Thursday, December 16, 2010


The Tsuchinoko, which translates to "Hammerspawn", is a strange snake from Japanese folklore that is concidered very real. Tsuchinoko is the common name for it in Western Japan but in Easter Japan it is known as the Bachi Hebi.

Described as being between 30 and 80 centimeters in length, similar in appearance to a snake, but with a central girth that is much wider than its head or tail, and as having fangs and venom. Some sightings even mention that it can jump about a meter in length.

According to legend it can speak in human tongues, likes alcohol and bites it's tail to roll downhill much like the Hoop Snake. But they are said to be solitary and peaceful creatures.

Drawings of the Tsuchinoko dating back to the Jomon Period have been discovered in Gifu and Nagano. An encyclopedia from the Edo Period contains a description of the Tsuchinoko under the name Yatsui Hebi. In 1989 the town of Mikata, Hyogo Prefecture offered a reward of 330 square meters of land to anybody who could capture a Tsuchinoko and, in 2001, it put a large black snake on display under the claim that the creature was a Tsuchinoko but sadly it was not.

Except Hokkaido and the southern Japanese islands the Tsuchinoko is found all over Japan. Some theories say it's just a misidentified snake but in the 1970's it was made legal to own Blue Tongued Skinks so many scientists think that those creatures are what people are seeing, basically escaped pets. The only problem I have with that theory is that skinks have four legs and no one reports legs on the Tsuchinoko.

Perhaps it is an undiscovered species of snake, people are finding undiscovered reptiles all the time, so it seems resonable to me to assume that Japan, as inhabitated as it is, still has some surprises left to find in the natural areas.

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