Earthquakes have been a part of life in Japan throughout history. The recent Great East Japan Earthquake serves as a strong reminder of this fact. Such dramatic events have often initiated creative reactions by contemporary artists and literati.
The Great Kantō Earthquake (1923) was one of the most destructive earth quakes in Japan’s history. Intellectuals and artists of the day left a lega cy of numerous written and visual sources discussing, picturing and transcen ding the vast destruction caused by this disaster.
Takehisa Yumeji (1884-1934), a representative artist of Taishō-Romanticism and most famous for his depictions of beautiful women (bijin-ga), was among the well-known public figures affected by the quake. As poet, writer and artist he dealt with his personal experiences in several media.
This talk will focus on selected visual contributions and excerpts of litera ry sources by Yumeji to exemplify contemporary perceptions of the quake. Spe cifically, it will explore the following questions: How did Yumeji convey hi s experiences during the quake and its aftermath? What visual expressions di d he employ for picturing the destructions? How can his contributions be eva luated against examples by his contemporaries? The quake naturally had great impact on the vivid urban culture and thus also on the contemporary art wor ld. How was Yumeji’s work affected by the cultural shifts accompanying Toky o’s recovery process?
Sabine Schenk is a PhD candidate at the Japan Center of Munich University. Currently she is conducting research in Japan as a PhD student at the DIJ. Her interests center on early 20th century Japanese art and culture and the Japanese artist and writer Takehisa Yumeji in particular.