Mythical creatures from Japan (40 photos)

Japan is an amazing country of contrasts, where high-tech achievements coexist perfectly with centuries-old traditions and magical gardens and temples with skyscrapers that take your breath away at a glance.

Mythical creatures from Japan

They say it takes a lifetime 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 awkward, creatures, whose image and purpose are paradoxical for the understanding of Europeans. Let’s take a look together at what mythical creatures live in Japan according to their mythology!

1) Yuki-onna

Mythical creatures from Japan (40 photos)

Some legends claim that yuki-onna, associated with winter and unbearable cold, is the spirit of a girl who has disappeared forever in the snow. Her name means “snow woman” in Japanese. Yuki-onna appears on snowy nights as a tall, statuesque maiden in a white kimono with long black hair. She can hardly be seen against the backdrop of snow due to inhumanly pale, almost transparent skin. Despite their ephemeral beauty, the yuki-onna’s eyes strike fear into mortals. She swims through the snow without leaving footprints and can transform into a cloud of mist or snow. According to some beliefs, she has no legs, and this is a feature of many Japanese ghosts.

The nature of the yuki-onna varies from tale to tale. Sometimes she is simply content to see her victim die. More often, she is a vampire who brutally kills men for their blood and vitality, sometimes she acts as a succubus. In many stories, the yuki-onna appears when travelers wander in a snowstorm. After her icy, like death itself, breath or kiss, travelers are left to lie lifeless, stiffened corpses. Other legends endow the yuki-onna with an even more bloodthirsty and cruel character. She sometimes invades houses by blowing on the door with the force of a storm to kill all the inhabitants of the house in a dream, however, some legends say that she will only be able to enter the house and harm people if she is invited inside as a guest.

2) Kappa

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

Approximately one-third of all images are kappa, 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 kappa, instead of a saucer on the head, there is a recess in the shape of an oval saucer; the tortoiseshell may not be. Kappa is a fan of sumo wrestling and loves cucumbers, fish, and fruit. It is believed that if you catch a kappa, then he will fulfill any desire. Kappa was considered in Japan to be a very dangerous creature that was hunted by luring by cunning 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 an abandoned hut in the forest to attract the attention of a potential victim passing by. While a person is fascinated by listening to enchanting music, yorogumo wraps his web around him to provide food for himself and his offspring. According to some beliefs, after the spider has lived in the world for 400 years, it 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 masonry. Ancient Japanese drawings and prints depict the yorogumo as half woman, half spider surrounded by her children.

4) Kitsune

The image of a werewolf fox, 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 usually turns out to be interested only in human blood. In the Land of the Rising Sun, the image of a werewolf fox is much more multifaceted. Integral characters of Japanese folklore and literature, Japanese kitsune have the features of an elf, vampire, and werewolf. They can act both as carriers of pure evil and as 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 apprehension and sympathy.

The question of the origin of kitsune is complex and poorly defined. Most sources agree that kitsune become after the death of some people who did not lead the most righteous, secretive, and incomprehensible lifestyle to others. Gradually, kitsune grows and gains strength, reaching adulthood from 50-100 years old, at the same time he acquires the ability to change shape. The level of strength of the 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. The Nine-Tails are the elite kitsune, at least 1000 years old, and have silver, white, or golden skins.

Being werewolves, kitsune are able to change the forms of man and animal. 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 able, if necessary, to change gender and age, presenting either a young girl or a gray-haired old man. Like vampires, kitsune sometimes drink human blood and kill people, often, however, starting a romantic relationship with them. Moreover, children from the marriages of foxes and people inherit magical abilities and many talents.

5) Tanukas

Traditional Japanese werewolf animals, symbolize happiness and prosperity, usually looking like raccoon dogs The second most popular werewolf after kitsune. Unlike kitsune, the image of a tanuki is practically devoid of negative connotations. It is believed that tanuki is big drinker of sake. Therefore, without his presence, good sake cannot be made. For the same reason, tanuki figurines, sometimes very large, are the decoration of many drinking establishments. They portray the tanuki as a fat, kind-hearted man with a noticeable belly.

There is a belief that if you wrap a piece of gold in a tanuki skin and beat it, it will increase in size. Thanks to this, the tanuki is revered not only as the patron of drinking establishments but also as the 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. A folk 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 a cat, there are several ways to become a bakeneko: reach a certain age, grow to a certain size, or have a long tail, which subsequently forks. Any cat can become bakeneko if it either lives for more than thirteen years, weighs 1 kan (3.75 kg), or has a long tail, which then splits into two.

