Entering a world of Japanese mythological creatures, Yokai creatures to be exact, I came across many interesting figures. One of them is Ashinaga Tenaga. Ashinaga Tenaga is an interesting pair of Yokai creatures. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t find much data about them. Nevertheless, I find them quite interesting and unique. Because of that, I decided to introduce you to them.
Japanese encyclopedia Wakan Sansai Zue is the first one to mention and describe Ashinaga Tenaga. People believe that this creature can be found in Kyūshū. Also, Ashinaga and Tenaga are usually seen near streams or rivers.
Ashinaga and Tenaga are Japanese Yokai creatures. Tenaga is a creature that has long arms (its arms can be long up to three jō or nine meters). On the other hand, Ashinaga is a creature that has long legs (its legs can be long up to two jō or a little more than six meters). They are born in two different countries. In one of them, everyone has long legs (Long-legged Country). But, in another one, everyone has long arms (Long-armed Country). As we can see, although unique, these two creatures are not that special when you look at them individually. But, when you pair them, you get a perfect creature. A creature that has both arms and legs long. So, what do they do? They catch fish and sea animals at the seashore. That’s right. Nothing scary or creepy.
Tenaga will climb on to the backs of Ashinaga, and Ashinaga would enter the water. In this way, Ashinaga, with its long legs, is keeping them both above the surface of the water and Tenaga is able to catch fish with its long arms. But, long arms and long legs are not the only supernatural traits of theirs. Since this creatures are almost always near the water, they also have a great connection to it. They can turn the land into a sea of mud because of their ability to commune with the water.
Like we already said, these two creatures are nothing much when you look at them individually. Who knows how would people tell the tales of them if they have never emerged together. But, as a pair, they make a really tough opponent. Just imagine how would someone with average hight fight them. I mean, only its legs would be longer than the opponent. In, addition, this creature holds snaring net in one hand (to entangle an enemy) and diamond-sharp fishing spear in another hand. This Yokai appears in Ro-Kan legends. They would usually help Ro-Kan villagers in the combat, although their motivation to join them is unknown. Nevertheless, they seem to be out of great help when it comes to moral because they show the power of fighting together in a defense of Jwar balance.
Stories behind this Yokai
Although I’m sure there are many legends and stories related to this Yokai, I managed to find only two of them.
In the first tale that comes from Wakan Sansai Zue, a man was fishing on the seashore. It was night and the weather was clear and calm. But then he saw one strange creature. This creature was wandering around the beach, and it had nine shaku (around 2.7 meters) long legs. Suddenly, the weather changed. It started to rain very hard. It was the man’s servant who informed him that this creature was Ashinaga. But, why did weather changed? The thing is that every time you see this yokai creature, the weather will change. Badly.
In a second tale, Ashinaga and Tenaga lived on Mount Bandaisan. Because of its long legs and long arms they were able to reach the sky. And, when they reached it, they started to collect all the clouds from the sky. This caused heavy rain, and because of it, all the plains were flooded. But creatures just looked at it with great pleasure. Luckily, Kukai Kobo Daishi came. He fooled them and banned them in a small box. Today, these creatures are venerated as Bandai Myojin.
What do you think about Ashinaga Tenaga?
What do you think? Is it unique or is it not? Do you find it any bit scary? And, do you know any tales in which this Yokai appears? Maybe there are some movies, series, anime, manga, and games where we can see this creature. If you know any, feel welcomed to comment below. Hope you enjoyed reading!