- Joe Turner
The Myth of Tsutomu Miyazaki's Hands
Updated: Apr 10, 2022
Tsutomu Miyazaki was a Japanese serial killer responsible for the deaths of four young girls during the late 1980s. His crimes involved mutilation and dismemberment, along with elements of cannibalism, vampirism, necrophilia, paedophilia. History refers to Miyazaki as the Otaku Killer due to his love of Otaku culture (anime, manga, hentai, comics).
While Miyazaki's crimes were monstrous and horrid enough to warrant worldwide attention regardless, one reason Miyazaki's case has become so well-known in the western world is due to an alleged physical deformity he suffered with. However, this little fact is not as it seems.
This is another true crime myth that has become so embedded into the collective conscious that it's almost impossible to debunk. I'm regularly contacted for information regarding the case of Tsutomu Miyazaki, largely thanks to a number of pieces I've written on him and my entry in the Best New True Crime Stories anthology. The question that pops up the most concerns his so-called deformed hands; something I've tried my best to gloss over when discussing him.
If you Google the name Tsutomu Miyazaki, you'll find plenty of variations of this image:
Many articles, news pieces, podcasts and biographies state that this is an image of Tsutomu Miyazaki's deformed hands.
However, this is entirely untrue. These are not Tsutomu Miyazaki's hands. This image is taken from a medical textbook on Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects connectivity tissue in the body.
It's true that Miyazaki suffered a slight deformity, but absolutely nothing like the image above suggests. I understand why so many people buy into this myth, least of all because even reputable outlets perpetuate the belief. It's an alluring idea; a freakish, deformed serial killer hunting down young girls to quench his blood thirst, and while Miyazaki was undoubtedly a monster in many ways, his physical appearance was mostly unremarkable.
Perhaps due to the language barrier or a severe case of Broken Telephone, this belief is only really present in the western world. Over in Japan where Miyazaki's crimes took place, his hands are not a notable topic of conversation and this supposed image of his deformity doesn't appear in localized search results.
As expected, information about Miyazaki's life and crimes is much easier to find in the east. In the west, we are mostly limited to the basics which have been passed between languages, just one of the reasons debunking this belief is difficult.
Here are the points you need to know:
1. The supposed image of Miyazaki's hands originally appeared on the internet in 2006 in this medical blog. The blog is written in Portuguese so please see the translated version here if you're interested in reading about Marfan Syndrome. The image has been pulled from a medical textbook, although the exact textbook is unknown.
2. Tsutomu Miyazaki's hands are clearly visible in a number of photos taken after his arrest and they show no signs of deformity.
3. The image composition is identical to those found in medical textbooks intended to display abnormalities in the clearest way. There is simply no need for this picture to exist if they were indeed Miyazaki's hands. The arresting authorities would have no need to photograph this deformity in such an exposed manner, not to mention it could be construed as a violation of Miyazaki's human rights.
4. Tsutomu Miyazaki did not suffer from Marfan Syndrome. He suffered from a condition known as 'congenital radioulnar fusion disease' (source in Japanese). This is described as 'a rare condition in which there is an abnormal connection (synostosis) of the radius and ulna (bones in the forearm) at birth.'
5. Marfan Syndrome (or any case with such a severe deformity as the one pictured) would greatly affect Miyazaki's day-to-day life. Miyazaki never applied for disability benefit and was able to drive a vehicle without issue (source in Japanese).
6. Miyazaki himself stated in court that he suffered limitations despite his hands not appearing physically deformed. Additionally, several of Miyazaki's classmates and teachers stated that Miyazaki could use his hands just like anyone else (source in Japanese).
I feel this issue is important to clear up as Miyazaki's crimes are terrible enough to warrant interest regardless of other aspects of Miyazaki's life, appearance and character. Quite often, pieces about Miyazaki put the attention on two things; his deformity and his connection to Otaku culture. This does a disservice to the young girls who were tragically taken by him.