Mythical creatures from Japan (40 photos)

Japan is an amazing country of contrasts, where the achievements of high technology perfectly coexist with age-old traditions, and magical gardens and temples with skyscrapers, from one glance at which is breathtaking. They say that a lifetime is not enough to get to know Japan. The unpredictability of the elements, geographical location, and national character have formed a kind of mythology with their own, sometimes so absurd, creatures, whose image and purpose are paradoxical for the understanding of Europeans. Let’s take a look at what mythical creatures live in Japan according to their mythology!

1) Yuki-onna

Mythical creatures from Japan (40 photos)

Some legends claim that the yuki-onna, associated with winter and unbearable cold, is the spirit of a girl who has perished forever in the snow. Her name means “snow woman” in Japanese. Yuki-onna appears on snowy nights as a tall, stately maiden in a white kimono with long black hair. She can hardly be seen against the background of snow thanks to her inhumanly pale, almost transparent skin. Despite its ephemeral beauty, the yuki-onna’s eyes strike terror in mortals. It floats in the snow without leaving a trace, and can turn into a cloud of fog or snow. According to some beliefs, she has no legs, and this is a feature of many Japanese ghosts.

The nature of yuki-onna varies from fairy tale to fairy tale. Sometimes she is just content to see the victim die. More often she is a vampire, brutally killing men for the sake of their blood and vitality, sometimes she acts as a succubus. In many stories, yuki-onna appears when travelers are wandering in a blizzard. After her icy, like death itself, breath or kiss, travelers are left lying lifeless, numb corpses. Other legends endow the yuki-onna with an even more bloodthirsty and cruel character. She sometimes invades houses, blowing on the door with the force of a storm to kill all the inhabitants of the house in her sleep, however, some legends say that she can enter the house and harm people only when she is invited inside as a guest.

2) Kappa

A type of aquatic, the embodiment of the deity of Water. Their appearance is very specific – a cross between a frog and a turtle: frog skin, instead of a nose – a beak, fingers and toes are connected by swimming membranes, on the head there is short hair. The body exudes a fishy odor. The mouthguard has a saucer on top of its head, which gives it supernatural power. It must always be filled with water, otherwise the kappa will lose its power or even die. The two arms of the mouthguard are connected to each other in the area of ​​the shoulder blades; if you pull on one, the other will shrink or even fall out.

About a third of all images are mouthguards similar to monkeys: the whole body is covered with hair, there are fangs in the mouth, the nose is almost invisible, there is a thumb on the hands, and a heel bone on the legs. Unlike the usual mouthguard, instead of a saucer on the head, there is a depression in the form of an oval saucer; the tortoise shell may not be present. Kappa is a fan of sumo wrestling and loves cucumbers, fish and fruits. It is believed that if you catch a kappa, then he will fulfill any desire. The kappa was considered in Japan to be a very dangerous creature, which traded by tricking or dragging people and animals into the water by force.

3) Yorogumo

A spider-ghost that takes the form of a seductive woman. According to legends, Yorogumo plays the lute in a hut abandoned in the forest to attract the attention of a potential victim passing by. While a person is fascinatedly listening to enchanting music, yorogumo wraps his web around him in order to provide food for himself and his offspring. According to some beliefs, after the spider has lived in the world for 400 years, she acquires magical powers. In many stories, the yorogumo, in the form of a beauty, asks the samurai to marry her, or, in order to inspire trust and sympathy, takes the form of a young woman with a child in her arms, which is actually a spider’s clutch. Ancient Japanese drawings and prints depict Yorogumo as half woman, half spider, surrounded by her children.

4) Kitsune

The image of a werewolf, a spirit fox is quite widespread in Asia. But outside the Japanese islands, they almost always act as sharply negative and unsympathetic characters. In China and Korea, the fox is usually interested only in human blood. In the Land of the Rising Sun, the image of a werewolf fox is much more multifaceted. An integral character in Japanese folklore and literature, Japanese kitsune possess the traits of an elf, a vampire, and a werewolf. They can act as bearers of unsullied evil, and be messengers of divine powers. Their patroness is the goddess Inari, in whose temples statues of foxes are certainly present. Some sources indicate that Inari is the highest kitsune. She is usually accompanied by two snow-white foxes with nine tails. The Japanese treat kitsune with respect with a mixture of fear and sympathy.

