When it comes to Japan, not only the culture, the many beautiful cities and the animes interest me but also their mythology. In this post I am going to introduce you, my favourite mythical creatures and tell you why I like them. Enjoy!
1.Yuki-onna – The Snow Woman: I first heard about the Yuki-onna in Vampire Princess . Miyu as Reiha was a snow woman/girl in the anime. Eventough she was the nemesis of Miyu, I went on and looked for the term Yuki-onna on the internet, and when I read about it, I felt like the creature would even be a good character in TV series like Teen Wolf (sadly ending with Season 6B). To let you know the legend of this creature here is a snippet from www.yokai.com :
In Niigata, an elderly man operated an inn on a mountain trail with his wife. One snowy night, the inn was visited by a young lady who was traveling alone. She warmed herself by the fire and ate together with the innkeeper and his wife. She was sweet and charming and extremely beautiful. In the middle of the night, during a fierce blizzard, she stood up and made to leave the inn. The innkeeper begged her not to go outside, and took her hand to hold her back. It was as cold as ice, and merely touching it sucked all the warmth from the innkeepers body, causing him to shiver violently. As he tried to keep her in the house, her entire body turned into a fine icy mist, and shot up the chimney and out into the night.
2. Kitsune – The Fox Spirit: When it’s about kitsune, a couple of western series and anime series come to your mind. The first time I heard about Kitsune, was when I was a child and I was watching Pokemon. In the previously mentioned anime there is a creature called Ninetales, which probably was inspired by kitsune in Japanese mythology. Later on, I saw the tailed beasts in Naruto, particularly the nine tailed fox of Naruto, Kurama who’s character also must’ve been inspired by the tale of the fox spirit. And lately, I heard about said creature in Teen Wolf, where Kira (Arden Cho) and her mother Noshiko (Tamlyn Tomita) were kitsunes. In the above mentioned series there wasn’t only kitsune, but also Nogitsune, the dark kistune symbolizing the void who brings ruin to the world. The role of the Nogitsune was shared between Dylan O’Brien and Aaron Hendry. The story of Kitsune originates from Chinese mythology. The foxes of superior inteligence, long life and magical powers are types of yokai aka spiritual entities and often kitsune when translated means fox spirit. There are the zenko (good foxes) who are benevolent, celestial foxes associated with Inari and there are yako (field foxes or also called nogitsune) that tend to be mischievous or even malicious.
3.Vampire: I know that in the Japanese mythology there isn’t a definite vampire myth group but I added this creature type because when I watched the anime series Vampire Princess Miyu, I loved the abilities of Miyu and the different take on the term vampire than the western world has. In the previously mentioned anime series, Miyu the guardian of the East had glowing yellow eyes, could turn into a human and was fully visible in the mirror and on photos, though she sucked blood still as most western vampires. She also had the ablitiy to banish evil spirits into the darkness with her magical flames. I really liked this take on the term vampire, because it was a new way to depict a vampire than the same old thing I was used to from western mythology.
4. Wanyudo – The Soultaker: As the term Wanyudo is mentioned, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Hell Girl anime series, where Jigoku Shoujo’s companion was Wanyudo who’s character reflected the Japanese tale of the soultaker. But what is a Wanyudo exactly? Here is a snippet from www.yokai.com ‘s definition:
Wa nyūdō is a giant, fearsome man’s head trapped within a flaming ox-cart wheel. His head is shaved like a monk’s in penance for his sins during life. Wa nyūdō are servants of Hell, but spend most of their time on Earth, patrolling for the wicked. They are in constant suffering from the flames and the wheel, and take a sadistic pleasure in inflicting pain on others. When they capture a victim – ideally a wicked criminal or a corrupt priest, but often enough just an ordinary person – they drag their victim back to Hell to be judged and damned. Then the wa nyūdō returns to Earth to repeat his work until the sins of his former life have been redeemed.
5. Ryuu – The Japanese Dragon: The first time I heard about the dragons in Japanese mythology was through the anime series Fushigi Yuugi – The Mysterious Play which was about a dragon story that originates from Chinese mythology. Later on, I came into contact with the story of japanese dragons when I watch the Studio Ghibli film, Tales from Earthsea and also when I watched the anime Fairy Tail, both had Japanese dragons in them. Ryuu aka the dragon in Japanese mythology originates from Chinese, Korean and Indian mythology. However the style of the Japanese dragon was heavily influenced by the Chinese dragon. Most of the Japanese dragons are water deities associated with rainfall and bodies of water.