Folklore

Folklore: Hone-onna

Today’s creepy folklore comes from Japan.

We are going to look at the folklore around Hone-onna.

The story is about a beautiful woman, who is renowned for her looks and style. She wears a beautiful kimono that covers her almost completely but notably leaving her face and neck bare. The myth makes a point of her beauty as she uses it to lure men.

Yup, you guessed it, this is a succubus story, or at least the story has a lot of similarities to the western succubus.

Summary

Hone-onna uses her beauty and grace to lure men to secluded and out of the way places. Once she has lured her prey, she encourages them to undress her. But the all covering kimono is there for a reason. This woman has no skin (Sexy right). She is just meat and bones. Once her prey is suitably freaked out, she embraces him and draws out his life.


Thoughts

As mentioned above there are a lot of similarities here with the western succubus, a beautiful woman who preys on and eats men. This is a reasonably common trope in various myths and folklore, the idea of being lured by something we desire, be it material, physical or emotional and then devoured by it.


This myth taps into several types of fear, the fear that our desires are going to lead us to destruction and warning us not to let them overrule our common sense. Then there’s the very prominent supernatural element with Hone-onna being a literal monster, we all know monsters aren’t real but the uncertainty is always there, especially with monsters like Hone-onna who is so well disguised. Then you have the fear of social expectations and the stigma attached to both casual sex and the innate fear of woman and their sexuality.

The fact that there can be more than one meaning, it is one of my favourite things about these kinds of stories, there isn’t always a right answer.

I like to consider why people made these stories, why would people invent Hone-onna, what would they be trying to stop and all the points I made above come to mind, the stigma around casual sex and the prevalent idea that sexual women are somehow evil monsters. I can just imagine mothers warning their sons not to go out too late because Hone-onna will get you. Don’t get to close to the promiscuous lady she could be Hone-onna. So, overall, I think this myth was brought to life by societal pressure and stigma.

I'd love to hear what you think, please comment below.

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