Virtual Exhibition Experience: Aftershocks: Japanese Earthquake Prints

Computer on a desktop shows A print showing a man dreaming of a farting god and a person on horesback beneath the smiling face of a giant catfish. Words on image read "virtual ROM"
  • Grades 3 - 12
  • Ages 6-7, 8-10, 11-14, 14+


Register your group for this free Virtual Experience


Welcome to Aftershocks: Japanese Earthquake Prints, a new ROM online exhibition.

In 1855 in Edo, Japan (Edo is called Tokyo today) there was a huge earthquake. The earthquake caused lots of damage, especially in places where rich, upper-class people lived and worked.

In Japanese folk belief, a giant catfish called Namazu lived under the Earth, and caused earthquakes when it moved. A deity called Kashima was in charge of keeping Namazu under control. Unfortunately, at the time of the earthquake, Kashima was away at a deity meeting in another city, and he left a lesser deity called Ebisu in charge. That was a mistake!

Many people suffered because of the earthquake, but after the earthquake, certain people made a lot of money because their services were needed.

Aftershocks presents images that artists made to tell stories about what the earthquake did to Edo, and about the way different people responded to the aftermath. Many of these prints show us how the people affected by the earthquake used humour to deal with the strong emotions they were feeling.

The exhibition explores these three topics:

  1. Shaking Foundations
  2. A Spectrum of Emotions
  3. A Fleeting Hope for Change


Learners may use any images they wish for most of the questions on this Gallery Trail. They may work in small groups and focus on the images that interest them.

Register now!

When you submit your registration, you will receive a link to the Online Exhibition to use with your group at your convenience.

Supplement your experience with the Aftershocks: Japanese Earthquake Prints Educator Resource

Museum Guidelines

  • Walk. Do not run.
  • Use indoor voices.
  • Stay with your adult.
  • Make way for ROM educators if they need a space for a lesson.
  • Don't touch objects. Only touch objects that are clearly marked as safe to touch.
  • Don’t rush. Focus your time on the objects that capture your interest and complete what you can within the time you have.
  • Ask questions and have fun!

Fast Facts

  • On November 11, 1855, an earthquake measuring 6.9 - 7.0 on the Richter scale shook Edo (now called Tokyo round 10 pm.
  • No tsunami was triggered, but there were up to 80 aftershocks per day for 9 days afterwards. It is reported that 7,000 – 10,000 people died.
  • In Japanese folk belief, Namazu is a giant catfish that lived beneath Japan. Stories said it causes earthquakes when it moves. To prevent earthquakes, Kashima Deity, the god of Thunder and War, placed a heavy stone called Kaname-ishi on top of Namazu to prevent it from moving.

Please Note

Complete the registration form to access the online exhibition.

View and download this activity as a Google Doc

Get the Educator Resource

If remixing or modifying, please credit: "Adapted from a resource by ROM."