Researchers will do studies on a mummified mermaid that apparently harbors the secret to immortality. People who get a taste of this mummy's flesh are supposed to live forever.
The scientists from the Kurashiki University of Science and Arts will conduct CT scans to unveil the secrets behind the mysterious mummy.
The curious mermaid allegedly has connections to the coronavirus pandemic.
Based on the words of Hiroshi Kinoshita, who is behind the project, the mummy may also have a religious significance. Kinoshita is from the Okayama Folklore Society.
According to Japanese legend, mermaids are immortal. There are also claims that those who eat the flesh of these mythical creatures turn immortal.
A legend in Japan claims that a woman who ate the flesh of a mermaid by accident ended up living for 800 years. This story is also well-known close to where the mummified mermaid was found.
Due to the story, some people eat the scales of mummified mermaids.
According to Kinoshita, a legend also says that mermaids can make predictions about infectious diseases. This ability might have helped signal the arrival of the coronavirus.
Based on a letter that came with the mummy, the creature was captured in a fish-catching net off the Kocki Prefecture. Despite leading the research on the mummy and its ability to grant immortality, Kinoshita is skeptical.
The letter also explains that the fishermen who caught it were not aware they had caught a mermaid. Therefore, they ended up selling it in Osaka as a regular fish.
After that, a family recognized that this was a mermaid before preserving it as a family treasure several decades ago. At the moment, the mummy is in the Enjuin temple in the city of Asakuchi.
For added safety, it is locked in a fireproof safe. Before then, it was on display in a glass case.
Kozen Kuida, the chief priest at the temple, revealed that they had worshiped the mummy with the hope that it would bring relief to the coronavirus pandemic, however briefly.
As strongly as the priest believes in the mermaid, Kinoshita does not have the same faith in the mummified creature:
"Of course, I don't think it's a real mermaid. I think this was made for export to Europe during the Edo period, or for spectacles in Japan."
Nevertheless, he noted that the mummy had gotten a lot of interest because legends about mermaids are common throughout the world in China, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere in the world.
In Japanese folk tales, there is also a creature with a scaly body, a monkey's mouth, and fish teeth known as a ningyo.
According to Kinoshita, the CT scans on the mermaid mummy, in addition to DNA tests, will help them find out if the creature was made using living animals.
The mummy, according to him, looks like a fish due to the scales on its lower body. The hands, face, and upper body resemble the organs of a primate.
The results of the experiment will be published later in the year.