According to Japanese legend, earthquakes were caused by the movements of a monster catfish that lived under the island of Japan. Immediately following the great Ansei earthquake of October 2, 1855, woodblock prints called Namazu-e ("catfish pictures") appeared in Edo (now Tokyo), the most affected area. These imaginative and sometimes brutal depictions served as a unique source of information and reassurance to the local population. In this picture, the god of the Kashima Shrine holds the catfish in check with his sword. Shown above is the shrine with the great rock which was also supposed to hold the catfish down. It was while the god was travelling that the Namazu escaped and wreaked havoc.
Original number FA-0001.
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