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Depiction from the Shinano Kishōroku
Sub groupingReptile
Other name(s)Bachi-hebi (North Japan)

In Japanese folklore, the tsuchinoko (ツチノコ or 槌の子), literally translating to "child of hammer", is a snake-like being. The name tsuchinoko is prevalent in Western Japan, including Kansai and Shikoku; the creature is known as bachi hebi (バチヘビ) in Northeastern Japan.


Tsuchinoko are described as being between 30 and 80 centimetres (12 and 31 inches) in length, similar in appearance to a snake, but with a central girth that is much wider than its head or tail, and as having fangs and venom similar to that of a viper.[1] Some accounts also describe the tsuchinoko as being able to jump up to 1 metre (3.3 feet) in distance followed immediately by a second jump while still in the air.[2][failed verification]

According to legend, some tsuchinoko have the ability to speak and a propensity for lying, and they are also said to have a taste for alcohol. Legend records that it will sometimes swallow its own tail so that it can roll like a wheel, similarly to the "hoop snake" of American legend.[3]


In the late 1980s, a wave of purported sightings of the tsuchinoko was reported across Japan, primarily in the village of Shimokitayama in Nara Prefecture. In 1988, Kazuo Nozaki, a member of Shimokitayama's village council, launched a "Tsuchinoko Expedition" to find the creature, which offered 1 million yen ($7,800 at the time) for its live capture and 300,000 yen for a sample of its skin. The expedition was joined by around 200 people from across the country and lasted until the beginning of the Japanese asset price bubble collapse in 1990 without finding evidence of its existence. To commemorate the event, the Shimokitayama Tsuchinoko Park was established in 2023.[4]

Tohoku region[edit]

In a mountain close to Lake Towada, sighting of a 30cm creature with similar shape to Tsuchinoko was reported.[5] In 1 April, 2007, a Tsuchinoko-shaped dead body of a snake from a dried grass in a farm located in Ōkura was found.[6]

Kantō region[edit]

Search efforts and bounties[edit]

This is a list of municipalities and companies offering rewards for capturing Tsuchinoko, including those who ended the bounties.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Moriguchi, Kenzo (2001-06-16). "Town touting mythical snake find; is 'rare' creature really a cash cow?". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  2. ^ Metropolis, "Fortean Japan", 27 June 2008, p. 12.
  3. ^ Pruett, Chris (November 2010). "The Anthropology of Fear: Learning About Japan Through Horror Games" (PDF). Interface on the Internet. 10 (9). Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  4. ^ Taiga, Iyama (22 January 2024). "FEATURE: Village revisiting craze of phantom creature for local promotion". Kyodo News. Retrieved 22 January 2024.
  5. ^ "幻のつくり方" [How to make the UMA]. taka42da.com (in Japanese). Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  6. ^ "【朗報】あのツチノコにとんでもない額の懸賞金が…目撃情報や捕まえ方を掲載". おにぎりまとめ (in Japanese). 2021-06-07. Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  7. ^ "世界と日本の「超常現象」 写真特集:時事ドットコム". 時事ドットコム (in Japanese). Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  8. ^ "かつて賞金2億円の夢に思い馳せ 幻の「ツチノコ」、木材アートのオブジェで登場 道の駅ちくさ". 神戸新聞NEXT (in Japanese). 2022-04-24. Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  9. ^ 岡山県観光連盟. "ツチノコ発見現場、今にも落ちそうな岩…。不思議がいっぱい赤磐市!". 岡山観光WEB (in Japanese). Retrieved 2024-02-20.