The question of the origin of kitsune is complex and poorly defined. Most sources agree that some people who do not lead the most righteous, secretive and obscure way of life after death become kitsune. Gradually, kitsune grows and gains strength, reaching adulthood from 50-100 years old, then it acquires the ability to change shape. The power level of a werewolf fox depends on age and rank, which is determined by the number of tails and the color of the skin. With age, foxes acquire new ranks – with three, five, seven and nine tails. Nine-tails are the elite of the kitsune, at least 1000 years old, and have a silvery, white or golden skin.

As werewolves, kitsune are able to change the forms of humans and animals. However, they are not tied to the lunar phases and are capable of much deeper transformations than ordinary werewolves. According to some legends, kitsune are capable of changing gender and age, if necessary, presenting themselves as a young girl or a gray-haired old man. As vampires, kitsune sometimes drink human blood and kill people, often, however, having a romantic relationship with them. Moreover, children from marriages of foxes and people inherit magical abilities and many talents.

5) Tanuki

Traditional Japanese werewolf animals, symbolizing happiness and well-being, usually looking like raccoon dogs The second most popular werewolf after kitsune. Unlike kitsune, the image of tanuki is practically devoid of negative connotation. It is believed that tanuki are big lovers of sake. Therefore, it is impossible to make good sake without his presence. For the same reason, tanuki figurines, sometimes quite large, are an adornment of many drinking establishments. They depict tanuki as a fat, kind-hearted man with a noticeable belly.

There is a belief that if a piece of gold is wrapped in the skin of a tanuki and pounded, it will increase in size. Thanks to this, tanuki is revered not only as a patron of drinking establishments, but also as a patron of trade. A particularly large number of stories about tanuki can be found on the island of Shikoku, due to the absence of foxes on this island. Popular legend explains this by the fact that in the past all foxes were expelled from the island.

6) Bakeneko

Magic cat, the third most popular Japanese werewolf after kitsune and tanuki. For cats, there are several ways to become bakeneko: reach a certain age, grow to a certain size, or have a long tail, which subsequently bifurcates. Any cat can become a bakeneko if it either lives for more than thirteen years, or weighs 1 kan (3.75 kg), or has a long tail, which will then split into two.

Bakeneko can create ghostly fireballs, walk on its hind legs; she can eat her master and take on his form. It was also believed that if such a cat jumps over a fresh corpse, it will revive it. Like kitsune, bakeneko mostly takes on a female form. However, most often bakeneko turns out to be the spirit of a deceased woman, using cat magic in order to take revenge on her husband, through whose fault she died, or another offender.

7) Nue

Chimera with the head of a monkey, the body of a tanuki, tiger paws and a snake instead of a tail. Nue can turn into a black cloud and fly. They bring bad luck and disease. One legend tells that the emperor of Japan fell ill after the nue settled down on the roof of his palace in 1153. After the samurai killed the nue, the emperor recovered.

8) Nure-onna

An amphibious monster with the head of a woman and the body of a snake. Although descriptions of her appearance vary slightly from story to story, she is described up to 300m in length, with serpentine eyes, long claws and fangs. She is usually seen on the beach combing her beautiful long hair. The exact nature of Nure-onna’s behavior and intentions are unknown. According to some legends, this is a cruel monster that feeds on people and is so strong that its tail crushes trees.

She carries with her a small, baby-like package, which she uses to attract potential victims. If someone offers nure-onna her help to support the child, she will willingly allow to do it, but the bag is getting heavier and prevents the person from escaping. Nure-onna uses her long, serpentine, forked tongue to suck all the blood from the human body. According to other stories, nure-onna simply seeks solitude and is unhappy when her peace is interrupted.

9) Futakuchi-onna

Possessed, whose name means “woman with two mouths,” one is ordinary, and the other is hidden on the back of her head under her hair. There, the skull splits into pieces, forming the lips, teeth and tongue of a fully functional second mouth. In legends, futakuchi-onna hides its supernatural nature until the last minute.

The origin of the second mouth is often related to how often and how much the future futakuchi-onna eats. In most stories, she is married to a miser and eats poorly and rarely. To counteract this, a second mouth appears by itself in a magical image on the back of the head, which behaves hostile towards its owner: he swears, threatens and demands food, in case of refusal causing her severe pain. The woman’s hair begins to move like a pair of snakes, delivering food to the second mouth, which is so gluttonous that it consumes twice as much food as the woman eats through the first.

