Top 10 JAPANESE MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURES
From a creature with eyes for hands to river children you should play tricks on, for this installment, we're visiting ten unique, unusual, and perhaps quite popular creatures from Japanese Mythology.
The Daitengu are far more tremendous and striking than that its lesser relatives, the Kotengu. Usually appearing in humanoid form, dressed in monks robes with red faces and long, phallic noses, and a large pair of feathered wings that grow from their backs. Usually considered to possess greater wisdom and power than the lesser Tengu, they are often considered to be more godlike sages of the mountains, rather than that of an enemy of mankind. It is said that occasionally, the Daitengu will teach their secrets to worthy humans; one of Japan's most famous warriors, Minamoto no Yshitsune, was said to have been taught his swordsmanship from on such tongue.
Kappa are an aquatic humanoid reptilians with turtle like beaks and shells, webbed hands and feet, with a dish-like depression atop their skulls filled with their power source, water. As it must be kept wet at all times, they range in color from green, to blue and other earthen hues. They're often called "river children" due to the creature's size and also usually depicted to be crass and violent. Considered to be among the smartest of the yokai, they are one of the few said to be capable of learning human languages. Solitary as adults, the younger Kappa are commonly found in groups. Eating most anything, they are particularly partial to that of raw human innards... especially, believe it or not, the anus; no worries though, according to legend, the kappa will always return a bow as good gesture, and if you can get it to bow low enough to spill the water from its head, it will panic and allow you the time to get away... anus intact.
In Japanese Buddhism, after death, humans eventually become reborn in one of six Buddhist realms: those reborn into Shuradō, the realm of Ashura, become multi faced and limbed, warrior demons that feast upon chaos, violence and destruction, but above all else, they live for war; being the embodiment of everything they desire. Various tellings of the Ashura exist, as some depict them as mere warriors of the demon realms, others tell tale of more powerful beings, considered to be gods among lesser beings; but every tale says they are all powerful, intelligent and magical beings, far superior to humankind.
Another Japanese creature of some renown, the Oni, a term referring to an Ogre or Demon, come in many varieties, though they're commonly depicted to have red of blue skin, savage and unkempt hair, with two or more horns protruding from their heads. Oni are formed when a truly evil Himan dies; ending up in one of the many Buddhist Hells, then becomes the ogreish servant of the Great Lord Enma, the King of Hell. The Oni are tasked by Enma to administer horrific and gruesome punishments, such as flaying the victims and crushing their bones with large iron clubs. Though sometimes, if a human is so utterly and truly wicked in life that his soul falls beyond any form of redemption, his flesh will contort and warp as he transforms into a Oni, remaining on Earth.
Much akin to the Chinese dragons of myth, the Tatsu is the Japanese counterpart. Similar in appearance, having long, scaled, serpentine bodies, often shown to have horns and beards. These near omnipotent beings share a strong connection with water in all its natural forms; creating the belief that they may be water gods. Dwelling in their deep sea palaces, as to be far away from human civilization; Tatsu rarely bothers with the concerns of humans, unless it directly involves them. Another legendary creature from Japan, the first recorded stories go back to the ancient books, Kojiki and Nihongi as well.
Having roots in Chinese mythology, the Kitsune, or "trickster fox", has two prominent variations; the good foxes, servants of the Shinto deity Inari, and the more commonplace wicked foxes, who delight in chaos and furor. Most tales about the Kitsune speak of the wicked foxes and how they have been known to trick, and even possess humans, causing personal destruction to their lives. Not innately evil, legends always speak of their honor in repaying debts, and value of friendships they may have. The Japanese argue that the only things imported from China were the negative aspects of the creature, as the Japanese have always held it in the highest regard as early as the 4th century A.D. It is still currently well loved by people, and is easily one of the most famous one on our list, and can still be seen in popular culture, such as in many video games, television shows, movies and literature.
Yamata no Orochi
Yamato no Orochi, the eight headed, eight-tailed gargantuan serpent appears in the earliest written Japanese documents, the Kojiki and the Nihongi. The Kojiki is an old chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 6th to 8th century A.D. Legend states that every year Yamata no Orochi would appear before the gods, Ashinazuchi and Tenazuchi, who were meek and brittle in their old age, and demand a sacrifice, one of their eight daughters. On the eighth year, with just one daughter remaining, the storm god of summer, Susanoo, came across the elder gods during their time of need; after hearing their tale, he would agree to destroy the great serpent in exchange for their last daughters hand in marriage, Kushinada. After an epic battle between god and monster, Susanoo would prove victorious in smiting the beast, and would even discover the legendary katana of the imperial regalia, Kusanagi no Tsurugi, inside Yamata's tail.
Tenome, or "eyes with hands", is a yokai that masquerades as an elderly suite, or blind guide, with eyes not upon its face, but instead on its hands. They walk aimlessly through open fields and graveyards on a search for food; the bones of a living human. Genome waits for their unsuspecting pray to come in close before making their attack. It is able to keep track of running victims in the dark due to an exceptional sense of smell to compensate for its horrendous sight. In legend, a young man entered a graveyard at night as a test of his courage; when from out of the darkness, an old blind man appeared. When it was close enough, he noticed it had eyes on its hands yet not its face, so he ran to a nearby temple, receiving shelter from a priest who hid him in a locked chest. The Tenome would eventually track the young man down due to his smell; when the priest opened the chest after the Tenome was gone, the young man was nothing but a sack of flesh.
Though its origins are not Japanese, the Kirin was first introduced to Japanese culture through the Chinese myths of the legendary Qulin. The Kirin is often times described as near godlike creatures that resemble a deer with scales covering its body, an ox's tail, flowing golden manes and is surrounded within a shroud of holy fire. Since, it has become a symbol of wisdom and benevolence to the Japanese people. The Kirin is easily one of the rarest and interesting creatures known across East Asia. A magnificently serene being, the Kirin eats not of flesh, but instead is strictly vegetarian. As it moves, not a single creature is trampled beneath its tread, from the smallest of insects to a single blade of grass. It is said to have a beauty rivaled only by its scarcity; as Kirin will only appear during times of world peace, under the rule of noble and enlightened leaderships.
The Kuchisake Onna, or slit-mouthed woman, was once a beautiful woman who was murdered in a grotesque and violent way; returning as a spirit to seek her retribution upon the world for allowing such an act to happen. It is said she'll appear as a beautiful woman who hides her face behind a mask in an attempt to disguise her two deep and bloody gashes; each of which stretch from mouth to ear on both sides of her face. Kuchisake Onna stalks her victims in the shroud of darkness, revealing herself to ask her prey if they think she is pretty. If answered "yes", she removes the object to reveal her mutilated face. Again she asks, this time in a more grisly voice. if they still think she is pretty. If you answer "no" or scream, she carves a matching smile onto your face; if you respond with "yes" again she leaves, only to return to the victim's house that night to murder them.