Region of origin: Japan
Unlike many yokai who are wholly spirits or manifestations, the rokurokubi is a cursed human, most often a woman, who received their affliction as an illness or a punishment (for either their own deeds or in some stories those of a male relative’s). By day the rokurokubi would appear as a normal woman, but at night as the human body slept, the head would roam away on its own, the neck stretching out behind it. The head in this state would consume oil from hanging lamps, attack rodents and other small animals like a cat or, like many yokai, simply delight in scaring any humans who happened to be around. In some versions it’s said the soul is also seen leaving the body, and the “neck” is effectively an ectoplasmic tether. It is assumed the origins for the rokurokubi are tied to interpretations of the manananggal and other similar South Asian vampiric creatures whose head or upper body detach from their otherwise human bodies and take flight at night.
Originally posted on Tumblr on December 1, 2016