Posted by: mystery_man on September 27th, 2012
In August of 1992, in the coastal village of Kuji in Iwate prefecture, Japan, a couple went out to their bean field one morning and found an unusual sight. A path of strange tracks meandered through the field, over some grass , and continued on to the underbrush. The tracks were like nothing they had ever seen before. These footprints were 22cm long by 15cm wide, with four forward pointing toes and one toe seeming to point in the opposite direction from the others. The odd tracks went on for over 20 meters before disappearing into the forest bordering the field.
Illustration of one of the tracks.
Word of the tracks spread and they seemed to baffle everyone who saw them. No one had ever seen anything like them before, and they did not seem to fit in with any animals living in the area, such as bears, raccoons, and Japanese macaques. The perplexed locals contacted the Japan Monkey Center about the tracks, and the center informed them that they did not seem to be of any known primate.
The tracks became quite a phenomenon at the time, and although there were never any sightings of the mystery creature itself, it became known by locals as the Gatagon. The tracks were seriously investigated by Japanese cryptozoologists and plaster casts were even allegedly made although these have since been lost. Analyses of the trackway came to the conclusion that the gait of the prints seemed to point to a bipedal creature of some sort. Known wildlife of the area was also ruled out, indeed the tracks did not seem to be those of any animal known to inhabit Japan.
Considering that this is the only case of strange tracks being found in the area, and no similar tracks were ever found again, the Gatagon trackway of 1992 merely leaves us scratching our heads.
The possibility that the tracks were a hoax is often put forward and although this is most certainly possible it seems like a lot of trouble to go out in the middle of the night to this secluded farm just for the purpose of spooking an old couple living alone in the middle of nowhere.
Another possibility is that the tracks were from some kind of primate. It seems worth noting that the backward facing toe apparent on the tracks seems to point to an opposable toe, which might fit in with a primate, especially one that is highly arboreal. Orangutans are arboreal, with opposable toes that display a wide range of movement, and their feet look in some ways similar to something that could perhaps leave the Gatagon tracks.
An orangutan foot.
Could the prints have been left by some kind of arboreal primate or an escaped exotic animal like an orangutan? There is at least one account I know of concerning orangutans escaping into the wild in Japan, so the idea is not completely far fetched. The remote location and arboreal nature of the creature suggested by the tracks could explain why no more tracks were found. A tropical primate like an orangutan would also possibly not survive the harsh winters of Japan, which could explain why the tracks were only found in the summer of 1992 and never again.
Still others say these tracks are of a completely undiscovered hominid or primate of some sort. However, if it were a whole undiscovered species, it seems odd that only one set of tracks would ever be found.
Whatever the explanation may be, the Gatagon has gained quite a bit of notoriety in the locale. To this day a Gatagon festival is help in the area every August, and one can find Gatagon memorabilia such as souvenirs, as well as signs indicating the presence of the Gatagon and even a trackway through a shopping area. It’s actually very impressive how popular it has become for a cryptid only known through one trackway of prints.
The Gatagon Festival
A sign featuring the Gatagon. Notice the allusion to Bigfoot written in English.
Gatagon “tracks” through a shopping area.
With no further evidence brought forward since the finding of the tracks in 1992, I’m not sure we can ever hope for an answer to this mystery, but it is obvious that area locals will not forget the incident for quite some time.
mystery_man – has written 43 posts on this site.