Si le poisson-chat remue la queue

Found: the National Science Museum's Earthquake Reference Room. (We're six years even more overdue!)

The namazu-e on the front page shows the 1855 (Ansei) Edo earthquake catfish being punished cruelly, unusually and immediately, as an example to all other earthquakes, for its crimes against the people.

The hammer-wielding man charged with carrying out the sentence elaborates with glee on his plans for the prisoner: specifically, to split it open and serve it kabayaki-style to the citizens it has wronged. "Ouch, ouch!" cries the catfish, conveniently named "Edo". "Just spare my life, and in return I will never again fight with other catfish or emerge above the gravel."

In the foreground his similarly guilty relatives are repentant, and apparently angling for community service by gratuitously bigging up their respective 'hoods before the judge. "I'm from Kai province, so I've broken out in a cold sweat [the individual droplets of which are so big that they are] like grapes!" says "Kō Province" ("Kō" (甲) is short for "Kai" (甲斐) here).

Ahem. Available within the site:

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