In some stories, an extra mouth is formed when a husband accidentally hits his stingy wife in the head with an ax while chopping wood, and this wound never heals, transforming into a mouth over time. According to another version, the stepmother becomes obsessed, who starves her stepson or stepdaughter, while her own child eats enough. The spirit of a child who has died of hunger enters the stepmother, or the starving stepdaughter becomes futakuchi-onna.

10) Rokurokubi

A werewolf demon with a snake neck. During the day, the rocurocubi look like normal people,, but at night they get the ability to stretch their necks to a great length, and can also change their faces in order to better frighten mortals. In terms of their role in Japanese legends, rokurokubi are close to rogue characters who scare people, spy on them and arrange all sorts of cruel jokes, for which they sometimes pretend to be fools, drunk, blind, and so on.

Sometimes they are portrayed as very vicious: they seek to scare to death or even attack people in order to kill and drink their blood. According to Japanese legends, some rocurocubi in ordinary life often live inconspicuously, they may have human spouses. Some of them make desperate efforts not to turn into demons at night, some, on the contrary, like it, and some do not know about their second nature at all. Some stories describe that rokurokubi are born as ordinary people, but turn into demons by changing their karma due to serious violation of any commandments or doctrines of Buddhism.

11) Kutisaké-onna

A ghost in the form of a woman with long hair in a gauze bandage or surgical mask covering the lower part of her face. Her name means “woman with a ripped mouth”, she is a character in many films, anime and manga. The legend of the kutisake-onna became best known in Japan in the late 1970s and 1980s, causing real panic. There are even reports that the administration of some Japanese schools and colleges at that time allegedly recommended that children go home accompanied by adults or at least in groups.

This legend itself has been known since the 17th century, when a woman appeared in the legend who covered her face with a kimono sleeve. The modern version of the urban legend looks like this: a woman in a mask stops a child and asks him: “Am I beautiful?” If the child answers no, she kills him with scissors, which she always carries with If he answers yes, the woman will take off the mask, showing her mouth, cut from ear to ear, with huge teeth and a snake tongue, and will ask: “Now?” If the child answers no, they will be cut in half. If she answers yes, then she will cut his mouth just like hers. If nothing is done, but simply turn around and leave, then the kutisake-onna will still appear in front of the victim.

12) Dzasiki-varasi

A spirit whose function is close to that of a Russian brownie. It is believed to be found in large old houses that are well maintained. The inhabitants of the house in which the dzashiki-warashi lives will be lucky, and if the spirit leaves the house for some reason, then it will soon decline. To attract and keep a zashiki-warashi in the house, he needs to be appreciated and taken care of, but too much attention can scare him away from

Dzashiki-warashi most often has bobbed hair, a ruddy face and is a child by nature, with an appearance of 5-6 years old, just like a real child, prone to harmless pranks, which sometimes lead to trouble. He might, for example, sit on a futon where a guest is sleeping, turn over pillows, or cause sounds like music to be heard from rooms that no one is using. Sometimes he leaves prints of small feet in the ash. There are different versions as to who can see the zashiki-warashi. Usually this option is limited to permanent residents or only children.

13) They

Huge vicious fanged and horned humanoid demons with red, blue or black skin, living in Jigoku, the Japanese equivalent of hell. European counterparts are devils and demons. Very strong and difficult to kill, the severed body parts grow back into place. In battle, an iron club with thorns is used, a tiger skin loincloth is worn by Despite their dull appearance, they are very cunning and clever; can turn into people, sometimes they are kind to people and even serve as their protectors. They love human meat. Some legends say they hate soybeans. It is believed that people who do not control their anger can turn into them.

14) Kirin

A unicorn that personifies the desire for a bountiful harvest and personal safety. It is said that he is a fierce follower of justice and law, and that he sometimes appeared at the trial, killed the guilty and saved the innocent. Kirin is the most important animal deity, a messenger of auspicious events, a symbol of prosperity and good luck. He has many descriptions, but most often he is depicted with a scaly body, reminiscent of the body of a sika deer, with one horn and a lush tail. His body is often enveloped in flame, in addition, the creature can breathe fire. This heavenly creature does not step on plants and does not eat animal food. Kirin lives for two thousand years, and you can see him only once in a millennium, at the beginning of a new era, he appears at the birth of a great leader. In modern Japanese, kirin is translated as giraffe.

