namazu-e woodblock drawings sold after an earthquake hit Edo (actual Tokio) in 1855. Kashima Daimyojin God holds a sacred kaname-ishi stone on a catfish to keep it moving and causing an earthquake. Property Seismic Research Institute at the University of Tokyo.
Catfish and earthquakes
between folklore and reality
Text: Ito Kazuaki, former commentator Radiotelevisora Corporation of Japan (NHK)
Formerly, people in Japan believed that a giant catfish seabed and every time he moved he caused an earthquake. We know that superstition remained long, because every time there was a strong earthquake in the late Edo period (Eighteenth and early nineteenth) many were sold woodblock drawings namazu-e, all showing some relationship between catfish and seismic activity.
How old is, well, this connection between earthquakes and catfish and how it is expressed?
The first known text reflecting the connection between catfish and earthquakes is a letter from Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98), the unifier of Japan. In the last years of his life he decided to build a castle in Kyoto Fushimi district, Of course, I wanted to protect against earthquakes. In his letter to the Kyoto official in charge of administration, wrote: "During the construction of Fushimi Castle, Be sure to apply all safety measures Catfish ". The choice of words indicates that at least 1592, date of the letter, It had already established the connection between catfish and seismic activity.
El famoso poeta Matsuo Basho (1644-94) It provides the same connection. This verse appears in his Edo Sangin, published in 1678:
O-jishin tsuzuite ryu-ya noboru ran.
Takejujo-no namazu narikeri.
The first line is a short poem by Jishun, alumno de Basho, in which he describes strong earthquakes as a dragon emerging violently from the seabed. The second line, de Tosei (Basho pseudonym), quips: “No, It is a giant catfish moving ".
Many woodblock drawings illustrate the connection to the mid nineteenth century. After a major earthquake that hit Edo (actual Tokio) in 1855, artists published between 200 Y 300 drawings namazu-and ingenious nature or satirical, apologetically on behalf Catfish. Some were sold as spells to protect its owner from possible future calamities, in some cases by thanking the fish to use earthquakes to change the world for good.
The association with earthquakes probably began long ago when people saw catfish acting strangely. For example, a publication called Ansei Kenbunshi mentioned that just before the Edo Earthquake 1855 bullheads were demonstrating unusually active.
There is also the testimony of someone who went fishing river eels, but only he caught bullheads. He recalled the saying that an earthquake would occur after a strange behavior of this species, so he hurried home and prepared for disaster would happen. Safely, that night a major earthquake hit the area.
Some days before the massive earthquake in Tokyo 1923 They were bullheads splashing in a pond in Mukojima, Such. The day before the disaster said many bullheads acted erratically on the surface of a lagoon in Kugenuma, near Kanagawa Prefecture, which it made it very easy catches - enough to fill three large containers.
These data intrigued connoisseurs and gave them the idea of predicting earthquakes keeping catfish and observing their behavior. However, there is no scientific evidence about the connection between catfish behavior and earthquakes. The fish generally stay in the bed of the lagoons and shallow waters, so it is likely that they can sense minute changes in electrical currents generated underground before an earthquake. This could result in the surface activity, although they are only conjectures of scientists.
Catfish are not the only creatures that manifest strange behavior at times of an earthquake. But it seems unlikely much to be discovered in the future that one day catfish will be used as the best way to predict seismic activity.
Source: Revista Nipponia
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