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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

RICHARD FREEMAN: STRANGE TALES OF JAPANESE OCTOPI

Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai painted the picture Dream of a Fisherman’s Wife in 1820. The picture depicts a beautiful Japanese woman being sexually ravaged by a giant octopus. It may seem strange to westerners, but it is not an unusual image for Japanese culture, because somehow octopi have a hold on the Japanese imagination.
Several monster octopi turn up in their legends

Akkorokamui

In the legends of the Ainu people, the original inhabitants of Japan, this was a monster resembling a giant octopus or fish. It lurked in Funka Bay and adjacent waters off southwestern Hokkaido.

The 19th century Englishman and missionary John Batchelor, who lived among the Ainu , wrote firsthand a journal entry of an alleged actual incident concerning an apparent Akkorokamui in his book The Ainu and their Folklore.
In the morning, we found the whole village under a cloud. Three men, it was said, were out trying to catch swordfish, when all at once a great sea monster, with large staring eyes, appeared in front of them and proceeded to attack the boat. A desperate fight ensued. The monster was round in shape, and emitted a dark fluid and noxious odor. The three men fled in dismay, not so much indeed for fear, they say, but on account of the dreadful smell. However that may have been, they were so scared that the next morning all three refused to get up and eat; they were lying in their beds pale and trembling.
Another old 19th century account was made by a Japanese fisherman and was translated by cryptozoologist Brent Swancer.
And I saw ahead something huge and red undulating under the waves. I at first thought my eyes deceived me and that I was merely seeing the reflection of sun upon the water, but as I approached, I could see that in fact it was an enormous monster, 80 meters in length at least, with large, thick tentacles as big around as a man’s torso. The thing fixed me with a huge, staring eye before sinking out of sight into the depths.

Thomas Beal, a surgeon on a British Whaling ship, described being attacked by a huge octopus whilst on the Bonin Islands off southern Japan in 1835. He was rescued by his shipmates.
Another Englishman, Arthur Grimbal was also attacked but saved by his colleagues.

The Pacific octopus may reach 7 meters across the tentacle span but it does not seem large or aggressive enough to account for these sightings. Could we be dealing with a huge, unknown species?

Nurarihyon

In early legends from Okayama prefecture, Nurarihyon (whose name means slippery and strange) was an aquatic yokai from the Seto Inland Sea. He was said to look like a giant octopus or jellyfish and dived beneath the surface if humans came too close.

By the Edo period Nurarihyon had radically changed. He was then supposed to be the supreme commander of the yokai. For all this he is an unassuming, harmless and rather pleasant fellow. He resembled a green skinned man with an enlarged head shaped somewhat like a cabbage. In the evenings he entered people’s housed and drank their tea and smoked their tobacco. His manner is so confident he was never questioned.

Tako no nana ashi

An octopus with seven legs. These odd tentacled cephelopods haunted the seashore of Chubu District in the Edo period. They crawled up onto land to dig into graves and feast on rotting flesh.

Tako-ningyou

A human headed octopus captured by fishermen during the Meiji period. Make you wonder whether H P Lovecraft read old Japanese texts.

1 comment:

Regan Lee said...

A very lovely and interesting post! Thank you. I love the painting as well, very beautiful.

Regan
http://octopusconfessional.blogspot.com