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With the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake just passed, an awareness of Japan’s earthquake-prone nature is very much with us. But destructive as earthquakes are, they can also serve as catalysts for social, economic, and cultural change. This seems to be the premise of the exhibition now showing at Tokyo’s Setagaya Literary Museum.

Using a wide variety of cultural paraphernalia, including posters, paintings, woodblock prints, and books, “Expansion of Metropolis around 1930s” explores the spread of Tokyo to the west that occurred after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Although there is no English to guide non-Japanese-speakers, the show is nevertheless an interesting one that will reward patient study.

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