taishō Earthquake

 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Chased by Fire, Drowned by Water

from the series Pictures of the Taishō Earthquake

by Hamada Josen, 1926

IHL Cat. #662

About This Print

One of three prints (see images below) contributed by the artist Hamada Josen (1875-?) Josen to the series Pictures of the Taishō Earthquake, issued in 1926 three years after the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake. This print pictures the horror of people fleeing the firestorms that came on the heels of the earthquake, only to drowned in the hoped-for safety of the water.

The print is titled 大犠牲 (Great Sacrifice) in the table of contents for the series and 火に追われ水に溺る (Chased by Fire, Drowned by Water) in the upper right margin of the print.

For other prints of the Taishō Earthquake in this collection see Taking Refuge on the Streetcar Tracks from the series Pictures of the Taishō EarthquakeDisastrous Scene in the Geisha Area of Yanagibashi from the series Pictures of the Taishō EarthquakeEvacuees in the Suburbs of Tokyo from the Picture Album of the History of the Taishō Great EarthquakeYoshiwara Park: Army Foot Soldier Private Second Class Mr. Nakamura Fukusaburō from the Picture Album of the History of the Taishō Great Earthquake / Vol. 1Temporary Barracks from the series Collection of Woodblock Prints of the Taishō Earthquake.

Hamada Josen
馬匹の慘禍 吾妻橋附近 
Tragedy of Horses (Bahitsu no Sanka)
Hamada Josen

橋梁の炎燒 本所方面
Fire on the Bridges around Honjo District
(Kyouryou no Ensho; Honjo Homen)


About the Series "Pictures of the Taishō Earthquake"

This series consists of 25 prints by nine, mostly lesser-known, artists, a number of whom, including this print's creator, were students of the Nihonga artist Tomioka Eisen (1864-1905).  The nine artists are Shunhan Katayama (fl. c. 1901–1926); Yawata (Yahata?) Hakuhan (1893–1957); Noguchi Kōgai (active c. 1920s); Igawa Sengai (1876-1961); Kiritani (Kirigaya) Senrin (1876-1932); Shibata Kōyō (fl c. 1920s); Hamada Josen (1875-?); Kondō Shiun (fl. c. 1923– 1930s) and Unpo Takashima (fl. c. 1920s). 

When this series was issued in 1926, Tokyo and its environs were already well-along in their rebuilding, which "started before the last embers were out"1 and was to be officially completed in 1930.  This series, along with an earlier 1924 series of 36 prints, Collection of Woodblock Prints of the Taishō Earthquake, served to, in the words of the pre-publication announcement for the 1924 series, convey "to future generations, in an artistic manner, the true import of these events."2

All of the prints in this series and the bound book in which they were issued (see below), can be viewed on the website of Wolfsonian Florida International University's Digital Image Catalog where they formed part of their September 2011 commemorative exhibition of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, titled “Reflections on Loss and Commemoration.”  

https://digital.wolfsonian.org/WOLF054675/00001/thumbs?nt=-1
click on image to go to website of Wolfsonian Florida International University
Digital Image Catalog
and see details of each thumbnail.


1 Tokyo Rising: The City Since The Great Kanto Earthquake, Edward Seidensticker, Harvard University Press, 1991, p. 8.
2 The Artist's Touch, The Craftsman's Hand: Three Centuries of Japanese Prints from the Portland Art Museum, Maribeth Graybill, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, 2011, p. 273.

The Great Kantō Earthquake

Source: The Artist's Touch, The Craftsman's Hand: Three Centuries of Japanese Prints from the Portland Art Museum, Maribeth Graybill, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, 2011, p. 273.

"The Great Kantō Earthquke of 1923 stands in memory as one of the most terrifying calamities in Japanese history.  Registering at a magnitude of 7.9, the quake struck on September 1, with its epicenter some 50 miles southwest of Tokyo, in Sagami Bay.  The hour was 11:58A.M., just when households everywhere were lighting small charcoal stoves to prepare lunch.  Fires broke out instantly in the densely populated cities of Tokyo and Yokohama and were spread by high winds.  Since the earthquake had broken the water lines, both cities were reduced to smoldering ruins within a few hours.... The earthquake and its aftermath caused well over 140,000 deaths and left nearly 700,000 people homeless."


Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #662
 Title  Chased by the Fire, Drowned in the Water [as written in Japanese (see below) in upper right margin]
 火に追われ水に溺る (Hi ni oware mizu ni oboru)
 Great Sacrifice 大犠牲 [as written Japanese in table of contents for series]
 Series  Pictures of Taisho Earthquake (Taishō shinsai gashū 大正震災画集)
 (also seen translated as Taishō Earthquake Disaster Print Collection)
 Artist
 Hamada Josen (1895-?)
 Signature
 Josen ga
 Seal  artist's rectangular seal
 Publication Date  1926
 Publisher  Emaki Kenkyūkai 絵巻研究会 [エマキ ケンキュウカイ]
 Impression  good
 Colors  good
 Condition  fair - toning
 Genre  
 Miscellaneous
 Format
 H x W Paper  8 1/2 x 11 1/8 in. (21.6 x 28.3 cm)
 H x W Image  7 3/8 x 9 3/4 in. (18.7 x 24.8 cm)
 Collections This Print  The Wolfsonian FIU Library Collection (JAPA) 83.2.2324
 Reference Literature  
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