the online database of Japanese folklore

Kamiike hime

神池姫
かみいけひめ

Translation: princess of Kamiike (or “divine pond princess”)
Alternate names: hime uo, jinja hime
Habitat: oceans
Diet: unknown

Appearance: Kamiike hime are a kind of strange fish, or kaigyo. They are huge, with a body length of about 10.5 meters. They have the head of a woman, topped with a pair of antlers that are 1.5 meters long. Their head is also topped with black hair which grows to about 2.4 meters in length. Their tails hold three long swords, and the sides of their bellies are decorated with six round jewels; three on the left and three on the right.

Behavior: Kamiike hime live deep in the oceans, and little is known about their natural lives.

Interactions: They are prophetic, and when they do appear to humans it is in order to deliver a message from the gods. Due to their similarity with other prophetic yōkai like jinja hime and hime uo, it is possible that they too are servants of Ryūgū, the castle of the dragon king of the sea.

Origin: An illustration of a kamiike hime was discovered Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture. Alongside the illustration was recorded its name and legend. Its name likely originated from from a nearby lake called Kamiike.

In 1858, a major outbreak of cholera appeared in Japan. It originated in Nagasaki and spread along the highways to the rest of the country, reaching Numazu in the late summer. An estimated thirty- to forty-thousand people perished. Although the illustration of kamiike hime is not dated, it may have been produced during that outbreak.

In 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, the kamiike hime illustration was rediscovered and popularized in the city of Namazu.

Legends: A kamiike hime appeared off the coast of Hirado (today Nagasaki Prefecture) in the early 19th century. It spoke to observers, and predicted a coming bumper crop. It also said that an outbreak of cholera would appear, and that people without virtue would die in three days. Anyone who did not wish to die was instructed to copy the kamiike hime’s image and hang it on their wall.

Alphabetical list of yōkai