Religious Significance: The mystery of the mysterious mermaid has been solved

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The mystery of the mysterious mermaid has been solved

A mysterious mummified mermaid has been revered in Japan for years. Researchers tracked down its origins and discovered that it was artificially produced.


For about 40 years, a mysterious figure reminiscent of a mermaid has been exhibited in a Japanese temple.

The Asahi Shimbun/20min

  • For years, scientists have been puzzling over the origin of a mysterious mermaid paraded in a temple.

  • They recently subjected the figure to scientific tests.

  • As it turned out, the figure is completely artificial.

For years, in a temple in the Japanese city of Asakuchi a mummified mermaid revered. The figure, which is a good 30 centimeters tall and was allegedly caught between 1736 and 1741 in the Pacific Ocean off the Japanese island of Shikoku, has been kept in a temple for a good 40 years.

With its human-like face, the hair on its head, the two hands and the fish-like abdomen, the mummified figure is reminiscent of a mermaid in appearance. However, its actual nature has now been determined by scientists.

The mysterious figure was made from body parts of various animals, paper, fabric and cotton.

Screenshot Sumikai

As researchers from Kurashiki University recently discovered, the figure is neither a mermaid nor human remains. To put it bluntly, it is nothing at all: the figurine is completely artificial and was made at the end of the 19th century. There is no evidence of a skeleton, the researchers report. The lower half, the jaw and the teeth are from a fish, the hair from a mammal. In addition, a lot of paper, fabric and cotton were used to help.

The figure has been revered in Japan for years

The locals revered the mysterious being for years – also because it looked like a mermaid. “Japanese mermaids have a legend of immortality,” Hiroshi Kinoshita of the Okayama Folklore Society told The Sun. “It is said that if you eat a mermaid’s flesh, you will never die,” Kinoshita continued.

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Of course, even before the researchers’ investigations, he did not believe that it was a real mermaid. He thought the mysterious figure was made sometime during the Endo period (1603 to 1867). He could well be right about that, since the researchers dated the figure to the 19th century.

The mystery of the nature and origin of the mysterious figure has now been largely resolved. How exactly the temple came into the possession of the mummy, however, remains open.

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