Japan is a country full of history and customs, so its mythology does not lose. The Japanese have incredible creatures that you will meet now, if you don’t already, if you are a big fan of culture or anime!
Kappa is known as a goblin-like water monkey, whose head is filled with water. If water falls from his head, he loses his magical powers. This creature can be both good and bad, taking into account that it also drinks blood. Kappa loves cucumbers, which is why it has become the custom of the Japanese to throw this food in the pond when they want to ask the creature for something, as it is known for being very polite and true to its promises.
This princess was a young woman in love with a monk named Anchin. Unfortunately his feelings were not reciprocated. When she realized that he had left her, she began her pursuit. Having to cross a river to reach Anchin, who was in his boat, Kiyohime turned into a snake and went after him. Frightened by his ex-lover’s new form, Anchin tried to take refuge in a temple and hid behind a bell. Kiyohime, with his heightened senses, smelled his beloved and spit fire on the bell, melting him and killing Anchin.
Although there are several tales about her, Yuki-onna is a well-known figure in anime. Having the body of a pale woman in a long, white kimono, Yuki-onna usually appears in the snow without her feet, wandering around like a ghost. As it feeds on human essence, its method of murder consists of blowing cold air on its victims in order to freeze them and, later, suck their souls through their mouths.
As if he were a flying goblin, Tengu is always teasing humans. Described as a raven-like bird, the Tengu is said to derive from ancient hypocritical priests who, as punishment for their actions, were condemned to live with that appearance in the mountains. For that past, they say that the Tengus keep people away from Buddhism, tie priests to tall trees, kidnap children and start fires in temples.
This superb creature is known for its great tongue, which is always licking dirty toilets and spreading its poison around. Akaname is said to have been created by parents to encourage their children to keep their bathrooms clean.
Once upon a time there was an elderly couple who lived in the mountains. One day, the man found a baby near a bamboo. The baby grew up to be a beautiful woman and many men began to compete with each other to decide who would marry her. Kaguya never married anyone, instead, she returned to her original form: the Moon.
This little prankster lives in the mountains imitating a baby’s cry and hoping that some traveler will find him. When the traveler takes the “child” in order to comfort him, he grows and becomes extremely heavy, weighing up to 350kg. People are paralyzed or die with weight, however, they say that you will be blessed with magical powers if you survive Konaki-jiji.
Mokumokuren is a creature that lives in the holes in the paper walls (ancient Japanese architecture consisted of buildings with walls made of paper). If the owner of the house is careless, the chance is that the holes in the wall will increase more and more, also increasing the possibility of people perceiving the existence of Mokumokuren.
It is said that this creature throws sand in the eyes or steals people’s souls, but the truth that doesn’t change in tales is its incredible ability to move pillows. A really scary creature if you are a fan of peaceful sleep!
In Japanese folklore, we find the Tsukumogami (objects that come to life after they have existed for more than 100 years). Kasa-Obake is a special Tsukumogami, as it is an umbrella that has come to life and is one of the few that has gained a special name, to differentiate it from other objects. So every time your umbrella starts moving strangely in the rain, it’s a good idea to start wondering how old it must be …
These were just ten of many creatures in Japanese folklore and mythology. The more you read, research about culture or watch Japanese anime and movies, the greater your chance of being fascinated by the story that each being of this rich folklore can offer!
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