Skip

Just for a second, honestly
January 28, 2014 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Japanese folklore and horror stories are known for their psychologically terrifying ghosts and monsters that prey on the minds and bodies of humans. But there’s also a lighter side to Japanese folklore, where bumbling spirits cause only mild annoyance, actually enhance your daily life, and otherwise generally botch the whole job of haunting mankind and teaching vague moral lessons about treating your parents with respect and such. 8 Hilariously Nonthreatening Monsters from Japanese Folklore
posted by timshel (44 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Nurarihyon is said to resemble an old man with an oversized gourd-shaped head and is apparently the leader of the 100 most recognizable Japanese yokai.



Good news, everyone!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:40 AM on January 28 [12 favorites]


The Mujina are shapeshifting badgers that can change form to look like humans. They’re known for jumping out at unsuspecting travelers at roadsides and commanding them to “Drink water, drink tea.”

I have a suspicion as to how this one came about. To test it, in the spirit of Thor Heyerdahl, tonight I shall lurk along a nearby footpath, spring out at unsuspecting people and shout "get plenty of fluids! Eat fresh fruit!" Then I'll disappear into the night, cackling, and shout back over my shoulder, "I'm really a badger, you know!"
posted by Naberius at 9:43 AM on January 28 [12 favorites]


I was hoping there'd be more examples like the hydration badgers. They seem like they fell out of a Pratchett novel. I bet their original job was to do something absolutely horrific to people, but as times changed whatever function they served became less important and now they've been relegated to sitting by the side of the road reminding travelers to drink plenty of fluids.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:49 AM on January 28 [7 favorites]


YES something like flossing possums who hiss at you and remind you not to neglect your gums.
posted by elizardbits at 9:53 AM on January 28 [12 favorites]


Going by other examples from Japanese folklore, they probably were originally there to see if you had any fluids with you, and if you didn't, they would drown you in a stream or culvert or something. So you should always carry a gourd or flask with some water or tea in it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:53 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


Oh my god the ass eye drawing is great.

What about those happy critters with the big balls? Is that Japanese?
posted by stinkfoot at 9:54 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Tanuki. They'd rather make sure you had something a little stronger in your gourd.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:55 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


They are tanukis.
posted by elizardbits at 9:56 AM on January 28


YES something like flossing possums who hiss at you and remind you not to neglect your gums. I'm imagining a shadowy snake just out of the corner of your eye, following you around the house with helpful reminders.

" HSSSSS! EAT MORE FIBER IT IS VITAL TO DIGESTIVE HEALTH HISSSS!"
"FLOSS AFTER EVERY MEAL TO PREVENT TOOTH DECAY HISSSSSSSS"
"PEROIDS OF INACTIVITY ARE LINKS TO DECLIING HEALTH, HISSSSSS, WORK STANDING UP!"
"HISSSSSSSS DOES THIS HAVE CORN SYRUP IN IT?DO YIU WANT THE DIABETES TALK AGAIN AGAIN! HISSSS WE'LL CUT OFF YOUR FEEEEEET."

Actually, was no I think I just described my pervasive anxiety disorder.
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 AM on January 28 [24 favorites]


Also can someone here who speaks japanese please confirm that "shirime" really translates exactly to "ass eye" because I want to shout it when I stub my toe or something similar and I don't want to make a linguistic faux pas.
posted by elizardbits at 10:00 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


This kind of reads like the useless Forgotten Beasts that Dwarf Fortress produces every once in a while. Lots of them are incredibly dangerous, but occasionally the random generator produces one strictly less scary than a kitten.
posted by Zarkonnen at 10:01 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Isobune are giant lizards who make their nests underneath the stairs on the escalators in subway stations and office buildings. They have very sensitive scales and can tell if you're standing still and blocking other people from climbing past you. If one notices you doing this, he will turn everyone in your home village into spiders.
posted by theodolite at 10:02 AM on January 28 [19 favorites]


