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The bones were found in May 2000, in the small town of Yoshii in Okayama Prefecture. News of the discovery, according to one weekly magazine, "set off tremors throughout Japan." The skeleton was taken to a university to determine whether it really belonged to a tsuchinoko, a legendary reptilelike creature the existence of which had never been scientifically confirmed.
Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai

The Tsuchinoko (translated to English as "child of hammer" or "child of dirt") is the name of a small, snake-like creature in Japanese legend, known for having a disproportionately pudgy body ending in a slender, pointed tail. They are typically jet-black or dusty-brown and can be as long as 12 to 31 inches. Their behavior is noted to be strange, defying behavior seen in similar animals and even defying certain laws of physics. They can bite the end of their tail to form a wheel to travel faster to avoid predators or catch prey and they can even Double Jump by scrunching their bodies like an accordion and unloading like a spring. The tsuchinoko is a viper and thus has fangs filled with venom, but unlike other snakes, they don't hiss, but squeak and chirp instead. They are most commonly seen in Western Japan, mostly in Kansai and Shikoku.

The Tsuchinoko is classified as equal parts Youkai, mythological creatures used to explain natural phenomena like fairies and spirits, and cryptid, creatures with evidence that they may theoretically exist like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Much like Bigfoot in America, Tsuchinoko has had a bounty for its capture by the local government of Yoshiicho Yoshi in yen to the equivalent to $1,000,000 US, with various other sightings and bounties made as far back as 712 A.D.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bocchi the Rock!'s titular character, Bocchi, considers her social ineptitude as a high school girl so rare she's particularly on par with a Tsuchinoko, and even pathetically writhes on the ground like one.
  • The Doraemon short "We Found Tsuchinoko!" have Nobita and Doraemon investigating the Tsuchinoko myth after learning that the animal exists as a common house pet in the future.
  • In GeGeGe no Kitarō, while the typical pudgy body version does appear, the actual Tsuchinoko is a cyclopic hairy snake that can grow to be as large as building.
  • Girl Got Game: During their outdoor hike, Aizawa and her friends have sighted tsuchinoko twice.
  • In Kemono Friends, one of the Friends is a tsuchinoko. Appropriately, she's shy and likes to hang out in secluded areas.
  • Occult Academy: Several shorts exclusive to the DVDs center around a pet tsuchinoko kept by Maya and Ami.
  • QT in Space☆Dandy catches a few during his brief interest in fishing. They seem quite easy to come by though one of the tsuchinoko's is actually a shapeshifting Chameleonian.
  • In 3×3 Eyes, at one point Benares is seen resting on a roof, leaning against a massive snake-like cyclopic creature which greatly resembles the traditional depiction of a Tsuchinoko (a massive, fat-bodied snake with a very small tail).
  • In Star★Twinkle Pretty Cure, Lala dresses up as one for Halloween in episode 37.
  • In an episode of The Disastrous Life of Saiki K., at one point there is a contest for picking up trash, and it is announced that the most valuable piece of trash that can be turned in is a dead Tsuchinoko (which is supposed to be a joke.) Saiki and his friends bring in a lot of trash, but fall behind because one of them won’t stop picking up low-value trash. It’s okay, though, because a random little kid and his family actually find a dead Tsuchinoko, and beat everyone else including Saiki and his team handily.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Tensou Sentai Goseiger, the first of the Yuumajuu's Monsters of the Week is Tomarezu of the Tsuchinoko, who combines his motif with a pillbug and a Graboid and is able to spit acid that dissolves people into earth-corrupting putrescence, as well as transform into a serpentine form.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Folklore in United States, Canada, Australia and Greece all have different variations of a mythological creature called the Hoop Snake (or in Greece's case, the ouroborous), a snake that could allegedly bite the end of its tail to form a wheel similar to the tsuchinoko. The US version in particular has appeared in many famous folktales, including several of Pecos Bill's exploits.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: There are three Tsuchinoko cards; Danger!? Tsuchinoko?, Sinister Serpent and Terene Tootheed Tsuchinoko. All three monsters are weak, but have interesting effects.

