Folklore

Folklore: Gashadokuro

Today I want to talk to you about the Gashadokuro.

The gashaokuro, also known as the odokuro, come from Japan. They are classified as a ghost or spirit, but they do have a physical substance to them aka they are not incorporeal.

Appearance wise the gashaokuro look like epic skeletons, they are around 80-90 feet tall. They gnash their teeth as they walk which I can only imagine as being very loud given their size.

They are pulled together from the bones of people who died from either starvation or warfare. Naturally, as you can imagine anyone who died in this awful manner would be pretty miffed. This makes the gashaokuro full of anger, rage and bloodlust.

Any angry bloodthirsty spirit worth its salt is going to eat people.

The gashaokuro roam the countryside during the night hunting people to drink blood from. If they locate someone, they will stalk them silently somehow before ambushing them and biting their heads off and drink the insides. There is no way to fight off the gashaokuro, the only thing you can do is run when you hear a ringing in your ears as this is the only warning you will have. Though honestly, outrunning a gigantic skeleton? Unlikely.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The gashaokuro appear throughout modern culture both as themselves and as the inspiration for other monsters.

The gashaokuro have appeared in video games such as Chrono Trigger with the character Zombor, there are a fair few of them popping up in Castlevania. There is a gashaokuro in AdventureQuest Worlds it is a forbidden Beast of Chaos.

They also appear in animation, such as Hellboy: Sword of Storms, and the Studio Ghibli movie Pom Poko.

Lastly, they are also seen in manga and some of the subsequent anime such as InuYasha and Inu x Boku SS.

Lastly, though I’ve not seen this confirmed anywhere I got very distinct Attack on Titan vibes when I was researching this creature.

Folklore

Folklore: Futakuchi Onna

Today I want to talk to you about the Futakuchi Onna.

She is a type of Yokai, or monster, from Japan.

The Futakuchi Onna, is, in its most simple description, a woman with two mouths; one in the usual place, the second on the back of her head beneath her hair (you’d get so much hair in your mouth).

Myth

The story of the Futakuchi Onna is a simple one, she is created when a woman is starving and marries a miserly husband. Any woman has the potential to become a Futakuchi Onna, as it’s more like a curse or disease than something you are born as.

The most well known story of the Futakuchi Onna is that there was one a miserly man, who could not bare the thought of spending money. He lived alone because of this as he could not stand the idea of how expensive having a wife and family would be. But then one day he met a woman in the woods, magically she didn’t eat anything (diet plan gone wrong?). The miser was thrilled because she would be cheep and took her as his wife.

Over time the miser noticed that his rice was being depleted at an alarming rate. He eventually discovered that it was his wife, the mysterious lady who did not need to eat. Apparently she did eat, just not in the usual way. The miser spied on his wife and watched in horror as when she thought she was alone, her hair parted, revealing a second mouth, then, taking on a will of its own, her hair started shovelling rice into the mouth.

In popular culture

Futakuchi Onna appear often in modern day culture, they pop up in astern media and western and appear across all types of media. From anime such as GeGeGe no Kitaro, to video games like The Last Blade and Pokemon (Mawile), from books like Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children to Youtube with YouTuber Futakuchi_Mana.

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.