Bizarre Mummified ‘Mermaid’ To Be Analyzed By Scientists In Japan

For hundreds of years, a “mermaid mummy” preserved in a temple has been an object of veneration, the stuff of nightmares, and a source of mystery.

For the first time, a scientific investigation of the mummified creature, which possesses the upper body of a person and the bottom body of a fish, has begun.

Researchers from Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts and other institutions hope to make their findings public in the fall.

Kozen Kuida, 60, top priest at Enjuin temple in Asakuchi, prefecture, extracted the 30-centimeter-long cherished specimen from a paulownia box in the university’s veterinary hospital’s CT scanning room on Feb. 2.

The mummy, who was lying face up on an examination table, looked to be screaming and clutching its hands to its lips. The mummy has hair on its head and scales on its lower body, in addition to claws and fangs.

According to a letter found in the same box as the “dried mermaid,” the creature was caught in a fishing net between 1736 and 1741 off the coast of Tosa Province (now Kochi Prefecture).

After coming across a photo of the mummy while reading documents left by Kiyoaki Sato (1905-1998), a natural historian from Satosho in the prefecture, Hiroshi Kinoshita, 54, a board member of the Okayama Folklore Society, came up with the initiative.

Sato is credited with compiling the first Japanese encyclopedia on “yokai” ghouls, hobgoblins, and other supernatural creatures from Japanese mythology.

Kinoshita contacted authorities at the temple and the university to undertake the research after learning about the mermaid mummy’s location at Enjuin, he added.

Takafumi Kato, a paleontology professor at the institution, is in charge of the morphological examination of the Enjuin temple specimen’s upper torso. It will be his first study of a legendary monster.


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