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The Asakuchi Mermaid Mystery


A mummified, half-human, half-fish creature has been discovered in a Buddhist temple in Japan. A team of scientists will try to understand the enigma of its origins.

A strange mummy rests at the Enjuin Buddhist Temple in Asakuchi, Okinawa Prefecture. About thirty centimeters in length, it is a real nightmare figure with a human-like head with sharp teeth, perfectly formed hands and a bust extending into a fishtail. Yes, it is indeed a mermaid, or at least a creature that has all the characteristics, even if its place would be better indicated in a horror film than in Andersen’s famous tale.

This chimera would have been captured in the nets of a fisherman around 1740 before passing from hand to hand over the centuries until it ended up in this small temple, forgotten by all. Or almost: Hiroshi Kinoshita, a specialist in local legends, came across a photo of the Asakuchi “mermaid” a few years ago. The picture came from a book by Kiyoaki Sato (1905-1998), author of an encyclopedia of yōkai, supernatural beings, sometimes evil, sometimes benevolent and more often mischievous, who populate Japanese folklore.

Since Hiroshi Kinoshita discovered the existence of this mummy, it has not ceased to haunt his thoughts to the point that he managed to convince the Kurashiki University of Sciences and Arts to submit it to an in-depth analysis.
On February 2, Kozen Kuida, the priest of the Enjuin temple, therefore handed over the relic to the team of scientists who scanned it. Next step: examine his, or rather, his DNA in order to verify if the hypothesis that it is a bust of a monkey attached to a body of salmon is confirmed…

A down-to-earth explanation that does not worry the priest although this mermaid, associated with a yōkai supposed to fight diseases, was an object of worship: “We prayed to her, hoping that she would help alleviate the covid pandemic, if only slightly. But I hope that this research project can leave a scientific legacy for future generations.”

Verdict expected in the spring.

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