japanese-folklore

In Japanese folklore, Gashadokuro, also known as Odokuro, are giant skeletons, fifteen times taller than an average person. They can reach huge sizes (up to about 90 feet tall), and are constructed from the bones of people who have died from starvation. Their bones are collected into this giant skeleton creature which is filled with intense anger and a thirst for human blood. He wanders around at night, grinding his teeth and making a “gachi gachi” sound. The giant skeleton towers so high above the ground and walks so quietly that he can be almost invisible. The only warning you get when the giant skeleton is near is a strange and inexplicable ringing in your ears.

If the Gashadokuro finds you, he will reach down with his bony hand and snatch you off the ground. Then he will pluck your head off and suck the blood out of your headless body until his thirst is quenched.

ぬりかべ (Nurikabe)

Nurikabe is a yokai that manifests as a wall that impedes or misdirects walking travelers at night. Trying to go around is futile as it extends itself forever. Knocking on the lower part of the wall makes it disappear. It has been suggested that the legend was created to explain travelers losing their bearings on long journeys.

Funayūrei (“marine spirit”) are ghosts of people who have died at sea. They are sometimes depicted as scaly fish-like humanoids and some may even have a form similar to that of a mermaid or merman. They approach people on boats and ask to borrow a Hishaku (a utensil for scooping up water). If they are given a ladle, they will pour sea water into the boat until it sinks.


Illustration © 船幽霊 | コウノ [pixiv

Kitsunebi, watercolour.

Kitsune (狐) is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.
Kitsunebi (狐火) is a kaika (atmospheric ghost lights and fires of unknown origin similar to the will-o’-wisp) told about in legends all across Japan outside Okinawa Prefecture. As its name implies, it has a close relation to kitsune (foxes), and there are many theories stating that the glow of the sigh or long breaths of a fox, other than that it is also said that a fox is knocking together its tail and causing a fire, or that it is the glow from a ball that the fox possesses called the kitsunebi-dama (kitsunebi ball).

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© Nataša Ilinčić, please do not remove credits

In the folklore of the japanese island of Kyushu, the Nurikabe is the ‘wall poltergeist’. It appears as a large white wall in front of people who are out walking about late at night. If you try to pass the wall it will fall on you and crush you. If you turn and run from it it will reappear in front of you. The only way to escape is to hit the bottom of the wall with a stick, and it will disappear. 

Shirime (“buttocks eye”) is a strange Japanese yōkai with an eye in the place of his anus.


The story goes as follows: Long ago, a Samurai was walking at night down the road to Kyōto, when he heard someone calling out for him to wait. “Who’s there?!” he asked nervously, only to turn around and find a man stripping off his clothes and pointing his bare buttocks at the flabbergasted traveler. A huge glittering eye then opened up where the strange man’s anus should have been.

Funayūrei (“marine spirit”) are ghosts of people who have died at sea. They are sometimes depicted as scaly fish-like humanoids and some may even have a form similar to that of a mermaid or merman. They approach people on boats and ask to borrow a Hishaku (a utensil for scooping up water). If they are given a ladle, they will pour sea water into the boat until it sinks.

THOSE WHO HAUNT THE EARTH: JORŌGUMO

The Jorōgumo is creature from Japanese folklore, depicted as a spider that can change its appearance into that of a beautiful woman. In this form, the Jorōgumo would entice men into a quiet location and begin to play a biwa, a type of Japanese lute. While he is distracted by the sound of the instrument, she binds her victim in silk threads and devours the unsuspecting individual. A Jorōgumo is also known as the mistress of the Jōren Falls in Izu, Shizuoka. In the legend, a man was resting at the foot of the waterfall when his feet were bound with a vast number of spider threads. To free himself, he cut the threads and tied them to a tree stump, which was pulled from the ground and drawn into the water. After this incident, the villagers became afraid and avoided the area. One day, a woodsman from out of town, unaware of the Jorōgumo, began cutting wood near the falls. After he dropped his axe into the water, a beautiful woman appeared between the rocks and returned it to him. The man falls in love with her and begins visiting the falls every day to see her, only to grow weaker after each visit. Although the woodsman eventually discovers the woman was the Jorōgumo, he cannot forget his love for her. While running back to the waterfall, he is caught by silk threads and finally falls into the water, never to surface again.

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Kuniyoshi (1797 - 1861), Japanese woodblock print; ‘Gama Sennin Instructing Yoshikado and Takiyasha’ (1845)

Gama Sennin (the Toad Immortal) instructing the young Taira no Yoshikado and his sister, Princess Takiyasha, in toad magic. Gama Sennin sits in front of an enormous toad forming the opening to a rocky cave, the rocks below and above all shaped like toads with glowing yellow eyes.

The spirit conjures up a beautiful young woman on his breath, which shoots across the scene in a stream of white mist, the beauty floating in the air at let. Below, Yoshikado and his sister watch with keen interest, a scroll with magic spells on it spread across the ground. The Japanese legend of Gama Sennin is based on a 10th century Chinese alchemist and immortal named Liu Hai.

A futakuchi-onna (二口女) is a type of yokai from Japanese folklore that is in the form of a woman with two mouths: one normal mouth, and one big mouth on the back of her head. 

((((;゜Д゜)))

These women appear be very innocent and eat only a little bit of food at first, but when they think nobody is watching, a big, ghastly mouth open up as a slit at the back of their head, and they use their long, writhing hair to shovel tons of food into it (because a futakuchi-onna’s second mouth has a very huge appetite!). 

(ノ゚0゚)ノ~ 

One story about the futakuchi-onna is about the miser who married a seemingly meek and innocent beautiful lady. She rarely ate meals, and when she did eat, she ate in very small quantities.

The stingy miser thought he hit the jackpot because she was very low-maintenance when it came to food. It was all good until one day, despite their small food consumption, he found that their food storage has been mysteriously and steadily decreasing. He spied on it that night to catch the “robber”, and was shocked to see his wife open a horrifying mouth-like slit on the back of her head (complete with teeth and tongue!) and use her tentacle-like hair to shovel food into it. The miser was so horrified that he ran away, never to return. Σ(゜ロ゜;)

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Kaibutsu Ehon (1881)

“The Kaibutsu Ehon (“Illustrated Book of Monsters”) features woodblock prints of yōkai, or creatures from Japanese folklore. Illustrated by painter Nabeta Gyokuei, the book is modeled after the influential works of Toriyama Sekien, an 18th-century scholar and ukiyo-e artist known for his attempt to catalog the many species of yōkai in Japan.”

More here

“Ohaguro-bettari is a female yôkai (Japanese term for demons or monsters) who appears at twilight usually in a shrine or temple outside of a town. There are also stories of one appearing in one’s own house, though this is rare. She wears a beautiful kimono, and some say she wears a wedding outfit, but in either case she is turned away or concealing her face in her robe. From behind she appears to be a beautiful woman, so passersby might ask her what is wrong, either out of kindness or curiosity. Exclaiming "Gya!” she reveals her white face, the bottom half splitting open to reveal her teeth stained pitch black and cackles wildly.  Faced with this, most men pass out from fear.“ 


Illustration © NorthernBanshee