Mythologies across countries have similarities. The uncanny parallelisms can sometimes make you think that the creatures could be the same. Their actions are just interpreted differently due to cultural differences.
These creatures come in different shapes and sizes, sometimes in the guise of animals, and at other times, looking very human.
Here are some creatures from Philippine and Japanese mythology.
Some mythological creatures are attributed for natural disasters. Both the Philippines and Japan have mythology to blame for natural calamities.
In Japan, stories have it that a large catfish called namazu is trapped underground. Some stories say that another god immobilizes namazu under a huge rock. When he struggles to escape or when the god gets tired, namazu moves and wiggles his tail, causing an earthquake.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, a giant atoning for his sins holds two mountains apart. However, when he gets tired and moves unnecessarily, he creates earthquakes. His name? Bernardo Carpio – the giant, not the actor.
Snakes have gained a bad reputation because of religious mythology and their portrayal in popular media.
In Japanese myth, there is an eight-headed snake called Yamata no Orochi who devoured a couple’s daughters year after year. When time came for the couple’s last daughter to be devoured, a man found them. He agreed to slay the snake in exchange for the maiden’s hand in marriage. How does a Japanese bachelor defeat a mythical beast? He outwits the creature and drowns its eight heads in alcohol. Apparently, in Japan, all serpents love sake.
It’s a different case in the Philippines. This half-snake creature eats moons. The bakunawa is sometimes described as a gigantic half-dragon, half-serpent creature with four wings. The creature, fascinated by moonlight, eats moons and causes lunar eclipses. Legend says that we used to have seven moons, but we only retained one because it was too late when the people found out how to shoo the creature. People learned to scare away this mythical beast by making noise using kitchen pots and pans.
Trickery comes in all forms. Sometimes, the trickster comes in the form of a god, sometimes your human ex.
In Japan, the trickster is a fox. Called the kitsune, this trickster is a shape-shifter who likes to annoy people. The kitsune can take and hide belongings, possess a human being, and create illusions.
The Philippine counterpart of the trickster is a half-human, half-horse tikbalang. Some stories say that the tikbalang can shape shift like the kitsune. Moreover, the tikbalang can create illusions. The tikbalang is known to safeguard houses or nature. Sometimes, they even play with travelers and intentionally let them lose their way. Elders say that when you are lost in a dense forest, turn your clothes inside out to annoy the tikbalang.
Clark, Jordan. (n.d.) “Creatures & Mythical Beings from Philippine Folklore & Mythology.” The Aswang Project. Retrieved from: https://www.aswangproject.com/creatures-mythical-beings-philippine-folklore-mythology/
About the author
Rennie is a writer and editor with quite a background in the ESL industry. For the most part, she’s an ordinary office girl; but once you talk to her, you’ll discover that she’s a mind-wanderer.