Struck on November 11 of 1855, another Great Ansei Earthquake destroyed a city once again: Edo(now, it is known as Tokyo). The earthquake left 7,000 dead body and a massive destruction behind. But this natural disaster sparkled a different type of cultural and social reaction with a touch of art: the Namazu-e!
These Catfish Prints tell us that the main actor behind these earthquakes is a mythical giant catfish named Namazu who thrashes about in his underground lairs!
The legend has it that Namazu lives in the muds beneath the Earth, and he is guarded by the god Kashima who restrains the catfish with a large rock known as kaname-ishi. But when Kashima lets his guard fall, Namazu thrashes about, causing violent earthquakes.
With a combination of traditional Japanese humor and social commentary, it also said that these pieces of art are also offer protection from future earthquakes.