15) Shishi

In Japanese mythology, this is both a dog and a lion, traditionally decorating the entrances to sanctuaries and Buddhist temples and driving out evil spirits. When these creatures are couple, one shishi is depicted with an open mouth, the second with a closed one, which means the beginning and end of all that exists, life and death. Usually, a shishi holds a ball with his paw, interpreted as a symbol of Buddhist knowledge, carrying light into darkness and capable of fulfilling desires. In the world, shishi is better known as the “Chinese lion”, while in Japan there are traditions and ways of depicting shishi, although in almost all Asian countries these dog-lions are quite similar and have the same meaning. Shishi came to Japan from China, where they were figurines and images of exclusively a lion.

16) Okami

The wolf, messenger of the kami gods, is a popular character in Japanese folklore. Okami understands human speech and knows how to look into people’s hearts. Unlike the wolf from European myths and fairy tales, which was a negative character, okami acts as a protector of forests and mountains as an assistant to people in need, he warns villagers ahead of time about impending natural disasters, keeps fields from being trampled by boars and deer, and protects travelers in mountain forests. The image of a wolf at the temple, according to legend, protected from fire and theft.

17) Inugami

Werewolf dogs. Usually the Japanese worshiped dogs as guardians and protectors. It is believed that dogs give birth without pain, so pregnant women on certain days bring sacrifices to statues of dogs and pray for a successful birth. According to legend, inugami can be summoned after a complex and brutal ceremony of killing a dog belonging to people who want to summon a werewolf. Inugami are summoned to commit crimes – murder or kidnapping.

A strong sorcerer can order inugami to move into a person’s body, in which case the possessed one kills himself or others, acts like a madman. But summoning inugami can be extremely dangerous for the sorcerer himself. Since the inugami’s soul is tormented by constant rage and thirst for revenge, he can free himself from control and kill whoever summoned him. Inugami families are called “having a divine dog as a pet.” They traditionally marry only within their own community.

18) Cutigumo

Race of giant arachnids; this term, meaning “dirty spider”, is also used in everyday life to refer to local clans that do not belong to the elite of Japanese society, and even earlier referred to the aboriginal tribes inhabiting the Japanese islands (possibly the Malays) and exterminated by by the ancestors of modern Japanese. Tsuchigumo spiders have the faces of devils, the body of a tiger and the limbs of a spider, they live in the mountains, catch unlucky travelers in the web of their webs and devour them.

19) Tengu

The spirit in the guise of a winged man of enormous stature with a red face and a long nose or round eyes and a bird’s beak instead of a nose. Tengu loves cleanliness, does not tolerate the proximity of people, fools travelers in the mountains, lumberjacks, frightens them with thunderous laughter or imitation of the crackle of felled trees. According to popular belief, after death, an angry or proud person can turn into a tengu.

Tengu is credited with extraordinary physical and melee weapon skills. Occasionally, they serve as mentors in the art of war and strategy to people deemed worthy. Also, noble tengu act as protectors of holy people and temples. However, more often tengu are evil, mocking creatures that seek to harm people every time. These are cruel deceivers, causing fires, inciting wars. Parents scare small children with them.

20) Ningyo

An immortal creature like a fish. In ancient times, they were described with a human face, a monkey’s mouth full of small teeth, a fish tail and shiny golden scales. They had a quiet voice, similar to the singing of a lark or the sound of a flute. Their meat tastes good, and those who have tasted it will achieve extraordinary longevity. However, capturing the ningyo was believed to bring storms and setbacks, so the fishermen who caught these creatures released them back into the sea. Ningyo, washed ashore, was an omen of war or disaster.

21) Tsukumogami

A thing that has acquired a soul and individuality, a thing that has come to life. According to Japanese beliefs, tsukumogami comes from artifacts or things that exist for a very long period of time (from a hundred years or more) and therefore became alive or gained consciousness. Any object of this age, from a sword to toys, can become tsukumogami. Tsukumogami are supernatural beings, as opposed to enchanted things. Also, things that have been forgotten or lost can become tsukumogami, in this case it takes less time to turn into tsukumogami; such things try to return to the owner. The appearance of tsukumogami in Japanese folklore dates back to around the 10th century and is part of the Shingon teachings, according to which any thing has a soul, but only old objects can show their character.

