Mummified ‘mermaid’ to be analyzed by Japanese scientists

(ORDO NEWS) — The “mummy of a mermaid”, kept in one of the temples, has been an object of worship, a subject of nightmares and a source of mysteries for hundreds of years.

Now, for the first time, a project has begun to scientifically analyze the mummified creature, which has the upper body of a human and the lower body of a fish.

Researchers from the Kurashiki University of Science and Arts here and other organizations plan to announce their findings around the fall.

On February 2, 60-year-old Kozen Kuida, head priest of Enjuin Temple in Asakuchi Prefecture, took out a 30-centimeter cherished specimen from a paulownia box in the CT scan room of the university’s veterinary hospital.

Lying face up on the examination table, the mummy appeared to be locked in a scream, hands pressed to her mouth. In addition to nails and teeth, the mummy has hair on its head and scales on its lower body.

According to a note in the same box containing the “dried mermaid”, the creature was caught in a fishing net off the coast of Tosa Province (modern Kochi Prefecture) between 1736 and 1741.

Hiroshi Kinoshita, 54, a board member of the Okayama Folklore Society, came up with this project after he came across a photo of a mummy while reading materials left by Kiyoaki Sato (1905-1998), a naturalist from Satose in the prefecture.

It is believed that Sato wrote the first encyclopedia in Japan about “yokai” – ghouls, hobgoblins and other supernatural creatures of Japanese folklore.

According to him, after learning that the mummy of a mermaid was kept in Enjuin, Kinoshita approached temple and university officials to investigate.

Takafumi Kato, a 54-year-old university professor specializing in paleontology, is in charge of the morphological analysis of the upper body of the Enjuin Temple specimen. This will be his first study of a mythical creature.

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