Originally from China, this fantastic beast is said to be composed from the parts of many different animals, the most common description giving it the body of a bear, a trunk like an elephant, the eyes of a rhinoceros, the tail of a cow, strong legs like a tiger’s, and a spotted coat.
The baku is most famous for its ability to devour dreams, and can be called upon by people in the midst of ominous nightmares, whereupon the creature will consume both the vision and the bad fortune it contains. But in addition to that it is also said to prey on the spirits of disease and plagues. The image of the baku is often kept by the bedside as a talisman against bad dreams and evil spirits, and supposedly if you make your bed from the skin of a baku (if you can find such a thing) it will keep illness at bay.
This winged dog is a popular image in the city of Chikugo in Fukuoka Prefecture, and the dog itself is supposedly buried beneath a stone monument near the railroad station called Hainutsuka (“winged-dog mound”). Two conflicting stories are usually told about the winged dog’s origins.
According to the first story, recorded in the Chikugo Kokorogashi in 1777, the winged dog was a ferocious creature which attacked humans and livestock. When Toyotomi Hideyoshi embarked on his Kyūshū Campaign of 1587, seeking to conquer the island, the dog stood in his way and had to be slain. Hideyoshi was so taken with the animal’s pluck and courage, however, that he erected a memorial for it.
According to the second version, the dog was Hideyoshi’s beloved pet, which died in the place where the mound now stands. There is some historical evidence for this latter version, and the imaginary winged dog of Chikugo’s folklore may be based on a real dog of exceptional agility.
Rokuro-kubi are yōkai that used to be ordinary human beings, but somehow they have come to suffer from a ghostly affliction that allows their heads to float away from their bodies, their necks stretching in between like a fleshy garden hose, sometimes indefinitely. Usually they are women.
The rokuro-kubi’s condition is sometimes brought about by a curse, and sometimes as a supernatural manifestation of the person’s desires. The neck-stretching almost always happens at night, often while the rokuro-kubi sleeps, and the freed head may wander through the house perpetrating such obake-esque mischief as sucking the life energy out of people and animals, and licking up the oil of andon lamps. Some of them simply wind up using lintels high above doors and windows as their pillows, and scaring the living daylights out of anyone who happens to peek in on them.
Rokuro-kubi women are often unlucky in love, frightening their new husbands away when the men discover their wives’ unnerving nocturnal abilities.