Japanese Woman Swallowed by Giant Snake

Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 14th, 2011

New York Times 13 August 1891

Swallowed by a Snake
A Japanese Story of a Woman-Eating Serpent
San Francisco Aug 12, 1891
The steamship Oceanic, which arrived last night from Hong kong and Yokohama brings copies of a native Japanese paper called the Kokkai, which publishes a remarkable story of a monster serpent.

It says that on the 17th inst. a man called Neemura Tahichi, twenty-five years of age, went out with his wife Otora, who was forty-eight, to pursue his usual avocation of tree cutting in Koshitamura Province of Lamba. The husband and wife separated at a place called Matsu Yama. Shortly afterward, while engaged felling a tree [sic], Tahichi thought he heard his wife cry out. Running to the place he was horrified to find that a huge snake, described as being three feet in circumference had Otora’s head in its mouth and was engaged in swallowing her despite her struggles. Tahichi ran off to the hamlet and summoned seven or eight of his neighbors, who when they reached the scene of the catastrophe found that the snake had swallowed the woman as far as her feet and was slowly making its way to its home. They were too much terrified to touch it, and it finally effected its escape unmolested.

The Province of Lamba is one of the most desolate in Japan and monster reptiles and wild animals are frequently killed there.

(Cryptomundo invisible contributor note: There is no Province of Lamba in Japan, since there is no “L” in the Japanese language. This is the Province of Tamba. See “Provinces of Japan” for a map. When I saw the age difference in the couple (if reported correctly), I wondered if this was just a murder embellished with a big snake story, but then you have the other villagers as witnesses…. Still, presumably he had an ax or tree saw–why didn’t he attack the snake instead of going for help? Fishy. Or snakey…)

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

6 Responses to “Japanese Woman Swallowed by Giant Snake”

  1. Red Earth White Lies responds:

    So wait a sec…
    He was tree cutting… Felling trees?

    So he must have had an axe with him.

    hmmm… probably took his own good time to go to the village to round up help, as she wasn’t “another pretty face” anymore.

    No doubt opportunity to acquire a younger new wife & more money now to spend on the geishas.

    Back on target 12″ in diameter makes for at minimum 30 feet long, does it not?

  2. j stewart responds:

    This story is very hard to believe because Japan has no snakes that even get close to being capable of eating even a small child much less an adult. I believe the largest snake in Japan that is native to the country only gets to be a little under 4 ft in length. so unless a Reticulated python escaped a zoo and found its way to this woman in the forest I would bet this was either just a story for entertainment or it was a cover story for a more dubias plot.

  3. Kopite responds:

    Loren, you are mean haha. You had me going. I thought this was a recent report. From yesterday, not from 1891. You are always getting me worked up with that trick of yours.

    Still, interesting (yes if very fishy) story. I didn’t even think Japan had such huge snakes.

  4. David-Australia responds:

    Kopite: This is known as “The Late News”…

  5. Strick responds:

    Just out of interest: what is the largest snake species native to Japan? Are there any representatives of the python family at all?

  6. Red Earth White Lies responds:

    From the time he heard her cry out to the time he saw her head already in the snake couldn’t have been more than a few minutes (?) if he made any effort all to get to her. Even fast walking:

    “If you walk as fast as possible, you can probably walk at around 7 ft/sec (1/4 mile in 3 minutes); and run at about 17 ft/sec.” (4 football fields end to end);
    The World Book Encyclopedia. “A nonracer walks 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) in 15 to 20 minutes. A heel-and-toe expert can do it in 6.5 minutes”

    The International Journal of Cryptozoology had a peer reviewed article on a Japanese highly venomous snake unrelated possibly to any other classified snake. It resembled a cross between a chunky Gaboon viper & a garden slug gastrapod or planaria worm.

    So if the snake in the report was taxonomically related but a large sub-species, the snake may have been 15′ long (or less), while still being 3′ in circumference for most of its entire length, unlike a gradually changing in diameter 30′ python.

    Still the 15′ snakes weight would be nearly as much with very large fangs able to inject copious amounts of venom far in excess of a King Cobra in a possibly 5′ or smaller petite Japanese woman nearly the size of a Caucasian child, with the venom reaching the vitals quickly to immobilize her for immediate swallowing.

    Although a large non-venomous constrictor of 30′ long with her in its coils may not take much longer particularly if she was lying down in the field & the snake’s jaws seized her by her head initially.

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