Catfish's Vow 

Catfish's Vow 2012

Japan is well known for earthquakes, with major earthquakes occurring once in every 100years.
Inevitable natural disaster is the despair that we have to live with.


However, Japanese people even made earthquake into a comical character,

so called "Namazu-e" (namazu=catfish/e=picture).

Namazu-e is the ukiyo-e which was painted and widely spread in 1855 when the large earthquake came.
The legend was derived from the anxiety about the major earthquake: an earthquake occurs when the gigantic catfish, believed to be living underneath Japan, goes mad. Since then, various catfishes were depicted; the one in rampage, helping people to reconstruct, and apologizing to people by the wreckage. It resulted in the image of earthquake as catfish among Japanese people. Nowadays, there's always a catfish on earthquake-related items such as the earthquake sign in town or an iPhone app which alerts up-coming earthquake.

I recalled this catfish when the Great East Japan Earthquake happened in 2011. There was a rumor on the Web, "was it the catfish went mad again?" . We all knew that the catfish doesn't exist and it is a superstition. However, we are so desperate that we had to beg the catfish, like calling on God, knowing it's superstitious. So we went to a Japanese cuisine to help out the catfish on the verge of being cooked. We took him to the shrine known for the earthquake and catfish, made him promise "never let the earthquake happen again." After that we set him free in the river. This movie is the documentary of our 3 days with the catfish.

-Exchanging vow with the catfish we saved-

Kansai (west) area shook when we were in elementary school.
Tohoku (north-east) area shook when we became adults.
It is natural that someday the ground right beneath us will shake too.

Under our feet, there's an active fault which leaps and ends the world once in a thousand or 100,000 years.

When we call, we call on God.
Although we don't know if he really exists or not.
Actually we believe he doesn't.
But we still call on him.
The gigantic catfish may not exist either.
But we still beg him.
Vow with the catfish.
It's similar to prayer.

ナマズ君の誓い (2012)

 

このあいだの大地震で、今回も大きな鯰が暴れたんだろうかってネットで騒がれてるのを読んで、なんか本当に日本を揺らしてる本体がいるんじゃないかなぁって思った。めちゃくちゃ大きくて、もうひと暴れしたら、日本が終わっちゃうような奴。今はすやすや眠ってるけど、いつか起きたら大変だ。

でも敵は味方にすれば安心だから、鯰に頼み込んでみようかなぁと思って日本料理屋に行って、調理される寸前の生きた鯰を助け出してきた。助けたお礼に「もう二度と地震を起こしません」って鯰に約束させて、大鯰の伝承の残る場所に放流してきた。どうにもならないことをどうにかしたくて、鯰と過ごした7 日間のドキュメント。