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. Here the Kashima Shrine god is holding the catfish down while the people who suffered from the Ansei earthquake are attempting to capture, cook and eat the Namazu.
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