Kannon is the Japanese goddess of mercy, compassion, and pets. She is usually depicted as female, but can also be depicted as male, which I think is pretty interesting. I’ve read somewhere that androgyny is quite prevalent in myth and lore, but it’s not something I’ve had the opportunity to look into deeper. Perhaps for another day and another blog post.


Of the stories I’ve read that feature Kannon (and there are quite a few, though I’ve not read them all) my favorite is the one where a girl saves a crab from being killed and sets it free. Later, due to an ill-gotten arrangement by her father, a snake comes to claim her as his wife. Well, the girl was having none of it, and she prayed to Kannon for help. In response, the goddess sent a legion of crabs to destroy the snake and save the girl.


There is a moral here, of course. But I mostly like the story because I like imagining a herd (gaggle?) of crabs, walking sideways, raising hell. Good stuff.


Juntei Kannon

By 永厳 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Tyler, Royall, “The Grateful Crab”, Japanese Tales, Pantheon Books, 2002


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  1. I like that story – one good turn deserves another 🙂
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  2. She seems like a good goddess to have on your side. Crabs to the rescue!
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  3. I don’t know…there would be some interesting advantages to marrying a snake. They are feared by all. Except eagles and mongoose.

    A group of crabs can be called a consortium. They can also be called hermitage if they are Hermit crabs. Blue Travel crabs are called cast of crabs or a flock.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Seriously? I had no idea crabs were so sophisticated to warrant so many names. Consortium sounds very posh. 😛

  4. Moral of the story: Don’t drink saki and make wedding arrangements.

    • Sara C. Snider

      I wonder how many weddings would have been averted if such advice had been taken. 😉

  5. Never heard of this one, I love the story about the crabs. It reminds me of the scene from Pirates of the Caribbean, where all those crabs move the Black Pearl.

    • Sara C. Snider

      I also thought of that scene. Those wily crabs–so industrious. 😉

  6. i like this story. it’s like the queen bee in the grimm collection where the guy helps all the animals and they return the favor.

    i really need to find a really good collection of japanese folklore and mythology.

    excellent post as always.

  7. Totally love the crab army 😀

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  8. I like the names that the crabs are classed under- consortium is so dignified..a consortium of crabs… guess the leader would be known as King Crab. lol. Anyway, the Japanese folklore is nice, and I’m glad the snake didn’t get the girl. The consortium of crabs to the rescue, probably ordered by King crab. Love the post. AtoZer http://www.writer-way.blogspot.com

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