Great Construction


   Soon after the large earthquake that struck the area around Fukui City in north central Japan on June 28, 1948, I put down my observations on tremors for reference.
   According to Shinto creation beliefs, the universe first consisted of a substance much like that of steam but also resembling foam. As creation activity began, separation took place with lighter materials becoming the heavens and heavier ones forming earth. The stars and other heavenly bodies appeared in the heavens, and the earth was born, consisting of half-solidified muddied ocean. This is what the Tenrikyo Church calls the Age of Muddy Seas. Over time, these seas gradually solidified further, plants and minerals formed, then living organisms, and finally were created human beings. And thus ever since, evolution has continued until the present.
   The muddied oceans gradually became hard matter in accordance with nature’s solidifying process, and as the solidification process continued, the earth’s volume decreased, that is, the earth’s crust shrank. Because this shrinkage of the crust is the cause of earthquakes, the more ancient the period, the greater the crust shrank, and the bigger the tremors were. What this means in the case of Japan was that the shrinkage of a large area that ultimately caved in created the basin for the Sea of Japan. Prior to this event, Japan and Korea were connected by land, and this is evident from the fact that elephant bones can be found in many parts of Japan. We know that transporting elephants by ship was impossible in those days, so we can assume that elephants were able to travel from the south by foot.
   The frequent occurrence of earthquakes in Japan is often attributed to the fact that the nation has many volcanoes. I do not agree. If volcanic activity were the cause of tremors, they would occur mostly in mountainous areas, but earthquakes actually occur more frequently in the coastal areas, and here I will explain why.
   The creation of Japan is comparatively new, so its solidification lags behind that of other areas. The older the area, that is, the longer the solidification process has continued, so the less shrinkage and fewer earthquakes occur. There are tremors that come about due to volcanic activity, but these earthquakes are rather small in scale.
   In ancient times, the land area of Japan was three times its present size. Two thirds sank into the ocean, and only a third remains at present. Thus the frequent occurrence of earthquakes along the coast of the Sea of Japan is because sinking activity of the crust continues still, albeit on a small scale, which affects the land mass. Because this sinking is the cause of earthquakes, the epicenters of earthquakes are found at sea bottoms near the shore. Proof of this are the reports that immediately after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, land sank more than a foot in many places. Further proof of my contention are the recent newspaper reports that the ground of one part of Niigata Prefecture is sinking every year and that the populace is quite afraid that if the present rate of sinkage continues, the area affected will be under the sea within a hundred years. Actually, the land facing the Sea of Japan loses several feet to the sea each year while the land on the Pacific Ocean side gains the same amount. Here is why these two phenomena come about.
   Because the earth’s crust continues to shrink each year and the sea floor becomes lower, the sea level also drops. Since the sea level on the Pacific Ocean side drops as well, that much more land appears. The formation of land is almost near completion, but the sea floor is still not complete. It is still weak in places, so it is constantly subject to subsidence. The loss of land along coast of the Sea of Japan owes more to cave-ins along the sea floor than the gradual sinking of the sea. Additionally, earthquakes on the Pacific Ocean side precede the loss of the land on the Sea of Japan side.
   Coastal cliffs, especially on the Pacific Ocean side, provide clear evidence for the lowering of the sea level. Traces on the cliffs, ranging anywhere from twenty to one hundred feet above the present sea level clearly show where the waves used to wash the cliffs before the decline in sea level. Another example are the plains of inland China where large amounts of rock salt are mined. These plains were at one time under the ocean, and their present condition is a result of a decline in the sea level. Another illustration is the vestiges that scholars currently believe to be from the glacial period, but which are actually the traces of wave marks. Those found on high mountains were pushed up by volcanic activity. An example well known in Japan is Asakusa in Tokyo, which was once under the ocean. The fact that kelp was harvested in Asakusa shows that the ocean at one time was very near that area.
   The cause of earthquakes is basically a result of shrinkage in the earth’s crust, but a phenomenon like the following can also occur to cause earthquakes. Prior to the start of a tremor, a section of the area to be affected by the quake may bulge up. This upheaval could be called a forerunner to the quake, and it occurs when the shrinkage of the earth’s crust causes a crevice to form deep within the earth. The rising subterranean heat fills the crevice, causing the earth above to expand. The origin of earthquakes should be understood as resulting from the vibrations caused by subsidence on the ocean floor that cause subsidence on land.
   After a major earthquake a tsunami will occur. A tsunami forms when the water rushes into the hollow left by the subsidence on the sea floor. The volume of water is so great that the force of the flooding causes a tsunami, but once the displacement is corrected, the ocean surface returns to normal in a short period of time.
   One point that I would particularly like to emphasize to scholars, especially seismologists, is that earthquake research so far seems to have been focused primarily on the study of land mass, but as I explain above, the cause of earthquakes lies on the sea bed. For this reason, sudden changes in the ocean currents may give clues to sinkage on the sea floor, so close attention and research should be paid to coastal currents.
  A discussion of the solidifying process in nature is in order here.
   Most of the various forms of Shinto declare that Japan was the first country to be created, but I do not share that view. To explain this, let me use the example of minerals. Upon the land, the solidification process starts with dirt, which hardens into rock, which further hardens and gives rise to the various metals. This process is illustrated best with actual objects. The first example is solidified volcanic ash which becomes tuff, which further hardens into limestone. Further solidification leads to quartz trachyte and quartz porphyry, copper and iron pyrites from which gold and silver come. The next example is that which starts with clay, hardens into slate, and then into shale, next to lead, galena, sphalerite, tin, and finally to silver or gold. My third example is red clay, which solidifies to become limonite, then iron sulfide, and finally magnetic iron. Fourth is the example of quartz trachyte which turns into crystal. The different kinds of coal are the remains of ancient trees that were buried within volcanic ash, subject to thermal heat, and then carbonized in the resulting combustion process. All the minerals originated from some form of this solidification process, the variety of mineral depending on a combination of the quality of the earth in different places, the spiritual level of the soil, changes in temperature, the length of time involved in the process, and how the soil was affected by the various plant residues that soaked into the soil with the rain water.
   Given the fact that diamonds and platinum, the most solidified and hardest minerals known in the world, are not found in Japan shows that Japan’s creation was relatively late.    


Essays on Faith, page 46, September 5, 1948