Village in Gifu Pref. Holds 32nd Annual Tsuchinoko Festival; 800 Participants Seek Snake-Like Creature

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Film director Tomoki Imai (left)

GIFU — A festival in which people search for the legendary snake-like creature called the tsuchinoko was held in Higashi-Shirakawa, a village in Gifu Prefecture, on Friday. Many participants brought their families along, seeking adventure as they hunted for the mysterious beast. Tomoki Imai, a village local who directed a feature-length documentary on the tsuchinoko, also attended the festival to promote his film and liven up the festivities.

The festival, which was held for the 32nd time this year, features a variety of events centered around the search for the tsuchinoko, sightings of which have been reported in the village since long ago. Participants had to apply in advance and were limited to no more than 2,200 people.

A reward is offered to anyone who catches a tsuchinoko, but no one has succeeded yet. On this day, approximately 800 people pursued the cryptid, hoping to claim the reward of ¥1.32 million, a prize which grows each year. However, no one managed to capture the creature this time either.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants search for the tsuchinoko in Higashi-Shirakawa, Gifu Prefecture, on Friday.

Imai, who made his film after researching and verifying tsuchinoko legends and eyewitness accounts, promoted his work, saying, “The film helps viewers understand why the village puts so much effort into searching for the tsuchinoko.” He added, “The appeal of the tsuchinoko lies the fact that its true nature is shrouded in mystery, even though there have been many eyewitnesses.” The film will open on May 18 at Polepole Higashi-Nakano in Tokyo, to be followed by other theaters later.