You may have thought that the Loch Ness Monster had cornered the market on fresh-water cryptids, but Japan has one of its own mythical lake beasts. There may be a monster lurking in the depths of Kyushu’s Lake Ikeda, a monster who goes by the terrifying name of… Issie-kun.

Lake Ikeda, at just 15 km around and with a maximum depth of 233 meters, is still the largest lake in Kyushu, which just goes to show that there are not that many lakes in Kyushu. It’s a caldera lake, meaning it doesn’t connect to the ocean and depends mostly on precipitation to maintain water levels.

The lake is supposedly also the home of a huge saurian creature called Issie, or Issie-kun, to give him the diminutive male suffix the city seems to prefer. Issie was first spotted by a family in 1978. Twenty witnesses reported seeing some black humps several meters in length moving through the water. Later that same year, a man named Toshiaki Matsuhara caught the creature on film.

▼ It’s Issie! …or some glare on the water. Or maybe some lake weeds? Whatever. Proof!


Since then, the tourism authorities have been promoting the Issie story to attract visitors to the region. There is even a mythology to explain Issie’s creation. In the story, a white mare lived on the shores of the lake with her foal. When the foal was captured by samurai, the white mare leapt into the lake in despair, transforming into a huge water creature. She surfaces now and then to look for her child. There is no explanation as to why Issie is a female in the story, but the monster is generally considered male. Another mystery!

On a completely unrelated note, Lake Ikeda is home to giant eels, some of the largest in the world. They can grow to several meters in length. I’m sure the resemblance to Issie is purely coincidental.
▼Issie looms over a roadside gift shop.

▼ Inside, you can see some captive eels, though none are over a meter.  IMG_5840

▼ Even if he knows where Issie is, he ain’t talking. IMG_5841

▼ Some decidedly cuter versions of Issie to dangle from your phone.  IMG_5842

▼Or maybe some Issie ice cream?

▼ This kindly Issie watches over the public restroom. IMG_5844

▼This playground looks awfully familiar…

▼ On top, there’s a view point with the three locations of reported Issie sightings marked.

  ▼ Several identical Issie statues line the shore for photo ops.  IMG_5859

▼ Lake Ikeda. What mysteries lie beneath your waves? IMG_5845

If you happen to have any photographic evidence that Issie-kun exists, be sure to drop us a line.

Photos: RocketNews24, La Cite Perdue (Matsuhara photo)