The Akkorokamui (or also known as the Ashketanne Mat which means “Long-fingered Woman) is a half-human half-octopus monster from the Ainu and Shinto folklore in Japan. It supposedly lurks in the Funka Bay in Hokkaido. It’s also been sighted in several other locations such as Taiwan and Korea for centuries.
According to the Shinto mythology, the creature is human-like and has a bright red color. John Batchelor wrote in his book “The Ainu and Their Folklore” he states that the creature is 120 meters (about 394 feet) in length and its color was “liken to the color of the reflection of the setting sun upon water”. It also has the ability to self-amputate like an octopus and regenerate limbs like one as well. This characteristic manifested itself in the belief in Shinto that Akkorokamui has healing powers. As a result of that belief among followers believe that giving offerings to Akkorokamui will heal ailments of the body, mainly those that are disfigured or have broken limbs.
The legend of how this creature became starts a long time ago in that spirits cursed a person named Rebunge who was a villager of Abuta Toyoura to see the destruction of his own village. They sent a half-spider half-human monster called Yaoshikepu to fulfill this curse. Yaoshikepu set out to destroy the village and slaughtered so many people that the streets were filled with blood. After hearing the townsfolk trembling and screaming with fear the sea kami (“kami” means divine beast in the Shinto religion) Repunkamui transformed Yaoshikepu into an octopus and sent her into the sea. After she was sent into the sea she began to grow and was consuming larger prey such as whales and attacking ships. One day Akkorokamui ate a boat full of fishermen and once in her stomach, the fishermen called out for help. After hearing these cries, Repunkamui poised Akkorokamui and caused her great pain. As she yelled in pain the fishermen managed to escaped. Akkorokamui learned how to harness the poison, however, and used it to attack her prey, including more ships with fishermen in them.
The Ainu reverence of Akkorokamui has become a permanent part of Shintoism which incorporated it as a minor kami. The self purification practices for this kami are strictly followed. One’s hands must be cleaned with water, with the exception that one’s feet must also be cleaned. While it is often presented as a benevolent kami with powers to heal and bestow knowledge it is also capable of doing harm. Also because of the nature of it being part octopus it means that it is persistent and it’s nearly impossible to escape its grasp without permission. Akkorokamui enjoys the sea and so the offerings that are the best would be fish, crab and mollusks. There are shrines dedicated with Akkorokamui and associated octopus deity which can be found throughout Japan. The most well known shrines are found in Kyoto and the island of Hokkaido.
This beautiful yet dangerous mythological creature is somewhat a cryptid in its sightings. Many would argue it is just visions of those who strongly believe in a higher power and that it is not a cryptid at all. I like to believe that there is always some truth in these types of stories. Who are we to say it isn’t so?