Mythical Beasts and Creatures: Japanese 2

Dwelling off the coast of Matsuura and other locations in the western part of Japan, the Isonade is a large sea monster with characteristics similar to a shark. In this article, you will encounter other creatures that resemble animals, such as the catfish, tiger, and crocodile.


When the Isonade makes its appearance known, strong winds are said to erupt. Hidden beneath the waves, the body of this creature is never seen. Although, a large tail fin covered in small barbs serves as an indication of its presence. It targets boats with speed and uses its hooked tail to capture sailors, drag then into the sea, and consume them. The tail is also used to capsize boats, attack people on the beach, and kill its enemies.  


A giant catfish called Namazu appears in Japanese myths as a creature with the power to cause earthquakes. Its home is found in the mud under the earth. The creature is allowed to cause destructive earthquakes when the god Kashima, who is supposed to be guarding the beast, lets it slip by his watchful eye.


In Japanese myths, the mythological spirit called Onryo is thought the return to earth to seek revenge. Male onryo exist, but the majority of the creatures are represented by females. On earth, the creatures are powerless , often falling victim to the greedy intentions of their male lovers. They are said to gain their true strength when they have died.


It is said that this Japanese monster uses the disguise of an infant’s hand hanging down from a tree to lure people with curiosity. This creature appears in folklore from Aomori prefecture, especially in the city of Hachinohe.


Interestingly, there is an animated paper lantern that appears in myths as a form of a Japanese spirit. It is said the spirit takes over objects when they reach their 100th year of existence , thus giving them the power to become animated. The term is used to specifically refer to the chochin lantern, which is made out of bamboo and paper or silk. In art, they are depicted as having one eye and a long tongue that comes out of an open mouth.


Often compared to an alligator or crocodile, the wani is often associated with the Indo-Pacific or Saltwater crocodile.


One of the most recognizable images in Japanese architecture and art is the fish with the head of a tiger. Japanese folklore speaks of the shachihoko as having the head of a dragon or tiger and the body of a carp. It is said that this creatures could make the weather turn into rain. As a result, the animal was often incorporated into the construction of temples and castles as embellishments for roofs. It is also said that the Japanese believed that the shachihoko would protect the people from fire.


With a red face and hair, the shoko is a Japanese sea spirit that has a taste of alcohol. Sometimes, the term can be used to refer to a person that is fond of drinking alcoholic beverages.