In the great temple of Ninwa [Benevolence and Peace] was a chief priest of the Jison [Compassion and Respect] temple named Okurakyo Ryugyo, who, moved by commiseration for the countless numbers who died, made arrangements, with the help of other saintly men, to write on the foreheads of the dead the holy character a [Sanskrit ] as a seal to Buddha. He kept count of the bodies marked during the fourth and fifth months, and found in the portion of the capital bound by Ichijo on the north and Kujo on the south, Kyogoku on the east and Sujaku on the west, altogether about 42,300 corpses. To these must be added many others in different quarters of the city and in the suburbs to give a correct idea of the vast numbers of deaths that took place at this time. Lastly, must be counted in the numbers of those who perished in the provinces. Not very long before, under the Mikado Sutoku, in the period Chosho [A.D. 1132-4], a like catastrophe occurred, but the details are unknown to me — what I saw with my own eyes was strange and terrible enough.
Again, in 2 Genryaku [A.D. 1185] a great earthquake occurred. It was not an ordinary one. Hills were shattered and dammed up the rivers, the sea toppled over and flooded the shore-lands, the earth gaped and water roared up through the rents, cliffs were cleft and the fragments rolled. down into the valleys, boats sculled along the beach were tossed upon the bore, horses on the roads lost the ground beneath their hoofs; all round the capital, it is hardly necessary to add, in various places not a single building was left entire; house or temple, tower or chapel, some were rent and cracked, others were thrown down; the dust rose into the air like volumes of smoke. The roar of the quaking earth mingled with the crash of falling buildings was like thunder. To remain within doors was to run the risk of being crushed; to rush out of doors was to be swallowed up in some gaping fissure, unless you had wings to ily up into the air, or could ride on the clouds like a dragon. In the midst of all these horrors one felt that of all dreadful things an earthquake is the most dreadful. Amid all this ruin I will mention a piteous case. The son of a samurai, six or seven years of age only, had built himself a little play-hut under a shed against a wall, in which he was amusing himself, when suddenly the wall collapsed and buried him flat and shapeless under its ruins, his eyes protruding an inch from their orbits. It was sad beyond words to see his parents embracing his dead body and hear their unrestrained cries of distress. Piteous indeed it was to see even a samurai, stricken down with grief for his son thus miserably perished, forgetting his dignity in the extremity of his grief.
Such violent shocks did not last long, but the aftershocks continued and twenty or thirty times a day were repeated with a force that under ordinary circumstances would have been felt as most alarming. This went on for some weeks, the shocks diminishing in frequency from four or five to two or three in a day, or even one only, with intervals of quiet days, but for three months the disturbance continued. The other three of the four great calamities, flood, iire, and storm, leave the great earth almost unchanged —not so earthquakes.
Long ago in the period Seiko [A.D. 854-6] it is said there was a great earthquake which did vast damage, and amongst other calamities threw down the august head of the great Buddha of the temple of Todai. But that earthquake was far from being as disastrous as the one described, and people accordingly for some time talked of nothing but the misery of this world and the foulness and frivolity of the human heart. Days and months, however, summed up and years passed, and after a time no one so much as spoke a word about the great earthquake of Genryaku.