The Kamonowaka takes the form of a duck that asks if you would like to critique its poetry. It then asks you if you would like to read a haiku or a tanka. If you say a haiku, it cuts your legs off at the knee. If you say a tanka, it cuts your legs off at the hip.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:06 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Thus proving the danger of poetry and people who ask for honest critique.
posted by The Whelk at 10:07 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Came for the tofu-kozo, left satisfied. Yet strangely craving tofu...
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:11 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Beware the katatsuki, an invisible beetle who dwells behind your ear. If you neglect to feed him a steady diet of traditional min'yō music he will tell all of your friends how many times you listened to "Royals."
posted by theodolite at 10:14 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


"Hey wanna see my ass eye?"
"Aw gross dude."
"Haha you totally just saw my ass eye"
*Shirime walks away*
posted by mcmile at 10:19 AM on January 28 [7 favorites]


Also can someone here who speaks japanese please confirm that "shirime" really translates exactly to "ass eye" because I want to shout it when I stub my toe or something similar and I don't want to make a linguistic faux pas.

It certainly does. 尻 ("shiri") means butt, and 目("me") means eye. Put them together, and you get 尻目.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:24 AM on January 28 [12 favorites]


The Iga no Daikawauso is a ghostly giant otter that wanders the parkland around the town of Iga, in Mie prefecture, asking passers-by for scraps of cloth to patch its kimono. It is mostly benign, but will give incorrect directions to the train station.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:26 AM on January 28 [16 favorites]


*Shirime walks away*

Just walk away, Shirime,
You won't see me follow you back home...
posted by Sys Rq at 10:36 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I have had bad experiences with Ashiarai Yashiki, a giant foot that comes into your room and demands that you wash it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:01 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


There's a recent shonen manga about youkai who behave like yakuza (being territorial and having alliances and things like that), commanded by the protagonist (who is a normal schoolboy by day and a handsome nurarihyon by night). It's been translated to English and everything.
posted by sukeban at 11:02 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Be sure to bring your re-useable shopping bags to the market with you, or the Fukuro-obake (sack-goblin) will give you the sideeye and make disparaging gestures in your direction while you shop. This is not usually a great inconvenience, as the Fukuro-obake is invisible.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:05 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Takashi Miike's The Great Yokai War is a generally entertaining B-Movie wtf rumpus incorporating many of the ghosts from Japanese myths.
posted by nikoniko at 11:08 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


尻目.cx
posted by JHarris at 11:10 AM on January 28 [11 favorites]


Jitenshaman was the result of a poorly-conceived magic-realist marketing effort by the Coca-Cola company in the early '90s. Taking the form of a spectral and bloodied keirin racer, he whizzes through darkened suburban streets at night, stopping to ask terrified pedestrians if they would like to sample some Aquarius (tm) sports drink. If they decline, he removes his helmet to reveal the exposed brain beneath.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:20 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Welp, I was going to make one about running out of toilet paper, and then I found this, so I give up reality, you win this battle of absurdity.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:23 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Of course, not all mythical beings are monsters, as such, otherwise you could write a similar list about monsters that will fix broken hinges if you leave out a saucer of milk, etc. But the list is still worth it for the ass eye.
posted by RobotHero at 11:52 AM on January 28


grovioki A monster that resides at the end of some books who rejects your existential concerns and reminds you of your cowardice.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:05 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]


Also note that this pretty much explains Spirited Away.
posted by Naberius at 12:26 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


grovioki A monster that resides at the end of some books who rejects your existential concerns and reminds you of your cowardice.

