Over the years, I read many Japanese legends about creatures called yokai. They are the monsters, ghosts, demons, and other supernatural entities believed lurking within the shadows. Japan holds some of the darkest and twisted folklore in the world along with the most bizarre beings. I thought by now I learn nearly all the aberrant yokai of myth, until recently reading about the Nuppeppo.
The vampire is a mystical being that survives by feeding upon human blood. In any part of the world you may go, there will be a legend about a monster or demon that hungers for that vital fluid. Even Japan’s folklore contains many stories of vampire-like creatures stalking the night for victims. One such entity legends warn of is the nobusuma.
Prostitution is said to be the oldest profession in the world which existed within many societies throughout history. Often young men and women are warned to avoid such areas or districts in a city where only danger and misfortune await. In a few countries, there are legends told where supernatural threats lurking in the shadows of red-light districts hunting down unsuspecting victims. In Japanese folklore, young men planning on visiting the brothel should be wary of the kejoro.
As a kid of the 80s, entertainment was limited to television, radio, outdoors, the movies and books. Now being in a large family with one TV in the household and not many other children in the neighbourhood to play with, I spent some of my time reading like the Grimm’s’ Fairy Tales which were not the water down versions of today. Stories such as Godfather Death, The Wolf and The Fox and Hut in the Forest introduced me to concepts of fantasy, morals along with the struggle between good and evil. Often, I was fascinated by the types of villains the hero was up against. Now as an adult, I learned similar stories exist across the globe where heroes battling monsters to protect others. A common villain portrayed in Japanese folklore is the oni.
Mermaids appear in the folklore of many seafaring cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Africa and Asia. Tales of this mythical creature could be found dated back thousands of years ago all carrying the similar image of a beautiful young woman with the lower torso of a fish. Often, the mermaid been associated with misfortune or calamity being blamed for sea storms, ship disappearing and drowning of men. Even stories of relationships with human lovers end with tragedy. There a few legends with a darker adaptation of mermaids such as the iso onna of Japan.