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A picture showing the legend of HEIKE taken from our Japanese mythology archives. Illustration by Chas Saunders. Read the story below or search the index for more Japanese Gods, Japanese Goddesses, heroes, demons and monsters!

Samurai Crab spirits

Once upon a time in the Straits of Shimonoseki there was an epic battle between the Minomotas and the Tairas. The Taira tribe took a total pasting and were more or less wiped out or drowned in the inland sea.

The HEIKE crabs which abound in this area have shells indented with what look remarkably like scowling faces. These are said to be the spirits of the departed Tairas. Not surprising as they have a lot to scowl about. They lost absolutely everything including the sacred imperial sword. Now they are doomed to wander around under the waters for eternity.

Those of you into evolutionary biology may like to ponder the significance of artificial selection in the case of the Heike Crab. The theory goes that no ghost-fearing person is likely to kill and eat a crab bearing such an image, so over the years, normal crabs are more likely to get eaten while the strangely-marked ones survive to pass on their characteristics. Result: Human superstition conspires to breed a race of crabs with startlingly realistic Samurai faces.

However, there are several other crab species outside of Japan with similar markings, so perhaps the Heike warriors were inspired by the crabs instead. If only mythology could be explained so easily, we could have a day off now and then.

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Article last updated on 15 January 2013
Authors: Peter J Allen and Chas Saunders
References: Coming soon.

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Godchecker's article on Heike is based on material from ancient texts, original references and our own research. We strive for accuracy and update regularly with new information. If you spot a mistake please contact us and we'll try to fix it.

Suggested further reading...
Name : HEIKE
Location : Japan
Gender : Male
Type : Spiritual Being
Celebration or Feast Day : Unknown at present
Pronunciation : Coming soon
Alternative names : HEIKEGANI, HEIKE-GANI
Popularity index : 370

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