Many countries around the world have stories and legends of monsters inhabiting various lakes and Japan is no exception. Lake Ikelda is a caldera (extinct volcano) lake in the southeastern part of the Satsuma Peninsula and home to Issie or Ishii.
Being in a caldera, Lake Ikelda is almost round. It is 15 Km in circumference and approximately 750 feet deep. There are no rivers or streams that flow into the lake. It receives its water from rain and subsurface sources. Although the lake sits on the Satsuma Peninsula it is above sea level and a fair distance from the Sea of Japan which borders one side of the peninsula and the Gulf of Kagoshima which borders the other.
Issie was first seen in 1961, however was not really given much attention until 1978 when more than 20 people all testified to seeing the monster. On September 3rd, 1978 Yutaka Kawaji and members of his family were at the lake for a memorial service. Yutaka’s children Hiroto, Mutsumi and Tomoko were playing near the shore a large ( reportedly 30 ft in length) black creature in the lake with two humps sticking about 2 feet above the water.The children shouted to their family who all reportedly saw the creature. Yutaka jumped in a motorboat and chased the creature across the lake. Although he was unable to catch up to it he did see the humps above the water twice for about 20 seconds.
On December 16th of the same year Toshiaki Matsuhara who had an interest in the folklore and legends of the lake would take the photograph that earned him the 100,00 Yen reward offered by the city of Ibusuki which is near the lake for the first photograph of Issie .At 1:30 pm on that day Toshiaki was scanning the lake with a 50X telescope when he saw a whirlpool near the middle of the lake. He watched it through his telescope for 5 minutes as it moved northward before it disappeared. He then noticed an object somewhat veiled by waves moving through the water. He quickly took a series of photographs and in one of them two humps with what appears to be a spinal ridge can be seen.
He submitted the photos to the tourism department and they were impressed enough to award him the prize money. When the photos were published, Yutaka Kawaji who had witnessed the creature in September saw them and called the tourism to report that this was exactly what he and his family had seen and that it was at the exact location of his sighting near a local landmark known as Couple’s Rock.
Although Toshiaki claims to have photographed the creature 4 more times these photographs have never been submitted for public scrutiny or published.
There have been other sightings but these are the most notable. So what could Issie possibly be? Local legend tells that a White Mare and her foal used to live by the lake. The foal was kidnapped causing the mare to be so distressed that she jumped into the lake and became Issie. Sightings of Issie are attributed to the Mare surfacing to search for her foal.
A more probable answer though lies with other inhabitants of the lake. Malaysian eels were at some time introduced into the lake and are harvested locally, The problem with this theory is that the largest eel ever reported being seen in the lake (ironically in the same are of the Issie sightings) is 2 meters which is a 5 or 6 feet. While 5 or 6 feet is quite large it does not come anywhere near the reported 30 feet of Issie. It is however possible that sightings of Issie could be eels swimming in a line or group.
Giant eel???? Legendary White Mare endlessly searching for her kidnapped foal??? I am not sure what Issie is but Yutaka Kawaji and Toshiaki Matsuhura certainly believe she is real.