Tsukumogami are very different in their appearance – depending on the nature of the things from which they originate, and character, it is determined by the temper of the former owner and the emotions surrounding the object. Some, such as those from paper lanterns or torn shoes, may have tears that become eyes and sharp teeth, giving the “face” an eerie look. Others, such as a wearable rosary or cups of tea, can appear benevolent. The character of the revived umbrella will be very different from the character of the revived temple gong. Thus, it is impossible to unambiguously characterize tsukumogami as a malevolent or good spirit, since, in fact, this is only the name of a whole class of spirits.

22) Kubire-oni

People possessed by this evil demon suffer from depression and feel an overwhelming desire to hang themselves. It is believed that these spirits were generated by all the fear and despair that the gallows experienced. The kubire-they have their own faith: they are convinced that they will go to heaven if they force as many people as possible to commit suicide. This is a very dangerous demon, practically not leaving its victim and holding on to it to the end.

23) Nopperapon

A ghost that looks like a man during the day. At night, it can be seen that instead of a face, nopparapon has a smooth ball, and according to some sources, a hundred eyes are located on the calves of its legs. This well-known faceless monster, it seems, experiences some special pleasure, frightening people. Its appearance is always a complete surprise, but nopparapon never attacks its victims, but only scares them, therefore it can only pose a real danger to people with a weak heart.

24) Hari-onna

A ghost who appears as a beautiful woman with long flowing hair, which she can control like tentacles. The ends of her hair end in hooks and spikes. It usually appears at night, walks along deserted roads and streets in search of young people. When she meets a guy she likes, she smiles at him. If the young man dares to smile back at her, Hari-onna attacks him. With sharp hooks at the ends of the hair, it digs into the clothes and flesh of a person. Tied by her hair, the person cannot escape, and meanwhile the hari-onna tears the helpless victim apart with her hooks.

25) Baku

The eaters of dreams and nightmares have a long history in Japanese folklore and art, and more recently appeared in anime and manga. The Japanese word “baku” now has two meanings. This word refers to the mythical eater of dreams or tapir. In recent years, the manner in which baku is depicted has changed. In a Japanese manuscript of the early 17th century, baku is described as a chimera with an elephant’s trunk, rhinoceros eyes, a bull’s tail, and tiger paws, protecting from evil and pestilence, although nightmare devouring was not included in the number of its features, which were later attributed to baku. Since the 1980s, baku has appeared in manga, anime, and other forms of popular culture not as an elephant and tiger chimera, but as a zoologically recognizable tapir.

26) Raiju

Likely incarnation of lightning. His body is composed of lightning bolts, and he can appear in the form of a cat, fox, weasel, badger, monkey or wolf. The usual for riju is the form of a white or blue wolf, or a wolf enveloped in lightning. During a thunderstorm, riju jumps from tree to tree; trees felled and split by lightning are considered the work of his claws. He can also fly like ball lightning, and his scream is like a thunderclap. Raiju is the companion of Raiden, the Shinto god of thunder.

A peculiar behavior of Raiju is the habit of sleeping in the human navel. This prompts Raiden to hurl lightning bolts at Raiju in order to awaken him, thus causing damage to the person on whose stomach the creature chose to take a nap. For this reason, superstitious Japanese people often sleep on their stomachs in inclement weather. Other legends say that the “thunderous beast” hides in the navels of only those people who sleep outdoors during a thunderstorm.

27) Nukekubi

Evil cannibalistic monsters from Japanese mythology, which are practically indistinguishable from humans during the day. The only sign by which they can be identified is a strip of red symbols that goes around the neck, and even that one can be easily hidden under a necklace or collar. At night, their head is separated from the body along the same strip of symbols, comes off and flies away in search of prey, and the body remains sitting where it sat. When attacking, the Nukekubi head screams shrilly to paralyze the victim with fear. It is believed that the easiest way to defeat the Nukekubi is by preventing the head from connecting to the body: for example, hiding the body in bushes or drowning. If the head, returning from night flights, does not find its body, it will hit the floor three times, after which the nukekubi will die.

28) Gaki

Eternally hungry demons inhabiting one of the Buddhist worlds – Gakido. Those who, during their lifetime on earth, overeat or throw out completely edible food, are reborn in them. The gaki’s hunger is insatiable, but they cannot die from it. They eat everything anything, even their children, but they cannot get enough. Sometimes they fall into the human world and then become cannibals. Since 657, a special day has been celebrated among Japanese Buddhists in mid-August, during the Obon festival, to commemorate Gaki. After such commemoration and remembrance (segaki), the hungry spirits can be freed from the torment of their punishment.

