Lake Ikeda, situated on the Satsuma Peninsula, is bordered on one side by the Sea of Japan and on the other by the Gulf of Kagoshima. It is the largest caldera lake on Kyushu Island, the third largest island in Japan, and has a maximum depth of 765 feet. Apart from being the home of a wide array of unique wild like, Lake Ikida is also the reported home of Issie, a 30 foot long, multi humped serpent like creature.
Legend has it that Issie, pronounced Isshy by the native population, was once a beautiful white mare who dwelled on the shores of Lake Ikeda with her young foal. One day a samurai crept into her domain and stole her child. In an act of desperation Issie threw herself into Lake Ikeda, where her sorrow and rage transformed her into a hideous humped beast. To this day Issie roams the lake in a continued search for her stolen foal.
One of the earliest and best known documented sightings of Issie occurred on September 3, 1978, when Yutaka Kawaji and more than 20 members of his family witnessed the creature swimming in the lake. Kawaji’s children, Hiroto, Mutsumi and Tomoko, where playing by the lakeshore when they noticed two large, black, humps gliding through the waters of Lake Ikeda. Frightened the children alerted the adults in the party to the presence of the creature and before anyone could react Yukata Kawaji leapt aboard a motorboat and pursued the creature as it crossed the lake. The family reported that the humps measured roughly 16 feet in length each and raised some two feet out of the water.
Although Kawaji was unable to catch up to the creature he was so enthralled by the 4 minute sighting that he purchased a camera with a 135 millimeter lens in the hope that someday he would be able to photograph Issie. Although Kawaji himself never saw the creature again, that same year on December 16th Issie was supposedly photographed by a man named Toshiaki Matsuhara.
The sightings which lead to Matsuhara’s photo occurred at 1:30 in the afternoon. Matsuhara reportedly saw a whirlpool suddenly form in the middle of the lake. For five minutes he watched it through a 50x telescope as it moved northward before disappearing. He continued to scan the lake for several minutes after the anomaly disappeared when his attention was drawn to an object moving in the lake which was somewhat veiled by waves. Matsuhara quickly grabbed his camera and took a serious of photographs one of which appeared to show two humps with spinal ridges.
Shortly after Matsuhara’s encounter the tourism department in the nearby city of Ibusuki offered a reward of 100,000 yen, roughly $670.00, to anyone who could produce a photo of Issie. Matsuhara submitted his photo for their consideration and the tourism department was impressed enough to award Matsuhara the money. Upon seeing the printed picture of Issie, Yukaka Kawaji promptly contacted the tourism department to state that Matsuhara had photographed exactly what he had seen just a few months before in the waters of Lake Ikeda. He added that the photograph was even taken in the exact location of his sightings, off a local landmark known as the Couple’s Rock.
In 1991 a video tape showing a 30 foot long creature of some kind swimming in the waters of Lake Ikeda was shown on the Nippon TV special World’s Mysterious Phenomena. The program which covered a wide array of reported lake monsters around the world touched on the Issie phenomena of Lake Ikeda.
One of the biggest problems facing Issie’s believers is the fact that Lake Ikeda receives all its water from rain and subsurface water. There are no rivers or streams feeding into the lake which begs the question, how did a creature the size of Issie get into the lake in the first place? The only possible explanation is that Issie entered the lake by a subsurface opening, but this seems highly unlikely as Lake Ikeda is quite a distance from the sea, and because it is located above sea level it is highly unlikely that Issie came from the ocean.
A possible explanation revolves around the fact that at some point in the lakes history, large Malaysian eels were introduced to the lake and are farmed commercially on the lakeshore. Though some have suggested these eels may be responsible for sightings of Issie, the largest eel ever recorded in the lake was only about 5 feet in length, to small to even account for one of the 15 foot long humps, described in the Yukaka Kawaji sighting.
With all the eyewitness reports and visual evidence it would seem that something very real is living in Lake Ikeda. Perhaps someday someone, maybe utilizing the Issie Observation Platform, will get photographic evidence of Issie that is much clearer than any we currently have at our disposal.
Despite several photographs and some video evidence, there remains no physical evidence to support the existence of Issie.
On September 3, 1978, Yutaka Kawaji and more than 20 members of his family witnessed the creature swimming in the lake.
On December 16, 1978, Toshiaki Matsuhara photographed what he claimed to have been Issie, in roughly the same area where the Kawaji family reported their sighting just 3 months earlier.
The Stats – (Where applicable)
• Classification: Lake Monster
• Size: Roughly 30 feet long
• Weight: Unknown
• Diet: Unknown
• Location: Lake Ikeda, Japan
• Movement: Swimming
• Environment: Lake