ⓘ Heikegani is a species of crab native to Japan, with a shell that bears a pattern resembling a human face which many believed to be the face of an angry samurai ..


ⓘ Heikegani

Heikegani is a species of crab native to Japan, with a shell that bears a pattern resembling a human face which many believed to be the face of an angry samurai hence the nickname Samurai Crab. It is locally believed that these crabs are reincarnations of the Heike warriors defeated at the Battle of Dan-no-ura as told in The Tale of the Heike.


1. Origin of the carapace pattern

Heikegani were used by Carl Sagan in his popular science television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage as an example of unintentional artificial selection, an interpretation published by Julian Huxley in 1952. According to this hypothesis, the crabs with shells resembling samurai were thrown back to the sea by fishermen out of respect for the Heike warriors, while those not resembling samurai were eaten, giving the former a greater chance of reproducing. Thus, the more closely the crabs resembled a samurai face, the more likely they would be spared and thrown back.

This idea has met with some skepticism, as noted by Joel W. Martin. He posits that humans dont use heikegani for food, and as such there is no artificial pressure favoring face-like shell patterns, contrary to Sagans implication. The pattern of ridges on the carapace serves a very functional purpose as sites of muscle attachment. Similar patterns are found on the carapaces of other species and genera throughout the world, including numerous fossil taxa.


2. Battle of Dan-no-ura

The Battle of Dan-no-ura was preceded by an immense struggle between the imperial rulers of Japan, the Taira clan also known as the Heike, who the Heikegani crabs are named after, and the Minamoto clan Genji, who were fighting for control of the throne at the end of the 12th century in the Genpei War 1180–1185.

On the 24th of April, 1185 AD, two powerful Samurai clans fought to the death on the Dan-no-ura bay of Japans Inland Sea. The ruling Taira clan Heike was led by their child-Emperor, Antoku, and his grandmother, Tokiko Taira. The Heike had ruled Japan for many decades, but now, massively outnumbered, they faced defeat at the hands of the Minamoto.

During the battle, Tokiko took the seven-year-old Emperor Antoku and leaped with him into the water in the Shimonoseki Straits, drowning the child emperor, rather than allowing him to be captured by the opposing forces, and most members and generals of the Taira clan followed them in despair. Antoku came to be worshipped as Mizu-no-kami "god of water".

This crucial battle was a cultural and political turning point in Japanese history: Minamoto Yoritomo became the first Shōgun, or military ruler, of Japan. Dan-no-ura marked the beginning of seven centuries during which Japan was ruled by warriors and Shōguns instead of Emperors and aristocrats.


3. Cultural References

In Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, the writer, Lafcadio Hearn, references the Heiki crab in "The Story of Mimi-Nashi-Hoichi."

In the 1964 Japanese anthology film, Kwaidan film, based on Hearns stories, "Hoichi the Earless" recounts the story of the Battle of Dan-no-ura, which becomes the basis of "Hoichi the Earless." The narrator explains the myth, illustrated with prominent footage of the crabs. At the end of the "Hoichi the Earless" segment, Hoichi is seen playing the lute, with heikegani on his shoulders.

  • monogatari Heiji rebellion, 1159 - 1160 The Tale of Heiji or Heiji monogatari Heikegani Sadler, A. L. The Heike Monogatari Transactions of the Asiatic Society
  • family and dreams of owning a house. The name is from Samurai crab heikegani Yamabuki Heike voiced by Sumi Shimamoto A distant relative of Ibuki s
  • 21 Emon ja: 21エモン Papa boyhood 1991 Genji Tsūshin Agedama Principal, Heikegani husband 平家かに夫 1991 Yokoyama Mitsuteru Sangokushi Ji Ling 1991 Dragon Knight

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