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Random Creepiest Japanese Monsters & Demons (and The Stories Behind Them)

    Jor??gumo

    Jor??gumo

    [ranking: 5]
    The Jor??gumo is an entangling bride, also known as the whore spider. These yokai take the form of golden orb-weaver spiders, which live throughout Japan. When these spiders reach 400 years of age, they develop magical powers, and start feeding on humans instead of insects. To do so, the jor??gumo assume the form of beautiful women, and lure young men to their doom.

    Nuribotoke

    Nuribotoke

    [ranking: 17]
    Nuribotoke are zombie-like creatures that creep out of butsudan (home altars) left open at night. They are black, and their eyes dangle out of their sockets. They can be kept at bay with salt, but it is better just to make sure the butsudan is closed when its time to go to bed. Nuribotoke don't do much other than scare the crap out of families, but it's so easy to keep them at bay, it seems silly to suffer terror at their hands. 

    Gashadokuro

    Gashadokuro

    [ranking: 9]
    Gashadokuro are giant skeletons that rattle around the countryside in the darkest hour of the night, bones clacking together. The Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound these yokai make, "gachi gachi," is the origin of their name.
    Gashadokuro don't go looking for victims, but will kill whomever they find as they wander about. They crush victims with their giant hands, then bite off their heads. These yokai are formed when hundreds of unburied dead with grudges against the living fuse together into one monster. They usually form after large battles or famines. Fans of anime will recognize gashadokuro from various films, including Pom Poko.

    Yamauba

    Yamauba

    [ranking: 8]
    Yamauba are old hags living in the mountains and forests. They offer shelter to weary travelers, then eat their unsuspecting guests. Yamauba were initially human, but were corrupted over time, and turned into monsters. Most look like normal elderly women until they attack, at which point they turn into monstrous hags, sometimes with horns or fangs. They possess powerful magic, which aids them in killing and consuming guests. 

    Hone Onna

    Hone Onna

    [ranking: 3]
    A Hone-onna, or "bone woman," appears as beautiful young women. Once arisen, the hone-onna returns to the love of her life, whose judgement is clouded by her beauty and love. She feeds off his life force until it's gone. Only those unclouded by feelings of romance or love, or the strictly religious, can see through the beauty of the hone-onna and behold her as what she really is - a skeletal woman with bits of rotting flesh clinging to her bones. 

    Yurei

    Yurei

    [ranking: 11]
    Japanese ghosts usually appear dressed in their funeral garb. During the Edo period, women were buried in a white kimono with their hair down. It is from this that the classic image of the yurei appears, with the disheveled hair obstructing the face. Their motives vary with their circumstances in life, but usually they have unfinished business of some sort holding them to this world.
    Yurei typically haunt one place, rather than wander; usually the place in which they were buried. Sometimes, yurei do little more than scare passers by with eerie sounds and lights. In other instances, they invoke powerful curses. 

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Japanese lore is dense with yokai, supernatural beings that come in many forms. These creatures - call them demons - might be monsters, ghosts, or goblins. Their nature ranges from benign to mischievous to seriously scary. Also known as ayakashi, mononoke, or mamono, yokai arose from many sources, some a product of ancient folklore, others from the imaginations of artists and writers of the Edo period (1603 - 1868).

The word yokai is a combination of yo, meaning "attractive, bewitching, calamity," and kai, meaning "mystery, wonder." "Demon" or "monster" is a rough translation for a word that, like many Japanese words, have no direct English equivalent. Yokai are more diverse than any single English word for such creatures.

This list reflects the creepiest of the yokai. It isn't an exhaustive Japanese demons list, and it doesn't include those more akin to creatures (such as the kappa) than demons. Here you'll find the creepy, the dangerous, and the weird. Some of these demons are reincarnated people or ghosts. Some, personifications of fear itself. All of them are super creepy.

Knowing the nature and history of yokai provides insight into Japanese horror films. Many yokai make appearances in movies, but their significance can be lost on western audiences. The two most famous Japanese cinema ghosts, Sadako from The Ring and Kayako from The Grudge, are both classic yokai. Many yokai also appear in the films of beloved animator Hayao Miyazaki. 

Read on to learn more, and vote up the yokai that most give you the heebie jeebies. 

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