Ever squashed a snail in the street?
Ever eaten a snail, albeit with French cheese?
Ever filled an icecream container with snails, painted their shells different colours using your new set of textas, then raced them all afternoon?
(OK, so maybe this last one is just me and my sisters, but still…)
Ever wondered what revenge a snail could take?
The awesome yokai researcher and artist, Toriyama Sekien did. This is what he discovered:
The Sazae-oni: it’s demon time!
Our universe is a marvellous thing, where all kinds of creatures can evolve and prosper. The Sazae-oni (or Sazaeoni) is one of these miracles. Literally the Sazae Ogre, it’s a demon formed when the Sazae turban snail (very tasty when served with mushrooms or soy sauce) turns 30 (or some say 100) years old.
Of course, when 10,000 tonnes of your buddies are punctured with knifes and BBQed evey year, you’re liable to get mad.
Signs to watch for in your snail:
1) Sudden increase in size
If your snail is turning into a yokai, it will grow larger when you’re not looking. Much larger.
2) Unseasonal weather
A sazae-oni loves to fill its gills with water and then spray a fine mist into the air, creating the impression of a foggy day.
3) Amphibian lungs
Did I say gills? A sazae-oni is also equipped with amphibian gills, allowing it to thrive underwater or on land. There is nowhere you’ll be safe.
4) Human hands
Oh yeah. Human hands is probably going to be easier to spot than amphibian lungs. Especially since each palm is lined with giant suckers that allow the snail body to stick to any surface.
5) Constant licking
And not the snail demon licking itself. I mean the snail demon licking you. Its tongue is super-long and sticky and it finds entertainment in stroking passing humans on the face. Like it or not. (Probably not...Did I guess right?)
6) Death (yours)
And again, I don’t mean the snail. If you’re close enough for the snail to lick, chances are you have already been spat on. With giant, sticky globs of paralysing poison, designed to kill you quick. Sorry, but a snail this big has got to eat.
7) Python-like intestines
Now we’re into the ‘Death’ part, I can tell you that the Sazae-oni doesn’t really have teeth. But that doesn’t matter. You’ll most likely be crushed to pieces in coil after coil of its powerful gut. Sqiushed to bits by a boa-constricting bowel. Nice.
8 ) New friends
But it’s not all bad. Sazae-oni like to hang out in mermaid lairs, so when you (inevitably) are excreted, you’ll be floating around with some of the most beautiful babes in the ocean. Except, oh yeah, I forgot to mention…. Japanese mermaids (ningyo or 人魚) aren’t really all that good to look at. Sorry.
Don’t say I didn’t try to warn you!!!
If you want to know what to look out for, check out some awesome sazae-oni artwork.
And a big THANK YOU to Shigeru Mizugi, master of yokai, for his expertise on and relentless study of sazae-oni. Our safety is in his hands.