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  • Writer's pictureKomaba Times


Exactly a hundred years prior to 2023, a devastating earthquake which we now refer to as the Great Kantō earthquake (関東大地震, Kantō dai-jishin) shook the main landmass of Japan. As cities were swept up in flames and millions were rendered homeless, martial law was declared by the Home Ministry (内務省, Naimu-shō). Perhaps, however, there was more tragedy to be found in the murderous human tendencies that ensued quickly after the 1st of September 1923 when the earthquake hit: ethnically minoritized workers were blamed for causing fires and executed alongside other suspected dissidents. The magnitude of the earthquake was a shattering 7.9 Mw and was caused by the plates of the earth colliding deep in the sea—one plate emerging above another that slid calamitously below.

Thinking of “emergence” evokes our human-centered thinking. How could the shifting of plates beneath planetary waters be about people? Of many life-shattering changes we experienced or heard about in the past year, “emergence” is especially reminiscent of our anthropocentric gravitation towards reflecting on life through the chasms within and among us in society. We are not exactly like Itō Noe at the time of the earthquake 100 years ago; she was an activist, writer, and translator born in 1895 who fought for women’s liberation, love, and anarchy and one of those murdered by the secret not just for allegedly inciting disorder during a time of disaster, but during the time of martial law.(1) As students in 2023, how do we express our emergence from what people before us have experienced?

The French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard once said in an essay that “the spirit of the times is surely not that of the merely pleasant: its mission remains that of the immanent sublime, that of alluding to the non-demonstrable.”(2) You will find that the writers, illustrators, photographers, artists and editors of Komaba Times’ Issue 12 “EMERGENCE” echo the deep-seated grumblings of the Earth in our own uniquely stimulating demonstrations. We are University of Tokyo students who have hailed from around the world and have excitedly spent opportune months to compile this magazine. After collective years of introspection under COVID-19-induced quarantine and beyond, we hope that you enjoy the exploration of our shared desires for positive change, as well as the unraveling of each of our own intertwined networks built with others, the city, our memories, and with the wider world at large.

No cheer can be loud enough to represent the seismic gratitude, love, and acknowledgement owed to the work by the contributors, the student team, and our faculty advisor, for the ever-evolving, student-oriented, cross-campus, and interdisciplinary collaboration underway for Komaba Times. May our readers find something they resonate with in this issue.

(1) Hiratsuka, Raichō. In the beginning, Woman was the sun: The autobiography of a Japanese feminist. Columbia University Press, 2010.

(2) Jean-Francois Lyotard, “Presenting the Unpresentable: The Sublime.” Artforum, 1982.



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