Connect with us

Bizzare & Odd

Monster mummies of Japan

Lurking in the halls of Buddhist temples and museums across Japan are a host of monster mummies — the preserved remains of demons, mermaids, kappa, tengu, raijū, and even human monks. Here are a few remarkable specimens for the adventurous and brave at heart.

– Demon mummies

It might seem odd that Buddhist temples in Japan house the occasional stray mummified demon (oni), but then again it probably makes sense to keep them off the streets and under the watchful eye of a priest.

Triple-faced demon mummy --
Three-faced demon head at Zengyōji temple [Photos]

Zengyōji (善行寺) temple in the city of Kanazawa (Ishikawa prefecture) is home to the mummified head of a three-faced demon. Legend has it that a resident priest discovered the mummy in a temple storage chamber in the early 18th century. Imagine his surprise.

Nobody knows where the demon head came from, nor how or why it ended up in storage.

The mummified head has two overlapping faces up front, with another one (resembling that of a kappa) situated in back. The temple puts the head on public display each year around the spring equinox.

Demon mummy --

Another mysterious demon mummy can be found at Daijōin temple in the town of Usa (Oita prefecture).

The mummy is said to have once been the treasured heirloom of a noble family. But after suffering some sort of misfortune, the family was forced to get rid of it.

The demon mummy changed owners several times before ending up in the hands of a Daijōin temple parishioner in 1925. After the parishioner fell extremely ill, the mummy was suspected of being cursed.

The parishioner quickly recovered from his illness after the mummy was placed in the care of the temple. It has remained there ever since. Today the enshrined demon mummy of Daijōin temple is revered as a sacred object.

A much smaller mummy — said to be that of a baby demon — was once in the possession of Rakanji Temple at Yabakei (Oita prefecture).

Unfortunately, it was destroyed in a fire in 1943.

Demon mummy --
Baby demon mummy at Rakanji temple

* * * * *

– Mermaid mummies

In Edo-period Japan — particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries — mermaid mummies were a common sight at popular sideshow carnivals called misemono. Over time, the practice of mermaid mummification blossomed into an art form as fishermen perfected techniques for stitching the heads and upper bodies of monkeys onto the bodies of fish.

The mummy pictured below is a prime example of a carnival mermaid. It appears to consists of fish and other animal parts held together with string and paper.

Feejee mermaid gaff --
Mermaid mummy at the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden

The mummified creature was obtained by Jan Cock Blomhoff while serving as director of Dejima, the Dutch trading colony at Nagasaki harbor, from 1817 to 1824. It now resides at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden.

Another old mermaid mummy exhibited at a museum in Tokyo several years ago appears to belong to the founder of the Harano Agricultural Museum.

Fiji mermaid gaff --
Mysterious mermaid mummy

The mummy’s origin is unknown, but the collector says it was found in a wooden box that contained passages from a Buddhist sutra written in Sanskrit. Also in the box was a photograph of the mermaid and a note claiming it belonged to a man from Wakayama prefecture.

>>> More mermaid mummies

* * * * *

– Kappa mummies

Like the mermaid mummies, many kappa (river imp) mummies are thought to have been crafted by Edo-period artists using parts of animals ranging from monkeys and owls to stingrays.

Kappa mummy --
Kappa mummy at the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden (Netherlands)

This mummified kappa, which now resides in a Dutch museum, appears to consist of various animal parts put together in a seamless whole. It is believed to have been created for the purpose of carnival entertainment in the Edo period.

Another mummified kappa can be found at Zuiryūji temple in Osaka.

Kappa mummy --
Kappa mummy at Zuiryūji Temple, Osaka [Photo]

The 70-centimeter long humanoid purportedly dates back to 1682.

Another notable kappa mummy can be seen in a seemingly unlikely place — at a sake brewery in the town of Imari (Saga prefecture).

Kappa mummy --
Kappa mummy at Matsuura Brewery

According to a company brochure, the mummified kappa was discovered inside a wooden box that carpenters found hidden in the ceiling when replacing the roof over 50 years ago.

Reckoning the creature was an old curiosity their ancestors had passed down for generations, the company owners built a small altar and enshrined the kappa mummy as a river god.

* * * * *

– Raijū

With a limited scientific understanding of the sky above, the common person in Edo-period Japan looked upward with great awe and mystery. Supernatural creatures called raijū (雷獣) — lit. “thunder beast” — were believed to inhabit rain clouds and occasionally fall to earth during lightning strikes.

The earliest known written records of the raijū date as far back as the late 18th century, though the creature appears to borrow characteristics from the nue — a cloud-dwelling, illness-inducing chimera first described in The Tale of the Heike, a 12th-century historical epic.

