Jinmenken: The Human Faced Dog of Japan

Jinmenken: The Human Faced Dog of Japan

Japan is home to a great number of very strange folkloric creatures and cryptids. This got to the point where it is difficult to say for certain where a myth ends and where reality begins. Japanese culture brims with fantastical creatures with magical powers. Like it happens with many societies, even Japanese animals have received magical abilities. In certain cases, we can have a creature which may seem a mythical construct. However, people continue to sight it to the point that it becomes worthy of investigation. The human faced dog is one such case.

The human faced dog, or Jinmenken has been in the local folklore of Japan since the Edo era. This means since 1603. From afar, it looks like a mutt, however, upon closer inspection, it reveals a strikingly human face. The Jinmenken supposedly has the ability to speak, and if you approach it, it might even beg you to leave it alone. These dogs were an omen of bad luck and people saw them as a warning for bad things to come.

Jinmenken The Human Faced Dog of Japan

All throughout the Edo era, people saw the human faced dog so often that at some point it even featured in newspapers. There are even mentions of people capturing some. In the 19th century, the historian Ishizuka Hokaishi wrote a book called Gaidan Bunbun Shuyo. In this story he mentions how he captured a Jinmenken.

Jinmenken: The Human Faced Dog of Japan

Stories of dogs with human faces seem too bizarre to be real. However, their sightings continue to the present day. The late 1980’s in particular saw a rise in the amount of sightings. In most of the reports, witnesses describe how they thought the animal to be a dog. However, they got really startled when they got closer and saw its face. Many of the sightings happened at night, usually when people took out the trash.

What do we make of these reports? As weird and unreal as they may seem, theories about them abound. There must be something behind all of these stories. The theories about the human faced dog run the gamut from plausible to really absurd. Some say that these are just the spirits of traffic accident humans. Or maybe dogs possessed by evil spirits. We might never know for sure.


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