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

7) Nue

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

8) Light

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 as being up to 300 meters long, with snake-like eyes, long claws, and fangs. She is usually seen on the beach combing her beautiful long hair. The exact nature of Nure-Onn’s behavior and intentions is 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 around a small, baby-like package that she uses to attract potential victims. If someone offers Nura-Onna her help to hold the child, she willingly allows them to do it, however, the bag becomes heavier and prevents the person from escaping. Nure-onna uses its long, snake-like, forked tongue to suck all the blood out of the human body. In other stories, the nure-onna simply seeks solitude and is unhappy when her peace is interrupted.

9) Futakuchi-onna

The Possessed, whose name means “woman with two mouths”, is normal, and the second is hidden on the back of the head under the hair. There, the skull splits apart, forming the lips, teeth, and tongue of a completely complete second mouth. In futakuchi-onna legends, they hide their 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 sparingly and rarely. To counteract this, a second mouth at the back of the head appears by itself magically, which behaves hostilely towards its owner: it swears, threatens, and demands food, causing her severe pain if she refuses. The woman’s hair begins to move like a pair of snakes, delivering food to the second mouth, which is so voracious 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 over time into a mouth. According to another version, a stepmother becomes obsessed, and starves her stepson or stepdaughter, while her own child eats plenty. The spirit of a child who has died of hunger is possessed by the stepmother, or a starving stepdaughter becomes a futakuchi-onna.

10) Rokurokuby

A werewolf demon with a snake neck. During the day, rokurokubi look like normal people, but at night they gain the ability to stretch their necks to a huge length, and can also change their faces to better scare 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 depicted as very vicious: they seek to scare the dead or even attack people in order to kill and drink their blood. According to Japanese lore, some rokurokubi in ordinary life often live inconspicuously, they can 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 a serious violation of any precepts or doctrines of Buddhism.

11) Kutisake-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 torn mouth”, she is a character in many films, anime, and manga. The legend of kuchisake-onna became most famous in Japan at the turn of the 1970s and 80s, causing a real panic. There are even reports that the administrations of some Japanese schools and colleges at that time allegedly recommended that children go home accompanied by adults or at least in groups.

By, this legend has been known since the 17th century, when a woman appeared in the legend covering her face with a kimono sleeve. The modern version of the urban legend is as follows: a woman in a mask stops a child and asks him: “Am I beautiful?” If the child answers no, she kills him with the scissors she always carries with If he answers yes, the woman will remove her mask, revealing a mouth slit from ear to ear, with huge teeth and a snake tongue, and ask, “And now?” If the child answers no, it will be cut in half. If he answers yes, then she will cut his mouth just like hers. If nothing is done, but simply turn around and leave, then kuchisake-onna will still appear in front of the victim later.

12) Dzasiki-varasi

Spirit, whose function is close to the Russian brownie. It is believed to be found in large old houses that are well-maintained. The inhabitants of the house in which the zashiki-warashi lives are lucky, and if the spirit leaves the house for some reason, it will soon fall into decay. To attract and keep a zashiki-warashi in a household, it must be valued and cared for, but too much attention can scare it away.

Zashiki-warashi most often has cropped hair, and a ruddy face and is a child by nature, apparently, 5-6 years old, just like a real child, prone to harmless pranks, which sometimes lead to trouble. He can, for example, sit on the futon where a guest sleeps, turn over pillows, or cause sounds like music from rooms that no one is using. Sometimes he leaves small footprints in the ashes. There are different versions of who can see the zashiki-warashi. Usually, this opportunity is limited to permanent residents or only children.

13) They

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

14) Kirin

The unicorn personifies the desire for a generous harvest and personal security. It is said that he is a fierce follower of justice and law and that he sometimes appeared in court, killed the guilty, and saved the innocent. Kirin is the most important animal deity, a messenger of auspicious events, and a symbol of prosperity and good luck. It has many descriptions but is most often depicted with a scaly body resembling that of a sika deer, a single horn, and a bushy tail. His body is often enveloped in flames, 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 is only seen once in a millennium, at the beginning of a new era, when a great leader is born. 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 shrines and Buddhist temples and expelling evil spirits. When these creatures are a couple, one shishi is depicted with an open mouth, the second with a closed one, which means the beginning and end of all things, life, and death. Usually, the shishi holds a ball with its paw, which is interpreted as a symbol of Buddhist knowledge, bringing light into darkness and being able to fulfill wishes. In the world, shishi is better known as the “Chinese lion”, while Japan has its own traditions and ways of depicting shishi, although in almost all Asian countries these lion-dogs are quite similar and have the same meaning. Shishi came to Japan from China, where they were figurines and depictions exclusively of a lion.

16) Okami

The wolf, the 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, an assistant to needy people, he warns villagers ahead of time about impending natural disasters, keeps fields from trampling by wild boars and deer, guards travelers in mountain forests. The image of a wolf at the temple, according to legend, protected from fire and theft.

