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Translation: crab person
Habitat: oceans

Appearance: Kanibito are crab-like yōkai who have the ability to speak. Overall they resemble Japanese mitten lobsters (Parribacus japonicus), although they have the head of a human woman. Their bodies glow brightly at night, and the light they give off can be seen from some distance.

Behavior: Kanibito live in the ocean, far away from people, and thus little is known about them. They are only seen when they come to shore to deliver an important message to humanity.

Interactions: When kanibito deliver a prophecy, they come to the shore and call out to humans passing by. They will wait for many days if necessary until someone brave enough approaches them. Then they delivery their message and return to the sea.

Origin: Kanibito is one of several yogenjū, or prophetic beasts, who appeared in Fukushimagata lagoon in Niigata Prefecture during the 19th century. Its story was printed in a newspaper shortly after the event supposedly occurred.

Legends: In September of 1848, a glowing figure was spotted every night in Fukushimagata, Echigo Province. It called out to people in a woman’s voice. A brave samurai named Shibata Chūta who lived nearby ventured out to meet the figure. It spoke to him:

“I live in the sea and am called kanibito. From now and for the next five years there will be a bumper crop. However, in the twelfth month of the fifth year a terrible sickness with spread, killing sixty percent of the population. However, if you look upon my image you will be spared from this fate. Now, hurry, and tell everyone across the world of my message.”

After delivering its message, the kanibito vanished into the sea.

Alphabetical list of yōkai