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 Namazu, who appears with a human body, has been ordered by the gods to rescue people from the earthquake rubble.
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