Iwana bōzu - 岩魚坊主 - Char monk
A giant Iwana: (Char, Trout, River fish) which takes on humanoid form to protest people who have been greedily overfishing. - The most popular version of his story is from Gifu Prefecture 1821 it goes something like this:
[image source: british museum.]
...Once upon a time, there was a group of young anglers from a village who used a particular method to fish in a stream. They would Poision the water using spicy pepper juice, and then wait for the fish to float up... This time, the group of young anglers where particularly greedy and decided they wanted to catch a ton of fish to bring home, so, they had prepared a lot of pepper juice....
But this time at their usual spot, just as they where about sit down to their lunch: a shaven monk appeared before them: "What are you kids doing? Are you trying to poison yourselves?"
Wanting to get rid of him quickly so they could fish in peace, They decided to give the monk some of their leftover Rice balls in hopes that he would leave, but the monk was apparently starving, so rather than just eating the leftovers: the monk had soon helped himself to all of their Lunches, he scarfed it all down...
"Fine, I'll leave you be; but to me, well, its a matter of life or death. Please reconsider what you're doing." ...The monk then disappeared into the mountains up stream - What a rude guy! – He scolded them and then ate their food and left without even saying thanks!
The Anglers decided to forget about him and continued on with what they where doing, after a while: A HUGE char floated to the surface of the water, it seemed that their poison trick had worked and what a catch, this fish was huge!!
Hungry, The fishermen took a break and excitedly brought the fish ashore and started preparing their replacement lunch... but... when they cut the fish open, it was full of Rice... The fishermen turned pale, they had lost their appetites: none of them ate their catch and none of them returned to the same fishing spot again, fearing that it was cursed.... it was the same rice they had just fed to the monk.
...So the char monk must have been the spirit of an old fish that wanted to protect the other fish, so it transformed into an Onyudo to try and reason with the youngsters. The type of fish in question, as well as the number of fishermen & the food they eat change frequently, of course, what happens, varies depending where its told: there are similar stories of Cod, Trout & Eel (and even Tuna) - in any case: it is a pitiful Youkai fish who dies and leaves the fishermen too terrified to want to eat anything. There are some variants to the story where they'll eat it anyways, but they are then Cursed or otherwise poisoned. (Well, he did warn them after all...)
Sticker Art by @Samkalensky (yo thats me!) - Part of my Night parade of 100 Demons - Yokai & Japanese folklore sticker collection, weather-resistant 4" Glossy sticker. Check my shop & follow @samkalensky for many more!