Japanese Mythology and Folklore – Tsuchinoko

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The Tsuchinoko (ツ チ ノ コ) is a snake-shaped yōkai. The name is prevalent in western Japan, and in the northeast of the country it is known as bachi hebi.

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According to belief, tsuchinoko measures between 30 and 80 centimeters long, and has the appearance of a snake, but with the central part of the body thicker than its head or tail, and it has fangs and venom like a viper. Due to its similarity to snakes, this creature goes unnoticed, or is mistaken for a digesting snake. Some people say that he is capable of jumping a meter.

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The oldest record of this creature dates from 6th century, at Kokiji (Record of ancient things), the oldest book in Japan. According to legend, some tsuchinoko they have the speaking ability and they are prone to lying. Also have taste for alcohol. It is also said that to move they can eat their own tail to form a wheel.

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In rural areas, “Hunts” to attract visitors, and they promise large amounts of money to participants who are lucky enough to capture one. The town of Itoigawa in Niigata prefecture offers 100 million yen as a reward to whoever catches a tsuchinoko with life.