Letter | Published:

Earthquakes in Japan


IN the one hundred and seventy-first volume of the “Konrui Shinko-Kushi,” one of the oldest and finest works on Ancient Japan, there are tables giving the number, intensity, and remarkable characteristics of all the earthquakes which occurred in Japan between the years 416 and 886 A.D. Unfortunately, the few extant copies of this most important compilation are all more or less in a fragmentary condition. It is, however, evident from the context that the author intended to, or actually did, enumerate many more of these natural phenomena, and it is highly probable that many of his original notes have been lost with the rest; but even as it stands the work is of undoubted importance, now that the Seismological Society of Japan has been doing all in its power to bring forth the ancient records which refer to the great earthquakes of the past. As every one knows, Japan is the very hearth of earthquakes; in 1854 more than 60,000 people lost their lives in consequence of one of these great terrestrial catastrophes, and it has been calculated that from ten to twelve earthquakes, each lasting several seconds, occur every year, besides numerous others of too slight a nature to be worthy of remark.

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