the online database of Japanese folkore



Translation: evil fish
Alternate names: daigyo (giant fish), raichōgyo (thunderbird fish)
Habitat: open seas
Diet: carnivorous

Appearance: Akugyo are an enormous species of mermaid found in the waters surrounding Japan. Their head and arms resemble those of human women, but the rest of their body is fish-like. They are covered in gold and silver scales, and they have two white horns on their head. They can spit fire from their mouths.

Behavior: Akugyo spend most of their time beneath the seas, so little is known of their natural behavior.

Interactions: Although akugyo sightings are rare, they are feared by fishermen nonetheless. Boats can get stuck on their large backs. Eventually the boats capsize, and the akugyo eats everyone who was on board.

Legends: An akugyo was sighted in the Sea of Japan, off the coast of Echigo Province (present day Toyama Prefecture) in 1805. Its body was approximately 11 meters long, and its horns measured over 60 centimeters long. It was vanquished by Lord Matsudaira of Kaga, who sent 1500 men and 450 guns to slay it.

A famous taiko master from Kaga, Izutsuya Kanroku, was on a boat in the Sea of Japan when suddenly the boat stopped moving. It had sailed over the back of an akugyo and gotten stuck. Kanroku was sure he was doomed. With nothing to do but wait for death, he played his with all of his remaining energy. He drummed so loud that the sound traveled across the sky and throughout the sea. His boat was shaken loose from the akugyo, and his life was saved.

Alphabetical list of yōkai