    Video Games 
  • Cassette Beasts has a rare non-Japanese example. The second page of Carniviper's bio compares it to the tsuchinoko, being a snake with sharp fangs and a flat body.
  • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow: Tsuchinoko are a particularly elusive enemy type that serve as a Metal Slime; not because it drops a lot of money if killed, but because possessing its soul reduces prices at the shop. It appears in a single room, and not every time you enter it, and tends to disappear quickly. Once you do so, the bestiary description states that Soma claimed the bounty for proving its existence.
  • Vitium's baby form in Digimon World Re:Digitize was designed to resemble the Tsuchinoko, being a small, pudgy, rather cute snake-like creature.
  • Final Fantasy XIV's Shadowbringers expansion has the Great Serpent of Ronka that's one of these, being a chubby worm believed to be the avatar of the gods that guided the ancient Ronkans in the past. The player earns one of these as a non-combat pet after a series of quests.
  • Several monsters in the first Jade Cocoon game, such as Nushab, appear to be based on the Tsukinoko, being snake-like except for having round, flat bodies and heads.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: You can catch a tsuchinoko if you're lucky. Which is odd, since the game takes place in Russia. The team congratulates you when you do and you get an achievement (in the HD remake). You can even eat it, which would be a stupid thing to do since finishing the game with a live tsuchinoko in your inventory rewards you with a facepaint option that grants Infinite Ammo (and don't worry; if you already caught it, the critter can be easily recaptured following a plot-relevant event that dumps all of Snake's inventory).
    • Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops: "TSUCHINOKO" is a possible end-of-campaign codename the player can earn. It's the third-worst codename in the game (after "PIGEON" and "KEROTAN", generally reserved for the worst possible playthroughs) and basically involves engaging with the game as little as possible; no alerts, no deaths, recruited soldiers and saved infreqently. In short, it's a codename for players that are about as elusive as its namesake.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: The tsuchinoko is just one of many animals Venom Snake can capture for Diamond Dogs's makeshift animal reservation. Appropriately, it's one of the rarest animals in the game, only found in a tiny dead-end area in the Angola-Zaire border region, and even then Snake doesn't actually get to lay eyes on it in the field; it has to be captured with a mouse trap like in MGS3.
    • Metal Gear Online: The MGS4 and MGSV iterations "award" the Tsuchinoko codename and emblem for players that don't log in for a lengthy period of time (typically a month), once again comparing the player's elusiveness to the namesake cryptid.
  • Monster Hunter: World: It's possible to capture a tsuchinoko and keep it as a pet. However, they're incredibly rare since they're only available for capture during the Kulve Taroth event.
  • Pokémon: Introduced in the second generation, Dunsparce is a tsuchinoko with small wings and a rattlesnake-like tail (that's actually a drill); its Japanese name, Nokocchi (which uses the kanas No-Ko-tsu-Chi), particularly alludes to this as it's a Significant Anagram. They are very elusive, and spend most of their time hiding in burrows and tunnels underground. They're among the rarest Pokemon available to catch in the wild in the earlier generations, with an encounter rate around 1%, when they're not swarming. Dunsparce is oddly popular, with many fans imagining an evolution as a giant awesome snake dragon... Come Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, it finally gained the ability to evolve into Dudunsparce... which looks almost exactly the same as its previous form, just larger and with another one to two body segments, proving that Game Freak are a bunch of trolls.
  • Radiata Stories: Tsuchinoko is a rare encounter in this game. It drops an item called "Tsuchinoko Dumpling," which fully recovers HP and VP.
  • Forbidden Siren (Called just Siren in the US): Can be spotted a couple times in specific scenarios, one of which sees it squeezing into the drain of a bathtub.
  • In Touhou Project canon, specifically Strange and Bright Nature Deity, Marisa adopted a rather cute tsuchinoko as a pet after chasing it out of a fairy's house.
  • Yo Kai Watch: One of the franchise's Ensemble Darkhorses is a literal Tsuchinoko, named "Noko" in the English version. There's also a variant called Tsuchinoko Panda (named "Pandanoko" in English), who has a panda's black and white coloration.


Video Example(s):


Gaijin Goomba explains Tsuchin

Gaijin Goomba (both the real person and his cartoon goomba counterpart) explain to the viewers just what the Tsuchinoko is.

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Main / Tsuchinoko

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