Japanese folklore is chalk full of all kinds of strange demons, spirits and otherworldly entities. In a culture that prides itself on exploring the weird, the presence of these creatures isn’t very surprising.

1. The Jinmenken

The Jinmenken is a nocturnal creature with the body of a dog and a human face. They aren’t very dangerous, but they do tend to cause accidents. If you talk to them, they’ll insult you and run away.

2. Basan

A giant chicken that is believed to live in the Ehime Prefecture, this entity breathes a bright and deadly fire. It keeps to itself, but if you stray too close, chicken dinner will take on a whole new meaning (get it? ‘cos you’ll be its dinner).

3. Onryo

A vengeful ghost formed from the feelings of pain and sorrow, this being can torture, kill and even cause natural disasters. The most famous Onryo is Sadako Yamamura from The Ring.

4. Rokurokubi

These entities almost always look entirely like female humans. However, they can stretch their necks indefinitely, and some can even take their heads off completely and fly them around.

5. Akaname

This spirit licks off the filth that collects in bathtubs and bathrooms. They’re usually depicted as green children with long tongues and clawed feet.

6. Amazake-babaa

Rumoured to be an old woman who comes to your doorstep late at night and asks for sweet sake in a childlike voice. However, if you do comply, you fall gravely ill.

7. Aobōzu

A one-eyed buddhist priest who is thought to be a ghost of yore. It is believed to kidnap children.

8. Jorogumo

Gigantic and terrible spider-like demons who feast on the flesh of humans. They can disguise themselves as attractive women in order to lure their victims.

9. Dodomeki

Dodomeki are believed to be human women who are cursed with extremely long arms covered with hundreds of bird eyes due to their habit of stealing money.

10. Futakuchi-onna

Otherwise known as the ‘Two-Mouthed Woman Monster’, this being has a 2nd mouth on the back of the head beneath the hair. It constantly insults the woman, and can cause them intense pain.

11. Ittan-momen

A roll of cotton possessed by a demon, it flies through the air at night and attacks humans by wrapping around their faces and smothering them.

12. Namazu

A giant catfish who causes violent earthquakes when he thrashes about. He is believed to live in the mud under the islands of Japan.

13. Mizuchi

Usually depicted as a massive, dangerous water dragon or serpent-like deity. It has water-controlling properties and resides in the seas.

Stay strange, Japan!

Illustrations by Aakansha Pushp.