Mystery Of Centuries Old Japanese Mummified Mermaid Finally Uncovered

Last year, we wrote an article about how a mummified mermaid that was in Japan’s Souther Enjuin shrine for many centuries was finally getting researched by The Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts. After nearly a year of research, they concluded their study.

No one knew the how it was brought to the Enjuin Temple in Okayama prefecture. The 30-centimeter body was an remarkable and peculiar temple attraction for generations of devotees until the last year.

Even if you look at it from any angle, it does not look like anything that exists today. It has the upper body of an infant and the lower body of a fish/aquatic animal. The results of their yearlong study were revealed this week. The mummy was not an animal, and it was just an object.

“Based on our analysis and the history of mummy creation in Japan, we can only conclude that the mermaid mummy was probably man-made,” Takafumi Kato, an expert in paleontology working at Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts, Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts in Japan, told VICE World News via email.

Before the study, it was speculated that the mummy might be an animal and an infant bonded with a portion of a fish.

By putting the object through a CT scanner, the researchers could determine what the object was. It was not a mummified living being, and it was all man-made using paper, cloth, and cotton. The X-rays showed it was missing essential skeleton bones, including a spine, head, and ribs.

This doesn’t mean it was a simple cotton toy. The lower part of the body had bones of fish, which could be coming from tails or a dorsal fin. The jaw and teeth were carnivore fish–the only bone in the head. The shoulders, arms, and neck are covered in puffer-like fish skin.

Utilizing radiocarbon dating on the scales of the mummy’s body, scientists discovered that it was probably made in the latter part of the 1800s. While the researchers could not provide a reason for the purpose behind the doll or who was the person responsible for the beauty, they did say it was likely related to merfolk. This in Japan is believed to date back to the 8th century. The merfolk is first referenced in ” Nihon Shoki” (“Chronicle of Japan“).

The book describes the events that are believed to have occurred in 619 CE when an animal that was neither a fish nor a human was taken from the river by a fisherman.

Another dozen Mummies of mermaids other than the one found at Enjuin temples have been discovered throughout Japan; however, the one from Okayama prefecture is the first that was studied closely. The people who made these objects since the Edo period (1603-1868), in which measles and smallpox were prevalent. The belief was that looking at these rare animals could bring luck.

Scientists have clarified the body’s anatomy, and the temple’s top Priest, Kozen Kuida, said it would continue to be a distinctive aspect of the millennia-old temple.

“It’s similar to when people clasp their hands before Buddhist statues made of wood or stone. I’d like to continue to preserve and pass on this mummy with the greatest care,” he said.


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