The Octopus, tako
, does not only abound in the Japanese seas, it also apeals strongly to the imagination of the people. In folklore it became known as the umi bozu
, the priest of the sea. As such it is a gigantic shadowy thing that rises from the stormy waves to threaten the sailors. HEARN says: "Place a large cuttlefish on a table, body upwards and tentacles downwards -- and you will have before you the grotesque reality that first suggested the fancy of the Umi Bozu, or Priest of the Sea. For the great bald body in this position, with staring eyes below, bears a distored resemblance to the saven head of a priest; while the crawling tentacles underneath ... suggest the waving motion of the priest's upper robe. ... He rises from the deep in foul weather to seize his prey." One may read about the umi bozu
in the literature about the spirit world and in stories for children, he is represented in the art of the woodcut and frequently in that of netsuke. In "Goblin Poetry" HEARN quotes the following poem about him: "Since there is but the thickness of one plank (between the voyager and the sea) and underneath is Hell, 't is indeed a weird thing that a black-robbed priest should rise from the sea."