How the killer whale's killing instincts was used in Japanese war superstitions?


Picture of a killer whale swimming on the ocean.


Killer whale's killing instincts


On the whole, members of the whale family are harmless and playful.

They are often observed sporting on the surface in schools, leapfrogging or doing somersaults. 


When wounded and desperately threshing around in the water, on the other hand, a huge whale can endanger even a heavy ship.

The killer whale is an exception: 

He is not satisfied with plankton and other small fry of the ocean. 

He prefers to get teeth into dolphins, porpoises, seals, penguins and sharks, and will not hesitate to take a chunk out of another large whale, even ripping out its tongue. 

They hunt in packs. 

They have been known to smash ice floes in order to get at men or seals.

The Japanese call him shachi, using Chinese ideograph that appropriately combines the characters for “fish” and “tiger.” 

He has a special place in their superstitions. 

From a distance looking like the squarish head of a cow with short horns protruding, models of a male and female shachi with their flukes in the air face each other across the ridge of the highest roof of the Japanese castle. 

The most famous of these charms tops the castle in Nagoya. 

They were made in 1959 to replace those destroyed with the castle during the second world war. 

They are made of copper, overlaid with 560 scales of 18-karat gold, at a cost of $78,000.

Some idea of the enormous appetite of the killer whale may be had from the fact that fourteen seals and thirteen porpoises were found in the stomach of one twenty-one-foot specimen. 

It is the only one of the cetaceans that will feed on its own kind or on other warm-blooded mammals.