29) Isonade

A huge shark-like sea monster that lives off the coast of Matsuura and elsewhere in Western Japan. Isonade’s body is always hidden under water, so he was never seen, only a huge caudal fin was observed. The monster silently approaches the boats and, seizing the net with its hooked tail, drags the fishermen into the sea, where it devours them. Isonade can also use his tail to overturn a boat or hit it along the coast, killing people there.

30) Umibodzu

The spirit that dwells in the ocean and overturns the ship of anyone who dares to talk to him, since he perceives any word addressed to him as an insult. The name of this spirit, which unites the hieroglyphs for “sea” and “Buddhist monk,” is due to the fact that, according to legend, the umibodzu has a large, round head, reminiscent of the shaved heads of Buddhist monks. In other legends, they are huge ghosts, which become victims of shipwrecks and dead fishermen. They are drowned monks, so they have a shaved head and tend to look like they are praying.

The umibodzu is reported in mythology as having a gray or black cloud-like torso and tentacle-like limbs. According to one story, if the umibodzu is angry, he demands that the crew roll a barrel onto the deck, which he will fill with seawater, and then drown their ship. To avoid this fate, you must give him a bottomless barrel. This folk legend is probably related to another Japanese tradition, which says that the souls of people who have no one to take care of their graves take refuge in the sea.

31) Yamauba

Yamauba, which translates as “mountain witch”, looks like a terrible, ugly old woman. Her hair is unkempt, long and gray. Often depicted in a red kimono, dirty and torn. The witch’s huge mouth is stretched out over her entire face, according to some descriptions, she has two mouths. At the same time, the Yamauba is able to change her appearance, which helps her to lure gullible people to her. Yamauba lives in the depths of the mountains and forests of Japan. And in our time, some areas of this country are called, where, according to legend, these creatures live.

According to most legends, her home is something like a forest hut. The witch lures travelers lost in the forest and devours them. Sometimes she appears to her victim in the form of of his relative or a beautiful girl, sometimes in her usual appearance, pretending to be a helpless old woman. Having lulled the victim’s vigilance, the yamauba kills and devours him on the spot. Sometimes the witch lures the unwary into her hut, feeds them there and then eats them. Sometimes she, calling herself a guide, leads the unfortunate into steep rocks and pushes them into the abyss. In other cases, the yamauba is capable of transforming its hair into poisonous snakes that sting the victim.

Yamaube is also accused of kidnapping and eating children. In Japan, parents use this image to scare their offspring if they disobey. Some legends say that the yamauba is a creature of the night, but during the day it is immobilized. It is also said that her only weak point is a certain flower, which contains the soul of the Yamauba. If this flower is found and destroyed, then the witch will die. Yamauba is not very smart, and sometimes her victims manage to outwit the witch. On the other hand, she is a recognized master of witchcraft, a connoisseur of healing and bewitching drinks, as well as poisons. There are cases when a witch shares her secret knowledge with one of the people, if he delivers another person to her to be eaten or offers any other satanic exchange.

32) Ao-andong

A ghost from Japanese folklore associated with the popular nighttime horror story game. He supposedly looks like a man in a white kimono with blue skin, long black hair, two horns on his forehead and sharp black teeth. It was believed that ao-andon might appear closer to morning, when the story of the last story ends and the lamp is extinguished. If this happens, then the story told last may actually happen. Therefore, during the game, many participants left it before dawn, leaving the audience, or, by mutual agreement, stopped at for the 99th story out of fear of a ghost.

33) Shadow Kodari

A ghost who looks like an ugly old woman without clothes, with a long tongue, sharp teeth and a disheveled shock of hair. Most of the day he hides from the owners, hiding somewhere in the attic or in a narrow gap between the ceiling and the roof. And in the middle of the night it crawls out of its shelter, moving upside down like a spider on the ceiling to scare people to death or feed on them. In old Japanese legends, you can find many stories associated with the attic where corpses were kept or held captives, most often women. It is obvious that the shadowyo kodari are associated with these superstitions.

34) Sagari

This strange ghost is typical of Western Japan and Kyushu and is the head of a horse that falls down from tree branches to frighten travelers at night. The Sagari do nothing more than to fall down right in front of someone’s face with eerie screams. However, those who have heard the sagari laugh and howl may later develop severe fever from shock. According to legend, sagari are horse spirits that die on the road, and whose corpses are left to rot not far from the places where they fell. When the souls of horses leave their mortal bodies, they become entangled in the branches of trees. Thus, they cannot go to another world and turn into ghosts.

