The giant catfish who causes the earthquakes in Japan.

Hello, Mosaique life readers...!!! Is there any myth in your country? Japan has many myths, and this Namazu is one of them which is about earthquakes. Please check this out...

Why the Japan is an earth prone country in the world?

The Japan is situated along the world's most active earthquake belt i.e the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the rigid plates in the Earth's crust collide along the rim of the Pacific Ocean. In this Pacific Plate, all the plate beneath the Pacific Ocean is always moving almost due west and being pushed down into the Earth's interior along a trench off the Japan's east coast. On an average, the Pacific Plate moves at 3.5 inches (8.9 centi meters) per year. But it is also said that, this process is not continuous as per experts. Movement may stop as the plates stick together for a period and energy will build up, so when the movement does finally occur, it becomes more dramatic.

Japan is the subject to natural hazards, specifically to the earthquakes. This comes from its location at the intersection of at least three tectonic plates: the Pacific Plate, the Philippine Sea Plate, and the Eurasian plate. Earthquakes always occur when pressure is exerted by one plate on the other and can roughly be divided into three sections

1) An earthquake occurs near the plate boundary

2) An earthquake occurs inside the plate

3) Shallow inland earthquakes

The Pacific coast of the Japanese archipelago is currently pushed upwards by the subducting Pacific and Philippine Sea Plates. This leads to a very destructive and dangerous high earthquake activity in that coastal region running from Hokkaido in the north to the south-eastern tip of Honshu, and outside Kyushu in the south.

The Japanese Myth

The Namazu (鯰) or Ōnamazu (大鯰) is a giant catfish which is the main reason for earthquakes. He lives in the mud which is under the islands of Japan and is guarded by the god Takemikazuchi, who restrains the catfish with a stone.

Takemikazuchi is a holy deity in traditional Japanese mythology, considered a god of thunder and a sword god. He is also known as Kashima-no-kami, the chief deity revered in the Kashima Shrine at Kashima, Ibaraki (and all other subsidiary Kashima shrines also).

When Kashima kami lets his guard fall, Namazu thrashes about, causing violent destructive earthquakes. Subdued by the Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto which is also called a God of the thunder, Namazu, nevertheless, remains the force to be reckoned with, even if he can, on occasion, bring good fortune and a redistribution of wealth as well as devastation.

Although Namazu was capable of dangerous destruction, help was at hand from the heroic thunder and warrior god Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto (aka Kashima Daimyojin), for it was he who had that special stone, the kaname-ishi (要石 "pinning rock"), and digging down into earth he used the special stone to weigh down Namazu’s head, restricting his movements and this is the reason for the limitation of the frequency, or at least the intensity, of earthquakes. Near about 15 cm tip of this massive stone which still projects through the earth’s surface can be seen at the Kashima shrine of the Hitachi, towards the northeast of Tokyo. Because of this, there is a popular saying: “Even if the earth moves, have no fear, for the Kashima kami (spirit) holds the the kaname-ishi in place”