17) Inugami


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

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

18) Cutigumo


A 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 that inhabited the Japanese islands (possibly the Malays) and exterminated 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, trap unlucky travelers in their webs and devour them.

19) Tengu


A spirit in the form of a huge winged man 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, scares them with thunderous laughter or imitation of the crackling of cut down trees. According to popular belief, after death, an angry or proud person can turn into a tengu.

Tengu is credited with extraordinary physical abilities and skill with bladed weapons. Occasionally, they serve as mentors in the art of war and strategy to people they deem worthy. Also, noble tengu act as protectors of holy people and temples. More often than not, however, tengu are vicious, mocking creatures seeking to harm people every time. These are cruel deceivers, causing fires, inciting wars. Parents scare little children with them.

20) Ningyo


An immortal being like a fish. In ancient times, they were described with a human face, a monkey 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 taste it will achieve extraordinary longevity. However, the capture of ningyo was believed to bring storms and bad luck, 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 a toy, can become a tsukumogami. Tsukumogami are supernatural beings, as opposed to enchanted things. Also, things that have been forgotten or lost can become tsukumogami, in which 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 about the 10th century and is part of the Shingon teaching, according to which everything has a soul, but only ancient objects can show their own character.

Tsukumogami are very different in their appearance – depending on the nature of the things from which they come, and the character, it is determined by the disposition of the former owner and the emotions surrounding the object. Some – such as those that come from paper lanterns or torn shoes – may have rips that become eyes and sharp teeth, giving the “face” an eerie appearance. Others, such as wearing a rosary or cups of tea, may 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 unequivocally characterize tsukumogami as a malevolent or good spirit, since, in fact, this is just 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. Kubire-oni have their own belief: 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 person during the day. At night, it can be seen that instead of a face, the nopperapon has a smooth ball, and according to some sources, hundreds of eyes are located on the calves of its legs. This well-known faceless monster, seems to take some special pleasure in scaring people. His appearance is always a complete surprise, but the nopperapon never attacks its victims, but only scares them, so it can only be a real danger to people with a weak heart.

24) Hari-onna


A ghost that appears as a beautiful woman with long flowing hair, which she can control like tentacles. Her hair ends 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 her hair, she digs into the clothes and flesh of a person. Bound by her hair, a person cannot escape, and meanwhile the hari-onna tears the helpless victim apart with its hooks.

25) Baku


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

26) Raiju


Possible embodiment of lightning. His body is made of lightning and he can appear in the form of a cat, fox, weasel, badger, monkey, or wolf. The usual for raiju is the form of a white or blue wolf, or a wolf wrapped in lightning. During a thunderstorm, the raiju jumps from tree to tree; trees felled and split by lightning are considered the work of his claws. He can also fly like a fireball 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 the raiju to awaken him, thus damaging the person on whose stomach the creature decides to take a nap. For this reason, superstitious Japanese often sleep on their stomachs in inclement weather. Other legends say that the “thunder beast” hides in the navels only of those people who sleep outdoors during a thunderstorm.

27) Nukekubi


Evil man-eating monsters from Japanese mythology, which are almost indistinguishable from humans during the day. The only sign on by which they can be identified is a strip of red symbols that goes around the neck, and even that can be easily hidden under a necklace or collar. At night, their head is separated from the body along the very strip of symbols, breaks off and flies away in search of prey, and the body remains to sit where it was sitting. When attacking, the nukekubi’s head screams piercingly to paralyze the victim with fear. It is believed that the easiest way to defeat nukekubi is to prevent the head from connecting with 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) Hooks


Eternally hungry demons inhabiting one of the Buddhist worlds – Gakido. They are reborn those who, during their lifetime on earth, overeat or throw away completely edible food. 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 enter the world of people 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 remembrance and remembrance (Segaki), the hungry ghosts 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 it has never been seen, only a huge tail fin has been observed. The monster silently approaches the boats and, grabbing the net with its hooked tail, drags the fishermen into the sea, where it devours them. The isonade can also use its tail to capsize a boat or hit the coast, killing people there.

30) Umibozu


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

The umibōzu is reported in mythology as having a gray or black cloud-like torso and tentacle-like limbs. According to one story, if the umibōzu is angry, he demands that the crew roll a barrel onto the deck, which he will fill with sea water, after which he will sink their ship. To avoid this fate, it is necessary to give him a bottomless barrel. This folk legend is probably related to another Japanese tradition that 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 scary, ugly old woman. Her hair is unkempt, it is long and gray. Often depicted in a red kimono, dirty and torn. The huge mouth of the witch is stretched over the 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 dwelling is something like a forest hut. The witch lures travelers lost in the forest and devours them. Sometimes she appears before her victim in the form of his relative or beautiful girl, sometimes in her usual form, appearing as a helpless old woman. Having lulled the vigilance of the victim, the yamauba kills him and devours him on the spot. Sometimes a witch lures the unwary into her hut, fattens 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 able to turn its hair into poisonous snakes that sting the victim.

