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.
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.
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.
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.
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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?
Pop Culture Equivalent: A cross between the racing snail in The NeverEnding Story and that horny alien from Species
I wrote about mermaids once before, and this follows in the same vein, that vein being dudes at sea need to pack Fleshlights or overripe melons or at least a slightly warmed ham sandwich on long sea voyages, because this shit is getting out of hand. The sazae-oni is a sexy sea snail. I could have extended that sentence and included additional relevant details, but I need that to stand alone as the key takeaway from what this creature is -- it's a sexy sea snail. No one has ever said that before. No one was supposed to. "There are some things man was not meant to know" is a popular trope you'll find in stories dating back to God knows when, and one of the things man was never meant to know was the sex appeal of a sea snail. Then Japan went ahead and made a sexy sea snail and gave it a name. And it gets worse.
There's a story about a ship full of pirates who find a drowning woman at sea one night. They pull her aboard the ship and, as luck would have it, she's one of those drowning skank-type ladies who agrees to sleep with every man on board over the course of the night. Only problem is, as she's doing each dude, she takes his balls. Now, stories differ on how this works, with some saying she cut them off and others saying she bit them off. At the end of the day, after porking a sexy sea snail, I don't even know that it matters which one is worse. Also, the story isn't over yet.
After taking the balls from every single pirate, including that last guy, who must have been the most disgusting and least observant crewman of all, the sexy sea snail holds all the nuts ransom for pirate gold. Naturally they all pay up, because I guess in ancient Japan having your balls in a sack of some kind was just as good as having them in your actual sack.
Pop Culture Equivalent: Puss in Boots, minus the puss
This is a ghost sandal, so basically fuck this thing already. The bakezori exist in houses where footwear is treated improperly. It's hard to wrap your head around that sentence to begin to understand what it even means -- you don't put your shoes away at night? You stepped in shit? You're one of those guys who likes to hump shoes? There are a lot of possibilities here, and none of them seem like they merit the shoe itself coming to life with the help of a malevolent spirit. Maybe the humping one, but then you have to figure the dude would want to hump it even more if it can squirm around and talk, so it's not the best course of action for a shoe to take.
"Stop humping me or else ... well ... nothing, really."
It's not enough that this is a living sandal -- it comes to life I guess as a protest of its shoddy treatment and will run through the house shouting some shit about shoes. Imagine if one of those jackasses in the referee shirt from Foot Locker was loose in your house at night and was paid solely on commission so you could never get him to shut up about why Adidas Springblades will totally enhance your game. That's what this thing does. Probably if you start taking care of your shoes it will stop, or, as a less intrusive method, you could just throw the shoe in the trash. It's not like it can get back in the house, it's a shoe.
Pop Culture Equivalent: Fox News
According to the website Scary for Kids, "shiri" means "butt" and "me" means "eye," and thus "shirime" means "butt eye." I'm glad I learned about this on a children's website, this being a ghost that stares at you from the depths of its asshole. Kids love that kind of shit.
The first story I read about the shirime started out in a promising way. It's a dark night and a samurai warrior walks the streets alone. Picture it: feudal Japan, a gentle fog covering the ground, the samurai's footfalls making not a sound as he patrols the night. A black sky above is illuminated by a heavy moon, and suddenly a rustling sound catches the warrior's attention. Someone is following him. A voice splits the night, desperate yet otherworldly. "Wait!" it cries. "Please wait!"
The samurai turns quickly and there in the light of the moon is a dude who drops trou and bends over, spreading his ass with the grace of a drunkard spreading cream cheese on a bagel, and in the center of it all, one beady, goatse'd eyeball stares back at him.
"Lemme ask you something -- does my eye smell funny?"
By now you should have guessed that the story ends there. Because in Japanese folklore you can end a story at the moment someone with an eye for an ass shows their ass eye to a samurai. Did the samurai kick the ass eye? Did he whip out his own dick finger? Did the two of them go out for steaks? Obviously all of that is superfluous. Everything you need to know in this story is nestled firmly and warmly in that guy's ass crack.
A different version of the same story tacked on the details that the eye emitted light and the samurai ran away, which offer as much closure as someone coming out of your bathroom and saying "That went poorly" without elaborating any further. If there's any lesson to take away from this story, it's that, should you see one of these beasts, push it onto its back, thus allowing you to escape while it is blinded by its own ballsack.