“[M]any earthquake survivors had to reside in makeshift temporary shelters known as barracks (barakku), which figured prominently in the picturing of daily life in the aftermath of the disaster. The term barakku was used broadly after the quake to refer to the diversity of structures that included ephemeral tentlike shelters and huts of iron sheet metal for refugees … Barracks was a new term emerging from the 1923 quake and subsequently spread into widespread use in Japan.
“… Barracks were concentrated in the capital’s low city, in the areas most heavily damaged by the earthquake. One of the largest assemblages of barracks was erected in the grounds around the Imperial Palace.
“The primitive structures became a vivid symbol of basic human existence shorn of the extraneous trappings of modern life, and for some on the political left, they even symbolized the potential for radical social transformation out of the ashes of the calamity.”
– Imaging Disaster: Tokyo and the Visual Culture of Japan’s Great Earthquake of 1923, by Gennifer Weisenfeld, 2012