Umi zatō

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"Umi zatō" from the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Toriyama Sekien
"Umi zatō" from the Hyakki Yagyō Emaki of the Matsui Library in Yatsuhiro, Kumamoto Prefecture

Umi zatō (海座頭) is a Japanese yōkai that in the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Toriyama Sekien and in various emakimono such as the Matsui Library's Hyakki Yagyō Emaki.


In Yōkai depictions, they are depicted looking like a giant biwa hōshi standing above the sea holding a rod in the right hand and carrying a pipa on their back.[1] There is no accompanying explanatory text in the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō or Hyakki Yagyō Emaki, so it is unknown what kind of yōkai this was intended to be. The yōkai researcher Murakami Kenji considers it a yōkai that has existed only in these paintings.[2]

In books published in the postwar era, there has been the interpretation that this is a kind of umibōzu, which frequently appear off the coast of Sanriku, Rikuchū Province (now Iwate prefecture).[1][3] Although they are counted among the umibōzu, their times of appearance are different, appearing at the times when umibōzu no longer appear, often at the end of the month.[1] They walk around on top of the water, threaten fishermen and beckon ships to make them capsize,[1] and sometimes even swallow ships whole.[4] There is also the theory that they appear above the sea taking on the appearance of a zatō (a kind of member of the build persons' guild such as the tōdōza or a ranking of members of related groups such the Anma, moxibustion practitions, and members of the biwa hōshi, among other organizations) to frighten people.[5] However, it is said that if the umi zatō's words are answered properly, then it will go away.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e 草野巧 (1997). 幻想動物事典. 新紀元社. pp. 46頁. ISBN 978-4-88317-283-2.
  2. ^ 村上健司編著 (2000). 妖怪事典. 毎日新聞社. pp. 60頁. ISBN 978-4-620-31428-0.
  3. ^ 人文社編集部 (2005). 諸国怪談奇談集成 江戸諸国百物語 東日本編. ものしりシリーズ. 人文社. pp. 13頁. ISBN 978-4-7959-1955-6.
  4. ^ 水木しげる (1994). 図説 日本妖怪大全. 講談社+α文庫. 講談社. pp. 82頁. ISBN 978-4-06-256049-8.
  5. ^ 山口敏太郎. "千葉妖怪伝説 その三 黒入道". まいぷれ. フューチャーリンクネットワーク. Archived from the original on 2006-09-22. Retrieved 2011-04-24. External link in |website=, |publisher= (help)