Kenashi Pond – Tokyo, Japan - Atlas Obscura

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Kenashi Pond

Haunted by a giant white snake, this pond is said to bring the rain and pubic hair. 

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Japan is full of local legends and ghost stories, some strange and bordering on the bizarre, and its metropolitan capital is no exception. In the otherwise residential Katsushika Ward lies a small pond called Kenashi-ike, a rare strip of unbridled nature in urban Tokyo.

Covered with water lilies and parrot’s feather, the pond seems to be frequented by ducks and herons, with some crucian carps and invasive turtles swimming about. All around it are signs warning visitors not to fish, claiming that the site is sacred. Sure enough, a small shrine stands by the pond, dedicated to the god of water Mikumari-no-kami.

Kenashi-ike is said to be haunted by a loyal messenger of Mikumari-no-kami, who takes the form of a giant white snake. It has manifested itself quite a few times, even in relatively recent history. The pond was once to be landfilled, but it rained on and on until the project was canceled altogether, perhaps caused by the wrath of the water god.

Another story has it that when the original shrine was lost in a fire, all that remained was a scroll depicting the snake. The very same year, a 50-foot-long snake track was found in the neighborhood, shocking the locals.

Though the shrine is best known as a bringer of rain, where locals prayed in times of drought, it is also believed to bring pubic hair, of all things. According to the legend, a girl once drowned herself in the pond after despairing that she couldn’t grow pubic hair. Perhaps this bizarre anecdote is only a poor attempt at explaining the name of the pond, as Kenashi (怪無; literally “strangeness-less”) is synonymous with kenashi (毛無, meaning “hairless”). Whether the god has such power or not, and whether anyone has ever prayed for pubes here or not, remain a mystery.

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June 7, 2024

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