Details about the raijū’s appearance vary. Some Edo-period documents claim the raijū resembled a squirrel, cat or weasel, while others describe it as being shaped more like a crab or seahorse.

Raiju Raiju
Raijū depicted in the Kanda-Jihitsu (ca. 1800) // Raijū seen in Tottori, 1791

However, most descriptions agree that the raijū had webbed fingers, sharp claws, and long fangs that, by some accounts, could shoot lightning. The beast also sometimes appeared with six legs and/or three tails, suggesting the ability to shape-shift.

One illustrated document tells of a raijū that fell from the sky during a violent storm on the night of June 15, 1796 in Higo-kuni (present-day Kumamoto prefecture).

Raiju
Illustration of raijū encountered on June 15, 1796

Here, the raijū is described as a crab-like creature with a coat of black fur measuring about 11 centimeters (4 inches) thick.

Another notorious encounter took place in the Tsukiji area of Edo on August 17, 1823. Two versions of the incident offer different descriptions of the beast.

Raiju
Raijū encounter, August 17, 1823 – Version 1

One document depicts the raijū as being the size of a cat or weasel, with one big bulging eye and a single long horn, like that of a bull or rhino, projecting forward from the top of its head.

Raiju
Raijū encounter, August 17, 1823 – Version 2

In the other account, the raijū has a more roundish look and lacks the pointy horn.

In Volume 2 of Kasshi Yawa (“Tales of the Night of the Rat”), a series of essays depicting ordinary life in Edo, author Matsuura Seizan writes that it was not uncommon for cat-like creatures to fall from the sky during thunderstorms. The volume includes the story of a family who boiled and ate one such creature after it crashed down onto their roof.

Given the frequency of raijū sightings, it should come as no surprise that a few mummies have turned up.

In the 1960s, Yūzanji temple in Iwate prefecture received a raijū mummy as a gift from a parishioner. The origin of the mummy, as well as how the parishioner obtained it, is a mystery.

Raiju
Raijū mummy at Yūzanji temple

The mummy looks like that of a cat at first glance, but the legs are rather long and the skull has no visible eye sockets.

Raiju
Raijū mummy at Saishōji temple [Photo]

A similar raijū mummy is on display at Saishōji temple in Niigata prefecture.

* * * * *

– Tengu mummy

Another legendary supernatural sky creature is the tengu, a dangerous demon often depicted in art as being part human and part bird. The Hachinohe Museum (Aomori prefecture) in northern Japan is home to a tengu mummy, which is said to have once belonged to Nambu Nobuyori, a Nambu clan leader who ruled the Hachinohe domain in the mid-18th century.

Tengu mummy
Tengu mummy at Hachinohe Museum

The mummy, which appears to have a humanoid head and the feathers and feet of a bird, is believed to have originated in the town of Nobeoka (Miyazaki prefecture) in southern Japan. Theories suggest the tengu mummy made its way north after being passed around between members of Japan’s ruling samurai families, some of whom were deeply interested in collecting and trading these curiosities.

* * * * *

– Self-mummified monks

A few Buddhist temples in northern Japan are home to “living mummies” known as sokushinbutsu(即身仏). The preserved bodies are purportedly those of ascetic monks who willingly mummified themselves in the quest for nirvana.

Self-mummified monk
Shinnyokai-Shonin “living mummy” at Dainichibo Temple (Yamagata prefecture)

To become a living mummy, monks had to undergo a long and grueling three-step process.

Step 1: For 1,000 days, the monks would eat a special diet of nuts and seeds, and engage in rigorous physical training to strip the body of fat.

Living monk
Tetsumonkai-Shonin “living mummy” at Churenji temple (Yamagata prefecture)

Step 2: For another 1,000 days, they would eat only bark and roots in gradually diminishing amounts. Toward the end, they would start drinking tea made from the sap of the urushi tree, a poisonous substance normally used to make Japanese lacquer bowls, which caused further loss of bodily fluid. The tea was brewed with water from a sacred spring at Mt. Yudono, which is now known to contain a high level of arsenic. The concoction created a germ-free environment within the body and helped preserve whatever meat was left on the bone.

Living monk
Arisada Hōin, 300-yr-old “living mummy” at Kanshūji temple (Fukushima)

Step 3: Finally, the monks would retreat to a cramped underground chamber connected to the surface by a tiny bamboo air pipe. There, they would meditate until dying, at which point they were sealed in their tomb. After 1,000 days, they were dug up and cleaned. If the body remained well-preserved, the monk was deemed a living mummy.

