Oshouo (Monk Fish) (和尚魚)

Oshouo' refers to a kind of 'Umibozu', a 'yokai' (apparitions, spirits, spooks or monsters) living in the ocean recorded in an encyclopedia, "Wakansansaizue", compiled in the Edo period.


They are about 1.5 to 1.8 meters long. Their body resembles 'suppon' (Chinese soft-shelled turtle) and their head looks bald as its name suggests 'monk'.

When people tried to capture 'oshouo' and to kill it, it desperately begged for its life with tears. Therefore, it is said that it is good for people to release it to the sea, persuading not to curse them because they release it.

Also, it is said that another 'Umibozu' called 'Irikame nyudo' which has a turtle-like body and a human-like bald head appears in Wakasa Bay. It is considered as the same as 'oshouo' in an essay, "Tankai" written by Soan TSUMURA in the Edo period. It was said when people see it, ominous things would occur. Therefore, it is said that when people happened to catch it, they gave it sake (Japanese alcoholic beverage) and released it to the sea.

Kenji MURAKAMI who researches and studies 'yokai' presumes that people figured sea turtles as 'yokai' such as 'oshouo' and 'Irikame nyudo'.

[Original Japanese]