Nine-armed octopi
Sat Jul 15 08:48:17 EDT 2006

I had a rather strange query come through to my inbox the other day that I
was wondering if anyone on KineJapan could shed some light on. I have
flicked through Shigeru Mizuki's YOKAI JITEN but that drew a blank, so am
not quite sure where to turn now.

The query was as follows:

"The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology has a watercolor painting of a
nine-armed octopus.  It is part of a larger collection of illustrations of
natural history subjects (fishes, mollusks, crustaceans, etc.) made by Mr.
Okubo Setsudo of Yokohama, Japan for Mr. Frederick Stearns of Detroit,
Michigan in 1892.   Stearns was a famous (and rich) pharmaceutical
manufacturer, art collector, philanthropist, and natural historian.  He
donated this collection of paintings to the University of Michigan in the
fall, 1894.

We have heard that the nine-armed octopus has some role in Japanese
folklore, but have not yet been successful in learning more.  (Perhaps some
malevolent creature such as the Norwegian kraken)  I would very much
appreciate learning whatever you may know about the subject.

We also have read (reference citation presently unavailable) that
supernumerary arms in octopi are quite rare.

We are preparing an exhibit of the Okubo watercolors (joint presentation
with some other Stearns collections) and wish to present some natural
history and cultural information that we hope the viewers will find



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