Yamauba is also accused of kidnapping and eating children. In Japan, parents use this image to scare their offspring if they disobey. Some legends tell that the yamauba is a nocturnal creature, but during the day it is immobilized. It is also said that her only weak point is a certain flower in which the soul of the yamauba is located. If this flower is found and destroyed, 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 some other satanic exchange.

32) Ao-andon


A ghost from Japanese folklore associated with the popular game of telling horror stories at night. It 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 the ao-andon might appear closer to the morning, when the story of the last story ended and the lamp was 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 the 99th story out of fear of the appearance of a ghost.

33) Tenyo Kudari


A ghost that looks like an ugly old woman without clothes, with a long tongue, sharp teeth, and a messy mop of hair. Most of the day it hides from the owners, hiding somewhere in the attic or in a narrow hole between the ceiling and the roof. And in the middle of the night, it crawls out of its hiding place, moving upside down like a spider on the ceiling to scare people to death or feed on them. In old Japanese legends, one can find many stories related to the attic, where corpses were stored or prisoners, most often women, were kept. Obviously, tenyo kudari are associated with these superstitions.

34) Sagari


This strange ghost is characteristic of Western Japan and Kyushu and represents the head of a horse that falls down from the branches of trees to frighten travelers at night. Sagaris do nothing else but fall down right in front of someone’s face with terrible screams. However, those who have heard the sagari neigh and howl may subsequently develop a high fever from the shock. According to legend, sagari are the spirits of horses that die on the road, and whose corpses are left to rot near 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 pass to another world and turn into ghosts.

35) Onryo


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

Classical onryo haunt the lovers who left them after death and eventually drag to hell. 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 burial clothes, long black flowing hair, a characteristic white and blue makeup that imitates pallor.

36) Taka-onna


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

Those who saw the ghosts claimed that the taka-onna were peeping through the windows of the second floor, where the girls usually received clients. Although they rarely attack humans physically, taka-onna enjoy scaring the men and women who frequent such places. Taka-onna envy the human feelings of and pleasures that have never been available to them. It is said that the taka-onna descended from ordinary women who were too unattractive to marry or find work in the establishments through the windows of which they peek. Jealousy, malice and envy, which gnawed at their souls, eventually turned them into ugly, disgusting and vicious monsters, hunting for someone else’s sensual energy.

37) Okaname


Bath spirit, whose name literally means “licking mud”, but in oral pronunciation 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, which can visit a superstitious person in a dark non-residential building late at night. According to legend, this spirit comes out at night to lick off the dirt that has 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 is detrimental to health.

38) Gashadokuro


It is a gigantic skeleton that is fifteen times taller than a normal human. It is said about him that he arose from the bones of people who died of starvation gathered together. This ghost begins to wander after midnight, attacking lone 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. The gashadokuro are said to be invisible and invulnerable, although there are amulets that keep them at bay.

39) Issy


A legendary monster that lives in Lake Ikeda on the island of Kyushu. The name is formed by analogy with the name of the famous Scottish Nessie. There are video recordings and photographs of the monster taken in different years, but they do not represent a complete picture of a living being. 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 desperation was so great that it turned her into a gigantic lizard-like monster, which since then regularly swims to the surface of the water, still trying to find that foal. The Japanese believe that this monster is capable of bringing bad luck, 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 reported; no river flows into it either. Thus, the hypothetical monster could not have entered the lake from the ocean. The bulk of the messages about Issy falls on 1991, when the video was made. By this time, however, Lake Ikeda was already a breeding ground for large (up to 2 m long) Malayan eels, which were grown for sale. Therefore, an alternative hypothesis was proposed, according to which Issi is just a particularly large eel, or even a chain of eels swimming one after another. Opponents of the version, however, object that a string of two-meter eels does not look like a ten-meter monster enough. Another possible candidate, the large caiman tortoise, also observed in Lake Ikeda, is also too small,

40) Mu-onna


The vengeful spirit of a mother who lost her child due to famine or war. She comes to the aid of children in danger, but can also completely absorb or possess a child. Mu-onna spirits can look into the soul of a child to search for any information, merging with his biofield. In order to learn something or merge with the children’s souls, the mu-onna must cast a spell at and put the children into a deep sleep. Since the Muonna is created from the most tender maternal feelings, she can sacrifice herself and die in order to save the child in any situation.

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