Unfortunately, most who attempted self-mummification were unsuccessful, but the few who succeeded achieved Buddha status and were enshrined at temples. As many as two dozen of these living mummies are in the care of temples in northern Honshu.

The Japanese government outlawed the practice of self-mummification in the late 19th century.

Bizzare & Odd

Did Angels visit a farm in Slovenia after Jerusalem?

A few days ago, a UFO hovered over the city of Podkoren in Slovenia, the appearance of which was recorded on Google Earth maps. The famous Taiwanese ufologist Scott Waring suggested that it could be an angel, given its bright glow and peculiar shape.

On his YouTube channel, Waring posted a photo of an unidentified object that glowed very brightly. The ufologist examined a number of photographs in the same area at different times and made sure that there was nothing reflecting there, which means that it is quite possible that these were events of biblical significance.

The researcher stressed that the trees are not lit. Consequently, the object is well above them. Given the brightness of the glow, it is likely that we are talking not only about UFOs, but also about angels that can visit people living in this area.

He recalled that similar objects were recorded in Jerusalem above a stone dome. The Bible tells a similar story. The author emphasized that he is not a religious person, and the conducted research only confirms his theory.

Continue Reading

Bizzare & Odd

Halloween 2020 is expected to have a full moon that hasn’t been seen since World War II

Photo: NASA / Kim Shiflett

Astronomers claim that the full moon on October 31 will be visible throughout the world with the exception of parts of Australia.

In 2020, the world’s population is waiting for a very unusual phenomenon that will be seen in almost all corners of the planet as reported by Cnet.

According to experts, this year on Halloween (October 31), the full moon will rise and will be visible to the whole world. Such an event will happen for the first time since the Second World War.

Astronomy expert Geoffrey Hunt says the last full moon seen on the entire planet occurred in 1944. He notes that there was also a full moon on Halloween in 1955, but was not visible to residents of western North America and the western Pacific.

In the same year, residents of North and South America, India, all of Europe and most of Asia will see the full moon for the holiday. Also, the full moon will be visible in Western Australia, but not in the central and eastern parts of the country.

Scientists remind that in its full phase the moon will be visible to the naked eye, but for high-quality images, you still have to use additional equipment.

“Photos of the moon with a smartphone are likely to be substandard. A telephoto lens will help you capture the moon in all its glory. Adjust the camera brightness so details are visible and not drowned out by the brightness of the moon,” Hunt says.

He also emphasizes that the next full moon, which will be visible from all corners of the planet, will not happen soon – in 2039.

“Of course, in the coming years, the full moon will be in October, but not on Halloween,” the expert notes.

A full moon on Halloween is a rare coincidence. We will be able to enjoy it very soon.

Continue Reading

Bizzare & Odd

A tourist found a thousand-legged creepy beast washed up on the coast of Wales

A traveler walked along the coast of the Irish Sea in Wales and found a creature similar to the mythical Cthulhu – with a thousand tentacles and a keen interest in people.

The man was preparing to call the ufologists, but the Internet suggested: you need not be afraid, but rejoice, because the monster costs a fortune. The sea world still remains largely unknown for the inhabitants of the land, and in fact there is a lot of interesting things in it: from an iguana that looks like a real Godzilla to real mutants. True, according to The Sun, the underwater kingdom still has something to surprise people with.

A tourist named Martin Green was vacationing with his family in North Wales on the coast of the Irish Sea and one evening decided to walk with his son along the water. The man was walking slowly along the shore when he saw an unusual creature on the sand. At first, Green decided that he saw a large snag from a fallen tree, then, approaching it, he thought that it was a piece of a large fin that washed ashore, but here Martin was not right. When the travelers approached the find, they felt uneasy – a large and living creature with thousands of tentacles looked at them.

Looking closely, the man saw that the find consists of many white many-legged shells. Perhaps at first Martin was ready to call Scully and Mulder, but the internet helped him figure out what was going on. Green’s son uploaded a photo of the unknown creature to Google and realized that he and his father were very lucky. It turned out that the creepy sea creatures are the so-called Gooseneck Barnacles, crustaceans. They live by attaching themselves to hard surfaces, usually rocks.

Martin and his son were lucky not only because they personally saw unusual creatures, but also because the find could enrich a family. In Portugal and Spain, shells are considered a delicacy and are sold for £ 25 apiece. Considering that, according to the family’s estimates, there were about two thousand shells on the snag found on the snag, the potential cost of the find is about 50 thousand pounds. Green did not elaborate on how he was going to deal with the shells – send them back to the ocean or sell them to Spain.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

DO NOT MISS

Trending