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Hear about the Seta on Episode 6 of our Podcast, the Japan Archives.

Depiction of Seta by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1845.


Seta is a creature, more specifically a Giant Centipede, known from the Folktale My Lord Bag of Rice living on Mount Mikami, described as having eyes that glowed like two balls of fire, its body so big its body wrapped around the mountain seven times.

My Lord Bag of Rice

Upon discovering the Dragon King’s Palace at the bottom of Lake Biwa he came every night taking his family.

In desperation, The Dragon King asked Fujiwara Hidesato for his help in defeating Seta. Once the Dragon King recruits Fujiwara for his help the warrior defends the Dragon King and his family against the centipede.

Firing arrows at the creature the first two hit the centre of his head but caused no damage. The centipede is killed by Fujiwara’s third and final arrow after he remembers human saliva is deadly to centipedes and fires his arrow after wetting it. The centipede is killed, it’s dead body floating in the lake.1


1. Ozaki, Y.T. (1903) “The Japanese Fairy Book”. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd.

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