Unagi Hime

In Japanese folklore unagi hime, which translates as eel princess, is a huge shapeshifting eel that takes the form of a beautiful woman. This yokai is believed to live at the bottom of deep ponds and lakes and acts as a guardian of both the lake and everything in it. In Miyagi Prefecture it was believed that eels took the role of guardian in any ponds they inhabited, often battling other guardian animals such as crabs or spiders.

'Eels' - Bakufu Ohno, 1937.

Little else is known about this mysterious yokai other than that in some reports she is said to weave clothes on an underwater loom. The clacking noise of the loom can be heard on the banks of ponds indicating that unagi hime is lurking beneath the water, where she is likely to remain hidden unless challenged. To pay your respects to this water guardian you should keep your distance, and refrain from catching eels if you are fishing in her lake. In fact to do otherwise would likely make other fishermen very angry with you.

'Eels' - Bakufu Ohno,ca. 1940.


'Giant Eels' from 'Hokusai Manga Volume 12' - Katsushika Hokusai, 1834.

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