Early this afternoon, April 5th, 2022, illustrator and Twitter user Oniku おにく (@29tangasuki) was enjoying the beautiful blossoms of the sakura trees with her three children in Peace Memorial Park not far from the Atomic Bomb Dome in downtown Hiroshima when she noticed a family talking excitedly and pointing at something in the Motoyasu River. Curious, she went over and realized what all the excitement was about.

There, on the bank of the river was a Japanese Giant Salamander!

Known in Japanese as Ōsanshōuo (オオサンショウウオ or 大山椒魚 in Kanji), the amphibian is the third-largest in the world and grows up to 5 feet in length. According to one theory, it is responsible for the legend of the Kappa water imp. Entirely aquatic and mostly entirely nocturnal, it is highly unusual to spot one in broad daylight and in the middle of a major city.

Reproduced with permission from Oniku おにく (@29tangasuki)

"There was a Japanese giant salamander!"

Here's a closer look:

Reproduced with permission from Oniku おにく (@29tangasuki)

According to a report in Hiroshima RCC News, Oniku had never seen a Japanese giant salamander outside of a zoo, so she quickly pulled out her smartphone. The amphibian was walking along the bank of the river, and she walked along with it until she found the perfect photo opportunity to capture it with the Atomic Bomb Dome visible in the background. After that, the Japanese giant salamander swam away.

Since these amphibians are known to prefer clean, highly oxygenated waters, this could indicate that the Motoyasu River has become cleaner in recent years. Perhaps other specimens will be sighted there in the future. The next time you visit the Peace Memorial Park, why not take a look in the river in case you spot one?

By - grape Japan editorial staff.