May 30, 2010

Japanese Giant Fish, Part 1- The Namitarou

Not too long ago here on Cryptomundo I posted an article I wrote on the legendary Takitaro, a giant fish said to inhabit a lake known as Otori-ike, in Japan’s Yamagata prefecture. The Takitaro is by no means the only mysterious monster fish to be found over here in the Land of the Rising Sun. In fact, giant fish of various types have long been a part of the cryptozoological landscape in Japan. In the coming days, I will be presenting a series of overviews of some of the more well known of these Japanese aquatic enigmas.

The Namitarou

By- Brent Swancer

The Namitarou is a giant fish said to lurk in Takanami Pond in Niigata prefecture, Honshu, Japan. Eyewitnesses describe the fish as being from 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) in length. This cryptid fish has become quite well known in the area, and has even been photographed on occasion.

Takanami Pond

Alleged photo of the Namitarou

The Namitarou is said to be most likely a giant carp of some variety. The two main candidates most often brought up are the grass carp (Ctenopharyngdon idella), or the silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix). Both of these species are widely found in Japan, where they are popular as a food fish. Grass carp can reach lengths of over 1.2 meters (3.9 ft) long and weights of up to 18kg (40lbs), while silver carp can get over 1 meter long (3.2 ft), and up to 27 kg (60 lbs). Perhaps a long lived specimen with its run of the pond has reached an even larger size?

Siamese giant carp

There is also the possibility that a large species of exotic introduced fish could also be behind the sightings. The world’s largest species of carp is the Siamese carp (Catlocarpio siamensis), pictured above, which can be up to 3m (10 ft) long and 300kg (660 lbs) in weight. In Japan, where carp are valued as a food fish and are often kept for ornamental purposes, it is thought that an exotic species may have been imported from elsewhere and released into the pond.

Takanami Pond lies 540 meters (1,772 feet) above sea level in a wilderness area. It is an unusual place to find a cryptid of any type since the pond is not particularly large, and is only 13 meters deep at its deepest point. The surrounding area is famous for its camping, and is actually fairly developed as a tourist spot, with hiking trails, campgrounds, playgrounds, restaurants, and shops.

The pond has become a popular destination for people looking to get a glimpse of its mysterious inhabitant, and the wave the fish is said to produce when breaking the surface has become affectionately known as the “Tarou Wave,” from which the name “Namitarou” comes from ( nami is Japanese for “wave”).

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