7 Hilarious Monsters That Are Widely Feared in Japan

If you want something done right, where "right" also inexplicably includes "crazy" in the definition, you go to the Japanese. Their entire culture is a gift to the rest of the world, at once awesome and full of ninjas yet depraved and dripping with panty vending machines. I would have traded my third nut to be born in Japan, but alas, it was never meant to be, so I can only love them from afar as I do my Australian friends.

The Japanese, like all peoples with a rich and robust history, have a detailed pantheon of gods and monsters that flavor their folklore and stories. Unlike the rest of the world, though, a full 50 percent of the myths from Japan exist solely to confuse and befuddle those who hear about them, because they only make sense in the way a porn star makes a good role model. In an effort to better elucidate these things, I'll try to give them a pop culture equivalent so you have a basis of comparison.

#7. Akaname

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Pop Culture Equivalent: Moaning Myrtle

The akaname also goes by the name "filth licker," which brings to mind something either super gross or super sexy, depending on how depraved a person you are. I know where my mind went. Ladies ... Anyway, the gist of this spirit is that it has a long tongue and haunts bathrooms that have been extremely neglected. In these filthy, unkempt bathrooms, it uses its massive tongue to slurp up the bathroom goo and crust and hunka chunk that the maid hasn't gotten around to scouring clean yet. It's absolutely revolting in every way and could only be trumped by something like Gary Busey feeding you cheese as though he were a mother bird and you the baby.


"Mmm, someone's been eating avocado!"

Now, a long-tongued, shit-crust-eating monster sounds like a decent basis for something potentially terrifying and gross, but as near as I can tell from reading up on it, this is the limit of this creature's ambition in life. It won't eat you, it won't curse you or kill your relatives, it doesn't crawl out of the TV or rain blood or anything. It cleans your bathroom. If anything, it's a time and money saver; you just have to let your housework go slack for a while and this gross son of a bitch shows up and does it for you. That's not a bad deal.

#6. Ittan-momen

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Pop Culture Equivalent: Towelie

Ever have a really restless night of sleep and wake up all wrapped like an idiot in the sheet, like it's tied around your legs and waist and you have only a corner to pull up to your face and you stupidly just huddle up with it because your bed is basically a jigsaw puzzle made by a fiendish otherworldly intellect you can't hope to understand just now? Now imagine if the sheet tried to murder you.

Ittan-momen, roughly translated, means a bolt of cotton. It's cotton. About 10 feet long, sort of like one of those hand towels that you pull down in a gas station toilet, assured that the new stuff is clean even though you're pretty positive it's just a loop of the same filthy towel. Only now it's escaped, and because everyone wiped their shitty gas station fingers all over it, it's looking to wrap around your face and smother you to death. I editorialized the motivation in that scenario as, near as I can figure, the Japanese didn't bother to give this angry towel a reason to kill people.

#5. Nuppeppo

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Pop Culture Equivalent: Honey Boo Boo's mom

There's something perplexing about a lot of Japanese storytelling that is really personified by this little fellow, and it has to do with reason. Motivation. Purpose. You'll notice in a lot of Japanese horror movies that the story doesn't flow quite the way you're used to, and often things seem to happen without any given reason or in opposition to the story as already presented. In the Japanese version of The Ring, there's a scene where a guy watching security camera footage sees the ghost and is killed by her, despite having never watched the video tape -- it just flies in the face of the story up to that point. What does that have to do with the nuppeppo? Everything!

The nuppeppo is an amorphous flesh blob. Its gross flaps and folds give it the appearance of arms, legs, and a face, but mostly it's like a big ballsack that smells like rotten meat and wanders around abandoned areas at night. It literally does nothing else. It has no purpose and accomplishes nothing, like Kanye West's sense of humility, yet here it is.

According to stories, if you can catch it and eat it, you may be granted eternal youth, but you have to get past the fact that it smells like swamp ass and basically looks like a face trying to push its way out of an obese dude's gunt.

#4. Nurarihyon

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Pop Culture Equivalent: Grandpa Simpson

I've often heard that the Japanese are a people who have a great regard for custom and formality, for the appearance of propriety at all costs. Doing things the proper way is important, and not being regarded as rude or obtrusive is something of value. And if that's true at all, then it kind of makes sense that they'd have a monster that is basically nothing more than a preternaturally shitty house guest.

Any ghost could be considered a shitty house guest, but the nurarihyon is actually a dude who comes into your house when you're away or busy and drinks your tea and just makes himself at home. Various sources I researched then tack on that he's the leader of the other creepy Japanese ghosts, because I guess they admire his balls for being so much like one of your dickhead friends from college who would just take your shit without asking.

I desperately want to know what happens if you're haunted by one of these things and maybe you just don't have tea in the house. Like you run out or spitefully get rid of what you do have. Is that like Kryptonite for this guy? Or will it make him rage out Gozer style and come back as a giant marshmallowy asshole to sit on your sofa and watch so much pay-per-view porn that you have to cancel your cable for a month to catch up on the bill?

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Felix Clay

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