35) Onryo

The ghost of a deceased person who returned to the world of the living for the sake of revenge, restoration of justice or the fulfillment of some kind of curse. Such a ghost is not able to find peace until it takes its revenge. Onryo are popular characters in modern pop culture. A typical onry character is a married woman who died due to her husband’s malice. Onryo males are less common.

The classic onryo, after death, pursue the lovers who left them and ultimately drag them to hell by The wrath of a ghost is not always directed against a specific offender – innocent people can be its victims. The traditional stage incarnation of onryo looks like this: white funeral robes, long black loose hair, characteristic blue and white makeup that imitates pallor.

36) Taka-onna

A spying ghost who appears to be an inconspicuous woman most of the time, but has the gift of lengthening its torso up to several meters in height. They are rarely seen outside red-light districts, but they are fairly common nonetheless. The real “heyday” of these ghosts was observed at the beginning of the 20th century until the post-war period, when the Japanese brothel industry was gaining momentum.

Those who saw the ghosts claimed that the taka-onna peeped through the windows of the second floor, where the girls usually received clients. Although they rarely physically attack people, the taka-onna enjoys scaring the men and women who frequent such places. Taka-onna envy’s human feelings and pleasures that have never been available to them. The taka-onna are said to be descended from ordinary women who were too unattractive to marry or find work in the institutions where they peep. Jealousy, anger and envy, gnawing at their souls, turned them in the end into ugly, disgusting and vicious monsters, hunting for someone else’s sensual energy.

37) Akaname

Bath spirit, whose name literally means “licking mud”, but in the oral pronunciation it is also consonant with the expression “red mud”. For this reason, Akaname is sometimes described as red-faced or red-skinned. Akaname is the personification of fear that can visit a superstitious person in a dark, uninhabited room late at night. According to legends, this spirit comes out at night to lick off the dirt accumulated in public baths, bathrooms in unwashed tanks and tubs. If you take a bath after being licked by Akaname, then is fraught with some kind of disease. Thus, the image of Akaname reflected the observation that neglect of the rules of hygiene has a detrimental effect on health.

38) Gashadokuro

It is a giant skeleton that is fifteen times taller than an ordinary person. It is said to have originated from the bones of people who died of hunger gathered together. This ghost begins to roam after midnight, attacking lonely travelers and biting off their heads to drink the blood gushing from the body. Their appearance can be predicted by the characteristic ringing in the ear. Gashadokuro are said to be invisible and invulnerable, although there are amulets that keep them at a distance.

39) Issi

A legendary monster living in Lake Ikeda on the island of Kyushu. The name is formed by analogy with the name of the famous Scottish Nessie. There is a video recording and photographs of the monster taken in different years, but they do not represent a complete picture of a living creature. According to legend, once lived on the shores of Lake Ikeda with a white mare with her little foal. But the foal was kidnapped by a samurai, and, not finding him, the mother threw herself into the lake. Her despair was so great that it turned her into a giant lizard-like monster, which since then regularly floats to the surface of the water, still trying to find that foal. The Japanese believe that this monster can bring misfortune, and for this reason, some of them forbid their children to play on the lake.

Lake Ikeda is replenished by atmospheric precipitation and is located significantly above sea level, with which it is not connected; no river flows into it either. Thus, the hypothetical monster could not enter the lake from the ocean. Most of the reports about Issi date back to 1991, when the video was recorded. By this time, however, Lake Ikeda was already a breeding ground for large (up to 2 m in length) Malay eels, which were grown for sale. Therefore, an alternative hypothesis was proposed, according to which Issy is just an especially large eel or even a chain of eels, swimming one after another. Opponents of the version, however, argue that the string of two-meter eels does not look like a ten-meter monster enough. Another possible candidate, the large snapping turtle, also seen in Lake Ikeda, is also too small.

40) Mu-onna

The vengeful spirit of a mother who lost her child to hunger or war. She comes to the aid of children in danger, but can also completely absorb the child or move into him. The spirits of mu-onna can look into the soul of a child to search for any information, merging with his biofield. To learn something or to merge with children’s souls, mu-onna has to cast a spell on and plunge the children into a deep sleep. Since mu-onna is created from the most tender motherly feelings, she can sacrifice herself and die for the sake of saving a child in any situation.

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