Kudan | Japanese Prophetic Monster That Prediction Becomes Reality

A monster (Yokai) in Japan and that notion were believed in past Japan, and it sometimes gave a message like a lesson.

Also, some Japanese monsters tend to show up when a natural disaster like an epidemic, famine, and so on occurs.

For example, one of the Japanese monsters called Kudan which predict in the future would suit it.

So, I will describe Kudan as explaining the historical background in this time.

What is Kudan and the witnessed information?

Kudan is a Japanese Yokai that was used to witness in the Edo period according to the one theory.

Kudan seems to have a human’s face although the body is absolutely a cow.

Interestingly, it is said that Kudan was born from a cow, but live only a few days and tell a prediction that certainly will come true.

It is alleged to describe that Kudan appeared when a disaster such as the below list occurred as I mentioned.

  • Before huge earthquake
  • Before expanding an epidemic
  • During The Russian-Japanese war
  • During WW2

Where was Kudan witnessed?

The legend and folklore about Kudan mainly have been told in western areas in Japan, and the visual was published backing to 1836.

The picture was shown to the public on a board in a town with the description that Kudan appeared at Mt. Kurahashi in Tango-no-Kuni in December 1836 (The picture is I introduced in the former section).

Image via 丹後国 地図

Furthermore, it also mentions that Kudan has appeared in December 1705, and it causes a good harvest in the case of the rain day.

After that, it is said that Kudan was shown up at different ages until the Showa period that is from 1926 to 1989, and witnessed around western areas like Hiroshima and Yamaguchi prefecture.

Why Kudan was shown up for the public?

As you imagine from that folklore, Kudan is a good monster rather than an evil one due to helping people by prediction.

The description in the picture also explains that “If the picture is stuck inside the house, it leads to driving a disaster like a disease away and good harvest”.

So, Kudan was recognized as an existence that brings good luck for farmers rather.

The relationship between Tenpo-famine and Kudan

Interestingly, why Kudan’s picture is suddenly published is wrapped in a mystery, but a hypothesis has been built.

According to the one theory, the reason why the picture encouraged a farmer and showed up at that time is relevant to the huge dearth of food due to the extraordinal climate (Its disaster is called Tenpo-no-Daikikin in Japanese).

Tenpo famine

The famine was occurred from 1833 to 1837 by flood and damage from cold weather due to sequential heavy rain around Japan, particularly Tohoku area was in a serious situation.

As a result, it led to a dramatical decrease in the population which went down around 1 million and 2 hundred thousand during the period as reported by popularity research.

So, it is said that Kudan’s picture was published for hope against that disaster.

Another prophetic Yokai in Japan

This is all of the information about Kudan, but Japan has other curious Yokai that tell prophecy to people before and after Kudan appears.

Interestingly, those Yokai showed up at the almost same age as Kudan and different regions although those areas are far away.

Mermaid from Dragon Palace appearing in Hirado

Firstly, “Mermaid from dragon palace appearing in Hirado” (1819) describes that the mermaid called Uohime predicts the pandemic plague.

Image via National Museum of Japanese History

However, she also mentioned that if people draw and see her picture, it leads to avoiding danger.

After that, Uohime got back in the sea bed.

Bright omen appearing in Echigo

Image via National Museum of Japanese History

In another case, “Bright omen appearing in Echigo” (1848-45) is also mentioned prophecy as well.

According to the picture, the woman who lived on the ocean floor describes that a lot of people will pass away as a result of endemic disease.

However, it also referrer that “a people who see and tell someone about her will be able to drive the disaster away”.

No one knows these Yokai could show up in reality before or after the disaster, and Japanese people at the time commonly express these pictures to encourage the public through Yokai.



Japan has Interesting and countless monsters like Kudan, and it tells us something message.

If you are interested in other Japanese monsters and mysterious history, the below articles should be checked as well.

Tengu might have existed in 19th century | Japanese Yokai

6 Mysterious customs and traditions in Japan