Work In Progress Seminar with Prof. Gregory Clancey


Title: Japanese and their Earthquakes

Speaker: Associate Professor Gregory Clancey

My talk will be about a project that I thought was completed, but has become a 'work-in-progress' because of events. I published a book on the history of Japanese earthquakes in 2006, but then turned my attention to other topics. But with the 'Great East Japan Earthquake' and tsunami in March of this year, I was pulled back into discussions, and discovered I had more to think about, and more to say. The people who initially pulled me back in were reporters, who wanted to interview me about the Japanese peoples' response to the disaster, and to previous ones. My talk to all of you will start with controversial questions that came up in these interviews and my reactions as an historian of Japan.

The Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans) is a large evergreen tree in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia. Its trunk is dark brown, with deeply fissured bark, looking somewhat like a bittergourd. It grows in an irregular shape from 10 to 25m high. Its leaves are light green and oval in shape. Its yellowish flowers have a distinct fragrance and the fruits of the tree are bitter tasting red berries, which are eaten by birds and fruit bats.