I think I know another example of the type.
posted by JHarris at 12:34 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


The tanuki are minor tutelary spirits who who cunningly escaped their original folkloric role of hiding in the bushes shouting "HAVE YOU PERFORMED A TESTICULAR SELF-EXAMINATION TODAY?" in favor of performing tricks on travelers and innkeepers.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:51 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]


My sister went to high school with a guy who turned into a Shirime every time he got really drunk.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:06 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Love the ass eye. The public lavatory, toilet paper haunt is really pretty terrifying though...I may never use a public restroom again.
posted by BoscosMom at 2:26 PM on January 28


There's a lovely role-playing game, Golden Sky Stories, in which you play Japanese animal spirits. In the one game I've played, we came across a boy who couldn't go home because he'd lost the ball he borrowed from his brother, and helped him get his ball back.
posted by Zed at 2:29 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Oh my God the toilet-paper demon! I learned about that in second grade, in a lesson unit our classroom did about Japan, and it scared my pants on. I specify "on" because I was already a very anxious little thing in regards to the bathroom. The toilet-paper demon was one of many factors that led me to develop the ability to hold it for a whole seven-hour schoolday.

The demon was toned down in our books, though. It said the demon would pinch you if you chose any color of toilet paper, which was quite bad enough. I hated being pinched on the butt. Demon butt pinches would have to have been exponentially worse.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:43 PM on January 28


That sounds like the tagline to a terribly lurid demonic romance novel, Fondled By The Father Of Lies.
posted by elizardbits at 3:46 PM on January 28


Also in the realm of bathroom spirits: Toire no Hanako-san, AKA Hanako of the Toilet. She's sort of like the Japanese version of Moaning Myrtle, in that she's a ghostly schoolgirl who haunts the girl's restroom.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:55 PM on January 28


Item #: SCP-████

Object Class: Safe

Special Containment Procedures: SCP-████ is found in Japan, on the island of Honshu. It cannot be precisely located, but appears most commonly in the land between [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and [REDACTED]. No reports of appearances off of Honshu or outside Japan have been confirmed; the small number of these suggests them to be false positives. Given its basic harmlessness, no particularly stringent procedures have been instituted for SCP-████. Nevertheless, at least five Foundation-affiliated folklorists are to be kept in the area at all times so that the local population is kept aware of proper procedures around SCP-████. It is uncertain whether SCP-████ is always somewhere in this dimension, or whether it performs some kind of phase-shift. In case SCP-████ displays new characteristics, a contingent of no fewer than eight Foundation operatives, to be housed evenly within the object's typical zone of action, are to report immediately to [REDACTED].

Description: SCP-████ appears to be an old brick wall about 8.5 ft in height and about 13.75 ft in breadth. Though it seems to be sturdy, its width has not been observed (see Document ████-1 for details on attempts to view SCP-████ from the side). It appears in front of people walking alone between the hours of [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]. Attempts to walk around SCP-████ result in apparently unpowered movement to block its "victim." Attempts to climb it result in its surface suddenly becoming slick with an unidentified viscous liquid, rendering it unclimbable. The wall has not appeared in front of anyone able to move faster than [REDACTED], either by their own force or inside a vehicle. The wall has not appeared in front of anyone carrying explosives, rock-climbing equipment, or other potentially destructive tools.

Upon being knocked with some force on its lower left, the wall disappears (again, it is uncertain whether it simply moves instantaneously to a new location or performs some kind of phase shift; if the latter, it is uncertain what causes it to appear in our own dimension). The local population knows this procedure through folk tradition, which the Foundation should take care to preserve through the early levels of schooling, public and private, in the area. Further experimental notes and [REDACTED] are to be found in Folder SCP-████-1.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:31 PM on January 28 [11 favorites]


Random harmless Japanese folklore monsters is the best meme.
posted by JHarris at 9:51 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


have a book of japanese fairytales, basically foxes turning themselves into teakettles and back again. The japanese and the irish fairytales were the pick of the series!
posted by maiamaia at 12:28 PM on January 29


Metafilter: It was worth it for the ass eye.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 5:42 PM on January 29


What about those happy critters with the big balls? Is that Japanese?

They help Little Red Riding Hood sell condominiums.
posted by homunculus at 12:36 AM on January 30


尻 ("shiri") means butt, and 目("me") means eye. Put them together, and you get 尻目.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:24 PM on January 28


eponassterical
posted by salix at 12:39 AM on January 31


« Older Magnus Bill.   |   In Velox Libertas! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post