Mystery Beasts of Japan: Aquatic Apes, Mermaids, and Lake Monsters

The discussion of cryptozoology - the study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals (such as Sasquatch) usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence
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Mystery Beasts of Japan: Aquatic Apes, Mermaids, and Lake Monsters

Post by staarker »

Japan has long been a mysterious land full of wonder, long history, and exotic beauty. Out past the fringes of the modern view of Japan as a place of bustling metropolises, there are huge expanses of wilderness, untouched wild places, and pristine sea sides and lakes. It is here where we cast our gaze today, to take a look at the varied bizarre creatures said to call these waters home.

One very weird aquatic phenomenon can be found to the south of the main Japanese islands, in the Ryukyu Island chain, which stretches from the island of Kyushu all the way down to Taiwan, and of which the most well-known of which are the Okinawa Islands. Known for their pristine locales, beautiful scenery, and gorgeous beaches, the Ryukyu islands of Japan also have plenty of mysteries, and throughout these islands there have long been said to lurk strange creatures that have so far eluded our understanding. Here among all of the natural beauty of Japan's Southern islands seem to prowl undiscovered mysterious cryptids that we may never understand.

One of the weirdest mystery creatures said to inhabit the Ryukyu Islands is a type of alleged small, hairy, semi-aquatic ape-like creature called the Kenmun, or also known as the Kijinuma in more southern areas. The stories originate from Amami Ōshima, which is the largest island in the Amami chain of islands, in the Northern part of the Ryukyu archipelago. The Kenmun, also variously known as the Kenmon, Kunmon, Kunmu, and Nebuzawa, is said to be around 1 to 1.3 meters tall, about the size of a 5- or 6-year-old child, but with a stocky, muscular build and covered in kinky, reddish or black hair, that looks mussed, matted and dirty. The Kenmun has a face that is most often described as being like that of an ape or monkey, but also sometimes as dog-like. It is a nocturnal animal, with eyes that supposedly glow red in the dark when light catches them. The creature’s arms are disproportionately long compared to the legs, and it is said to be an agile and powerful climber.

The Kenmun is said to be highly arboreal, making its home primarily in banyan trees, yet it is also supposedly a good swimmer, semi-aquatic, and is thought to prefer habitat near water, such as rivers, lakes or the sea. Its favorite foods are said to be fish, crab, and octopus, as well as shellfish and snails, and indeed it is thought that a sure sign of a Kenmun’s tree is the shellfish and snail shells littering the area under it. The creature is said to be particularly fond of fish eyes, which it will pop out and eat with relish. They are said to be mostly harmless, although the mostly nocturnal creatures are said to spook people at night with their eyes, which supposedly reflect light like a cat’s.

A prominent feature of the Kenmun is its powerful stench, variously described as smelling like goat, horse, and rotting yams. The smell is believed to instill great fear in animals that come into contact with it, and there have been modern accounts of this. For instance, in 1973, a rancher reported that as he moved his cows to pasture, they suddenly became spooked and refused to move. It was strange since they had never acted this way before. The curious rancher took a look around and didn’t see anything unusual, but he became aware of a thick, pungent stench in the air. It was not until the smell passed that the cows finally regained their composure. Similar effects have often been reported on horses and dogs.

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Although mostly considered as harmless, the Kenmun has a somewhat bad reputation nevertheless. In folklore, it was thought to be a trickster as well as a bit headstrong, known to challenge travelers to wrestling matches. In more modern reports, the creatures are said to steal fish or bait from fishermen, and indeed Kenmun are most often seen by fisherman fishing at night. There have even been cases where Kenmun have reportedly aggressively tried to scare fishermen away from their catches. Some more violent behaviors include shrieking at passerby and hurling rocks or stones. There have even been accounts of homes being besieged by rock throwing Kenmun. One man told of seeing a small, dark form sitting alone on the beach one evening, which he at first took to be a child. When he called out to it, the figure suddenly whirled around in surprise and the man was astonished to see that it was a hairy creature like a small ape. This creature proceeded to start throwing rocks at the terrified man, even chasing him to his nearby home, where it continued to pelt the dwelling with rocks for some time before leaving the area.

Although the Kenmun has long been sighted by islanders, physical evidence has mostly taken the form of trees with a disproportionate amount of discarded shells under them, and footprints that turn up from time to time. In November 1986, a man by the name of Isamu Satoyama photographed a series of strange tracks in the sand on a secluded beach. The tracks went on for 500 meters and measured 10 cm by 30 cm in diameter. Similar trackways have been found from time to time in areas the Kenmun are said to inhabit, most often in sand but not always. There was even a plaster cast made of one such print, although it proved to be inconclusive. In more recent years, very few tracks have been found and eyewitness reports are rare. ... s-Edition/

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