Yokohama Photographs of the 1923 Kanto Earthquake by Ranso Wolff

In two previous posts I talked about the treasure trove of old Yokohama photographs tied to Helm Brothers that I got a hold of after the translation of my Japanese book came out. The photo albums were in the possession of Joji Tsunoda. It was Joji’s father, Ranso Wolff, who was born in 1894 and worked for my grandfather Julie and great uncle Charles, who took the photographs. Ranso’s father,  worked as a manager of the docks for my great grandfather. Here they are the photographs. This post has more about how I connected with Joji. This post talks more about Joji and his father.

The scene of Helm Brothers' headquarters after the 1923 earthquake

The scene of Helm Brothers’ headquarters after the 1923 earthquake



Probably the South Pier. I believe the cranes in the distance may be one of the 2-ton floating cranes operated by Helm Brothers.

This is probably a picture of the South Pier in Yokohama after the 1923 earthquake. The crane in the back may be the 2-ton floating crane that Helm Brothers operated and which was reportedly used to help in the reconstruction of Yokohama after the earthquake.

The Helm Brothers safe survived the earthquake, but everything inside was reduced to ash.

The Helm Brothers safe survived the earthquake, but everything inside was reduced to ash.  The picture below is of a bridge crossing Motomachi canal. I believe the building on the other side of the canal is the remains of the old French consulate, behind which was a road leading up to the Bluff. Halfway up the bluff was the first brothel that featured white women, or so my father had heard. 


This collapsed bridge crossed the Motomachi canal.

Helm Brothers uses horse carts to bring in lumber for the reconstruction of Helm Brothers' Yokohama headquarters

Helm Brothers uses horse carts to bring in lumber for the reconstruction of Helm Brothers’ Yokohama headquarters.

Rebuilding Helm Brothers' Yokohama headquarters.

Rebuilding Helm Brothers’ Yokohama headquarters.

Tent cities sprang up across the city to house homeless residents.



Reviews of Yokohama Yankee in Nikkei and Kyodo Touch On History and Mixed Race Identity.

December 10, 2015

It’s been an interesting experience watching how books are released in Japan. Yokohama Yankee was officially published at the end of September, but aside from one historian from Ferris School in Yokohama, who was asked to write a blurb for the “obi” the sash around the book, nobody else was given an early look at the book. A couple weeks later, the publisher, Akashi Shoten, posted ads ad in several newspapers including the Asahi Shimbun. Although the ad was small and was tucked under an ad for a book about soldiers and sex in postwar France, since those newspapers are so widely circulated, with millions of readers, i assume some people must have seen it.

Then in November, a month and a half after the book was released and just when I had given up, I finally started getting some significant reviews. I got reviews of Yokohama Yankee in Nikkei Shimbun, Japan’s Wall Street Journal, and Kyodo News Service, Japan’s Associated Press. You can read the Nikkei Shimbun review here. I was pleased to see an economic newspaper touch  in the review not just history, but also issues such as identity that are so central to the book.

The Kyodo News Service piece was picked up by a number of newspapers including those in Okinawa, Kyoto and Sanyou. You can read the Sanyou Shimbun’s version here. The Kyodo kyoto shimbunNews Service piece was written by Kazuo Ueyama, Director of the  Yokohama Archives of History, and was both detailed and effective in outlining the primary thrust of the book. Below is a photograph my editor in Kyoto sent me of the piece in the Kyoto paper.

My translator also updated her Japanese video about the book, here  but I suspect the link might not work because she may have used classical music in the video that was copyrighted.


Translate »