What causes earthquakes? The Japanese thought it was a giant catfish. One thrashed about and triggered the Great Ansei Earthquake that struck the city of Edo (Tokyo) in November 1855. The event was marked in namazu-e (“catfish pictures”). These portraits of the giant catfish (namazu) show the beast as a hero of the building trade – you can see the workers celebrating and partying with the giant fish – and enemy of fishermen and farmers, who rely on the god Kashima to keep namazu restrained:
Would you like to support Flashbak?
Please consider making a donation to our site. We don't want to rely on ads to bring you the best of visual culture. You can also support us by signing up to our Mailing List. And you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For great art and culture delivered to your door, visit our shop.