Ittan-momen

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Ittan-momen

Region of origin: Kagoshima, Japan

A possessed bolt of cotton cloth, the ittan-momen is a tsukumogami, a spirit born of a disused or forgotten household items, who glides silently through the night sky looking for victims to prey upon. Unlike most tsukumogami or yokai who have a tendency to be mischievous but harmless to people, the ittan-momen is particularly vicious and will wrap itself around a person’s head, smothering them to death.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

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Hone-onna

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Hone-onna

Region of origin: Japan

Literally “bone woman,” hone-onna are spirits of women who passed on but their intense feelings of love for their partner causes them to remain in the mortal realm. Their ghost will appear to their loved one as they had in life at night, tricking them into thinking they’re still alive and draining their life essence as they spend the night together; traditional stories vary on whether or not this is a purposeful and malicious attack or merely an unintentional side-effect of their undead state. The nightly visits will continue until death or the glamour is broken, usually by someone pure or righteous who can see through the hone-onna’s disguise and reveals her true skeletal form.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

Akateko

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Akateko

Region of origin: Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, Japan

A yokai taking on the appearance of a red-colored child’s hand, the akateko hangs from the branches of a honey locust tree like a spider hanging from its web, except… it is a disembodied hand. It doesn’t exhibit harmful or malicious behavior but its primarily function seems to be to startle people by dropping down near them. As with some other yokai like the ashi-magari, it’s thought the akateko may not be a distinct creature but rather a form of or illusion created by another yokai such as a tanuki, or have some relation to a spirit that takes the form of a mysterious young woman waiting at the base of their tree.

[Sources referenced: X | X ]

Kitsune

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Kitsune

Region of origin: Japan

One of the sub-groups of yokai of animals believed to increase in intelligence and magic power as they age, it is believed when a fox turns 100 years old it grows a second tail and gains new powers such as shape-shifting or the ability to create illusions. This continues to increase every hundred years up until it has nine tails and their fur has turned from red to gold or white. The kitstune are broadly divided into two categories, the zenko kitsune are considered benevolent and who act as messengers for the Shinto deity Inari, whereas the yako kitsune are more malicious pranksters, but both groups tend to use their magic to the end of punishing people who have done something to deserve it and respect those who show them kindness. Among their more common tricks, they can possess people and cause them to behave erratically or destructively, or they may turn into people their victim knows to sow confusion, or someone the person will find attractive to seduce them away from their families. The latter can be short-term, but there are stories where it results in an actual long-term relationship and marriage, occasionally producing half-human offspring who possess some of their kitsune parent’s magical abilities. Kitsunebi, or “fox-fire,” is a form of ignis fatuui that is believed to be magical lanterns the kitsune can summon and will use in their wedding processions.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

Hitotsume kozō

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Hitotsume kozō

Region of origin: Japan

Yokai spirits who take on the appearance of small one-eyed children, often dressed as little buddhist monks. Like many yokai they are not overly malicious but delight in spooking humans. In some regions of eastern Japan, they are believed to be emissaries of the god of disease and misfortune, traveling from home to home on December 8th and recording the families’ bad deeds to bring back to their lord and determine how bad a person’s luck should be for the following year. Bamboo baskets or holly ivy were sometimes hung outside the home to ward off the hitotsume kozō and prevent them from recording that family’s information in their ledgers.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X | X ]

Waira

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Waira

Region of origin: Japan

Living near shrines in Japan’s more isolated forests, waira are thought to be toads who lived long enough to magically become a yokai, taking on a more bovine appearance with single scythe-like claws tipping their legs. With names derived from the word kowai, or “frightening,” they function alongside the otoroshi to safeguard the shrines they inhabit, scaring away wicked individuals who might try and enter, using their flat bodies and coloration to stay camouflaged against the forest floor to make up for their slow speed. Their claws, however intimidating, are primarily used to dig up and pin down food, feeding on moles and other small rodents.

Rokurokubi

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Rokurokubi

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