The Japanese folkloric spirits Umibozu’s name is derived from the characters for “sea” and “buddhist monk”. Legend has it that this not so friendly aquatic spirit lives in the ocean where it waits to capsize any boat that dares to disturb it.
Many conceptualize the Umibozu as being a Yokai or ghosts of either a drowned priest or buddhist monks with large, round, shaved heads. Generally, it is depicted as having a huge, grey, cloud-like torso with serpent-like limbs. We believe it looks like a giant octopus.
This evil ocean spirit destroys any sea vessel and drowns any sailors that crosses its path. According to myth, the spirit does so by asking for something like a barrel which it then proceeds to use as a tool to flood the ship. The only way to avoid this horrible fate is by providing Umibozu with a bottomless barrel.
The legend of Umibozu is believed to be linked to an ancient Japanese tradition which holds that the souls of people who have no friends or relatives to take care of their graves turn to the sea for refuge!