14 Terrifying Japanese Monsters, Myths and Spirits

The Japanese are very much into their spirits. There are hundreds of them, many harmless, many tragic, and more than a few just mischievous. There actually aren't too many evil spirits wandering the country… but there are a few, and you don't want to mess with any of them. Here are 14 reasons to avoid Japanese relationships, Japanese bathrooms, Japanese babies and pretty much the entirety of Japan.

1) Kamaitachi

Kamaitachi, literally means "sickle weasel." There are three of them, sometimes brothers, sometimes triplets, who go around cutting off people's legs. The first weasel knocks someone down, the second cuts off the legs, and the third sews up the wounds. They move so fast basically people blink and then suddenly realize they no longer have legs. Admittedly, the fact that one of the weasels takes the time to patch people up before absconding with their limbs helps. But, if the idea that you could suddenly discover that weasels have stolen your legs doesn't scare you, then you're a better man than I.

2) Joro-Gumo

The Joro-gumo is a spider-woman, but she's not a member of the Avengers with a needlessly complicated backstory. She's a giant spider, with the ability to take the form of a beautiful lady (sometimes the top half is human, and her lower torso is that of a spider) who seduces men, wraps them up in her webs, poisons them, and eats them. One variation of the Joro-gumo myth says that sometimes she appears as a woman holding a baby, who asks men passing by to hold it. When they do, they are someone surprised to discover the "baby" is made up of thousands of spider-eggs, which burst open.

3) Teke Teke

Teke Teke is more of an urban legend than a regular myth, as it's reasonably new. She's the spirit of a girl who tripped on some train tracks and was cut in half by an oncoming train. Now she crawls around looking for other people to share her fate, which she facilitates by cutting them in half with a scythe. There's a variant of the Teke Teke myth about a girl named Reiko Kashima, who was also cut in half by a train; now she wanders bathroom stalls and asks people on the toilet if they know where her legs are. If people don't answer with "The Meishin Railway," she cuts off their legs, which is bad at the best of times, let alone when you're trying to poop.

4) Gashadokuro

This spirit is pretty simple — it's a giant skeleton made of of the bones of people who have died from starvation. They wander around, grab you, and bite your head off, drink your blood, and add your skeleton to the pile.

5) Katakirauwa

The ghosts of baby pigs which 1) have one ear 2) cast no shadow and 3) steal your fucking soul if they manage to run between your legs. I think I'd rather be chased by the giant mass skeleton that a bunch of tiny squealing dead baby pigs, thank you.

6) Aka Manto

Another one of the many, many Japanese ghosts that murder people while they're trying to take a shit, Aka Manto approaches people in bathroom stalls and asks them a simple, if perplexing question: "Would you like red paper or blue paper?" If you say red, your flesh is sliced into ribbons until you're effectively red. If you choose blue, you're strangled to death. If you pick any other color, you're dragged to hell. There's a variant who asks if you want a red or blue cape instead of paper; choose red and the skin is flayed off your back, choose blue and all the blood is drained from your body. The point is never go to the bathroom in Japan.

7) Tsuchigumo

Greek mythology is known for its variety of mixed-up monsters — e.g. the manticore, which has a lion's body, bat wings, and a human head — but they have nothing on Japan. Meet the Tsuchigumo, creatures with the body of a tiger, limbs of a spider, and the face of a demon. They eat unwary travelers (actually, they eat wary ones as well, I'm sure). Once a powerful Japanese warrior killed a Tsuchigumo and 1,990 skulls fell out of his belly. That's a monster who is frighteningly good at his job.

8) Kekkai

Childbirth seems difficult enough before you bring in the possibility that you may give birth to some kind of demon/monster/thing. In Japan, these are called Sankei, and the worst of them is the Kekkai. Basically, instead of giving birth to a baby, a lady gives birth to a lump of flesh and blood and hair, when immediately runs off, straight out of the vagina, and tries to burrow underneath its mother's home in order to murder her later. No wonder Japan's birth rate is declining.

9) Oshiroibaba

One of the many, many horrible demon women that apparently wander around the nation unfettered, Oshirobaba is an old crone that goes around asking girls if they'd like to try some of her face powder, like the world's creepiest Avon lady. Taking make-up from strangers is bad idea in general, and taking it from old ladies is even dumber, because the Oshirobaba's powder makes your face fall off.

10) Ittan-Momen

The Ittan-Momen doesn't sound particularly scary; it's basically a sentient roll of cotton that just flies around in the wind at night, wandering around. But the Ittan-Momen is also a sadistic asshole, because if it sees you, it will either wraps itself around your neck and choke you to death, or wrap itself around your head and suffocate you. Again, the idea that you can be walking back from the convenience store and suddenly get murdered by a large piece of cloths is deeply disconcerting to me.

11) Isonade

Imagine a shark. Now imagine a shark whose fins were like a cheese grater, except instead of cheese they grated your flesh. That's the Isonade, who use their teeth and fins to both fillet you and then drag you down to the ocean floor, if you're unlucky enough to meet one in the water.

12) Bake-Kujira

Japan may still get in trouble for whaling, but rest assured the country knows its wrong. Because when a whale is killed it could come back as a Bake-Kujira — an animated whale skeleton that surfaces much like it did in life. While spotting a living whale is considered very lucky, just one look at a Bake0Kujira is enough to give you and your village plague, famine, fire, and/or many other disasters.

13) Hyosube

The short, humanoid demons are tiny, belligerent, and bad news. If you see one, you will die — and they are more than happy for you to see them. They don't try and hide, they wander as they want. And they'll eat all the eggplants in your garden, and trample your field just to be assholes. About the only thing you can do to avoid accidentally seeing a Hyosube is leave some eggplants out for them willingly, and even that's a 50/50 shot at best. Oh, and sometime Hyosube will use your bathtub, leaving behind a huge amount of dirt, hair and scum. If you throw out the bathtub water, the Hyosube will fucking kill you. Just buy a new tub.

14) Kuchisake-Onna

Another more modern monster, the Kuchisake-Onna is a woman who wears a medical mask and asks kids if she's pretty. She is, so kids say yes. That's when she removes her mask and reveals that her mouth has been slit open on both sides, Joker-style. At this point, she asks if the child thinks she's pretty now. If the child says no, she cuts the kid in half. If the child says yes, she slits his/her mouth exactly like hers. What's more terrifying about the Kuchisake-Onna is that there was a genuinely big scare in Japan in the 1970s that she was wandering about, to the point where teachers personally were escorting children home from school.