Monday, June 12, 2006

1906 - 100 Years Ago

1906 was not a very good year. Mount Vesuvius erupted destroying Naples, Italy; a large earthquake destroyed San Francisco in the United States; the crown jewels of Ireland were stolen and a typhoon and tsunami killed some 10,000 people in Hong Kong.

[Famine in Tohoku - from the Ft. Wayne (Indiana) News]

Iwate too had a tough time. The weather in 1905 was terrible with excessive rain and cold ruining the rice crop and destroying the silk industry. The war with Russia had just ended and thousands of soldiers and sailors returned home to find no jobs and no food. Many people were reduced to eating straw, roots and acorns.

The government sent aid as did several foreign countries such as The United States but they could not do everything. As a result wealthy, civic minded individuals provided work in the form of construction projects. Many kura, or Japanese storehouses, were constructed about this time. As late as 1910 the Ota house in Maesawa was built by otherwise unemployed Russo-Japanese War veterans.

Oota Residence - 太田家 (3)
[The Ota House in Maesawa]

The American press covered the famine extensively , albeit mostly on back pages. This was probably the first news of Iwate widely reported around the world!

[A Buddhist priest collecting alms]

Most of the press coverage seems accurate and fairly reported, but one newspaper in Oklahoma got a little carried away when trying to add a little local color. They published the picture shown above with the caption, "A BEGGAR HIDING HIS FACE FOR SHAME." In reality it is a Buddhist priest soliciting alms as they still do today all over Japan!

A few bits of good news were reported in 1906 as well. Rolls Rocy was registered; Alfred Dreyfus, wrongly convicted of treason in 1899, was exonerated and reinstalled in the French Army; President Theodore Roosevelt got a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating peace in the Russo-Japanese War and Devils Tower was made the first National Monument in the United States.

In Iwate the site of the ruins of Morioka Castle were turned into a park - Iwate Park.

Some newspaper articles -
1905, November 8 -
1906, January 10 -
1906, March 28 -
Rice Famine in Japan; 650,000 Now Eat Straw - Fort Wayne INDIANA News
1906, May 17 -
[Famine in Northern Japan] [original title missing] - Ada OKLAHOMA Evening News


Blogger Sheryl said...

Interesting. I like how you give news in other parts of the world as it helps place what was happening.

5:01 AM  

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