They regarded me with a somewhat quizzical look. I explained that by "fantastical", I meant stories about aliens, women giving birth to aliens and redneck Big Foot sightings. (And redneck women giving birth to little Big Foots. And those sightings.)
Redneck? Big Foot? Their eyes seemed to wander the classroom, trying to connect with their fellow confused countrymen. I tested the waters: What? You all aren't familiar with the big scary ape guy who runs around the world's ancient forests leaving no trace except huge footprints? None of your people have recorded a grainy, out-of-focus picture of said creature?
Nope. Nothing. No recognition.
Gosh. What's the point in living without this belief system? One of my greatest childhood thrills came from watching a 1970's Big Foot "Special" that showed a re-enactment of Big Foot breaking through a log cabin's picture window and kidnapping some blond chick innocently snoozing on a couch. I couldn't sleep in my suburban second-story bedroom for weeks. I was certain that Sasquatch was going to come flying through the 2x2 window any second. (After all, I was blond and innocent. It was only a matter of time.)
Upon further discussion, I discovered that the Japanese don't really have hairy, scary beasts in their forests. They do have magical creatures, and although difficult to find, they are neither destructive nor frightening. Instead, they have long Pinocchio noses and bring good fortune from the gods.
I've decided that Japan is not a hospitable habitat for Big Foot. There's really no purpose for such a creature in this culture. If a chance encounter with him doesn't supply a dose of good luck, what's the point of having a humongous being roaming the woods, rudely taking up much needed space? It's not enough to have a mystery here--there has to be a compelling reason for the mystery to exist.
However, I suspect the largest obstacle to Big Foot's existence in Japan is more basic. This culture just has an appalling lack of rednecks and innocent blonds.