While I’m in the midst of the 2009 move of the International Cryptozoology Museum, here’s a re-visit with a Japanese cryptid of some note, from 2008, by Loren Coleman (not Brent Swancer, wink wink), with my adding of a few more popular cultural details I wanted to add the first time.
The Tsuchinoko (ツチノコ), is a legendary land-dwelling serpent-like cryptid from Japan. The name tsuchinoko is prevalent in Western Japan, including Kansai and Shikoku; the creature is known as bachi hebi in Northeastern Japan.
Tsuchinoko are described as being between a foot to 32 inches (30 and 80 centimeters) in length, similar in appearance to a snake, but with a central girth that is much wider than its head or tail. It is deadly, said to have fangs and venom similar to that of a viper.
Some accounts also describe the Tsuchinoko as being able to jump up to a three feet (a meter) in distance.
Various replicas, some as toys (above) and others as more formal pieces (below) have been produced.
German cryptozoologist Sordes shared the following in 2008:
I finally managed to make my first casts of one of my crypto-models, a Tsuchinoko.
His new models look like this:
For more in German, go here.
For further recent background, please note that in the Top Cryptozoology Stories of 2000, the #4 pick was for the “Search for the Tsuchinoko”:
In 2000, Yoshii, Okayama, Japan was in the news again, as people were flocking to the region to hunt for the tsuchinoko, a chirping reptile-like cryptid bearing at least some resemblance to a snake or a long, thick lizard. A 20 million yen reward from the Yoshii Municipal Government was the source of all the excitement.
Tsuchinoko fever hit Yoshii on May 21 after a farmer cutting grass swore he saw a snake-like creature with a face resembling the cartoon cat Doraemon slither across his field. The farmer slashed the creature with his weed whipper, but it fled into a nearby stream and escaped. Four days later, 72-year-old Hideko Takashima was talking with a couple of friends in Yoshii when she found what she thought was one of the creatures lying dead next to the stream a tsuchinoko reportedly had dived into to escape from the farmer. She picked it up and buried it.
Yoshii Municipal Government officials heard the rumors of a tsuchinoko and headed out to look over the local woman’s find. They exhumed the body and forwarded it to Kawasaki University of Medical Welfare to be examined. Kuniyasu Sato, the professor who analyzed the reptile, said that the animal may indeed have been the tsuchinoko, but “scientifically speaking, it was a kind of snake.”
Meanwhile, Mitsuko Arima, an 82-year-old from Yoshii, says she saw a Tsuchinoko swimming along a river on the morning of June 15.
“I was surprised. I just pointed at it and asked ‘Who are you? Who are you?’ It didn’t answer me, but just stared. It had a round face and didn’t take its eyes off me. I can still see the eyes now. They were big and round and it looked like they were floating on the water,” Arima says. “I’ve lived over 80 years, but I’d never seen anything like that in my life.”
No one collected the reward in 2000.
Meanwhile, on the popular cultural front in America….
The rock group Kayo Dot, which came to play in Portland six years ago, visited me while here. The band is headed by Toby Driver and Mia Matsumiya. Mia Matsumiya is a big fan of cryptozoology (uses “coelacanthm” as her live journal name) and the band has a tee-shirt with a leaping Tsuchinoko on it, from original art from 2003. Since I can’t find any images of the tee-shirt, I’ll share images of the beautiful Mia.
Perhaps Kayo Dot will play a benefit for the International Cryptozoology Museum, someday. And the leaping Tsuchinoko Kayo Dot shirts can be brought back into being?