Call of the Cryptid – Akkorokamui, giant octopus of Japan/Thailand

The Akkorokamui is a giant octopus monster of Ainu folklore, often
given human female features. Some of you are probably thinking: Is she hot?

Said to lurk in Uchiura bay in Hokkaido, Japan, the giant Akkorokamui octopus is a blend of far-fetched legend and plausible creature. However, plausibility increases only from looking beyond legend, I’m afraid to say. Why? The Akkorokamui is said to have originally been Yaoshikepu, a spider goddess.

How was it supposedly transformed, according to the legend? The spider goddess was cast into the sea by the god-like Repun Kamui, for slaughtering too many villagers in Hokkaido.  In the sea it  magically became an octopus.

Its name is translated from “Atkorkamuy,” which means “string-holding kamuy.” The word “kamuy” signifies a divine being of sorts. (SOURCE: Ashkenazy, Michael. Handbook of Japanese Mythology. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2003. 294-295)

Some descriptions of the mythical creature retain its female human aspects, while others simply make it an octopus. Frankly, it all seems like a matter of taste. There are large squid and octopi in existence, so the legend becomes less legendary with that in mind.

However, the Akkorokamui is still pretty large. (Probably random) estimates place it at 120 meters in length (about 393 feet), which is obviously a substantial beast. Also of interest is how, over time, the monster shifted from purely Ainu into Shinto folklore. Rather than dissecting how this happened, one can modestly just call it an appealing legend. Apparently, some claim it’s appeared in Thailand as well. I mean, why not?

Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

More Specifics on the Creature’s Features

John Batchelor was an Anglican English missionary to the Ainu people until the mid-1940s. In his book, “The Ainu and Their Folklore,” Batchelor described the Akkorokamui.  He said the Ainu compared its red color “to the color of the reflection of the setting sun upon water.”
[Note: I could not locate this quote by electronically word searching Batchelor’s book, but that doesn’t mean it’s not in there somewhere.]

Batchelor also offered this vivid account of a supposed Akkorokamui attack:

“In the morning, we found the whole village under a cloud. Three men, it was said, were out trying to catch swordfish, when all at once a great sea monster, with large staring eyes, appeared in front of them and proceeded to attack the boat. A desperate fight ensued. The monster was round in shape, and emitted a dark fluid and noxious odor. The three men fled in dismay, not so much indeed for fear, they say, but on account of the dreadful smell. However that may have been, they were so scared that the next morning all three refused to get up and eat; they were lying in their beds pale and trembling.”

This sounds a little less far-fetched than certain general claims about Akkorokamui. In this case, though, it should be noted that the creature has no human female-like traits. (And even a woman-hater wouldn’t accuse all women of sprouting tentacles and attacking fishing boats.)

Stating the Obvious: You Can Visit Hokkaido, Japan

Obviously, Hokkaido is an actual place on a map. One could certainly visit there, see the sights, enjoy the cuisine, be a monster hunter, et cetera. It’s one interesting aspect of cryptid tales. They may begin as serious beliefs, but over time they become excuses for tourism.

So, if you have the money and the inclination, feel free to take a trip to find this elusive giant. Plus, you can enjoy things that have nothing to do with crypto-zoology, and have less people thinking you’re a weirdo.

What are your thoughts on Akkorokamui? Let us know your thoughts about the legendary cryptid in the comments section below!