132 • pearls around the neck
The Namazu (鯰) is a giant catfish that lives in the mud under the islands of Japan. His
movements cause earthquakes. Only the god Kashima can restrain the catfish by placing a
stone on his head. When Kashima lets his guard fall, Namazu thrashes about, causing violent
earthquakes and tsunamis. The actions of Namazu are considered punishment for human
greed; by causing havoc, he forces the equal redistribution of wealth. Namazu is considered to
be the “God of World Rectification”.
Japan, April the 11th, 2011, 14.46 JST.
An exchange of e-mails between friends 20 hours after an earthquake of magnitude 10 hit the island
of Honshu, the main island of Japan.
A devastating Tsunami immersed the Sendai area with waves as high as 128 feet, flowing 6 miles
inland. The destructiveness of what became known as the “Tohoku Earthquake” was fully revealed
when the Fukushima nuclear plant announced the meltdown of 3 reactors, forcing the evacuation
of 100,000 locals. The population of Eastern Honshu experienced more than a thousand
aftershocks, eighty of them reaching 6.0 on the Richter scale.
In between the emails, I have inserted the words of Japanese poets and writers. I invite you to
research and discover their works.
(Note: The English used in the following mails has not been modified nor corrected.)
Correspondents that were part of the following exchange of e-mails are:
. Tomoko, a 40-years-old executive secretary and a mother of two boys.
. Akiko, a 27-years-old plastic artist.
. Sachiko, an 81-year-old grandmother, involved in several national and international non-profit
. Aline, a 42-year-old French mother of 4, expatriate in Tokyo.
. Kumiko, a 79-year-old art curator and grandmother.
. Yumi, a 76-year-old famous artist and grandmother.
“At the time of the earthquake I was sitting at my desk, writing a novel. I remained for a while,
measuring and evaluating the tremor. The impression was very much the same as when I was trying
to estimate the distance at which a bomb would fall and explode. Eventually, I would be bypassed
by my own capacity of perception (…). My perception of time has been scattered. Expressions like
“once upon a time”, “one day”, “three months ago” lose their meaning if time can tilt over in an
Yoshikishi Furui, born in 1937, Excerpt of an article published in Shincho, October 2011.