the online database of Japanese folkore

Minogame

蓑亀
みのがめ

Translation: straw raincoat turtle
Habitat: aquatic
Diet: omnivorous

Appearance: Minogame are long-lived turtles with long strands of algae growing from their shells. The algae drapes down from their shells and resembles a farmer’s straw raincoat—or mino—from which they get their name.

Behavior: Minogame behave just like ordinary turtles. They spend most of their time in the water, and like to sun themselves on rocks or logs. They have a long lifespan and can live for many thousands of years.

Origin: Minogame are considered very auspicious creatures throughout East Asia. The long “hair” on their backs is reminiscent of the long beards of sages and wise men. Because of this and their long life span, they are a symbol of long life and prosperity and appear frequently in paintings, sculpture, and handicrafts.

Legends: According to a legend from Iwate Prefecture, three young men were fishing in a pond when all of a sudden an enormous minogame with hair all over its head and body rose out of the water. The turtle opened its mouth and expelled a cloud of toxic gas all over the young men. They were terrified and ran back to their homes. However, shortly afterwards all three of them died from the poison.

Alphabetical list of yōkai